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Crescent City, Watseka citizens hear about proposed school consolidation

A public hearing Monday evening invited people to hear about what a committee of 10 has been talking about for several months. In fact, some even said it’s been in discussion for years. Now, a committee wants to see what the public thinks about a proposed consolidation between Watseka Unit 9 and Crescent-Iroquois 249.

It’s another step toward a possible school merger between two Iroquois County districts.

Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Superintendent Gregg Murphy said his office has the responsibility of validating the petition application. If approved, the consolidation issue could appear on the April 2, 2019 ballot.

State approval would have to happen once the regional Office of Education gives its approval.

Murpshy told the audience this hearing is not about whether anyone is for or against the merger, but instead, to determine if all requirements have been met to proceed toward a referendum.

The petition to organize a new community unit school district was adopted by both school’s board of education at their September meetings. It was filed with the county clerk’s office September 26th.

Proposed tax rates were explained should the consolidation happen.

Testimony presented included C-I citizen Denise Kosik pointing out that voters in Crescent City some two years ago had supported the local school with a resolution. She also said the committee of 10 should also be aware that parents currently have a choice as to which high school their children attend.

Martin Wessels referred to history, saying these talks about consolidating started years ago; it’s not just a new thought.

Murphy said any decision will be based on the schools’ needs, the funding, the best interest of the schools and the best interest of the education of each schools’ students.

Committee of 10 members Brittney Cluver and Jody Neibuhr talked about the issues and struggles each district is trying to overcome.

Respective school superintendents Guy Gradert and Jeffrey Alstadt said moving forward, the communities need to keep the people informed. Additional public forums are planned between now and March.

94.1 WGFA