Catlin schools looking at consolidation ideas
CATLIN — School officials said Thursday that they are in discussions about the future of the Catlin school district, and hope to decide on a direction to pursue by this fall.
Catlin school board President Jeff Fauver said that Catlin school officials had been in informal, very preliminary talks with representatives from the neighboring Jamaica school district about consolidating the districts, creating a single cooperative high school for the two districts, or deactivating one of the two high schools. Fauver also said that representatives from the Westville school district have approached Catlin school officials about possibly sending Catlin High School students to Westville High and paying tuition to Westville.
"The amount of state aid we are receiving is down, and our local property taxes are not increasing," Fauver said. "We are looking at options that will keep a viable school in our community."
Although a variety of plans to merge Catlin students with students in nearby districts have been discussed since the early 1990s, Fauver said that the talks are more serious now because of the economic factors that schools are facing because of the lack of state money.
Superintendent Gary Lewis said that the board should choose a direction to pursue no later than this fall.
In other business, board members voted to increase school lunch prices starting in the fall.
Currently, lunch prices are $2.15 for students in grades K-8, $2.25 for high school students, and $3 for adults. That will increase to $2.25 for students in grades K-8, $2.50 for high school students and $3.25 for adults.
Part of the reason for the increase will be the loss of state reimbursement to the district for students receiving free or reduced-price lunches because the district is withdrawing from the National School Lunch Program.
Lewis has said that the program's rules are very restrictive, and that the district wants to gain more freedom in its lunch offerings. He said the goal is not to make money on the lunch program, but to serve foods that the students will eat.
Lewis also said that STL Technology Partners of Bloomington had finished upgrading the district's Internet connection from a T-1 line to a wireless one, and that the campus can now access the Internet at about 20 megabytes per second instead of the old speed of between 3 and 6 megabytes per second.
The front doors and the eastern doors at Catlin High are being replaced, and the Catlin Grade School gymnasium ceiling will soon be repainted.
The board also approved adding two more shotput rings at the Catlin High track — a second competition ring and a practice ring — and moving and improving the discus area.