Catlin to discuss reorganizing with neighboring districts

CATLIN — School officials said Thursday that they want to enter into discussions with nearby districts to look at reorganization options.

Superintendent Gary Lewis said that he has started studying options for consolidating with the neighboring Jamaica district, and for deactivating Catlin High School and paying tuition for its students to attend nearby Westville High School.

But Catlin School Board members said they wanted to look at all three options — consolidation, cooperatives and deactivation — in regards to all five southern Vermilion County districts — Catlin, Oakwood, Jamaica, Westville and Georgetown-Ridge Farm.

A resolution that the district would share the costs of exploring consolidation options with other districts narrowly passed by a vote of 3-1. Board members Jim Chandler, Dave Dutton and Jeff Fauver voted in favor of it; Travis Pearman voted against it; Tricia Keith and Tom O'Shaughnessy abstained. Doug Klemme was absent.

Pearman said he wanted a resolution that included all options for reorganization, and the resolution being voted on specified "consolidation exploration."

Dutton said he supported the resolution as a way to explore reorganizations options. He said he thinks that there might be only one or two high schools serving all of southern Vermilion County in 10 years, and he wants to board to look at that idea now, instead of pursuing a reorganization with one neighboring district now, and another reorganization a few years afterwards.

"We have a window of opportunity to explore that, and we need to take advantage of that window while other districts are also thinking about reorganizing," Dutton said.

Lewis said that, according to his financial projections, if the Catlin district stays on its current path, it will be out of funds after the 2016-17 school year. He said the district either needs to find new revenues, make draconian cuts, or combine with another district to reduce expenses.

"Catlin has to do something," Lewis said.

Based on the board members' comments, Lewis said he would put together some financial numbers, and would contact the other southern Vermilion County superintendents to gauge their interest in reorganizing their districts. But exploring a lot of options will take a lot of time.

Even if two or three or five school boards decided to combine their districts, O'Shaughnessy said, the proposal would have to be approved by the Vermilion County Regional Office of Education, the Illinois State Board of Education, and the voters in the affected districts.

Lewis said he expects reorganization to be a topic at upcoming school board meetings.

In other business, the board learned that the severe weather on Wednesday destroyed the first base dugout near Catlin High, caused water to enter the Catlin High and Catlin Grade School libraries, caused the ceiling in the 5th-gradeand 6th-grade hallway of Catlin Grade School to leak, and blew over two trees near Catlin Grade School.

The board and representatives of the Catlin Faculty Organization are preparing contract proposals to exchange on July 22, and the negotiating teams plan to meet on Aug. 5, 7 and 12. The current one-year contract with the faculty expired on June 30.

Student registration will take place from noon until 5 p.m. and from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Aug. 8 at both Catlin Grade School and Catlin High.The first day of classes will be Aug. 19, which will be a full day of attendance. ###

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