CATLIN — Committee members are still weeks away from having a final merger proposal to give to the Catlin and Jamaica school boards for consideration, but came to a consensus on several key points at a weekend meeting.
Five representatives from each district — aka the Committee of Ten — had recommended earlier that each district retain its grade school; the junior high students of both districts attend school at Jamaica; and all the high school students go to school in Catlin.
On Saturday, the committee voted to make the grade schools K-5 and the junior high a 6-8 facility.
Committee co-chair Jeff Carder said combining grades 6-8 would strengthen the junior high curriculum and would be better academically for students .
Committee members also decided on an administrative structure for the proposed consolidated district.
They will recommend the new district have a superintendent, a high school principal, a K-5 grade school principal in Catlin and a K-8 grade school/junior high principal in Jamaica. The Jamaica grade school/junior high might also need a full- or part-time athletic director and dean of students to help with student discipline, the committee added.
Members also said they'd recommend the cooperative high school have a dean of students and an athletic director, and that the district employ a guidance counselor and a curriculum coordinator.
"Curriculum is important," said committee member Joe Hageman. "You don't want students entering a combined junior high with different educational foundations from their grade schools."
The Curriculum Subcommittee provided a list of proposed courses that could be added to the consolidated high school's offerings, including: agriculture business, web design, Shakespeare, creative writing, introduction to fashion, French, trigonometry, music theory, yoga, physics, zoology and current issues.
Committee co-chair Jeff Fauver said the consolidated high school would have limited resources, and would likely have to prioritize its course offerings, and continue to have accelerated students who want to take more challenging courses attend classes at Danville Area Community College.
Committee member Fred Rinehart said he'd like to see the catalogue of courses expand, even if they're not all offered every year.
"We might offer zoology the first year and then not have enough student interest to offer it for another two years," Rinehart said. "That is fine. But it would be in the course catalogue."
Rinehart also liked the idea of having more introductory courses available at the freshman or junior-high levels, so students could try out courses such as blueprinting, drafting, welding or woodworking for nine weeks or less, then decide if they want to take a full course in the subject later in high school.
School officials have said consolidating the Catlin and Jamaica school districts into a single district would result in reduced personnel expenses, reduced administrative expenses, better purchasing power and more academic and extracurricular offerings. Jamaica and Catlin have had an athletic cooperative together — the Salt Fork Storm — for the past 18 years.
"We want to get the message out that consolidating our districts can help get our kids a more well-rounded education," committee member Ron Taylor said.