Questions About Annexation
I am writing in response to last weeks letter, as I have been asked a number of questions pertaining to the possible annexation/dissolution of Hoyleton School Dist. 29. If there was one thing that I could do over before the school board voted, it would be to work harder to put more information out on why the school board voted to move forward with the annexation/dissolution process.
The first question is, why would we close the school when it is not broke? Yes, Hoyleton Grade School has money in the bank. We are currently working with a deficit budget, (spending more then we are receiving from local-county-state & federal funds) and are starting to use some of our CD’s. Hoyleton District does not have any outstanding bonds or loans. Our school building, both main and the temporary building are costing more each year to maintain. We continuously have issues of water coming in the north lower rooms in the main facility from heavy rains, and will need major repair of the roof on the west temporary building which is for kindergarten and special ed. classes. The heating system continues to need work in the main building.
The opinion of the school board is to use the money to educate the students, not for repairs. The CD savings can only be used on certain items, depending what fund it is in. Our transportation funding has been cut heavily, and we are now subsidizing the operation costs from saving to bus children to and from school.
When we have a cost of over $14,000 per student to operate and Nashville is half that amount, it’s hard not to see the direction this is going. Next school year we are estimating to be in the mid to lower 30’s for enrollment, so the cost of $14,000/student will go up even more.
By making this decision now, Hoyleton School Board is able to work with Nashville to make this a very smooth transition, and offer something positive, not negative.
The second question/comment is that students will get lost in a big school with larger classes. Nashville has an average of 18/19 students per teacher. K to 4th grades have one teacher per room that teaches all subjects. 5th to 8th classes are set up similar to high school w/ each teacher specializing in each subject.
Hoyleton has one teacher for two grades 1st thru 8th grade and has to teach all subjects. Currently, there is an average of 9 students per room/teacher teaching two grades and all subjects. With Nashville having one teacher to one grade and the upper class one teacher to one subject, each student will actually receive more one on one time and more time per subject with the teacher.
Question three is, will Hoyleton District tax payers receive the lower tax rate for next year? The answer is no. Taxes that were paid last fall were for 2013. Taxes to be paid this coming fall will be for 2014.You will not see a difference until fall of 2016.
Question four is, No one knew that the school board was working and discussing the possible annexation/dissolution. Discussion was started in 2013 at the school board meetings. All discussion was during regular meetings in open session. There are normally two or more teachers present at our school board meetings. Board members frequently discussed this with friends outside of the board meetings. The state law requirement for the board to vote on the annexation/dissolution is to hold one community meeting, and then they can vote at the same meeting. Hoyleton school board held 3 community meetings with a vote at the third meeting. All meetings were published in the Nashville News and Centralia Sentinel, along with flyers in all the local businesses, banks and post offices for each community meeting.
The Regional Board of Trustees will be holding a public meeting on Feb. 9th at 6:30 p.m. in the new court house at Nashville. All the public is invited. There will be no vote taken on the annexation/dissolution of Hoyleton Grade School. They will take comments from the audience and further explain the process of annexation/dissolution.
Question five-If a person has signed a petition to keep the school open and wanted to have his or her name removed, can that be done? The answer is yes. There are two ways: one is to go to the person that was circulating the petition or to the person that is holding the petitions and ask for your name to be striked through. You must then initial that you witnessed the name being striked out. The second way is to write a letter requesting that your name be removed from the petition. You must sign the letter and have notarized, then take it to Nashville to the Regional Board of Education office. The address is: 230 East St. Louis Street, Suite A, Nashville, IL 62263. Their hours are Monday-Friday – 8 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00p.m. to 4:00 p.m. This must be done as soon as possible, as the deadline for petition to be turned in is February 13th.
Hoyleton District 29 and Nashville District 49 had a feasible study done by Dr. Osborne. This is a very detailed accumulation of facts about Hoyleton and Nashville. I would print the complete study, but it is 51 pages long. Anyone interested in seeing it can go to the Hoyleton Grade School office and request a copy. There is no charge for this.
I will close with the statement from the feasibility study which is the first paragraph:
The consideration of reorganizing two or more school districts is a very serious decision that must be carefully reviewed by all stake holders of the school district. Normally Board of Education, staff, parents, and students become the main stake holders engaged in the consideration for reorganization. However, we must focus on the impacts that all members of the community will experience as the result of any reorganization efforts. The bottom line of the final considerations should be based upon what is best for the students. The compelling question to pursue is simply this “ WILL IT BE GOOD FOR THE KIDS?”
Hoyleton District 29 School Board does take this very seriously, and has spent many hours discussing the pros and cons.