“If we don’t create some efficiencies through this consolidation, what other cuts could we see in Catlin? “You really can’t cut too much more at the high school.So, now you’re going to start getting into your junior high and grade school. Or do you want your child to travel twelve miles to not experience those cuts?
And the committee recommends that a future consolidated school board get to work quickly on plans for another consolidation with other nearby districts.
This merger could create one high school to serve much or all of south Vermilion County.
Consolidation is an option small school districts may consider, in the face of declining populations and cuts in state school funding. But it could happen this year in south Vermilion County.
The impetus for consolidation can be found in the hallway used by the high school portion of the school building for Jamaica Community Unit School District #12.
Catlin High doesn’t have agriculture or art programs.
Jamaica High has only one teachers each for math and science. Both high schools send students make up for course offerings they can’t afford by busing students to Danville Area Community College to attend dual-credit, upper-level classes.
But Catlin grade school teacher Kristen Strunga, another consolidation supporter, said things are different now. But he said they rarely occur, because of parent’s worries about losing local identity and control when districts are merged.
“In 1991, we weren’t ready to give up our small town high schools”, said Strunga, a lifelong Catlin resident. In Phillips’ view, those parents are looking at the issue from the wrong end.
And they ask whether the more populous Catlin district will dominate elections for the new consolidated school board (board members would be chosen at large).
Backers of Catlin-Jamaica consolidation are sure to face more questions from voters, as they promote the idea during the six months between now and Election Day.
Voters in the Jamaica and Catlin school districts will be asked to approve consolidation in the November election.