Residents Have Consolidation Questions - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Residents Have Consolidation Questions

Updated: July 31, 2013 10:48 PM

Administrators expected questions, and they got some. But Wednesday night's informational meeting about several local schools consolidating was a smooth one.

The idea is one that's been under consideration on and off since the 1960s. And now, school leaders are looking at proposal that would make one district out of five: United Township, East Moline, Silvis, Carbon Cliff/Barstow and Colona. All five would share expenses, paying salaries for 400 teachers and serving 35-hundred students.

And parents spoke out, working to make sure students are indeed served. One of them asked, "Are we gonna get a better education for our students and lower cost, or a better education at the same cost, or the same education at a lower cost?" Those questions, on the minds of nearly two-dozen people at the meeting.

And the Silvis Superintendent says the study shows children will get a better education. But he reminds us, the cost will be different for taxpayers depending on which district they come from. Some may pay more, some less.

He says he is on board with the plan for the 640 students in his district. "I think we're at a time where it would be good to allow principals to be true instructors," Ray Bergles says. "I think if there's no consolidation, we're gonna have issues, principals do 2, 3, 4, 5 extra things." Things like curriculum and transportation coordination, that Bergles says could be handled in just one place.

And he says students would be on just one page as well as they prepare for high school.  Right now, "You also have different curricula, textbooks, ways of doing things." He says those can be the same, while each school's identity remains that way as well, saying, "I think George O'Barr will always be here."

Superintendent Andy Richmond with Carbon Cliff/Barstow says identity is always a concern. "That's one of the toughest things to try to swallow in consolidation, losing your mascot, losing your school." Richmond says he is not ready to come out in support or opposition of consolidation, saying there is still a lot to look at, each district has its own needs.

"We are fortunate to have technology access here for all of our students, each and every one. We are also involved with the State of Illinois and the Race to the Top Program, where there is just one of 37 districts. We happen to be one of those, We're very proud of that." And he says proud of small class sizes, and the family environment for 280 students at Eagle Ridge.

Both superintendents tell us the best thing to come from these consolidation talks will be a decision that is best for all students. And they encourage all parents to go these public information meetings. The Carbon Cliff/Barstow meeting is set for August 12th.