Carbon Cliff-Barstow School Board Rejects Merger - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Carbon Cliff-Barstow School Board Rejects Merger

Updated: Aug 12, 2013 10:31 PM

Update: A plan to consolidate several school districts in the Illinois Quad Cities has lost its first potential partner.

The Carbon Cliff-Barstow Board of Education has decided not to join the group. The superintendent says the decision was based on several factors, including that the district is both financially and academically strong. Based on reaction at a public hearing on August 12, the plan didn't appear to have much community support, and it would mean a tax increase for local property owners. 

Other school districts continue to consider a merger, include East Moline, Silvis, Colona and United Township High School.

Earlier Post 8-12-13:

To consolidate or not to consolidate? That is the question the school boards of the Carbon Cliff-Barstow, Silvis, East Moline, Colona, and United Township districts will soon have to decide.

At a meeting in the Carbon Cliff-Barstow District Monday night, more people spoke out against the merger than in favor of it.

Public meetings like the one held at Eagle Ridge School have been held in the different districts covered by this consolidation proposal.

The goal at each one is to lay out the findings of a study completed a few months ago to look at the possibilities, talk about the pros and cons of the proposed plan, and to hear the comments, questions, and concerns of the parents, teachers, and community members who could eventually vote whether to consolidate or not.

Pros include things like aligning curriculums for all the schools to set students up for success when they get to United Township High School, and increasing collaboration between teachers across the area. Also, increased access to extra curricular and athletic opportunities for students.

Cons for the Carbon Cliff-Barstow district include higher tax rates for Carbon Cliff and Barstow taxpayers, losing a voice in the decision making process with a consolidated school board, and losing their status and funding as one of only 37 'Race to the Top' districts in the state. On top of that, they'll likely lose the grant that allows them to give an iPad to each student - K through 8.

Opinions at this meeting were mixed, with more people speaking out against consolidation than in favor of it:

"I would like to see Carbon Cliff-Barstow stay within our own district. I don't think we're ready for consolidation just yet," Carbon Cliff-Barstow Superintendent Andy Richmond said. "I can't tell you that picture for five years down the road - That depends on what the state does with state aid, but again, I'm comfortable with where we are headed, the direction we are going."

"I think our community supports our school district and I think they enjoy the small-town appeal of it," said Ginger Anderson, a member of the Carbon Cliff-Barstow School Board.

"Consolidation is best for all the students involved as well as the teachers," countered Alison Rasko, who teaches fifth through eighth grade math at Eagle Ridge.

It will be up to the Carbon Cliff-Barstow Board of Education to decide whether to move forward with consolidation or not.

They'll take the information and input from this meeting into account when they make that decision. That should be at the next school board meeting, August 19.

If any of the school districts covered by the consolidation proposal decide not to move forward with the merger, the other districts can still go ahead and form a single district without them.