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Final case made for schools' consolidation

Nelson, East Coloma could combine by fall

Published: Friday, Nov. 9, 2012 1:15 a.m. CST

ROCK FALLS – East Coloma Assistant Principal David Chavira made his final case for consolidation of the Nelson Elementary and East Coloma Elementary school districts at a hearing Thursday.

Regional Office of Education Superintendent Bob Sondgeroth now has 14 days to approve or deny the petition for consolidation and submit it to the Illinois State Board of Education.

Chavira said students in both districts would reap the benefits of smaller class sizes, more individualized instruction and expanded programs and class offerings. He said teachers could collaborate and develop curriculum together, offer intervention programs and elective classes and better monitor student progress.

East Coloma Superintendent Kevin Andersen said the new district likely will receive financial incentives from the state over the first few years after consolidation, including about $4,000 per certified staff member. He said the new district could get an estimated $92,000 a year for 3 years, or $276,000 total, just for merging.

“These are just projected financial incentives ... because the state wants consolidation to take place,” Andersen said. “So, as long as it’s available, we want to do this on our terms …”

No organized opposition groups offered testimony. Only one resident asked a question.

If Sondgeroth and the state superintendent approve the consolidation, and no organized groups appeal the decision within the allotted time, residents of both school districts will vote in a referendum to merge the schools, as well as for new school board members, in April.

Voters must approve the referendum if consolidation is to take effect by next fall.

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