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Local

Key step toward merger

Regional superintendent gives OK; petition now in state’s hands

ROCK FALLS – Regional Office of Education Superintendent Bob Sondgeroth approved a petition to consolidate the Nelson Elementary and East Coloma Elementary school districts.

Sondgeroth on Tuesday submitted his decision to the Illinois State Board of Education. The state superintendent has 21 days to approve or deny the proposal.

He considered the needs of the districts, the best interests of the schools and the best interests of the students in the districts, among other things, according to documents he submitted to the state.

If the state superintendent approves the consolidation, and no organized groups appeal the decision within 35 days, 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.

East Coloma Assistant Principal David Chavira has said that 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.

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