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Districts urged to wait on Bi-County decision

Director says he'll conduct a study, provide findings by spring

STERLING – Local school boards likely will not take action on Sterling's petition to withdraw from the Bi-County Special Education Cooperative for a few months.

Drew Hoffman, director of the cooperative, has urged superintendents to wait until he completes a study of the effect the withdrawal will have on the remaining districts.

Hoffman has given himself a deadline of March 1. He also has suggested the cooperative board schedule a retreat to discuss his findings.

"I don't want to say you'll be ready by March ...," Hoffman said at the cooperative board meeting Tuesday. "I believe by spring, though, you'll be prepared to take information to your boards."

Sterling has filed a petition to withdraw from the cooperative, effective with the 2014-15 school year. Sterling estimates it could save more than $160,000 a year by shifting services from the cooperative to the district.

Sterling Superintendent Tad Everett reiterated Tuesday that the decision has nothing to do with the services of the cooperative, but rather, everything to do with finances.

"It's an unfortunate situation for all those involved," Everett said. "It's nothing we want to do by any means, but it's a scenario where it's $150,000 to $200,000 I don't have to cut from my budget."

The 10 remaining districts in the cooperative – eight in Whiteside County and two in Carroll County – must approve the move. If at least one of the member districts does not, the matter would go before the regional boards that represent the member districts.

Superintendents from the remaining districts questioned whether they have to approve or deny Sterling's petition to withdraw by a certain date.

Hoffman said the cooperative bylaws do not specify a date by which local school boards must render their decisions. But he urged member districts to wait for more information.

"I would encourage you to allow me to go ahead and do this study and get the information to your boards so they have a realistic picture of what they're voting on."

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