April 23, 2014
Large number of citizens sign school consolidation petition PDF Print E-mail
Local Columnists - Letters

In a single week of gathering petitions, supporters of the A-C Central and PORTA school consolidation gathered six times the number of signatures necessary to put the proposal on the March 18, 2014 ballot. State law requires that a minimum of fifty voters in each district sign the petition. The Committee of Ten representing both school districts had hoped to submit double the required number; instead their supporters gathered 231 signatures of registered voters in the A-C Central School District and 403 signatures of PORTA voters.
One of the petition circulators was Rich Edwards, an interested Ashland resident and school consolidation supporter. He collected signatures in Ashland and said, "Consolidation is a ‘no brainer.’ It will help our kids, save money and cut taxes. I like all three."
Committee of Ten member Laura Richard of Chandlerville was elated with the support for the petition. She stated, “My friends and I talked to our neighbors and got the necessary signatures after a few hours of knocking on doors. Most people agree consolidation needs to be on the ballot.”
Kevin Thomas from Oakford is a PORTA representative on the Committee of Ten. He circulated the petition and found that people were happy to sign the petition in order to get the issue on the ballot. Thomas said, "I think most people understand that a larger consolidated school would offer students far more academic programs than either of our individual school districts does today. Consolidation would be more efficient and save money."
On September 4, the Committee of Ten voted 10-0 to petition the Regional Superintendent of Schools to place the consolidation question on the ballot. Because the A-C Central School Board has refused to meet with the Committee of Ten and not agreed to put the question before the voters, the law requires that fifty signatures must be gathered from both school districts. The petition, along with 634 signatures, was submitted to Regional Superintendent Jean Anderson on Monday, September 16. The petition must be approved by the Regional Superintendent and the State Board of Education for it to be put on the March 18, 2014 ballot.
A-C Central has about 450 students and PORTA has 1,050. If consolidation is approved by voters in both school districts, the new consolidated district would be formed on July 1, 2015.
For further information, please call: Committee of Ten Co-Chair Karen Hoffman (217-341-7090) or Co-Chair Allen Grosboll (217-652-3866).