Tuesday, November 23, 2010
sponsored by

School cooperation committee takes working together to a new level

Send a link to a friend

[November 23, 2010]  In 2007 a consolidation study was conducted by Dr. William H. Phillips, Dr. Leonard R. Bogle and Dr. Scott L. Day from Consulting and Resource Group in Champaign. The result was a 300-page report that examined the condition of Logan County schools and explored the possibility of consolidating some or all of the schools into one district unit.

The school districts evaluated in the study were Lincoln Community High School and its feeder school districts: five Lincoln elementary schools and Lincoln Junior High, Chester-East Lincoln, West Lincoln-Broadwell and New Holland-Middletown.

At the time, it was decided that there was no need or benefit to doing a total school consolidation; however, the study brought out some interesting points that local school boards wanted to explore.

This resulted in the formation of a cooperation committee whose purpose would be to explore the possibility of joint resources throughout the districts.

In the beginning the committee, which was made up of educators and school board members, met sporadically and discussed these issues.


Recently the committee has stepped up their meeting schedule and is developing a wide variety of ideas designed to benefit students, unify the education curriculum, raise public awareness of activities in the public schools and obtain funding that will stabilize the financial condition of the education system as a whole.

Currently serving on the committee are Dr. Mary Ahillen, superintendent for Lincoln Elementary District 27; Crystal Alley, former school board member, member of the community and co-chair of the cooperation committee; Jean Anderson, regional superintendent of schools for Logan, Mason and Menard counties; Robert Bagby, superintendent of Lincoln Community High School; Keith Birnbaum, board member from Chester-East Lincoln; Kenny Golden, board member from Chester-East Lincoln; Bret Hitchings, tech center director at LCHS; Dr. Bob Kidd, school board member at Lincoln Elementary and former superintendent of that district; Roger Matson, school board member at West Lincoln-Broadwell; Steve Rohrer, president of the Lincoln Elementary board of education and co-chair of the cooperation committee; and Dr. Terry Scandrett, superintendent at New Holland-Middletown.

In an interview with Anderson, the regional superintendent, she touched briefly on each project the committee is working on at the moment. While the following is an overview of all the activities, LDN will be diving deeper into each subject in the coming days and weeks, beginning with an interview with Robert Bagby on the possibility of a 1 percent sales tax levy.

Sales tax

In Illinois it is possible for school districts to levy a sales tax to assist in funding building and facility improvement projects.

The committee is looking at the tax and its benefits, with Bagby taking the lead as one who is very well experienced in the sales tax.

Anderson said the real benefit to Logan County residents is that the sales tax could offer the opportunity to reduce property tax.

The sales tax itself does not apply to food or medications, which she said is a very important issue for the senior population in the county.

She also noted that the tax would apply to everyone who makes taxable purchases, regardless of whether they are a resident of the area.

Curriculum coordination

The committee has worked extensively with establishing a means for unifying the curriculum in all schools, with Ahillen taking the lead on this project.

Anderson explained that in the past there have been instances where in an English or literature course, for example, at the freshman level, an assignment has been made, only for the teacher to discover that some but not all of the students had done this same exercise while in junior high.

Simply put, this gives the experienced students advantages over the ones who have not had the lesson.

Regardless of the course of study, the pitfall to this situation is that the inexperienced students can become discouraged because they are not doing as well as the students who are studying the topic for the second time around.

Ahillen spearheaded a program to offer teacher trainings and discussions to help unify the curriculum so that specific lessons are being taught at the same grade level in all classrooms, and it has been a very successful venture.

[to top of second column]

Shared resources

Discussions are also taking place regarding shared resources.

This includes the possibility of sharing facilities and staff, along with entering into purchasing cooperatives.

Much of this topic is still in the discussion stages, but Anderson said she felt that there were a number of possibilities being discussed that would benefit the school districts and the students.

Raising community awareness

The committee is nearly ready to introduce a public awareness program through local media with the hopes of enlightening area residents on the good things that are happening in our school districts.

Matson is spearheading the drive to produce a monthly page in local papers, including LDN, that would be the good news from the schools. Anderson said the concept is to have a variety of notes on school activities, photos and individual pieces written by school staff.

Targeting education needs related to wind energy

The group is discussing enhancing technical and vocational education as it relates directly to wind energy maintenance.

Anderson said that currently her understanding is that the people who are performing maintenance on turbines at the local wind farms are not necessarily local residents.

The problem is that in Logan County there are very few, if any, who have the skills to do the job, and that is because we are not offering the education for those skills.

Anderson said the final goal is to give local residents the tools they need to get the jobs and stay here at home rather than exiting the county for their careers.

More to come

The cooperation committee, which is currently meeting on a monthly basis at the Regional Office of Education in Lincoln, will be an evolving unit that will continually introduce new ideas for discussion and will work to develop programs and projects that will ultimately improve the level of education received by all Logan County students.


Past related article

< Top Stories index

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching and Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law and Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health and Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor