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
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
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.
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
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
She also noted that the tax would apply to everyone who makes
taxable purchases, regardless of whether they are a resident of the
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.
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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
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
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
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
[By NILA SMITH]
Past related article