Tri States Public Radio Staff
Mon February 13, 2012
Groups Air Pros and Cons of Consolidation
Two public meetings Sunday gave voters the chance to evaluate the pros and cons of a proposed consolidation of the Abingdon, Avon and Bushnell-Prairie City school districts.
The Committee of 10, which supports the consolidation, held its meeting Sunday afternoon at Avon High School.
The committee chairman, Jerry Arthur, is a former principal at Bushnell-Prairie City High School. He said declining enrollments and fixed costs mean the districts can't offer much beyond a basic curriculum. He said the most important factor for voters in the consolidation is not financial savings but how the new district would improve course offerings for students.
He said, “We think if they look at, primarily the curriculum, that would be a driving consideration for voting yes to go forward with this.”
The committee has produced a flyer that says the new district would be able to offer up to 92 new courses that the individual districts cannot offer.
Sunday evening, the “Just Vote No” committee held an informational meeting in Bushnell. Committee members do not believe the three district consolidation is in the best interest of students in the Bushnell-Prairie City school district.
Prairie City Mayor John Oakman is co-chairman of the committee. He said while both the Avon and Abingdon school districts continue to show declining enrollment, projections show the Bushnell-Prairie City district will soon stabilize at about 825 students.
He said, “I do not believe the numbers support the fact that there is any need to consolidate in our district right now.”
Oakman said the election has eliminated consideration of other options. He said the Bushnell-Prairie City district should consider consolidation with the Avon district.
Voters will decide the issue at the polls March 20th. The proposal must pass in each of the three districts to take effect. Voters will also vote for a school board for the consolidated district. If the consolidation issue does not pass, the school board election will be moot.