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Carbondale residents suggest consolidation of elementary, high school districts
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Carbondale

Carbondale residents suggest consolidation of elementary, high school districts

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CARBONDALE — With the recently announced resignation of Carbondale Community High School District 165’s superintendent, some parents are raising the question about whether the high school and elementary school districts should consolidate.

Chastity Mays is the mother of a junior at Carbondale High School as well as two graduates from the district. She wrote a letter this week to both District 165 and District 95 school boards suggesting they take up the consideration of merging the two districts.

“With the recent resignation of (the) current Carbondale High School Superintendent and a search being conducted soon I wanted this to be a possible discussion for the future of both districts. This should be a serious consideration before completing a search for a new superintendent,” Mays wrote. The District 165 school board accepted Superintendent Steve Murphy's resignation in October. Murphy's last day will be June 30, 2021.

Mays said in her letter that there are several reasons to consider the consolidation, many of them financial. She noted that taxpayers could save on administrative costs by going from two administrators to one. Also, with the consolidated district, Mays wrote that the new district might qualify for special funding through the state and other agencies.

“I would like to implore you to please consider and discuss this consolidation process for the benefit of the children of both districts,” she wrote.

Mays said in an interview Monday that other parts of her argument come down to academics.

“I think a move like this would just help those students in so many ways,” Mays said.

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She pointed to her daughter as an example. Homeschooled until eighth grade, Mays said her daughter does well in school, but does not test well. Because of this, she was placed in an intermediate math class when she went to high school — a class that was not challenging enough, Mays said. Mays said it took time for the school to find the right fit for her daughter.

Mays said streamlining the curriculum and academic approach between the two districts by merging would help students land successfully in the right classes in high school, and would also make sure students coming from the middle school to the high school are prepared academically — something she said has routinely been an issue for District 95 students.

Brian Woodard is the president of the Carbondale High School board. He said he and others on the board only learned of the question over the weekend.

“At this point we don’t, we don’t have any official statement on that,” Woodard said Monday. He added that he wasn’t sure if the proposal would be brought up at a future meeting — it was too soon to say. When asked if the question of consolidation has come up before, Woodard said in his eight years on the board he hasn’t seen any formal discussion of it.

Daniel Booth is the superintendent of Carbondale District 95. He, too, said he just learned of the proposal.

“It’s a sensible time to ask the question,” Booth said before adding that he did not feel knowledgeable about the subject to comment further.

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According to information from the Illinois State Board of Education attached to Mays’ correspondence to the school boards, consolidation would not be a quick process. It would start with a petition filled out by residents of the districts, and then would go on to a local public hearing. Then, the measure would go to the regional superintendent of schools for approval, before being sent on to the state superintendent of schools. If given the proposal makes it past the state superintendent, then the question of consolidation would be put to voters at the ballot box.

isaac.smith@thesouthern.com

618-351-5823

On Twitter: @ismithreports

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