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home : insight & opinion : letters to the editor
December 14, 2018

11/14/2017 1:58:00 PM
2014 merger study should have been 'discarded'


The article, "Unit 1, 3 residents have their say on consolidation" (Oct. 24 Daily News), gave incorrect information on what I said. It is true that I was on the Committee of Ten in 2002. However, the information I used was from the more recent feasibility study, the one presented in 2014, when I was a member of the Palestine Unit 3 Board of Education. I did not use information from the 2002 study. In fact, I did not even look at the 2002 study. Remember, this information is from the 2014 feasibility study. This is what I said and this is what I submitted to ROE Superintendent Newlin. Superintendent Newlin said more than once that the transcript and submissions were available to anyone who wanted them. Thus, information in the story could have been checked prior to writing the story. I know that the Daily News was under a deadline to write about the hearing, but an assumption was made which proved to be incorrect. The newspaper tried to correct it (clarification, Nov. 7 Daily News), so I will proceed from there.

As you read the article, remember that all references to a feasibility study are to the one done in 2014. You may begin to see why that study is not worth the paper on which it is printed.

The Committee of Ten did not want to start from scratch. They did not want to re-invent the wheel, I was told by one member. So the previous feasibility study was used. Information there was poor and sometimes wrong. In fact, the Palestine board of education decided it was a waste of someone's money, it was so poorly done.

When considering dual districts, the study used information from a six-county Chicago area from a study conducted in 1992. Neither the Chicago area nor 1992 were applicable to Crawford County and 2014. When it came to figuring averages, to make comparisons on costs of various items, the person doing that did not know how to find an average.

As an example, suppose a district has one student and the cost to provide a service is $200. The second district has nine students with the same need and the cost for each is $400. In the feasibility study that would $400 for the other and the average cost would be $300. In reality -- District 1 is paying $200 for one student for a total of $200. District 2 - with nine students at $400 each - is paying $3,600. The total costs - $200 and $3,600 - - then divide by the number of students, 1 + 9 = 10. The average is the total dollars, $3,800, divided by the total students, 10. The average is actually $380 rather than $300. With all the errors in the study, I think it should have been discarded and not considered at all for the present Committee of Ten.

A big concern is that Palestine will be left with no school, no attendance center. With consolidation, a new board of education may decide to close all the buildings in Palestine, in the first year, the fifth year, the 20th year - or whenever they decide. There is at least one way to keep a school in Palestine for the foreseeable future, but that was never considered. If Palestine and Hutsonville are to reorganize, I believe consolidation is the wrong choice. No attendance center in Palestine would have a derogatory effect on Palestine businesses and residents.

Through the hard work of former Palestine superintendent Joe Sornberger and most of the board of education at the time, Palestine Unit 3 has moved from having a major deficit to having positive numbers. At this time, I believe consolidation is not in the best interests for the students, taxpayers, and businesses of Palestine.

Having served on a Committee of Ten, in 2002, and knowing all the hard work and time involved, I am not putting down the work done by the present Committee of Ten. I was, at one time, for consolidation, but there are other ways to reorganize now and I think they should have been explored.

Jim Bush

Rural Flat Rock

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