Interim Superintendent of Schools for District 404 Bill Rees drew a crowd to the March 18 meeting of the consolidated school board. Word quickly spread throughout the district of his belief that the junior high should be located in Aledo, not the Joy and his intentions of addressing the matter before the board.


Interim Superintendent of Schools for District 404 Bill Rees drew a crowd to the March 18 meeting of the consolidated school board. Word quickly spread throughout the district of his belief that the junior high should be located in Aledo, not the Joy and his intentions of addressing the matter before the board.

A packed house greeted Rees and the board in the Joy building.

Rees said he believed the best course of action was to move the seventh and eighth graders to Aledo while the fifth and sixth grades moved to Joy.

Rees stood and addressed the crowd directly stating the idea was his alone and he had not consulted the board about it. "This is a self inflicted wound."

Rees added, "When I was hired I came to you with an unbiased view. One of the things I've always done is I bring things out in the open. I know this is a politically charged issue. I know sometimes politics overwhelm the educational aspects. If this cannot be changed because of the political outburst it may cause, if it can't I will work with that."

Rees went back to the feasibility study. He told the crowd that the board was right when it refused to close the Joy building under pressure from the public. Rees said the feasibility study didn't take into account the fact that life safety issues with the building had been addressed and no extra tax burden was going to fall on the district.

Rees told the audience that the sophistication of the building should match the sophistication of the student. He believes that seventh and eighth grade students would perform better in the Aledo building.

Rees added, If you don't give a seventh and eighth grader the opportunity you may rob the kids who do test well of their chance to achieve and the ones who are behind with the chance of catching up.

Rees said he has spoken to many of the people in both the Westmer and Aledo districts and believes many of the people in the Westmer district have a right to be upset but added, "We need to start binding up those wounds. It's never ever too late to be nice to one another."

Rees said the rooms in the Joy building are huge for a middle school. "This building has a nice ambiance. It's got nice classrooms that are clean, good carpet and tile."

Rees added, "The fifth and sixth graders don't need the labs that the junior high has. There is room here for Christmas programs and room to breathe."

"There is nothing harder than closing a building where the students, teachers and parents want to keep open," said Rees.

Rees noted that only about one third of the voters in the combined district came out of the Westmer end and it was possible in the future that people could run for office with the intent on closing the Joy building.

Rees noted a study he conducted and had reached the conclusion that most low performing schools in western Illinois were built before 1940.

He encouraged the people to contact their board members or call and talk to him personally.