Mercer County Junior High will be in Joy

Robert Blackford/Editor

The Mercer County School Board voted 6-1 to have the Joy building be the consolidated district’s junior high facility at the board’s April 1 meeting. Trisha Hank was the only dissenting vote.

At the previous board meeting two weeks prior to the April 1 meeting Interim Superintendent Bill Rees made the reccomendation that the current Aledo Junior High building be made the consolidated district’s junior high and the Joy building made the fifth and sixth grade facility.

During the public discussion portion of the evening Sherry Chandler and Marsha Krystic spoke in favor of an a junior high in Aledo. Chandler spoke on behalf of several teachers noting that the Aledo facility was made to be a junior high facility. “Not using it as a junior high is a waste of resources,” said Chandler. “As a fifth and sixth grade building it will not be used to its full potential.”

Krystic will be the new district’s junior high band director. She projects a band of more than 100 students that could easily move into the Aledo Junior High facility and perform in three weeks with no additional expense to the district.

She asked that if the junior high is in the Joy building that it not be placed in the cafeteria, because it would cause too many problems.

Jason Snyder addressed the board noting that he had also spoke at the second or third meeting of the board. Snyder said he felt some of the board members had personal agendas that were more important that what was right for the students. He accused the board of not paying attention to the people. "Hopefully you got on the board for the students. Take a look at yourself and step down if you aren’t here for the kids. I’ve got three boys in the district on the honor roll. That’s what’s important.”

Board member Kay Forret read a letter from Westmer board member Mike Hedrick expressing his deep regrets about supporting the consolidation. Hedrick said the reconfiguration of the schools was totally opposite of what he said to convince people to vote for the consolidation. Hedrick’s letter said that many of his friends and neighbors were no longer speaking to him. “They think I lied to them.”

Hank asked why this letter was read, noting that she had received 15 letters stating citizen’s wishes that the junior high building be in Aledo.

Forret said she had read the letter because Hedrick is a Westmer board member.

Hank addressed the board about the hiring of Rees as interim superintendent because of the board’s need for an objective, unbiased person who had 25 years of experience. “We agreed to hire him unanimously.”

Hank told the board that environment totally has an impact on a student’s ability to learn. "Study after study shows it. We should match the kid with the building.”

Hank said the people of both districts knew what they were voting for, that they were sold on their kids getting a better education. It’s a shame it has turned into a political issue. I will be siding with the expert’s advice.

Board member Steve Willits addressed the board with a prepared statement. Willits said he felt the district’s teachers were its most valuable asset. He felt the new district has a great team and that all of the district’s buildings are adequate. Willits added, “Our greatest challenge is unifying the new district.”

Hank motioned that the new district’s junior high be in Aledo. Doug Ball seconded the motion noting that it should be brought to a vote. The board voted against Hank’s motion 6-1.

Rees addressed the board following the vote saying, “It was my understanding that this issue hadn’t been discussed at an open board meeting. I felt that this discussion had to occur. "One and a half months ago when I got here people were yelling and screaming at each other. In the past two weeks I haven’t heard a raised voice. Hiding issues is always a mistake. I will give everything I have to make the Joy building a great building. I will make it work. We will be a better board for what we did tonight.”

Rees said he was willing to take the board’s opinion that this was in the best interest of the district.