CUSD #404 soon will have a name

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter

Students in grades 5 - 11 in the Westmer and Aledo school districts will be voting soon on a new name for the consolidated school district, it was learned at Wednesday's Jan 7, 2009 CUSD #404 meeting. The new board met at Aledo Junior High and learned that suggestions have been coming in hot and heavy at both the Aledo and Westmer web sites, for a new district name, mascot and colors.

"On line we've had well over 640 submissions," said Trisha Hank, board member who is spearheading the committee to narrow the choices.

She said the committee, made up of both athletic directors, band director, PTO presidents from both districts and four students (two from each school) met last week and set up some of the parameters for the new district, such as not choosing a mascot of a nearby district. The committee will next meet on Jan. 15 to wade through the suggestions. The community has until Jan. 10 to submit ideas.

"Our goal is to narrow it down to three (choices), it could be up to five," she said. "One thing we know it won't be is the A & W bunnies or maggots," Hank joked. "Students will be voting on acceptable names, colors and mascots," she added.

In addition to students in grades 5-11 making their choices, unofficial voting will be held for elementary (K-4) students, with each class being given one vote, said Hank.

The meeting began with a technology update from interim Superintendent Frank Bochman, who said that a temporary office has been set up at THE National Bank on the second floor with a computer, printer and Internet hook-up. "The office is workable," said Bochman.

Board President Dwight Shoemaker introduced James Bartley, attorney at Klein, Thorpe, & Jenkins, Ltd., of Chicago, as a possible choice for Interim Legal Counsel. Bartley spoke to the board and a room of around 50 in audience about his qualifications. He said his firm has been representing school districts for the past 75 years and been involved in a number of districts that have combined. "We've worked in that area for a long time," he said.

Bartley was invited to the closed session of the board meeting, at around 7:10 p.m. and emerged more than an hour and a half later, before the board reconvened. The closed session was held to discuss personnel, including, board secretary, speech therapist and retention of interim legal counsel.

After returning to open session, the board voted to hire the firm of Klein, Thorpe, & Jenkins as its interim legal counsel until July 1, 2009, by a unanimous vote. Board member Kay Forret was absent from the meeting.

Board member Doug Ball said after the vote, "They have experience with consolidating districts."

Board member Steve Willits said, "He was able to give us clear and concise answers that other lawyers left us confused."

The district will pay the law firm $200 per hour for its services.

For more on this story, see the Jan. 14, 2009 issue of The Times Record.