Letters to the editor:
To the voters of the Westmer and Aledo school districts:
I am very much in favor of the consolidation of the two school districts. I have attended a number of meetings of the school boards and committee of ten and I am convinced that this consolidation would provide the best educational opportunities for the children of the two school districts, both present and future students.
In the end I believe that is our responsibility as voters on this issue to make sure the children have the very best education that we can give them. In today's world and probably even more so in the future, being well educated and trained is very important. Being involved in economic development both locally and regionally, it is my opinion that a strong education system is very important in recruiting new businesses (jobs), but also in retaining existing businesses. I also worked part time for 12 plus years as a real-estate agent and during that time saw cases of people making decisions on where they would possibly live or not live based on the educational opportunities for their children.
So while the main point is providing the best education and training possible for our students there are other aspects of this decision to consider also. The one other thing I would ask is to consider this not only for the present, but think about it in terms of 5, 10 or maybe even 20 years.
Please vote yes for the consolidation.
Congratulations to all the candidates for offering to run for office this election year, but where are the Democrat women? On page A16, Times Record Oct. 22, 2008, the Democrats running for election on Nov. 4 were printed. There were seventeen candidates with pictures, including Mercer County offices. Two of the seventeen are women, 11.7 percent of all democrat candidates. So where are the women? Sarah Palin stepped up in Alaska - first the school board, then a town mayor, then an energy board regulator, and then the governor. Are there no qualified Democrat women in Mercer County or in Illinois? Or does the Mercer County Democrat Party not support women candidates, as some Hilary Clinton supporters have charged of the National Democrat Party? I do not know the answer. But the question remains, where are the Democrat women?
Douglas W. Rettig
Concerned School Consolidation Parent:
I have two children currently enrolled in Westmer Schools. My daughter is a senior and is looking forward to college next year. She has taken all classes possible in an effort to prepare her for undergraduate studies. This year she enrolled for Chemistry II, but was moved after school began to a child development class because there wasn't anyone available to teach Chemistry II. I am very concerned that the quality of education my children are currently receiving is not going to enable a smooth transition to college. I have already placed her in the distance learning English class offered by Blackhawk College in Aledo and am so very disappointed that she had to take the alternative class. If declining enrollment is just going to make class offerings smaller and smaller, what are the options for the college bound students? If combining districts is the answer, why wouldn't we as responsible parents insist on the consolidation? I want the best possible education for my children and am certainly going to vote for it. My junior high school son hasn't even started any of these classes yet, so I wonder how many of them will not be available if we don't consolidate?
Trina Lybarger Moore
To the Editor:
Using two new words from recent Sunday paper's magazines - let's not schemozzle the Aledo-Westmer consolidation vote. Rootle if you need to and vote because you can!
What a yes vote means:
1. I care about the future of a school district in Mercer County.
2. I want to help provide our students with the best education we can give. 3. I want to have a say in the process. The committee of ten and both school boards have researched and planned this to the best of their abilities and knowledge. Their work is to be commended. 4. I want to utilize the buildup we have as long as they are needed. The original report was for million dollar additions to grade schools and closing Joy. Add-ons and declining enrollment were NOT seen as financially responsible. West Central learned the hard way about closing a building and the impossible job to bring it back up to current codes. 5. Our communities need our schools and our schools need our communities for both to be at their best. Each one helps to build and support the other. 6. I believe this is our ONE and ONLY chance to do this. Now is the time! The research is complete no need to delay and spend the time and money again. It won't be available like this again. We have a say in the process, this is our best option to keep a school district in Mercer County. 7. I'm voting YES because I CARE!
What a no vote means:
1. I don't care about the future of our schools and communities. 2. I'm willing to pay even higher taxes sooner to support a single school district. Alwood is now proposing an .80 cent tax increase because they are not consolidating. Where will Alwood be and what will they do without consolidation, declining enrollment, declining state money and a good chance .80 cents doesn't pass? We don't want to find that out for ourselves! 3. I don't care how far student will go for their education or who /how/when we later join another district (with no choices or voice). 4. I don't care what cuts will be made in classes offered and extra curricular activities until #3 takes place.
This is a chance for us to say YES WE CARE and believe this is the best possible solution. Is it perfect? No. Do we live in a perfect world with perfect relationships and perfect children? No. Now we have a chance and a choice to make the best of it. We already participate in musicals and sports; let us also be together in the classroom. The acronym TEAM stands for 'together each achieves more.' Consolidation is how we Can do this, vote yes and join together - achieve more for our students, teachers, schools and communities.
To the Editor:
The upcoming vote on school consolidation has brought up many questions these past two weeks. Please make an informed decision before you cast your vote.
We need to focus on a first class education for our children, grandchildren and future generations.
College bound students need more background and the students that are not college bound need more vocational skills. An improved curriculum could provide both of these aspects.
These issues have been addressed by both school boards and the committee often.
The committee of ten has spent endless hours going over all aspects of consolidating, line item by item budgeting, busing schedules, and many other recommendations. This has all been done with no compensation for their commitment. Everyone who served in this group is locally educated.
The candidates running for the new board have all been involved and have spent many hours studying and working on this project.
The tax rate has been explained in the public meetings held at various sites. If you still have questions, please contact the present board members of your district or any of the committee of ten.
A new board should have representation from both districts. I ask you to think of the young people in these two districts and their future education. If one or both of these districts has to deactivate its high school, where then will these students get their needs met?
I am a lifelong Mercer County taxpaying resident.
To the Editor:
Consolidation of the Westmer and Aledo school districts deserve a yes vote. If you look at the long-range view the districts should combine. The result will be good for the children. The new district will be stronger than the old districts.
The consolidation will make our communities and Mercer County stronger. People will see that we value our schools and our future.
All of the candidates for the new district seem to have said they agree with the committee of ten recommendations. I suggest people study the candidates and choose people who have demonstrated good moral character. You may recall some of the news stories in late 2005 and early 2006. Our students deserve people who they can look up to.
Our vote is important.
Vote yes for the consolidation and vote for strong moral candidates.
To the Editor:
We have to endure a lot. The fast-buck guys have left a mess: $70,000 an acre vacant land; $30,000 residential lots; and unprecedented taxpayer grants (giveaways, never has to be repaid). But the issues keep coming.
One issue that looms large is the consolidation decision. Down at the District #201 School House, it is difficult to know what people are thinking. The fear is that you don't know what you don't know. The opposition is pretty much a whisper campaign. No one knows how many support the whisperers.
That brings us to my dilemma. No one who supports consolidation wants to make the chance of passage worse. So one week you think better left unsaid (let the Committee of Ten handle it), but the next week you feel that you need to get up off the couch and say something. This week I am in the latter category.
At District #201, we have gone from 'Let's see what Rockridge thinks. I understand the big picture' (translation: If we are short financially, tax the people more; and 'The future is our children, so what's the problem with increasing the tax levy?') to a unanimous vote in April 2008 to support consolidation. Approximately one year ago the District #201 Board was split on the issue. So I have to believe there is a substantial number of people in District #201 (I hope I am wrong) who do not support consolidation.
Curriculum quality depends in part upon finances. The last known assessment valuations for the two districts are as follows:
District Tax Year Total Assessed Valuation
District #201 2007 $ 71,175,882
District #203 2007 $ 36,126,844
From District #201's perspective, the assessed valuation will increase 50.7 percent upon consolidation. Where are you going to find an increase in the assessed valuation like that? Mr. Entrepreneur cannot create wealth like that.
But the financial argument for consolidation does not end here. Presently, there are 294 students at Aledo High School. Upon consolidation, the number will be 420 students. At the present state student aid rate of $5,959 per student, the annual income in state student aid will increase by $750,834 ($5,959 x 126 more students) if consolidation is approved. Operating only one high school with no increase in personnel will benefit everyone.
Consolidation is a chance to thrive instead of just survive. District #201 is already in a deficit mode for this school year. Without more students, cuts in curriculum are sure to follow if consolidation is rejected.
Dwight L. Shoemaker