Board of Education reached consensus on proceeding with a possible feasibility study that would find out whether a merger between district 26 and Fox River Grove School District 3 is feasible.
Board president Chris Spoerl and vice-president Jason Larry has met informally with Fox River Grove board president Pat Hughes and discussed the commonalities between district 26 and district 3.
Both districts go to the same high school buildings and discussed each other’s strengths and needs as well, Spoerl said Monday night.
"There are some folks out there that do studies on school district mergers," Spoerl said. "Those studies could be reimbursed by the state if done correctly."
Not totally clear on the cost, Spoerl said the study could cost between $10,000 and $20,000. The district would pay for the study upfront but would have the opportunity to receive a reimbursement from the state if completed and approved by June 30, 2012. There is a possibility of district 26 sharing cost with district 3, Spoerl said.
However, the board has directed superintendent Brian Coleman to find out the exact pricing of the study and next steps to take in the process. Coleman said he plans to bring back as much information he can to the March 5 finance committee meeting for further discussion.
The Fox River Grove Board of Education also discussed the feasibility study on Monday night.
"Our Board was approached by District 26 to join them in an exploratory process of looking at that feasibility of merging with D-26," Fox River Grove Superintendent Tim Mahaffy said in an email to Cary Patch.
"Although this has not been a previous expressed interest of our board, they are interested in looking at the data."
Dr. Mahaffy said there hasn't been any formal action taken to participate in the study, only to seek out a feasibility study consultant at this time.
The idea of and sharing administration resources had been discussed publicly in November of last year.
"It should be clear that this should be a very a public and transparent process," Larry said. “Therefore, we want to be very mindful and respectful of this coming out in public the way it should and be respectful on how Fox River Grove may feel about this."
With both districts facing declining enrollments, it could be some ways to "leverage" each other on both sides of the river, Larry said.
Larry hopes to have both boards' of education to discuss the matter together in public at the committee level.
Spoerl said the study would find out how property taxes would work out, along with how salaries', benefits and certified staff would be affected.
"Eventually, both boards would have to take a vote to do the study," Coleman said.
Board member Scott Coffey asked, what would the process be for the communities' if both boards approved the merger?
The public would vote on a referendum essentially, Spoerl said. However, as of now the board is "unclear" of the time-line and if the public would vote on the merger in the November election or in a special referendum.
According to the Illinois State Board of Education school district reorganizations' data, there has been 57 district mergers since 1983.
The last merger to take place in McHenry County occured in July 2000 between Spring Grove and Richmond, which eventually created Nippersink School District 2.
What Does "Merger" mean?
Merger is the consolidation of two or more existing districts to create a new district.
The merger is governed by Article 11E of the Illinois School Code
1. Petition filed by voter signatures or school boards
2. Local public hearing
3. Regional superintendent approval
4. Approval by state superintendent
5. A successful referendum