Johnson County residents are invited to attend a community meeting regarding school reorganization on Tuesday, Nov. 26 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Vienna High School media center. Attendees can enter through door K, which is the right of the large commons area windows, for the community meeting.
According to Josh Stafford, Vienna High School superintendent, over the last few years, discussion has been held around the possibility of doing a school reorganization feasibility study to gather information about whether or not it would be beneficial or detrimental to reorganize the current dual district system into a unit system. Currently the dual district system is made up of five separate school districts: Buncombe 43, Cypress 64, New Simpson Hill 32, Vienna 55 and Vienna 13-3.
Stafford said one of the current driving factors in terms of the timing of the movement to do a study is the pending capital bill, which is anticipated will make a multibillion dollar investment in school facilities around the state.
"This will be the first substantial capital investments in schools in approximately the last 20 years. While the capital bill and school reorganization are separate things, the reorganization study information could be helpful to answering long-term questions related to the direction of potential future capital projects," said Stafford.
Stafford said in October each of the five respective boards in the dual district considered the question of doing a school reorganization feasibility study. Following the October board meetings, three boards -- Cypress, Vienna, and Vienna High School -- voted to pass the resolution and two boards -- Buncombe and New Simpson Hill -- voted to reject it.
He said even though Buncombe and New Simpson Hill voted to reject the study both schools will still be included in the study. According to Stafford, voting on the resolution basically serves as one tool to potentially accessing grant funding to pay for the study. These two boards are still able to reconsider the resolution and pass it if they choose.
Because the first method of funding made the study ineligible for funding, Stafford says they have worked with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and have been approved for a waiver, which allows for the cost of the study -- $16,200 -- to be fully funded by the ISBE.
Cypress, Vienna and Vienna High School superintendents have reached out to Nick Osborne and Jim Rosborg, who are recognized by (ISBE) as conducting school reorganization feasibility studies and have completed many studies around the state and in the region.
"While some individual administrators and board members may not want to attend, which is well within their right, we do not want anyone to feel excluded or be blindsided," said Stafford, adding "While there may be disagreement between boards in regard to conducting the study, I think that it is important to note that the schools in our dual district system have worked well together for what is in the best interest of all students and I am confident that we will continue to do so."