Voters can decide school reorganization issue Will appear on 2012 primary election ballots

A proposed reorgan-ization involving four Union County public school districts now has moved a step closer to being on the 2012 primary election ballot.

The Illinois state superintendent of education last week issued a decision in favor of those in the community who support placing the proposal before voters.

A spokesperson for a local Committee of Ten which circulated petitions in support of placing the matter on the ballot said the state superintendent's decision was good news.

The state superintendent's decision can be appealed within 35 days.

The reorganization would involve Lick Creek School District 16, Anna School District 37, Jonesboro School District 43 and Anna-Jonesboro Community High School District 81. Voters ultimately would decide the outcome of the proposal.

On Dec. 2, regional superintendent of schools Janet Ulrich issued a written order denying a petition which had sought to place the issue on the March 20, 2012 primary election ballot in Union County.

Ulrich's order was sent to Dr. Christopher A. Koch, the state superintendent of education.

On Friday, Dec. 23, Koch issued a decision which reversed Ulrich's order.

Koch decided to approve the petition. His decision "will allow the submission of the proposition at the regular scheduled election on March 20, 2012, for the purpose of voting for or against the establishment of an optional elementary unit district in the territory."

The state superintendent issued his decision after a review of the petition, the transcript of a Nov. 22 public hearing in Jonesboro and supporting evidence, and the regional superintendent's decision.

Koch wrote that in approving the petition, he took into consideration "the school needs and conditions of the affected districts and in the area adjacent thereto, the division of funds and assets that will result from the action described in the petition, the best interests of the schools of the area, and the best interests and the educational welfare of the pupils residing therein."

Committee of Ten spokesperson and attorney John Bigler said Koch's decision was "good news." Bigler said he was "absolutely" pleased by the decision.

Bigler said Koch's action was the "right decision for the community."

He also said that he hoped school boards in each of the districts would not spend taxpayers' money on an appeal. Bigler added that even if Koch's decision is appealed, the committee will try to have the proposal placed on the ballot.

Bigler said the Committee of Ten will continue to work to educate the community about the proposed reorganization. He said the committee may meet this week to further discuss the issue.

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