Residents in the Catlin and Jamaica school districts soon will have a chance to vote on a plan to merge the two districts. It’s a good move for the most important people involved — the students.
A Committee of Ten, made up of representatives from both districts, have met during the past several weeks to examine each district’s assets, discuss a plan to combine operations and consider the feasibility of the proposal. So far, everything looks good.
Both districts list fewer than 200 students in their respective high schools. The two districts have had a cooperative athletic agreement — known as the Salt Fork Storm — for almost 20 years. As their student populations shrink, it only makes sense to seek efficiency and economy through combining the two. The familiarity brought about by the sports co-op will help ease the transition.
Proposed property tax rates for the merged district are about what Catlin residents pay now and a bit less than Jamaica’s rate. The plan makes use of existing buildings — each keeping its elementary school, with junior high students going to Jamaica and high school students in Catlin — so no construction will be necessary.
The merged high school will be able to offer its students a more varied curriculum than either individual school can now, which only serves to better prepare the districts’ young people for whatever path they choose to follow after graduation.
School board members in both districts deserve credit for putting aside home-town sentiments, if any, and keeping the success of their students as their first priority.
With Illinois struggling to fund its schools as it should from the state level, the merger of the Catlin and Jamaica districts looks like the best move for students and taxpayers alike.