LADD — The Ladd Elementary School Board announced at a meeting Tuesday night it has made no decision on whether to oppose consolidation of the Cherry grade school district with the Dimmick district.
Cherry Board of Education President Becky Hoscheid represented all those in her district when she addressed the board for an answer as to what will happen to her district in the future.
“I’d like to speak for everyone so no one else is asking why we have no answers. I’m here to find out why, since the board has had time to make a decision,” said Hoscheid, who was accompanied by many Cherry residents at the meeting.
Ladd School Board President John Piccatto Sr. assured her a decision has not yet been made by the Ladd board for numerous reasons. Adding to that, Ladd elementary superintendent Michelle Zeko said the Ladd board still is waiting to hear from the Illinois State Board of Education regarding questions about the consolidation.
One question they have, though Cherry and Dimmick school officials say Ladd officials should not be worried about it, is whether the Hall High School district would lose Cherry’s equalized assessed valuation and tax revenue. When contacted before Wednesday’s meeting, Dimmick superintendent Ryan Linnig said he believes the Cherry school district taxes stay in the Hall district, and he said he doesn’t think there’s any doubt that taxpayers in Cherry will remain responsible for helping to pay of bonds issued for construction of a new Hall High School.
“We are still waiting for information from the State Board of Education regarding the issue that if Cherry were to merge with Dimmick, and if somewhere down the road the people of Cherry decided they wanted their children to go to La Salle-Peru High School, would the residents of Cherry still be responsible for the bonds issued by default?” explained Zeko. “We know that in bonds that Cherry issues, the Cherry people are responsible for, but since Cherry didn’t issue those bonds, the board has not given us an answer.”
Zeko said the State Board of Education is currently working on answering this question in the legal department, and she is expecting an answer soon.
State Rep. Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley) said this summer he has a bill number available for the fall veto session to get a law passed to allow Cherry students to go to grade school at Dimmick, although Dimmick's in the L-P district at La Salle County region and Cherry is in the Hall district and Bureau-Henry-Stark region. He said if there is no opposition from the regional board, Ladd or Hall, then he can get the bill passed.
Cherry residents have expressed frustration that their wishes are not being acted upon soon enough and that if Cherry and Dimmick want the merger, nobody else should be allowed to block that.
Mautino, Cherry superintendent Jim Boyle and Linnig all have said this summer that the Dimmick and Cherry voters also can make the merger happen through a spring referendum, but the superintendents would rather see the decision solidified and finalized sooner than that.
Katlyn Rumbold can be reached at (815) 879-5200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.