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9/10/2013 9:53:00 AM Letters to the editor: Ladd board not 'interfering' with merger but is simply doing its job
The Ladd Board of Education will continue to make decisions based on the educational, social and emotional needs of our students — decisions that support our staff and community. We will continue to follow the law, consulting with ROE and ISBE when we have questions or need clarification. We will continue to support our neighbors as long as it does not negatively affect our school district. The Leepertown BOE asked us to accept the annexation of Leepertown. After participating in a reorganization study, we determined the merger would positively impact our students. This annexation brought us a Preschool for All program and a second special education teacher, allowing us to service all our students. We were able to maintain, and in a couple of instances, reduce our class sizes. Leepertown needed a law change to make their annexation possible. They had no other options. Previously, the law only allowed them to merge with Spring Valley because they attended the same high school and had contiguous borders. Spring Valley could not take them due to overcrowding. Unfortunately, financial difficulties caused Cherry to make the decision to close. When asked by Cherry to consider a merger, we studied the issue carefully. We determined a Ladd-Cherry merger would not only help Cherry students, it would benefit our students by allowing us to lower class sizes in at least three additional grade levels. After visiting/hearing about Ladd in January and visiting/hearing about Dimmick in February, the Cherry board put out a survey to get community input before making a decision. The Cherry superintendent reported 400 surveys were sent out and only 145 returned. He noted there were several spoiled ballots. Of the ballots returned and accepted, results favored Dimmick by 90 percent. Of course we were disappointed because we would love to have the children of Cherry join us but we moved on. We assumed the referendum question for a Cherry-Dimmick merger would be put on the March 2014 ballot. We were surprised to hear last month of the difficulties of a Cherry-Dimmick merger. HB 492 was mentioned so we contacted Representative Mautino to find out about it. Since then, it’s been reported the Ladd board is interfering in the process. We are not interfering; we are asking questions, researching and considering the long-term effects of this legislation. We are doing our job as a board. We are not trying to stop a Cherry- Dimmick merger. We want the Cherry board to do what they feel is best. Cherry and Dimmick can still merge with a March 18 referendum. I speak strictly for myself. As board president, I am willing to take the heat but the attacks on our board, school and community must stop. Ladd School is a great school and we are very proud of it.
John T. Piccatto Sr. President of Ladd School board
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