MONMOUTH AND ROSEVILLE AT ODDS OVER SCHOOL CUTS
By: Emily Friedrich
(Monmouth, Ill.) You could cut the tension with a knife at last night’s public forum, as the community pressed the Monmouth-Roseville School Board for answers surrounding the district’s budget deficit.
Parents, residents and students in the packed auditorium voiced their disappointment and frustration in the situation. Board member Mary Kelly explained, “Nothings in stone right now, so don’t assume we’ve made a decision.”
But the atmosphere quickly turned sour as many Monmouth and Roseville residents found themselves in disagreement over a proposal to close Willits and Roseville Elementary Schools. Roseville mother Lori Metcalf said, “Our kids are going to get lost. If that does happen we will pull our children out of the district and put them in a private school. We don’t want our kids falling through the cracks.”
Superintendent Paul Woehlke reassured the crowd that no foreclosures are definite until the amount of state aide cuts become available.
Deficit Reduction Committee Chairperson Tim Tibbetts, questioned the school board’s opinion on the possibility of pursuing consolidation with nearby United School District in the future. Half of the board said they would be willing to talk with United School District and believe consolidation is the right direction for surrounding communities.
Area resident Chris Fleming moved to the district six years ago from Indiana where he said many regional school districts have consolidated. “We came from a district that was a county wide school, very successful. Yes, there’s added busing, but the kids education was better.”
Added busing evoked more reaction from Roseville residents. Among the most outspoken was High School senior Kelsey Ault. “That’s all that we’ve got going for us. It was the only solid thing. Well, we’ve seen just about everything else go out of Roseville, we don’t want to see something else leave.”
Lincoln Elementary school counselor Ginger Murray tried to put the situation in perspective for both communities. “Our kids all come together in Junior High and High School. We all benefit from success from all the schools. When you live in a small rural district, you live in a bubble. You live in a very wonderful community, but I also know change is hard, but keep in mind everyone is invested in our kid’s future.”
Woehlke expressed his gratitude for public input and all perspectives will be rightfully considered, but ultimately the Board has to, “Act on the best information we have available.” Board member Lynn Shimmin strongly advised the community to contact local legislators. Another parent agreed, “You need to get a hold of legislators and let them know you’re not happy with the way our children are being funded.”
Loud cheers and applause followed after Shimmin said, “If they’re going to cut anything, let’s not let it be education.”
Woehlke will make his final recommendation to the school board at a meeting on Friday. Before the meeting concluded, every board member thanked the crowed for its participation. "I don't care what anybody says, we have a good district," said board member Brad Larson.