KEWANEE, Ill. (KWQC) — As election day approaches tensions in Kewanee are rising all over a vote to consolidate the two school districts of Kewanee and Wethersfield.
A group called “Citizens for Consolidation” is supporting the consolidation, a plan that has been discussed for years. Bruce Tossell, Kewanee community member wanted to make this discussion a reality and started the “Committee of Ten.” This is a group that raised money for a feasibility study to figure out if a consolidation would work.
“It shows your short falls, and it shows your positives,” said Tossell, “What we did was we tried to take all the positives from both schools and add more to it and make it even better.”
The “Committee of Ten” had one goal, to get consolidation on the ballot. Once this goal was reached the group ended, leaving many members to join and start “Citizens for Consolidation.”
The new group is spending time reaching out to residents and explaining the benefits of a merger. Frank Tocha, a former Kewanee teacher and coach said the benefits are something you can’t ignore. “Vocationally were down a lot of classes that we used to offer, and I know with two school districts and a bigger size you can offer more things,” said Tocha.
Tossell said finances are a big issue facing both schools especially Wethersfield. He said Wethersfield is depleting it’s savings and needs to find a solution before all of the district’s money is gone. “Now Kewanee has financial recognition whereas Wethersfield has slipped into financial review,” said Tossell.
He feels the solution is simple, combine the schools and share the money. Tocha agrees saying he took his own children out of Wethersfield in 4th grade, to switch to Kewanee.
As a former coach. Tocha said he watched the number of athletes that go out for sports slowly decline. “We’re losing sports at both schools, numbers are down and we can offer more things at a bigger school,” said Tocha.
He said one question really bothers him,”why can’t we all play under the same lights and cheer for the same teams?”
The two townships share everything except a school, and now some feel it’s time to share it all. “At least this time we will have a vote and know how people really feel, when the vote comes out I will be happy for the first time in the history of Kewanee the people will have a voice,” said Tossell.
The vote will take place on Nov. 8, but a majority is needed in each township for it to pass. If the vote does pass a new district will form in April, 2017.