NOBLE, Ill. (WTHI) - State budget shortfalls are hurting Illinois schools. It's a story we've shared with you in the past from several of the school districts in our viewing area. Now, the cuts have one district on the brink of closure.
More than 80 years of history mark the halls of West Richland High. A small hallway, which matches the small classes it graduates every year. But its also a school that after this year, could cease to exist.
"We could do nothing and go broke,” Superintendent Don Haile said of the situation. “We'd go broke oh a year from this January we could no longer continue to pay our bills.
Budget cuts have hit Illinois schools hard. State Funding is not matching the price to keep programs and classes open; making small school districts like West Richland, harder than ever to operate.
That's why this year, the school board hired Don Haile and another superintendent, Rod Stover.
“Our job at that point was to come in and close this school district down and get them moved over to go to Olney next year,” Haile explained.
It was a move that would merge East and West Richland High schools. However, a community that is so attached to the schools put together a petition to keep it open and prevented the merger from going through.
Now Don Haile said without a move there are three options. One is to go bankrupt and let the state take over the school. Or they could cut programs and teachers to stay open.
Still, the superintendents favor closing down the West Richland School District to merge with East Richland; but now that move would require a public vote in Noble, Illinois.
"At the last board meeting in august they directed the superintendents to proceed with having a vote amongst the public," Haile explained.
Public voting could be a problem because that would mean voting would have to be held in both West and East Richland before the schools could attempt to merge again.
Leaving time ticking away as the future grows cloudier for schools in Illinois. The West Richland school board will meet for a final decision on September 16th.
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