East and West Richland set to merge

OLNEY, Ill. (WTHI) Last year we told you about the financial issues making it tough for the West Richland school district in Illinois to stay open. This year there are already plans in the works to merge those students with nearby East Richland schools.

Spring sports are in full swing in Olney. The potential softball and baseball teams may not know it, but this may be the last year their teams wear East Richland on their jerseys.  Next year they may just say Richland high school.

“In Approximately 2010, the governor of the state of Illinois talked about really combining school districts,” East Richland Superintendent Marilyn Holt said.

Since then Holt and the East Richland district have looked at possibly annexing nearby West Richland. A school district hit very hard by the state’s budget crunch on education.

“I was very impressed with the West Richland board, still am, how they really studied the issue and looked at the opportunities they were able to provide their students,” she said.

The West Richland school board in May of 2013 wrote a resolution to dissolve their district and be annexed into East Richland.

However, in July of 2013 West Richland citizens signed a petition to stop the annexation. Then in the fall came another change of events.  Citizens in Noble, Illinois signed a petition to annex with East Richland.

“So with that the board of education at West Richland then took this (petition) back to the regional board of trustees and so then in January there was a hearing and we have now received an order that we are to proceed with annexation,” Holt explained.

Which means East Richland and West Richland could cease to be separate districts as early as the summer.

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