City of Winchester Rescinds Name Change on Elm Street After School District Concerns Raised

By Benjamin Cox on February 13, 2023 at 3:24pm

A nightmare on Elm Street? That’s what it would have been if the City of Winchester would have had on its hands according to the Winchester School District. The City of Winchester has had to rescind a previous ordinance about a name change to one of the multiple locations named Elm Street because of problems it would have created for numerous items for the school district’s administration.

Winchester Mayor Rex McIntire explains the problem with the two Elm Streets in town: “We had enacted an ordinance renaming Elm Street because it paralleled Elm Street. We have two streets [with the same name] that parallel each other for several blocks there. The section that started at Cross Street and went south past the [Winchester Schools] Administration Offices and down by the elementary school would have had their addresses effected along with three houses. We thought ‘Well, all we have to do is rename that section.’ We weren’t aware of all of the problems it could cause the school district.”

McIntire says he contacted with Winchester Schools Superintendent Dr. Kevin Blankenship and 9-1-1 Coordinator Bill Walquist to be at the February city council meeting to explain the situation to the Winchester City Council.

Blankenship says that the changing of the street’s name would cost the district’s taxpayers money because of all of the paperwork that would need to be changed and filed with various government entities: “What I relayed to the city council was because the district office is located on the street that was up to be changed, it would require us to change the address on all of our documents. When we talk about that, I told them these are some of the examples of – and I told them that I anticipated some of these to be a problem and some of those may be easier, but until we actually got into the process I didn’t know. I talked to them about the experience that I’ve had in changing those documents.”

Blankenship’s examples to the city council ranged from changing the addresses on the title’s of the district’s owned vehicles with the Illinois Secretary of State to changing state-filed paperwork for district financial assistance with the Illinois State Board of Education; which in turn, would require federal paperwork to be changed with the federal Department of Education. Blankenship says that, in his experience, changing the address would take enormous amounts of time: “As anyone is probably aware, any time you are dealing with the Secretary of State Office, changing titles is not always an easy thing to do – sometimes it is, sometimes it’s not. That’s kind of where the ball started rolling in the discussion at the meeting with the city council. Then, the district also has all of its financial accounts that would need address changes, so the 3 banks in town would have to have the change on all of our accounts, all of our checks, all of our banking information, online banking information, and doing those confirmations. Then, we get into all of the state level information, so all of our things tied in with the State of Illinois through funding through the State Board of Education all has the district address on that Elm Street address. Now, some of those things I anticipate would not be hard to change – letting ISBE know. However, once ISBE changes them, they have to be changed with the federal government for all of our federal grants that we get, as well. I know from experience that is not easy to do.”

McIntire says that the City Council has come up with a “meet in the middle” solution to rescind the previous name change ordinance passed in January. He says there is only one thing that may change that won’t involve the school district address: “The only section that we would change would be the alley from Cross Street north that was called Elm Street. We are probably either going to rename that or not do anything at all with it. It’s an alley more or less. There are actually from that section north to Cherry Street there has no houses that face it. It’s the back yards of the houses all along there. It’s really not going to effect anybody’s address.”

The Scott County Times reports that no official action was taken at the City Council meeting on February 1st, but McIntire told WLDS News on Thursday that the rescinding of the ordinance is pretty much a done deal so a name change won’t disrupt the school district.