School officials in Bluffs and Winchester already act in many ways as colleagues in Scott County.
The two districts are very familiar with one another, especially on the different playing fields, as the “West Central Cougars” athletic co-operative was formed approximately a decade ago.
Now, the two districts have brainstormed another idea to join forces, mainly in terms of the one person every public school district appoints to be a leading voice for the district.
David Roberts is currently the superintendent of Winchester Community Unit School 1. Roberts will, however, be leaving this position at the end of the school year and retiring. He explains how the Bluffs board president brought this one superintendent for both school districts idea to the Winchester district.
“Back in May, I submitted my letter of retirement. We began searching for a new superintendent to begin in July of 2019 and had reviewed 15 or 16 potential options of viable representatives for the Winchester district. Bluffs District Board President Gary Westermeyer contacted our Board to ask if sharing a superintendent would be possible. Kevin Blankenship has been the superintendent at Bluffs for six years.”
Roberts says the dual superintendent idea is currently the CUSD 1 Board’s top priority.
“Winchester CUSD 1 and Bluffs 2 held a joint Board meeting Monday night, and at this point we are proceeding with negotiations to potentially establish Kevin Blankenship as a Superintendent of both districts.”
Roberts says this joined superintendent position would be different from most others currently operating in the State of Illinois.
“There’s apparently 18 shared superintendents around the state at this time, but almost all if not all of them are in dual districts. Most districts in West Central Illinois are unit districts: K-12. Dual districts have many K-8 elementary schools that feed into a high-school district. The closest district is probably Lincoln that operates like that. The shared superintendent in those instances would cover both the K-8 and high school districts.”
Roberts addresses any rumors of a 100% complete merger of the two school districts.
“A lot of our staff and community members and even Board members have been asking if this means consolidation. My answer to that is: This is a step in that direction. We want to all do what is best for students of Scott County.”
The next Winchester CUSD 1 Board meeting will be October 9th. If the Bluffs CUSD 2 Board meeting schedule pattern remains the same, the next meeting will be on October 10th.