Residents of two western Illinois school districts will make an important decision next week - whether to combine the Alwood and Cambridge districts. The consolidation vote on Tuesday follows more than a year of study and meetings, and years of working together in sports and other areas.
Alwood superintendent Shannon Bumann says one consideration for voters will be taxes.
"What it all comes down to is Alwood's rate could be a little bit lower and Cambridge's rate would be a little bit higher. Then the farmland would increase, people that own farmland, their assessed values would increase by two per cent."
Each district currently has about 400 students, and they both have two buildings - one for elementary and one for middle and high school students. But no decisions have been made about which schools will stay open - that'll be up to the new school board.
Bumann says that's a concern for some - state law says members of the consolidated board will be elected at-large, so it's possible all seven could come from the same district.
"The Illinois General Assembly and the state board of education don't allow you to go out and say we'll have three from Cambridge and three from Alwood and one at-large which would make the playing field a litte more even. I think everybody would agree with that."
Bumann says combining the Alwood and Cambridge school districts has been talked about off and on during his 20 years in the district but this is the first time it's ever come to a vote.
"No matter what happens - if it make it fine, if it doesn't make, that's fine. I think the community has really gotten a better understanding about what our districts are made up of and how successful they have been."
For consolidation to win on Tuesday, the question must receive at least a simple majority in both districts. And it would not take effect until the fall of next year (2018).