State Should Take over Local School District, Round Lake Area Mayors Say

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Byline: Jason J. King Daily Herald Staff Writer

The five Round Lake area mayors are urging the state to take over their financially troubled school district.

The mayors of the four Round Lake communities and Hainesville issued a statement Wednesday asking the state to leave Round Lake Area Unit District 116 intact, but under the control of a financial authority.

Round Lake Park Mayor Ila Bauer said local control of the district is no longer a viable option and called into question the school board's leadership.

Last March, four new school board members - Guy Finley, Ann Welk, Gordon Rogers and Deanna Ruiz - were elected, promising changes to the way the board conducts business.

But a rift between the four resulted in the election of Jim Hult, a veteran board member, as president.

"We thought the community had sent a clear message that they wanted a change, they did not want experience, and quite obviously that message wasn't heard," Bauer said. "We feel that to restore confidence in the school system, some drastic measures have to be taken."

Hult criticized the mayors for pushing the finance authority idea and defended his leadership.

"I still believe local control is the way to run the district, and I think the rest of the board feels that way too," he said. "I think my experience and insight into what has happened in the past helps. I just have to prove to the community that I was the right choice."

Welk said the board is trying to come together as a group to fix the district's problems.

"I think it's unfortunate that things worked out the way they did, but we are working to try to make the best of the situation," she said. "It would be nice if we had more time to gel as a group to make the changes that are needed."

The state financial oversight panel that governs the district is expected to make a recommendation Jan. …