Letters to the Editor
Updated: November 3, 2011 9:46AM
Consolidation of school districts would lead to real citizen benefits
The 840, approximately, school districts in Illinois are too numerous, and that numerosity necessarily leads to duplication in management positions, electoral expenses, support functions, legal representation, and a host of other expenses.
Part of the reason we have 840 separate school districts is protection of redundant school district functions and positions, such as 840 school superintendents and 840 school district business managers, etc.
The introduction in Springfield of legislation to consolidate Illinois school districts has launched school district lobbyists to issues position papers and press releases exposing the “myths about school consolidation.” The sycophants of redundancy want to stop school district consolidation by confusing the issues and changing the question with platitudes about “local control” and local programs, and threats of “forced consolidation.”
The School District Consolidation bill finally passed on May 28, by House concurrence with the Senate, kicks the can down the road. It proposes a “School District Realignment and Consolidation Commission,” a 15-member commission composed of the major educational interest groups — associations of school board members, of superintendents, of district business officials, of principals, teachers unions, Regional Superintendents of Schools, and legislators — to submit a report to the General Assembly identifying criteria for consolidation and describing which districts should consolidate. The composition of the Commission foretells its conclusions.
To be fair, there is a legitimate debate as to whether consolidation of districts causes education cost savings and where those cost savings come from. The Glenview Announcements (Aug. 11 issue) reported the “White Paper” of Northfield Township school district presidents opposing the consolidation of districts.
But it is demonstrable there are real benefits to Northfield Township school district consolidation. Based upon fiscal year 2010 financial statements, if the five elementary school districts and one high school district in the Northfield Township consolidated, and functioned at the same level of efficiency as Barrington Unit School District 220 (approx. 9,000 elementary and high-school students), Northfield Township school taxpayers would save $45 million. If at the same efficiency as Naperville Unit School District 203, then $64 million.
Lawrence T. Miller