By Diane S.W. Lee, Illinois Statehouse News
Some lawmakers in Springfield got an earful in recent days from school board members and superintendents opposing proposed legislation that could jeopardize their jobs. A proposal to dissolve all school districts and school boards statewide and transfer all administrative work to newly created county school boards has stalled in a House committee. The sponsor put his plan on hold Thursday following an outcry of opposition.
“It is a starting point to build off of, so that we could go back to cutting inefficiencies, putting more money back into the classrooms, looking at property tax relief,” said sponsor State Rep. Robert Rita, D-Blue Island. “Because, face it, in these economic times we need to look at some of these cuts.” The proposal would dissolve all school districts and abolish their school boards on July 1, 2012. All powers, duties and pending businesses of approximately 870 Illinois school districts would be transferred to about 102 newly created county school districts.
“I think we need to look at everything we can do to save money in the state of Illinois,” State Rep. Richard Morthland, R-Moline said. “But that doesn’t mean that every idea is a good idea, and that it should move forward with the lightning speed that we were set to move this forward.”
“I don’t think (Rita) is ever going to get enough votes to get it out of committee,” said State Rep. Patrick Verschoore, D-Rock Island who is chairman of the seven-member committee.
Illinois State Board of Education spokesman Matt Vanover said the proposal might mean efficiencies achieved through administrative cuts, not necessarily closing school buildings. “There would be a possibility of increased transportation costs for districts, those type of things,” he said. “The board’s position is essentially that they recognize the need to carefully consider district consolidation in certain context, on an individual basis.”
You can read Diane's full report at: http://illinois.statehousenewsonline.com/5252/abolish-all-illinois-public-school-districts-not-yet/