By Jim Broadway, Publisher, State School News Service
Briefly, the bill would abolish every Illinois school district outside of Chicago on July 1, 2012, combining all other 867 districts into just 102 – one for each county in the state.
The bill is posted for a hearing in the Counties and Township Committee at Thursday in Room 122Bof the Capitol at 8:30 a.m. It is a tiny room. It is a small committee. Thefavorable votes of just four members would send this bill to the House floor.
Will the bill get a hearing? That may depend on how many phone calls and emails committee members receive by Wednesday. If they decide the bill is a hot potato, they might vote it down. The sponsor might just tell the panel, “Never mind.”
The sponsor is Rep. Robert Rita (D-Blue Island). Within his legislative district are school districts that are very poor and might benefit significantly by being grouped into one large district with all other districts located in suburban Cook County.
Other districts in the state may not take it well, however.
Why did this bill not go to the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, where School Code-amending legislation usually is directed? Perhaps it is because the bill could never get the 13 votes it would need to pass in that committee.
Counties and Townships panel members may be unfamiliar with education issues.
Few, if any, are likely to have read the recent NEPC report entitled: “Consolidation of Schools and Districts: What the Research Says and What It Means” – documenting forced consolidation as a very bad idea.
If this bill interests you, you might want to forward the report’s link to the legislators on the committee or express your opinion about HB 1886. Here’s a link to the committee members’ contact information.
As background, some states have county school districts. Florida, with more students than Illinois, has only 73 districts, one for each county. Also, in Illinois we have a fewcounties so sparsely populated that they already have only one.
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Consider this issue to be in the public domain. – Jim Broadway