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|School Consolidation Commission to be Created
|(IRN)-Lawmakers are a step closer to getting some work done on school consolidation in Illinois.
In February Governor Pat Quinn said the state could save $100 million by reducing the state's 868 school districts by about 500. The Illinois Senate passed a measure Tuesday that would create a commission to look into the feasibility of such a plan.
"Does it save money? What's in the best interest of the school? How can we create some efficiencies? All school districts are operating with scarce resources at this point," said sponsoring State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria). "It's not just all cost-savings, it's also just the level of what is good for the student, what is in the best interest of education?"
The 20 member commission, which would include government leaders, teachers groups, principals and other education experts, would have to deliver a report to the General Assembly by July 2012.
During floor debate, State Senator Dale Righter (R-Charleston) pointed to a provision in the bill that would require the General Assembly to pass a resolution to recognize the commission's findings within two weeks of the report's completion.
"Most of the time when we see these commission bills, the commission is given a deadline by which a report has to be given to the governor and the general assembly and then that's kind of the end of it," Righter said. "You're taking an extra step here basically by putting the report in front of the members of the General Assembly, and forcing them to do something with it. Is that to prompt a little more attention to the need to do something in this area? Is that why you're doing this?"
"Yes," replied Koehler.
"That's the dichotomy of the issue right now, how do we do something that's effective and meaningful without shoving it down somebody's throat but that we don't let this report sit on the shelf and gather dust."
HB1216 passed the Illinois Senate 39-16 and heads back to the House.
"Hopefully we can come out with a reasonable plan that's going to get us into a position in Illinois that we have less than 850 school districts and that we're able to do that in a way that people don't feel like their rights have been trampled on," Koehler said.
(Source: Illinois Radio Network)
|05 18 11 by Newsroom
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