- Published: Friday, August 02, 2013 08:52 AM
SPRINGFIELD – Small school districts looking to consolidate can now accelerate the process by filing a petition, after a law sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D–Bunker Hill) was signed into law Friday.
Currently, school districts serving a population of fewer than 5,000 residents have the option to accelerate the school’s reorganization process by dissolving without a referendum vote. House Bill 2267 will allow school districts with fewer than 750 students to take similar advantage of the speedier process of dissolving by filing a petition – a locally driven process.
“There are dozens of low-enrollment schools that didn’t qualify under the old criteria, even though it had very few students,” Manar said. “Tying this process to school enrollment is logical and will save districts looking to consolidate time and money.”
According to Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon's office, just over 50 of Illinois' 868 school districts would meet the new criteria. Another 330 districts qualify under the current law.
Governor Quinn proposed reducing the state’s 868 school districts to 300 in 2011, saying it would save the state money. But a study commissioned by the Illinois State Board of Education found that the ‘cost-saving’ proposal would actually cost the state an estimated $3.7 billion.
“My children attend school in a small district,” Manar said. “I know how important local control is when it comes to our kids’ education. Decisions regarding consolidation or dissolution should be made at the local level, not by the General Assembly or our governor. This law not only protects our small schools, it also protects local control of our schools.”
Manar’s proposal is an initiative of Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon’s office and based on recommendations made by the Classrooms First Commission, which was tasked with suggesting ways Illinois school districts can improve student learning opportunities and reduce duplicative costs.