Illinois House Approves School Consolidation Measure

More school districts in Illinois could soon dissolve without getting residents’ approval.

Lawmakers are advancing a plan. Chris Slaby reports.

When education money’s tight, supporters of school conslidation say it’s a way to save.

Bringing together two smaller districts can allow them to pool resources and reduce repeated services.

Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth, a Democrat from Peoria, acknowledges it’s not always popular.

GORDON-BOOTH: “Anytime you see the word consolidation, it gets people’s feather’s riled up.”

But her measure would make it easier – and faster – to do.

Part of the plan applies to school districts with less than 750 students.  School boards there would be able to dissolve without getting residents’ approval in a referendum.

Another piece of the measure allows districts that don’t share a border to merge, as long as they’re less than 30 miles away.

They would also have to prove merger attempts with neighboring districts were unsuccessful.

Opponents say they’re worried about fewer jobs being available if more districts combine, but they were outnumbered in the House, which overwhelmingly sent the plan to the Senate.

—Chris Slaby

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