Consolidation will need a nudge

September 20, 2013 

Any reasonable person can see it: Illinois has too many school districts for taxpayers' and students' good. There are 863 districts, down from 891 a year ago. Still, that's ridiculously high number. Fewer districts in general would save money on salaries and overhead, and in many cases broaden the academics and extracurricular activities schools could offer.

But consolidation remains a four-letter word in most districts.

O'Fallon School District 90 wanted to consider consolidation with its neighboring elementary districts. But Shiloh District 85 and Central School District 104 aren't even willing to explore the possibility.

Frankly, if District 90 were flush with cash, it wouldn't want to do it, either.

If Illinois is ever going to get serious about school consolidation, it's going to have to attach enough financial strings to make it happen. And rather than expect individual school boards to start the conversation, the state will have to lead.

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