|By consolidating seven sets of staff, New Trier could save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in salary and pension costs over the next 30 years.
Local taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for multiple layers of government that duplicate services, waste tax dollars, increase government debt, and decrease transparency.
Taxpayers need consolidation reform
There are currently so many school districts in Illinois that they’ve escaped accountability.
That’s why school districts have managed to amass $20 billion in debt, or $10,000 per Illinois student, and why property taxes in Illinois have grown three times faster than household incomes since 1990.
And that’s why school district consolidation is an important and necessary reform for Illinois.
To clarify, however, reforms should focus on district consolidations, not school consolidations. School consolidations should remain a local decision.
New consolidation efforts should also end the state’s policy of providing financial incentives to districts for consolidating. And to prevent local property taxes from rising, any new consolidation efforts should develop policies that block the merger of teachers contracts in any newly combined districts.
To that end, the state should create a district consolidation commission, similar to the Base Closure and Realignment Commission that closes and consolidates U.S. military bases.
Illinois’ commission would focus on cutting the cost of duplicative district administrations. The commission’s recommendations would be subject to an up or down vote in the General Assembly, meaning no amendments would be permitted.
If done properly, school district consolidation would lead to significant savings for both local taxpayers and the state – and, if taxpayers demand it, could lead to even greater reforms in education.