Quinn introduces bill that could reduce number of Illinois school districts

By Danny Ciamprone

Gov. Pat Quinn introduced a bill that could cut the number of Illinois school districts from 868 to 300 if passed.

Quinn said the bill would save taxpayers $100 million.

“Those guys must be crazy,” said James Briscoe, superintendent of DeKalb School District 428. “It takes Springfield 18 months to pay their bills. The school districts and universities aren’t getting paid.”

Briscoe said he believes if the bill is passed, it will probably be very small schools that would consolidate with elementary schools.

DeKalb School District 428 contains 13 schools, including DeKalb High School, an early childhood/pre-kindergarten program, two middle schools and nine elementary schools.

He also questioned whether this will truly help Illinois residents. For Briscoe, there are other ways to help the state debt that would not involve closing schools and putting administrators out of work.

“How about we look at the governor’s salary?” Briscoe said. “We don’t ask him how much he spends on that helicopter or mansion.”

Principal Shahran Spears of Brooks Elementary, 3225 Sangamon Road, said when it comes to making education decisions, kids come first.

“I think one has to be very careful and very judicious when making these decisions,” Spears said. “It has to be addressed on a case-by-case basis.”

Brooks Elementary is also apart of DeKalb School District 428.

Mayor Kris Povlsen agreed with Spears and said kids should be taken into consideration first before making any immediate decisions.

“It should be looked at in a deliberate manner,” Povlsen said. “They have to keep in mind the education of the students and not just the budget.”

Povlsen also stressed the importance of having a well, thought-out agenda.

“If there is consolidation, they have to make sure there is a business or educational plan to ensure the class sizes don’t get out of control,” Povlsen said.