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Ed commission pushes for cost-sharing efforts in IL 

Illinois Statehouse News
April 17, 2012
By Stephanie Fryer

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois' school districts can save money by sharing services instead of consolidating, a state education commission says.

Smaller counties and districts with declining student populations could consider two options: consolidation or sharing services with neighboring districts to save money and enhance learning, according to Illinois' Classrooms First Commission.

Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon heads the commission.

Simon said money saved from “voluntary and virtual consolidations” could be directed to public-school classrooms.

Gov. Pat Quinn last year floated a plan to merge the state’s 868 school districts into 300 districts, saying it could save about $100 million in administrative costs. Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson on Tuesday said the governor understands consolidations are not “one size fits all,” and he will look into the various recommendations put forth by the commission.

The Classrooms First Commission, which includes legislators, educators, union leaders and others, came up with nearly 30 recommendations to help reduce duplicative education spending in Illinois' school districts.

It also recommends school administrators use a database that compares spending in school districts to review how schools run on leaner budgets.

The commission will have four hearings in April to get public feedback. Public comments will be used to produce a final report by July.