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Lt. Gov. Simon hears concerns during Illinois education reform hearing 

November 2, 2011

Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon visited Black Hawk College in Moline Wednesday to hear testimony from people concerned about the future of education in the state.

Wednesday's hearing was the third of four being held in the state.

Teachers, superintendents and school district board members all took turns at the podium speaking to Simon and other members of the Classrooms First Commission.

Simon and commission members listened to concerns, many of them surrounding the possibility of increased school district consolidation.

Illinois ranks 3rd in the country with 868 school districts.

Gov. Pat Quinn has asked that number to be reduced to 300 districts.  He says the move could save the state $100 million.

Many question whether or not consolidation actually saves districts money.

Simon says the state must figure out a way to improve learning while districts deal with smaller and smaller budgets.

"If we want to address performance issues, let's make sure we address funding issues.  Let's pay to make sure every student in this state has the resources necessary to have a quality education," said Ralph Grimm, Superintendent of the West Central School District.

"I think the toughest task overall whether it's the federal government, the state government or individual school districts, is trying to do the best job possible with a limited budget," said Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon.

Simon says she and the commission members will take the public's input back to Springfield to try to come up with a plan.

Simon wrapped up her trip to the Quad Cities with a visit to Western Illinois University's new campus in Moline.