Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Proposed School District Efficiency Commission Illinois House Bill 3053

Proposed School District Efficiency Commission Illinois House Bill 3053, Metamora Herald

House Bill 3053 is moving towards the governor's desk. Here is what Illinois Policy wrote last year:
Illinois has the most units of local government of any state in the country. Many of its nearly 7,000 units of local government are overlapping, duplicative and contribute to Illinois’ growing debt, waste and corruption. These local units of government are also responsible for Illinois’ growing property taxes, which already rank as the third-highest in the country. Many of the state’s local governments could be consolidated – which would help to reduce their negative effects.
Among the key candidates for consolidation are the state’s 859 local school districts, which consume nearly two-thirds of the $27 billion in local property taxes that local governments across Illinois collect each year. Illinois has the fifth-largest number of school districts in the nation.
Nearly 25 percent of Illinois school districts serve just one school, and over one-third of all school districts have fewer than 600 students. An additional layer of administration for these districts is inefficient.   https://www.illinoispolicy.org/reports/illinois-school-district-consolidation-provides-path-to-efficiency-lower-tax-burdens/#part7
Now, House Bill 3053 waits in the state legislature. From the Illinois General Assembly website:
Synopsis As IntroducedAmends the School Code. Creates the School District Efficiency Commission. Provides for the membership and support of the Commission. Requires the Commission to make recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly on the number of school districts in this State, the optimal amount of enrollment for a school district, and where reorganization and realignment of school districts would be beneficial in this State; specifies the topics on which the recommendations must focus. Provides that, on or before May 1, 2020, the Commission must vote on its recommendations and submit a report to the Governor and the General Assembly. Provides that if the Commission adopts the report recommendations by an affirmative vote of at least 11 of its members, then the Commission's recommendations for reorganization of school districts into unit school districts must be placed on the ballots of the designated school districts in the next general election in the same manner as petitions approved by a regional superintendent of schools, except without financial incentives. Provides that the Commission is dissolved the day after the report is filed with the Governor and the General Assembly. Repeals the provision on February 1, 2021. Makes a conforming change in the Conversion and Formation of School Districts Article. Effective immediately.http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=3053&GAID=15&DocTypeID=HB&LegID=119401&SessionID=108&SpecSess=&Session=&GA=101
Illinois Policy concludes: 

 Rather than punish Illinois residents with more tax hikes, the state and local governments must pursue reforms including pension reform and school district consolidations. Local taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for multiple layers of government that duplicate services, waste taxpayers’ money, increase government debt, and decrease transparency.
The numbers speak for themselves: More than 60 percent of local property taxes in Illinois go toward school funding. And with the large number of districts in Illinois ripe for consolidation, the financial benefit cannot be ignored. A reduction of school districts by half could lead to operating savings of nearly $130 million to $170 million annually and could conservatively save the state $3 billion to $4 billion in pension costs over the next 30 years.
The state also has a stake in consolidating school districts. Illinois government is a large and sometimes the largest, provider of school funds for many Illinois school districts and is responsible for paying for school district pensions. By virtue of its responsibility to taxpayers, it has the duty to identify waste and propose efficiencies.
The benefits of consolidation would go beyond saving taxpayers money. District consolidation can have a positive effect on student outcomes and would increase transparency as well.
Considered carefully and implemented properly, school district consolidation can provide important benefits to Illinois taxpayers, local school districts and Illinois students.

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