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Metro-East school districts consider merging to save money

by Diana Zoga

KMOV.com

Posted on March 22, 2011 at 9:43 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 7 at 12:55 PM

(KMOV) -- Voters are facing a critical question in the Metro-East. Should school districts in East Alton, Wood River, and Hartford combine?

A group, calling themselves "Citizens For a Better Education", petitioned to put consolidation on the April 5th ballot - saying the move would cut administrative costs, save schools money, and eventually decrease resident's tax bills.

Currently, students who attend the East Alton Elementary School District #13 for elementary and middle school later join students from the Wood River - Hartford Elementary School District #15 to go to East Alton-Wood River High School District #14 for the rest of their education.

David Akers, who supports consolidation, says combining all of the districts would also streamline curriculum.

Another group, calling themselves "Save our Schools" is against the idea. They're holding public meetings and distributing campaign signs - urging voters to keep the districts separate.

"The elementary schools, the junior high schools are doing well. They're above state averages here in Illinois," said Linda Hoffman.

"Why tamper with success?", she added.

Voters decide whether to consolidate the districts on April 5th, but similar debates are playing out across the state.

A separate, more aggressive plan by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn was announced earlier this year. He calls for the state to cut 868 districts down to 300, saying too much money is spent on administration. The state plan does not call for a vote of the people.

Watch coverage of Gov. Quinn's plan here:  www.kmov.com/news/local/Quinn-defends-call-for-merging-school-districts-117288728.html

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