Two Cents Worth – Time to consider consolidating Districts 90 and 104

Two Cents Column

There is a lot of activity swirling around in the various school districts in O’Fallon these days. We received a good number of comments on Facebook on our video of the District 203 meeting advocating for school district consolidation as a way to address some of the financial related issues. At this time, we hesitate to say consolidation is a magic solution to fix all of the economic woes Dr. Benway spelled out last Thursday. Additionally, there are issues involving grade school district boundaries and the high school district boundaries that would need to be figured out. A massive consolidation would be a massive job right now.

However, we do believe at least some consolidation needs to be heavily considered in O’Fallon.

Central School District 104 Superintendent John Bute announced his resignation effective June 30. He will be leaving for a district in northern Illinois to serve in a similar role. Given that the two grade school districts in O’Fallon now only have one permanent superintendent, we feel its an ideal time for Districts 90 and 104 to seriously discuss merging.

There’s no question of which superintendent would keep their job, as there’s only one. We realize Central just hired an interim superintendent, but we feel if consolidation were seriously considered, she could assist District 90 Superintendent Carrie Hruby navigate the initially choppy waters when the districts begin the process.

Merging the two districts might also assist them both with dealing with their various facility usage issues.

I spoke recently to a school board member from another area in Illinois and she informed me that the state has relaxed many of the regulations involved in consolidation. She said the goal was to encourage it and put the power in the hands of the local boards to get the job done. I don’t pretend to know what all goes into consolidating two school districts, but I do think it needs to be investigated by those in a position to act accordingly once a path forward is determined.

Ultimately, we believe simplicity of service and less government should be the goal in Illinois and O’Fallon. By merging Districts 90 and 104 we believe both the taxpayers and the students will be the end winners.