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W. Chicago school districts to talk consolidation
By Jack Komperda | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 7/4/2008 12:08 AM

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School officials from West Chicago High School and its three elementary feeder districts will meet next week to talk about consolidating into one school system.

The plan has been pushed for months by the high school's board president, Tony Reyes, who has argued that the four districts need to consider the idea as a way to create a more efficient and cost-effective learning environment for the roughly 7,200 students in the districts.

Under the proposal, West Chicago High School District 94 would merge with its elementary feeder districts, West Chicago District 33, Winfield District 34 and Benjamin District 25, into one unit district.

"Our goal is to put the idea out there (through a referendum) and let the voters of the four school districts decide," Reyes said.

William Philips, an associate professor at the University of Illinois-Springfield and a leading authority on school consolidation, is expected to speak to school officials on Monday about the implications of such a move and the formal study that's to assess how the districts would be affected by a consolidation.

School officials last conducted such a formal study - a first step in preparing for a ballot measure on consolidation - back in 1996 but never pursued the idea.

Reyes' idea of consolidation has been met with a tepid response from school officials in all three elementary feeder districts.

Philip Ehrhardt, the superintendent of District 25, has said his school board simply isn't interested in pursuing the matter because of concerns from parents that the move would compromise the district's local control and traditionally high standardized test scores.

Still, school officials from District 25 plan to attend Monday's meeting, he said.

"The board at this point wants to hear what the study will address," Ehrhardt said. "What we don't want to do is to do a study for the sake of doing a study because that's just a waste of time and money."

The joint board meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Monday in the library of West Chicago High School, 326 Joliet St. in West Chicago.