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District 34 OKs plans to study consolidation
By Jack Komperda | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 7/25/2008 12:11 AM

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Winfield Elementary District 34 became the first feeder district to approve a consolidation study with West Chicago High School.

The school board voted Thursday to pay up to $3,000 for a study that would look at the effects of consolidating with the high school, Benjamin Elementary District 25 and West Chicago Elementary District 33.

But school board members echoed the views of some parents who spoke at the meeting Thursday, saying they weren't sold on the benefits of consolidation.

"I think we'd do this community and the taxpayers a disservice if we didn't participate in the study," District 34 school board President Craig Martin said. "I have to say, though, I've not heard anything that would lead me to believe that consolidation is the answer."

Last week, the school board of West Chicago High School District 94 also agreed to fund its portion of the consolidation study. School officials in District 33 and District 25 are expected to meet in the coming weeks to determine whether they'd also like to participate.

Earlier this month, school officials from all four districts met in a joint meeting to learn about what options they have available if consolidation of the four districts is pushed by either school officials or diligent parents.

Such a move would be prompted by either a school board's petition or a similar request filed to the DuPage County Regional Office of Education by 50 residents in each of the school districts seeking to consolidate.

The plan for consolidation has been pushed for months by District 94 school board President Tony Reyes, who has said he wants to see a ballot measure on consolidation within the next year.

Reyes 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.

School officials within the three elementary districts have stressed they'd be willing to do more to communicate among the districts about their respective activities, but haven't made any promises about pushing for consolidation.

School officials in District 25, for instance, have said they're not interested in pursuing the matter because of concerns from parents that consolidation would compromise the district's local control and traditionally high standardized test scores.

That's a view shared by several parents who spoke out at Thursday's school board meeting in Winfield.