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Shared Superintendents ? Can it happen in Illinois ?

The Illinois Senate is inching closer to allowing schools in the state to share superintendents, but some senators have a problem with the plan because it allows voters to demand consolidation at the top of the school district.

The idea is simple: Allow neighboring schools to agree to share one superintendent.

Illinois has more than 850 school districts. Numbers from the Illinois State Board of Education show about one third of them have fewer than 600 students and 44 percent of districts have one or two schools.

State Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, said that consolidating superintendents could save taxpayers a lot of money.

"As we are trying to find extra, additional dollars to get into the classroom, this could be one way to free up dollars. Even with now new money from the state," Rezin said. "And allow those dollars to get to the classroom."

The state's School Report Card lists the average superintendent salary in Illinois as $106,273. Many districts pay nearly twice that.

Rezin's plan would allow local school boards to agree to share a superintendent or allow voters in school districts to force consolidation.

That would happen if 51 percent of voters in both districts agree. And the consolidation could be undone by the same vote.

That bothers some lawmakers.

State Sen. Dan Biss, D-Evanston, says he worries what may happen next if voters are allowed to essentially fire a superintendent.

"Now imagine the English teacher who assigns a book that is controversial. There is an outcry and there is a big fight in front of the school board, as happens from time to time," Biss said. "Do you come back here and pass a bill that allows the public, by petition, to fire an English teacher?"

Rezin said the idea is only to focus on superintendents. She said the goal to try and save money and cut some bureaucracy from local schools.

The plan, SB3418, cleared a Senate panel Tuesday and is headed to the full Senate for a vote.

94.1 WGFA {IRN}