Rauner task force looks to consolidate local governments and schools

SPRINGFIELD — Consolidating local governments is one of the points Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to accomplish, and he’s put the lieutenant governor, Evelyn Sanguinetti, in charge of a task force examining this.

When you’re talking consolidation, school districts are often in the picture.

Task force member Steffanie Seegmiller knows whereof she speaks, as chairwoman of the Arthur-Lovington-Atwood- Hammond district. That’s two consolidations.

“I think that it’s worth a study,” she says, “to see what your taxpayers can benefit, what your children can benefit. It doesn’t have to be annexation or consolidation – there’s deactivation and all sorts of other strategies set forth in the school code.” Seegmiller says it’s not being a small, remote district that’s the biggest problem. “The state’s not paying their bills,” she says.

In consolidation, Seegmiller says districts can achieve higher academic goals by being able to offer, for example, more Advanced Placement courses. It is important, though, she says, for each smaller community to maintain its own elementary school to reduce travel time for younger students.