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Illinois school districts consider consolidation

Small school districts learn to do more with less. It’s just a way of life.

More than 600 Silvis students learn and achieve. But now it might be time to join forces to form a larger district with United Township.

“We’ve got to think about the kids,” said Silvis Superintendent Ray Bergles. “Are the students going to be better off?”

That’s why Silvis is hosting a meeting for parents at Northeast Junior High in East Moline. That session starts at 7:30 p.m, Wednesday.

That’s the case for Carbon Cliff-Barstow. Some 280 kids attend Eagle Ridge School. It’s one of five districts to consider consolidation.

State incentives do provide more power with numbers, but it will come at a cost there.

“The biggest, probably most relevant factor is the tax levy,” said Carbon Cliff-Barstow Superintendent Andy Richmond. “What’s it going to do to our taxes? Obviously, there’s going to be an increase there.”

As Illinois schools struggle with state funding, consolidation becomes more of a reality. It’s all about what’s best for the kids and the communities.

These districts must determine if teaming up is the best option. By joining United Township, there would be standard curriculum and other advantages. Plus, a local connection doesn’t need to disappear.

“There is great things about smaller schools,” Bergles continued. “But I think you can also retain those things when you retain your identity.”

For parents and community members, it’s a time to discuss, discover and decide. A vote could come up in November 2014.

“I want them to come with questions,” Richmond concluded. “I want them to be able to leave and make an educated decision if it does get to the ballot.”

Small districts that are preparing for big decisions down the road.

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