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State May Take Over School Districts In North Chicago, East St. Louis

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(Credit: Adam Jan/AFP/Getty Images)

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — The school districts in North Chicago and downstate East St. Louis are a step away from a state takeover.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports, the Illinois State Board of Education will vote Thursday on whether to take over the school districts in the two municipalities.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports

Both have failed to meet state academic standards for enough years that state Education Supt. Chris Koch says there’s little choice under the law.

“If a school district hasn’t made the academic benchmark for a certain number of years, we’re required to intervene. What we have in these districts is a longstanding problem,” he said.

The board took testimony Wednesday and votes today.

While North Chicago resident Anthony Coleman went so far as to say his local school board “sucks,” he says a state takeover would not necessarily be an improvement.

“As long as my voice is being heard, I feel like something is being accomplished. But when you appoint five members, and we don’t have that same type of access … we feel you’re going to take away our voices by dismantling this board,” Coleman said.

As for East St Louis, that board’s attorney sounded frustrated.

“Based upon ISBE’s direction, the district board of education hired numerous new administrators, and, most importantly, a new administrative team at the top,” said Garrett Hoerner. “Based upon ISBE’s direction, the district board of education restructured away from using pledged general state aid, issued additional working cash bonds, and increased the district’s tax levy by nearly 30 percent.”

The board on Thursday will also decide whether to continue financial oversight in the Proviso Township High School district in the near western suburbs. Citizens complained to the state board that the panel is unwelcome, and its members are rude.