School consolidation on the agenda again
Each year, the boards of Evanston’s two school districts hold a joint meeting to discuss ways they can better work together, and consolidation of the two districts is a topic that’s often on the agenda. It’s there again this year.
The public portion of the meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Monday in Room N112 at Evanston Township High School.
Since they met together last January, a group of students at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management conducted a study on consolidation for District 65 that was presented to its board in August.
The report suggested an alternative to consolidation: virtual consolidation.
Without formally consolidating, the boards could agree to share a common superintendent and administrative staff, for example, in much the same way that the two districts share in the operation of the Park School for special-needs students.
With superintendents of both districts nearing retirement age, there could be an opportunity for the two districts to hire one superintendent, who could oversee the operations of both districts, but still operate under guidance from the two boards.
Similarly, accounting, purchasing, accounts payable, technology, facilities maintenance, human resources, public relations, and perhaps other functions could be handled more efficiently under a virtual consolidation arrangement, the report suggested.
Each board would continue to negotiate contracts with its teachers as it does now, thereby overcoming a stumbling block in previous consolidation discussions that have stalled because of a perceived inability to deal with different teacher pay scales in the two districts.
Other items on the agenda for discussion at Monday’s meeting include the transition from middle school to high school, and advocacy of legislative interests.