A day does not go by that there is some news regarding the financial problems of Norridge School District 80.
Currently, grammar school students attend schools in three separate and distinct grammar school districts in Norwood Park Township. The individual school districts are Norridge SD 80, Pennoyer SD79 and Union Ridge SD86. It is quite a confusing patchwork of service areas. Pennoyer SD79 serves portions of Norridge, Harwood Heights (actually 5 disconnected service areas) and unincorporated Norwood Park Township; Union Ridge SD86 serves portions of Harwood Heights and Norridge.
SD80 has two buildings, spends approx $16,600 per student, enrolls 1100 and an annual budget of $12,400,000
SD79 has only one building, spends approx $15,300 per student, enrolls 400 and an annual budget of $4,200,000
SD86 has only one building, spends approx $11,216/student, enrolls 600, and an annual budget of $7,700,000
So the grammar schools of Norwood Park education system have a total budget of $24,300,000; total enrollment of less than 2000 students
To run a system education for Norwood Park Township at the grammar school level the current taxpayers are paying for 3 superintendents, 3 business managers and staffing 3 District offices. Even the single building districts each employee a principal for each building.
With the spotlight brought on education by the bickering and fighting at SD80, it is only a matter of time before the other 2 districts will be asking the taxpayers for additional funds.
The Norwood Park Township community needs to begin a dialog to consolidate the grammar school districts to enhance the education and reduce the costs to the taxpayers.
This consolidation could achieve the following:
- More efficient use of public funds through economies of scale and less administrative cost
- Lower per-pupil costs
- Expanded curriculum
- Expanded extra-curricular activities
- More specialized teachers and staff
- Better instructional materials and equipment
- More resources for advanced and special needs
- Greater cultural diversity
- Lower teacher turnover
- State consolidation funding incentives
A townshipwide taskforce should be constituted to begin to explore the option of consolidating the three grammar school districts into one feeder district for Ridgewood High School.
The community at large needs to begin a dialog to examine the opportunities that present themselves with a consolidation.
Norridge District 80 has demonstrated their inability to resolve the financial problems of their district. Clearly, District 80 needs an intercession of the township community to get this educational system that feeds into Ridgewood High School back on track.
Community members need to reach out to the State Task Force on Consolidation and look for input from the Illinois State Board of Education to resolve this educational crisis that is developing in Norwood Park Township.