Leyden Area Special Education CoOp (LASEC) is a partnership organization composed of Leyden SD212, Elmwood Park Consolidated SD401 , Ridgewood SD234 , Mannheim SD83, Franklin Park SD84, River Grove SD85.5 , Rhodes SD84.5 , Norridge SD80, Pennoyer SD79, Union Ridge SD86, Rosemont SD78.
This partnership pools the member Districts resources to provide special education services to the students of these districts.
In 2006, Schiller Park School District 81, recognized there was a disparate distribution of resources and pulled out of the Co-op. SD 81 decided to manage their own special education services and keep the financial resources in the District. This in house program has operated very well for the last 10 years. My wife testified in front of a committee for the Illinois State Board of Education in the process of the withdrawl from the CoOp.
The withdrawl of the Pennoyer 79, Norridge 80 and Union Ridge 86 from LASEC would present a unique opportunity for these districts to take a step towards consolidation by working collaboratively in providing special education services in a joint program between the three districts and keep special education services and the funds locally in Norwood Park Township for the benefit of these financially troubled school districts.
Pennoyer 79 has a unique opportunity to lead this collaboration because Dr. Kopka their new Superintendent was a principal at Schiller Park School District 81’s Washington School and is familiar with the withdrawl and implementation of the in house special education program.
A driving reason for the with drawl of SD81 from the CoOp was that for the dollars spent the District was not getting the full value of their contribution and the dollars could be better spent with in the district to more successfully education the entire student body.
D80 is confronting their problems and being frank and transparent with the community, Districts 79 and 86 need face the facts that they have their own serious financial problems. District 79 has lost two referenda and had their bond rating downgraded by Moody’s. District 86 is showing signs of financial deficiency.
Times are changing, the 1960’s model of LASEC may be obsolete in the 21st Century.
The taxpayers are demanding the reduction of the layers of government and education. The special education dollars from the schools of Norwood Park Township are going in part to the administration of LASEC rather than to the support services of the students of Norwood Park Township and in part may be subsidizing other district’s special education services with the type of model that LASEC operates. As another example, Maine Township Special Education Co-Op has been disbanded. See this link:
Across the State of Illinois, numerous Districts have pulled out of or disbanded special education co-ops with many superintendents citing savings in the neighborhood of $200,000 to $300,000 a year.
The politicians and educators need to pursue a meaningful dialog to find the best usage of the educational dollars available. Everyday that this does not occur is another wasted day in the lives of the education of all of our children.