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Six school districts fail the parental involvement test

Belleville News Democrat

Friday, April 14, 2017  |  Editorial  |  By The Editorial Board

Education reform (38) , Metro East (65)
We test, collect data and measure our schools in many imaginative ways that may or may not tell us much about how well students are learning in the classroom.

You can argue about money’s impact on academic achievement. You can debate whether a large district is better than a small district.

But nearly every educator will tell you that parental involvement is a key to success.

Here’s one measure of parental involvement: How many St. Clair County school districts had fewer parents and taxpayers interested in serving on the school board than they had vacancies at the April 4 election?

Answer: Six.

Whiteside, High Mount, Harmony-Emge, Marissa, Brooklyn and New Athens all had more openings on their school boards than they had people interested in running. Remember, these are the people who decide how about two-thirds of your property taxes are being spent.

New Athens’ school board had no one seek an open two-year term or two open full terms.

Overall, just one in three of the school board races offered voters a choice of candidates. The same pattern held in Madison County. East St. Louis had 14 candidates seeking four seats, but that’s another story.

So what to do with that measurement? Maybe the districts that can’t even get enough people interested in filling out the school board should be first in line to consolidate.

Maybe those facing continuing money troubles, such as Grant-Illini and O’Fallon elementary, should be next.

Before any school district comes back looking for more of the voters’ tax dollars, it would be nice if there were a little more interest in how those dollars are being spent.