Hampton residents turn out to discuss consolidation


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Originally Posted Online: Oct. 29, 2013, 8:04 pm
Last Updated: Oct. 29, 2013, 8:12 pm
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By Sarah Ford, correspondent@qconline.com

HAMPTON -- About 75 parents and educators attended an informational meeting Monday on a study of the possibility of consolidting United Township High School and the Silvis, East Moline, Carbon Cliff and Colona elementary districts.

Superintendent Tom Berg told attendees consolidation is "a bad idea" for the Hampton School District. "People think that bigger is better. But more bureaucracy means it will keep on growing. Is there anything in government bureaucracy that shows the bigger it gets the more efficient it gets?" he asked the crowd.

Additionally, Mr. Berg quoted studies showing that larger districts become "more polarized," especially with extracurricular activities and student achievement. Large districts cannot accommodate 200 kids who want to play a sport, so they have to make cuts. Small districts, such as Hampton, have about 90 percent of students involved in extracurricular activities of their choice.

He also noted a correlation between district size increasing and low-income students' decrease in achievements, as well as less instances of negative social behaviors in smaller schools.

Mr. Berg noted that it's up to the voters of Hampton to approve of consolidation; if they do not want a tax increase, he suggested they not sign the petition for consolidation.

"In order for the consolidation measure to get on the ballot, every one of the districts have to have it approved by their respective school boards, or a petition can be passed in each district garnering 50 signatures," Mr. Berg told the audience. "Once it is on the ballot, each elementary district votes to consolidate or not. Those that approve it become part of a new unit district with UTHS; those that do not remain elementary districts."

Mr. Berg said the problem for Hampton residents is they will "still end up paying the increase in property taxes to support the new unit district." He said the consolidation study recommends a tax rate of 5.70; Hampton's rate is 5.13, so an increase would add $200 on a $100,000 house.

"Even if we vote no on consolidation, the people of East Moline and Silvis can vote the people of Hampton a significant increase in property taxes, while they avoid the same increase. This is not right in the United States of America in the year 2013."

"We would prefer that the UTHS board offer a transparent education fund referendum, outside of the consolidation umbrella, that would impact all UTHS taxpayers equally. If the case can be made for more money for UTHS, taxpayers would likely support it."

"Hampton taxpayers should not be penalized for over 100 years of efficiency," summarized Mr. Berg. He encouraged residents to not sign a petition requesting consolidation of their school, as it would mean the loss of local control of the school, an increase in property taxes and possible closure of the school.

















 




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