State to send financial oversight panel, consultants to North Chicago

May 17, 2012

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(WBEZ/Becky Vevea)
Local board members listen to a North Chicago budget presentation during their April meeting.

More state control is coming to the troubled public schools in suburban North Chicago.

The Illinois Board of Education voted Thursday to put a five-member panel in charge of North Chicago school finances.  

State schools Superintendent Chris Koch said the district is facing “all sorts of potential train wrecks financially.”

Earlier this week, WBEZ reported on state involvement in the struggling district and Koch’s plans to remove the locally elected school board. A separate state-appointed board will take its place. 

The financial oversight panel is similar to others in districts across the state. Currently, the Cairo, Proviso and Venice school districts have such panels. Last month, the board voted to appoint one in East St. Louis, where the local board also will be replaced.

No one has been appointed to the finance panel or the new board yet, but state law says the financial oversight group must include two people from the community.

Last year, North Chicago board members signed an agreement with the state to work together to improve its struggling public schools.

But in recent months that agreement has fallen apart.

Another state-appointed board is one of two new additions to the state’s strategy in North Chicago.

Earlier this week, the state indicated plans to hire The Vallas Group, run by former Chicago schools chief Paul Vallas, to help improve low-performing districts, including North Chicago.

Vallas' was one of five groups that responded to the request for proposals. The preliminary contract would pay the organization just under $1 million for three years.