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Our View: Shrinking SEDOM not all bad

Published: Friday, Sept. 27, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

While no one wants to see hard-working employees lose jobs, the shrinking of the Special Education District of McHenry County isn’t a bad thing when you look at the bigger picture.

SEDOM is cutting 122 positions – half of its staff – at the end of the school year. Typically in Illinois, when we see cuts in education or social services, it’s because of financial problems. But the reason SEDOM is shrinking is an easier pill to swallow.

More and more school districts, particularly the larger ones such as Crystal Lake District 155, are asking less and less of SEDOM. That’s because they’re taking back the responsibility to educate students with special needs within their district.

This week, Woodstock School District 200 completely withdrew from SEDOM and took on the educational responsibility for about 200 students with special needs instead of paying SEDOM to educate them.

There’s no reason to knock SEDOM for its past or current efforts, but it’s generally better for students to be taught inside of their home district. Besides the geographic proximity, parents should be able to expect better accountability from a school district run by a board elected in their hometown

We hope a smaller SEDOM continues to provide these important services for the remaining school districts that can’t provide the education these students deserve, and it still provides appropriate staff that is responsible to the students and the taxpayers.

We also hope and expect that these moves aren’t just motivated by dollars. School District 200’s decision this week will save the district about $80,000 paid to SEDOM.

The motivation always should be educating students. When districts take these responsibilities back, they do so understanding that special needs students’ education is just as important as the education of others.

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