The academics in the North Chicago and East St. Louis school districts are so poor that the Illinois State Board of Education has ousted the local school boards and is taking over. The vote came Thursday afternoon, toward the end of a two-day board meeting. The takeovers are the first and second in state history. Also, the board voted to continue financial oversight of the Proviso Township High School district.

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Illinois State Board of Education chairman Gery Chico said the problems in both districts – particularly East St. Louis – go back years, and that “this is not just punitive; this is about the holistic approach to try to make things better in academics for children.” Chico adds the board has approved a $29 million emergency loan to East St. Louis.

East St. Louis board member Kinnis Williams, who has served for 14 years, says it’s unfair that the state board did not extend a previous memorandum of understanding: “I feel that it was progress, and they want to cut it off after only one year,” he said.

As for North Chicago, Chico said he was “shocked” that there was no more participation; only one board member showed up despite the availability of a video link from Chicago.

(Copyright WBGZ Radio/