Encyclopedia o f Chicago
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Governing Space
School and Other Special Districts
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School and Other Special Districts

One-Room Schoolhouses

Well into the twentieth century, many children in the Chicago region began their education in one-room schools. Each school served its own district, was supported by its own rate of taxation, and was governed by its own board. H. S. Hicks, who was hired by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce to study local governments in Kane County in the 1930s, argued that the one-room schools were inefficient and led to inequities in taxation, as school districts traversed by railroads could tax local residents at a much lower rate than districts without railroads. Eventually these districts were consolidated into a much smaller number of grade school districts. Wasteful System in Local Government, 1936.

See also: Chambers of Commerce; Schools and Education; Taxation and Finance

High School Districts

Outside the city of Chicago, school districts are independent local governments, each governed by its own board, with the power to levy taxes, issue bonds, and create and oversee the administration of schools in the district. Some districts follow township boundaries, while others have resulted from the consolidation of earlier districts for reasons of efficiency. The boundaries of high school districts are independent of those of municipalities and other governments, including elementary school districts, which are generally smaller and more numerous. Lake County Municipalities and High School Districts, 2003.

See also: Governing the Metropolis; Townships

Fire Protection Districts

While larger municipalities maintain fire departments to provide firefighting services, many other areas are served by fire protection districts, which are distinct, specialized governments with boundaries that may bear little relation to municipal and township boundaries. Significant numbers of fire protection districts began to appear in the 1940s, when transportation and residential density made urban fire protection possible in places where residents had otherwise resisted being subject to municipal government through incorporation or annexation. While fire protection districts can offer firefighting services, they do not have the powers that municipalities have to prevent fires through building codes, fire limits, and zoning.

See also: Annexation; Building Codes and Standards; Fire Limits; Firefighting; Zoning