CHICAGO — Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep. Jeanne Ives told the Daily Herald Wednesday that small school districts with big budgets are sucking up taxes across Illinois and should be consolidated.

Rep. Jeanne Ives

Ives said first thing, every school district should be a unit district, no more high school districts, no more elementary districts.

Ives is challenging Gov. Bruce Rauner in the March 20 Republican primary election, while seven Democrats are vying for their party’s nomination.

Ives said consolidating school districts would cut expenses and reduce property taxes as well as benefit students.

She noted that Florida has one school district per county, while in Illinois, there are 852 districts in 102 counties.

Such reforms, she stressed, wouldn’t necessarily mean losing local control or traditions, and that it doesn’t mean giving up the school’s mascot. It means the administration and all goes up to the (larger) school district level.

Earlier in 2017, Rauner signed legislation to make consolidating units of government easier.