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Thursday, April 5, 2012 07:00 pm

Study: Consolidate education offices

The Streamlining Illinois’ Regional Offices of Education Commission recommended last week that the number of regional offices of education be dropped from 44 to 35.

State lawmakers created the commission last fall to find ways to provide educational services more efficiently and effectively.  

Bob Daiber, president of the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, estimated cutting or consolidating about 10 regional offices would result in about 200 layoffs and $1.5 million in savings.

Illinois’ regional school superintendents currently serve about 43,000 residents per district, which the commission recommends increasing to 61,000. The increase would result in larger geographic districts.

Daiber said that he would like to have seen the commission recommend 39 regional offices of education instead of 35.

“Thirty-five is going to involve more counties, which is going to make the process somewhat more complex in the very near future,” Daiber said. “That will be our next step.”

 Daiber said the commission will next put together a task force to begin looking at regional offices of education that are smaller than the recommended 61,000 population.

Norm Durflinger, co-director of the Center for Education Policy at Illinois State University, said that the commission had to choose from five options, including one that would have increased the number of citizens served by each ROE to 200,000.

The 15-member commission formed as a result of last year’s push by Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration to decrease the number of ROE in Illinois.

Last year, Quinn cut from the state budget more than $11 million meant to pay the salaries of the regional superintendents and their assistants. Quinn said the regional superintendents are local officials who should be paid with local funds, such as the Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax, which is collected by the state and paid to local governments. In August 2011 the regional superintendents filed a lawsuit in Sangamon County Circuit Court to have their salaries reinstated, but the court ruled against them.  

Last fall, lawmakers agreed to use CPPRT to pay the regional superintendents, many of whom worked for months without pay. The commission wants the regional superintendents’ pay to come from the state’s General Revenue Fund instead.

The commission’s recommendations now go to Quinn’s office.

“We hope that the governor looks at the good will that we have done internally, to save the state money, as a cost-savings method,” Daiber said.

For more information about the commission, visit www.isbe.net/SIROEC.  
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