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Superintendents come out of wood work for regional offices

Friday, Mar 25, 2011

Posted by Barton Lorimor

First off: exactly what does a regional superintendent do? The first part of this radio interview answers that question as well as this…

Regional superintendents operate alternative schools, offer GED classes, provide teacher certification courses and help schools obtain an estimated $135 million in grants each year, but most Illinois residents aren’t aware of those duties and don’t even know the superintendents are elected.

I have to admit: I didn’t know that either.

But those positions came into the spotlight this week…

Illinois’ regional superintendents met in Springfield Thursday to try and convince lawmakers Gov. Pat Quinn’s plan to eliminate the offices to save $13 million will cost the state 10 times that amount.

Quinn proposed taking away $13 million from the Regional Offices of Education during his budget speech last month.

Illinois has about 47 regional offices located throughout the state, including one based in Monmouth that serves Warren, Mercer and Henderson counties.

Even the superintendents themselves will admit $13 million isn’t a lot of money, but they’re lobbying effort has been focused on the amount of federal grants they bring into the state…

[Regional Superintendent Donna] Boros thinks Quinn has been misinformed about exactly what Regional Superintendents are all responsible for. Quinn’s proposal would save the state approximately $13 million. However, ROEs receive state and federal grants and funding totaling $135 million.

This isn’t the first time in the last ten years an Illinois governor has proposed eliminating the positions…

It’s a familiar refrain for the regional superintendents, who fended off a similar budget attack in 2003 by Quinn’s predecessor, Rod Blagojevich.

Marc Kiehna, regional superintendent for Randolph and Monroe counties in southern Illinois, thinks the two governors may not realize the value of the offices because neither is from downstate.

“Blagojevich wasn’t familiar with what happens outside the city of Chicago. I think there’s a similar situation with the current governor,” Kiehna said Thursday during a visit to the Capitol to line up support for continued funding.

Ouch.

A number of legislators are coming out against these cuts, but so too is the state’s chief superintendent…

State Superintendent Christopher Koch said eliminating the offices would be a blow to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), as well. “There’s all kinds of work they do with certification. They run schools, alternative schools and truancy alternative schools. They do all sorts of compliance reviews for us at the state board. So it would be a significant loss for us as well,” he told RFD radio after Quinn’s budget address. ISBE’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2012 recommended a $2 million increase for the regional offices.

The superintendents have said they have yet to meet with the governor about this proposal. OMB spokeswoman Kelly Kraft says the plan is still being looked at…

She said a commission proposed by the governor to research a school district consolidation plan, which also proposed in his budget, would look at the issue and weigh the details. Kraft said it is possible that local governments would have to foot the bill for the regional offices if they find them valuable. “If local districts still want to have the regional superintendents, then local districts would need to take up that funding,” she said. That would mean the districts would pay for requirements such as background checks on employees that are mandated by the legislature.

More…

“We’re not attacking Gov. Quinn or his motives – these are tough times, and tough times call for tough solutions,” Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools president Gil Morrison said. “We also know there are needed cuts and there are mistakes. This cut would be a big mistake.”

Related…

* Educators Fight to Keep Regional Superintendents

* Regional superintendents fight for funding

* Regional Superintendents Fight Proposed Budget Cuts

* Illinois Looks to Save Money By Eliminating Regional Offices of Education

* Regional Superintendents fight Quinn’s proposed bill

* VIDEO: Former Rock Island regional superintendent on Quinn’s budget cuts

* Rockford School Board votes to save Early Childhood education

* O’Fallon District 203 ups fees, freezes wages, saves 16 jobs

* District 118 OKs layoffs for 41 workers

* Dist. 220 cuts jobs, $2 million from budget

* Catholic schools urging support for textbook legislation

* Lt. Gov. Simon to highlight college completion at Shawnee

…Adding…

* Threat to lay off 363 teachers prompts student walkouts: On Thursday, about 1,000 students walked out of their advisory period at Jacobs High School in Algonquin for about 20 minutes, Strupeck said. An additional 400 walked out of Dundee-Crown High School in Carpentersville, and 400 to 500 students briefly walked out of Hampshire High School, she said.

“If we hadn’t done it, we would have felt like we had given up,” said Anita Perez, 14, a Jacobs freshman. “We really care about our education and our teachers.”

* High school parents dig deep to give kids a home-field advantage

* Guggenheim Elementary safe despite MRSA case, say CPS officials

* Sun-Times: CPS needs flexibility in breakfast program

* First 10 Jericho Circle vouchers allocated

* North Chicago hires new school chief

* Sun: School District 203 thrives in bad state system

* SD 205 seeks approval for smaller new school

- Posted by Barton Lorimor        

3 Comments
  1. - Peter - Friday, Mar 25, 11 @ 8:05 pm:

    I interview our ROE on air for thirty minutes each month, and we usually don’t have enough time to talk about what his office (spanning one rural and one urbanizing county) is up to. Certainly not every regional office is as efficient and productive as his, but it seems the state’s effort would be better spent cutting fat from those with some to give instead of a ending the efforts of those showing results and not wasting tax dollars. Inside most offices there are probably savings/staff reduction to be had, but doing away with the offices themselves would likely cause more issues than the money saved would justify.


  2. - Scottish - Saturday, Mar 26, 11 @ 8:35 am:

    Why does everything need a commission to study it? What ever happened to talking to people that actually work in the Executive Branch and that have worked in these programs for years? Nothing ever seems to come from these studies and reports, and the people with the expertise and facts sit on the sidelines waiting for someone to discuss the issues with them.


  3. - Wensicia - Saturday, Mar 26, 11 @ 10:38 am:

    Individual school districts can write and obtain their own grants. We don’t need regional superitendents for this, get rid of them.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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