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Panel proposes fewer Ill. regional school chiefs

Published: Friday, March 30, 2012 11:17 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 30, 2012 2:01 p.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD – A regional schools superintendent's group believes a commission's recommendation to cut the number of Illinois' regional education offices by nine is too drastic.

The Streamlining Illinois' Regional Offices of Education Commission on Thursday proposed that the number of such offices could go from 44 to 35, saving an estimated $1.5 million in the cash-strapped state.

Last year, Quinn eliminated the salaries of the superintendents and their assistants from the state budget, saying the state needed the roughly $13 million for other services and that local officials should decide whether to keep and pay them. Superintendents went without paychecks for more than four months before Quinn restored their pay.

The commission's proposal didn't outline which offices would be jettisoned, leaving that decision to counties.

Bob Daiber, president of the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents, thinks leaving 39 intact would be more workable. He said his group would create a task force to review the proposed consolidation.

Elected superintendents serve some 43,000 residents per district, and the commission's recommendation to the head of a statewide regional superintendents group would push that to 61,000.

For decades, superintendents and assistants have issued certificates to teachers and bus drivers, inspected schools, and run high school equivalency degree programs and services for truant and troubled kids, among other activities.

Not all superintendents are against the suggested streamlining. Donna Boros, regional superintendent in southern Illinois' Jackson and Perry counties, said the proposal appears reasonable.

"I think we accept the idea that there needed to be reductions," she said.

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