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State

Regional Offices of Education consolidation not easy

SPRINGFIELD – With 11 months to go until deadline, Illinois officials are still working out the details of upcoming mergers of Regional Offices of Education around the state.

The State Board of Education approved a new map last fall cutting the number of regional offices from 44 to 35, with the populations those offices oversee rising from 43,000 to about 61,000 residents apiece. The offices have a June 30, 2015, deadline to consolidate.

The offices oversee a number of districts in various regions. They handle such things as school building inspections, GED testing, background checks, bus driver training and professional development for teachers.

The Springfield State Journal-Register reported regional superintendents around the state have met a handful of times to discuss how to proceed and set up a basic timeline. Jeff Vose, the regional superintendent from Sangamon County, said the timeline includes transferring records, crafting budgets and determining what staff will work at the consolidated offices.

The transition is going more smoothly in some areas than others. While Vose says adding several school districts to the schools in Sangamon County he oversees isn't expected to create undue complications, some regional superintendents, including Jean Anderson, say they've been left with little direction from both the governor's office and Legislature. Anderson's office, which oversees Logan, Mason and Menard counties, will be split and consolidated into three other regional offices.

Anderson says she's concerned that along with money and staff and supplies, various programs her office operates may not be continued next year.

"We all do the same things as far as mandated responsibilities, but sometimes we do them in a little different way," Anderson said.

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