Because he wanted local communities to bear the costs, Gov. Pat
Quinn zeroed-out the state budget line of $11 million intended to
pay for Illinois' 44 regional offices of education. Quinn used his
amendatory veto power to strip the money, but the constitutionality
of eliminating state funding for the elected regional
superintendents is in question.
However, local taxpayers have not
taken any action, and regional superintendents have been working
without pay since July 1.
But Madison County Regional Superintendent Bob Daiber said no one
can work for free forever.
"We have held things together, and we will hold things together
until Aug. 3," said Daiber, president of the Illinois Association of
Regional Superintendents, which lobbies on behalf of Illinois' 44
regional superintendents. "We have a meeting Aug. 3 in Springfield.
At that meeting, I'm not sure what decision will be made about
Without regional superintendents, Daiber said, no one can legally
sign off on new school building occupancy permits, new teacher
certification, new bus driver training, GED testing and truancy
enforcement, among several other things.
"If this work isn't done by the regional offices of education,
the repercussions that occur in school districts are unforeseen at
this time, because this has never happened," said Daiber.
The repercussions are evident for students at the new DeKalb High
School. DeKalb County Regional Superintendent Gill Morrison said he
has not given his approval for everyone to move into the new
"We have four buildings on line right now that are waiting for an
occupancy permit from my office," said Morrison. "If, God forbid,
there was no regional superintendent, those permits would not be
able to be signed off on. And those schools wouldn't be able to be
DeKalb's new, nearly $80 million high school is scheduled to open
for the first day of school in early September. However, Morrison
said that situation may depend on whether Quinn and lawmakers can
agree on how to pay regional superintendents.
"I don't know how long I'll be able to hold out," Morrison said.
"It's just a situation that is unacceptable; it's irresponsible.
It's a political move that didn't take into account the impact on
the people who do these jobs."
Morrison stresses that keeping the new DeKalb High School closed
is a "worst-case scenario."
[to top of second column]
Matt Donkin, regional superintendent for Franklin and Williamson
counties in southern Illinois, said working without a paycheck is a
"day-to-day" decision. Donkin insists that most regional
superintendents are dedicated to local schools and local students,
but they are also realists, and many have families and financial
"As we get into the end of July, first of August, any jobs that
might be available, regional superintendents are going to take,"
Donkin said closing a regional office leaves local schools with
only one option -- going to the state for help.
And Fox River Grove Consolidated Schools Superintendent Tim
Mahaffy said the state hasn't been much help to local schools
"People are asking us questions that we don't have the answers
to. We used to refer them to the (regional office of education); now
we refer them to the state ... and I don't know if people are
getting their questions answered," said Mahaffy.
Mary Fergus, a spokeswoman for the Illinois State Board of
Education, said the state can answer some questions but little more
"We do not have the capacity at the State Board of Education to
take on all the responsibilities of the regional offices of
education," said Fergus.
Since the state budget was approved in June, lawmakers have been
discussing how to find a new funding source. But the Legislature is
not scheduled to return to Springfield until late October for the
fall veto session.
Daiber said schools could operate until late October without a
regional superintendent, but a lot of work may not be done or done
"You can drive a car without a driver's license," said Daiber.
"But you're not driving legally."
Statehouse News; By BENJAMIN YOUNT]