Friday, January 11, 2013
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Regional Superintendent Jean Anderson addresses county finance committee

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[January 11, 2013]  The Logan County Board's finance committee had a scheduled meeting on Tuesday. It was the first meeting of the reorganized finance committee. The primary topic of discussion was the upcoming consolidation of Regional Offices of Education.

Regional Superintendent Jean Anderson was asked by committee chairman Chuck Ruben to attend this month's finance meeting and give an update as to consolidation with other districts. Recent state legislation has mandated that there will soon be 35 educational regions in Illinois. This will be down from the previous 44 regions.

Anderson began by giving a bit of background of information as to why the number of regions is being reduced. As of June 26, 2012, Public Act 97-0703 went into effect. This act will require the reduction of the number of regions in the state of Illinois by June of 2013. Right now, there is a tentative map with 37 regions that still need to be reduced to 35.

Another reason for this consolidation is a change in minimum population of a region. This population minimum changed from 43,000 to 61,000. Region 38, which contains Logan, Mason and Menard counties, is just shy of that number.

"Either way, our office is going to be gone," said Anderson.

In order to meet these new requirements, Region 38 will have to merge with another region. However, the consolidation will not necessarily have to include all three counties.

Anderson told the finance committee that in October there were brief discussions with Sangamon County, which is Region 51, in solving this problem, but there has been no further discussion. Anderson also said that Menard County has expressed interest in joining Sangamon County.

"At that time, I told them that Logan and Mason were not interested," said Anderson.

Anderson said she is concerned that if Logan joins with too large a county, the services the offices provide could be negatively affected.

Ruben said that representatives of Sangamon County recently contacted him. "They wanted to make us aware that they were interested if we were. We've worked with them on other things before," said Ruben.

Anderson also said she has touched base with Region 39, which is Macon and Piatt counties. Shortly after the act was passed, McLean County also expressed an interest in working with Logan County. Again, there has been little communication since then.

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Another option would be to join with Tazewell County. Tazewell County and Logan County have similar structures in the school system. Both counties have a dual district system in which the high school is separate from the grade schools. Anderson said most of those districts are seen in northern Illinois.

"We have also been closely affiliated with Tazewell County through Mid-Illini Educational Cooperative for many years," said Anderson.

In order to complete an eventual consolidation, Logan County and any other county involved would have to pass a joint resolution. Anderson provided the committee with copies of language that could be used. The language was created by the Illinois State Board of Education in 1993 Public Act 88-89. Dates and names of offices would have to be changed, but a similar resolution would be needed.

Anderson told the committee she will continue to work on this issue and keep the county board posted as to any progress that is made.

Committee members present were Chuck Ruben, chairman; Andy Meister; Bob Farmer; Jan Schumacher; Terry Carlton; and Rick Aylesworth. Guests included Vicki Dugan, county treasurer; Mary Kelley, circuit clerk; Sally Gosda from the health department; Jean Anderson; and Angie Jenkins from the Logan Mason Transportation Program.


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