Consolidation costs region school official

News-DemocratNovember 22, 2013 

The Illinois State Board of Education voted Friday to redraw the map of regional education offices in an effort to reduce the number of regions from 44 to 35 as required by the state Legislature.

The state had ordered a consolidation of the offices to save money.

The consolidation impacts one local regional office of education. Jefferson County was consolidated into Clinton/Marion/Washington Regional Office of Education No. 13.

The regional offices of education in St. Clair and Madison will not be affected. Nor will the already combined office of Monroe-Randolph counties.

St. Clair County Regional Office of Education Superintendent Susan Sarfaty said she was disheartened State Superintendent Christopher Koch did not accept the consolidation map proposed by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools.

"He choose to go a different way," Sarfaty said.

Monroe and Randolph Counties Regional Office of Education Superintendent Kelton Davis described the consolidation process as "political" from the start.

"It's taken education and the quality of education and focus on the kids out of the equation," Davis said. "I'm very disappointed in the decision of the state board as to not accepting what was worked on by so many for so long."

Adopting the superintendents' map outright would have undone county board recommendations in west-central Illinois -- and violated the law, according to the education board's chairman, Gery Chico.

The State Board of Education voted 7-1 during a meeting in Chicago Friday to approve consolidation of regional offices of education after hearing from regional superintendents who objected to the way the map would consolidate their offices.

Board member Andrea Brown cast the dissenting vote, according to ISBE spokesman Matt Vanover.

"I don't agree Christian and Montgomery (counties) should have been attached to Bond, Fayette and Effingham," said Robert Daiber, superintendent of the Madison County Regional Office of Education. "I don't think that was very well thought out."

Will the issue of consolidating regional offices of education come up again?

"There's no way to tell," Sarfaty said. "I think the matter is settled for the next election cycle. The consolidation of regional offices is something that has come up periodically over the last 20 years."

New regional superintendents will be elected next year to lead the new offices. Candidates must file in December.

Sarfaty said she is running for election in 2014 and is working to get her petitions signed.

New regional superintendents elected in November will take office in July 1, 2015, which is when the consolidation will take effect.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or jforsythe1@bnd.com.

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