In 2011, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn tried to eliminate state funding for all the regional school superintendents in Illinois. His action didn't stick, but it did lay the groundwork for change.
Lawmakers ordered the number of elected superintendents downsized, and last week the state Board of Education reduced the number of educational regions from 44 to 35 in 2015 -- a move that is expected to save state taxpayers about $1.5 million a year in reduced salaries and overhead.
There was wailing and gnashing of teeth back when Quinn first made the regional superintendents an issue. But the truth is, few people outside the offices will even notice the change. Last week, no one questioned whether consolidating and reducing the number of offices was a good idea. The debate was over how to draw the new boundaries and which counties to group together.
It's a small but tangible step toward getting Illinois government -- which has more individual units of government than any other state in the nation -- to a more manageable size. No public official wants to give up his or her fiefdom, but this shows it can happen. What's next?