Illinois’ regional offices of education could once again be a permanent fixture in education after a year of uncertainty. A state-appointed commission wants to save the offices by reducing the number of them from 44 to 35. Norm Durflinger, an assistant professor from Illinois State University who chaired the commission, says that’s accomplished by setting the minimum population to justify an office at 61,000, up from 43,000. But other options included setting the minimum at 200,000.
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“What would have occurred is that the regions would have been extremely large, and very difficult for the regional superintendent to do what they need to do,” he says. The governor eliminated funding for the offices last year, claiming the cash-strapped state shouldn’t pay for services done at the local level. The regional superintendents are elected offices that handle state-mandated requirements. The panel’s recommendation will be forwarded to the legislature. Durflinger and members of the commission say they don’t know how much money their ideas will save the state, claiming they didn’t have time for a full fiscal analysis.