From WILL - News Headlines -

Ill. Senate Vote Sends Regional Supt’s Pay Plan to Governor

Illinois lawmakers are sending Gov. Pat Quinn a plan to pay the state's regional school superintendents who have been working without compensation since July.

The Senate approved a plan Thursday 38-16 to use local property taxes to fund about $12 million to pay schools chiefs and their assistants in 44 regional education offices. Quinn supports the legislation.

The elected superintendents provide services such as certifying teachers and bus drivers, inspecting schools and offering alternative education programs for truant and troubled youths.

Quinn said in July there wasn't money in the budget to pay them and canceled their pay. Cheryl Reifsteck, the Regional Superintendent of Schools for Vermilion County, said she is relieved lawmakers came up with a plan to keep those positions funded.

"It will allow us to focus on the important things that we need to be focusing on and that's the education of our students and helping our schools function," Reifsteck said.

The measure would also form a committee to study the superintendents' duties and how best to deliver the services. Jane Quinlan, who is the superintendent for Champaign and Ford Counties, said she hopes that helps lawmakers better understand the role of the superintendents.

"Well, I'm hoping that we'll be able to clarify for legislators the role of the regional offices, and that it will be more stable so that we don't have to deal with these issues on an annual basis," Quinlan said.

The elected superintendents provide services such as certifying teachers and bus drivers, inspecting schools and offering alternative education programs for truant and troubled youths.

Lawmakers voting 'yes' for the measure included Sens. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) and Shane Cultra (R-Onarga), while 'no' votes came from Sens. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) and Mike Frerichs (D-Champaign).

"I hesitantly supported the measure. It was a compromise solution to another one of Governor Quinn's manufactured crises," Cultra said in a statement. "It is the best short-term solution that we were given an option to vote on. This legislation sets a dangerous precedent to remove funding from local governments who are already struggling because of a massive backlog in payments."

Frerichs said the regional superintendents need to be paid, but felt the personal property replacement tax was the wrong funding mechanism.

"I think taking it out of the general revenue fund, as the state has done in the past, was the better way to fund them," said the Senator, who says he's very hopeful that funding route can resume in a year.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics