MT. VERNON – Resource allocation will likely be the main challenge when Jefferson County is incorporated into the Regional Office of Education 13.
But this difficulty will be felt by ROE administrators and not by the school districts being served, said Jefferson-Hamilton counties Regional Superintendent of Schools Ron Daniels. The merger is still set to go into effect on July 1, 2015.
“We'll still be providing the same services,” Daniels said of the newly merged ROE. “For the school districts themselves, there will be a minimal impact.”
The current office serving this area is ROE 25, which includes Jefferson and Hamilton counties. With the merger, Jefferson will now join ROE 13, which includes Marion, Clinton and Washington counties. Hamilton County will join ROE 20 in the southeastern part of the state.
The new four-county ROE 13 will have a combined population of 130,742. It will serve 49 public school districts and 15 private school districts, making it one of the largest ROEs in Illinois in terms of districts served.
Daniels said the large number of districts will make it harder for the ROE to conduct compliance visits and health life safety visits at all the schools. However, preparations are being made to meet this challenge, he said.
Compliance visits involve policy checks to make sure teachers are properly certified. The health visits involve inspecting each building to ensure fire codes and other laws are being obeyed.
“Having the resources and the travel time to do that will be (difficult),” Daniels said.
ROE 13 has offices in Salem, Carlyle and Nashville. After the merger, there will still likely be a Mt. Vernon ROE office. However, staff from that office may be relocated to other sites, Daniels said.
The merger was discussed briefly at Wednesday's District 80 Board of Education meeting.
District 80 officials say they expect the merger transition to go smoothly. Superintendent Mike Green worked with ROE 13 when he was a principal in Sandoval and knows the office well.
“They were very good to work with,” said District 80 Assistant Superintendent Aletta Lawrence. “We're not anticipating any problems at all.”