By TRAVIS MORSE email@example.com
---- — MT. VERNON — The Illinois State Board of Education has finalized the map for the soon-to-be consolidated Regional Offices of Education.
By doing so, the ISBE has paved the way for regional superintendents to file their petitions to be on the ballot for the March 18, 2014, primary election, said Ron Daniels, the Jefferson-Hamilton counties Regional Superintendent of Schools.
The deadline for regional superintendents to file their petitions was also extended by the Illinois Legislature. Originally, the time frame for them to file was Nov. 25 to Dec. 2. It is now Dec. 16 to Dec. 23.
“They cleaned up the legislation and extended the filing time for regional superintendents,” Daniels said.
State legislation will reduce the number of Regional Offices of Education to 35 by July 1, 2015. This consolidation will result in certain ROEs being merged.
The current office serving this area is ROE 25, which includes Jefferson and Hamilton counties.
With the consolidation, 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.
Concerns were raised recently about the merger legislation and how regional superintendents would be able to file their election petitions.
The original legislation prohibited the new ROE map from being finalized until early 2014, which would have been past the filing deadline for regional superintendents, Daniels said.
Also, without a map, candidates were unsure about how, where and when to file, Daniels said.
“We didn’t know where to file or what names to have on the petition,” Daniels said.
During the recent fall veto session, however, the Illinois General Assembly approved legislation to “clean up” the ROE consolidation law, Daniels said.
This new bill gave the ISBE the authority to approve the new ROE map now and extended the filing date for regional superintendents.
The ISBE then finalized the new map Nov. 22, said Mary Fergus, a spokesperson for the ISBE.
“This will help everyone move ahead and proceed with their candidacy for re-election or election,” Fergus said.
Daniels said he will be running for regional superintendent of the newly consolidated ROE 13. Even so, he pointed out that the ROEs may be renumbered in the future.
The new four-county ROE 13 will have a combined population of 130,742. It will serve 49 public school districts and 14 private school districts.
The current ROE 13 has offices in Salem, Carlyle and Nashville.
After the merger, the newly elected regional superintendent will decide whether to keep the Mt. Vernon ROE office open and how to utilize the staff there, Daniels said.