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Regional School Superintendents Going Without Pay

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UPDATED 08/25/11 8:48 a.m.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — The little-known units of government called regional offices of education are getting more publicity, because Gov. Pat Quinn cut off their paychecks.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports, regional school superintendents are going without pay for two months and counting. Their average salary is about $100,000 a year.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports

“It’s tough,” said Jean Anderson, regional school superintendent in downstate Tazewell County. “We’re taxpayers, and citizens of Illinois as well, and we took an oath to uphold the constitution and follow the laws and the rules of the state of Illinois, and we’re dedicated to doing that, and I guess I find it hard sometimes to understand why those standards aren’t being upheld by everyone who is in such a situation.”

Anderson, who is based in downstate Lincoln, says her group is caught up in the lurch. Why do they continue to go to work every day with no pay? Says one of her colleagues, “Because we’re elected.”

Regional superintendent of schools is an elected position in 44 districts in Illinois. The superintendent serves as the liaison between the Illinois State Board Education and municipal school districts.

On Wednesday, the superintendents brought out school buses, a local transportation director, and a newly trained driver to discuss the link between the regional offices and school bus safety.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports

The superintendents say they are required by law to provide the initial training and refresher courses for drivers, as well as background checks.

Jeff Vose, the regional superintendent in downstate Sangamon County, says neither the state Board of Education nor local districts are equipped to handle such tasks as their offices are configured now.

“Some critics have mentioned that you could just pass these duties on to the school districts, and I believe they would attest also, they do not have the capacity,” Vose said. “However, they also don’t have the legal authority to perform the duties that we are mandated to do by law.”

Besides, Vose says, the law would have to be changed.

A court hearing Thursday will address the question of whether Gov. Quinn overstepped his authority when he eliminated regional school superintendents.

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