Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Governor's Veto Leaves County Schools' Office Rudderless
Even though they're locally elected, salaries for Regional Superintendents are paid with State funds. Last week, however, with a stroke of his amendatory veto pen, Governor Pat Quinn removed $9.1 million from the new fiscal year's budget to do that. Most Regional Superintendents around the state vowed to stay on the job, at least until the outcome of a probable request for a court injunction against the cut and a possible override when the Legislature reconvenes in October. That can't happen in McHenry County, though, since newly-elected Regional Superintendent Joe Williams of Huntley announced a month and a half ago he didn't want the job after all and wouldn't continue as Assistant Superintendent, either.
The five staffers--whose salaries aren't state-funded but come out of County taxes--have been effectively leaderless since then. Austin said Friday the Lake County Regional Superintendent's been informally helping the County limp along by scribbling an official signature on G.E.D. certificates, for example.
Board Chairman Ken Koehler who would appoint a new Regional Superintendent said two weeks ago there were 11 applicants for the spot and he planned to winnow them before beginning initial interviews. Now that's in abeyance until there's some sort of agreement about funding.
One solution would be for McHenry County to assume responsibility for paying the Regional Superintendent and the likewise State-paid Assistant Regional Superintendent. "It would take a change in policy by the County Board to pay them," said Austin. That would be about a $200,000 change in policy, though, and Board members have been reluctant so far this year to monkey with a budget they fought hard to balance.
Austin said he'd met with Lake County officials Friday to talk about formalizing the ad hoc aid the neighboring Regional Superintendent's been providing McHenry County. He said there were no conclusions about it yet, though.
In the pic: Technically State Aid to McHenry County Schools is supposed to go first to the Regional Superintendent of Education, too.