RANTOUL — The Champaign-Ford Regional Office of Education will remain open, and Regional Superintendent Jane Quinlan will be at work, despite Gov. Pat Quinn's veto of a budget item that pays her salary and those of other regional superintendents and their assistants.
Meanwhile, the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools is working with the governor's office to find a way to pay the superintendents.
"We've had some meetings this week over in Springfield and it looks like there may be a resolution," Quinlan said Friday from Springfield, where she was attending an annual meeting of regional superintendents.
"We really want to remain open and we don't want to limit services to the public or our school districts," she said. "We're real hopeful the governor's office will be able to work something out."
Last week, Quinn cut about $11 million from the budget — the $9 million that pays the salaries of regional superintendents and their assistants, and about $2 million from their operating budgets.
Quinlan said members of the governor's staff told the regional superintendents they want to find a way to pay the salaries, although the details are not completely worked out yet. Quinlan said she believes the superintendents will get paid, but they probably won't get their next paycheck — due July 15 — on time.
In the meantime, though, they'll continue helping school districts prepare for the coming school year. Those duties include ensuring teachers have valid certificates, training bus drivers, and issuing building and occupancy permits.
While teachers needed to renew their teaching certificates by the end of June, there are still teachers who are coming from elsewhere, including out-of-state, to teach and they must have valid certificates to teach here, Quinlan said.
The regional office does bus driver training during the summer. And before students can begin going to school at the new Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Champaign, or the new additions at Champaign's Garden Hills Elementary School and Urbana's King Elementary School, the office must issue occupancy permits that verify the work is complete and the buildings are ready for students.
Other duties of the regional education offices include offering GED testing; running the alternative READY program for students with behavior problems; working with the state's attorney's office on truancy cases and with the school districts on truancy prevention; offering help for homeless children and migrant children to ensure they are enrolled in school and can access services in the community; providing funding for an afterschool program in Champaign, and the summer Freedom School; and professional development for teachers and administrators.
Quinlan said Quinn's cut of the operating money might affect some of the professional development offered by her office.
"We have other sources of funding for that," she said. "It's not ideal. It may result in some reduction of offerings, but we will be able to still continue with many things."
Quinn has suggested using the corporate replacement tax, paid by businesses to school districts and city governments, to cover the $11 million he cut from the regional superintendents' offices.
The Champaign school district receives about $3 million in corporate replacement taxes annually, said the Champaign school district's Chief Financial Officer Gene Logas. Nearly all of that money goes into the district's education fund to help pay teacher salaries and for classroom materials.
While Champaign's share of the $11 million would be relatively small — if all the state's districts were to contribute to making up for what Quinn cut — it would still mean the district would lose the equivalent of at least a teacher's salary.
"(Quinn) is going to create a deeper hole for K-12 education," Logas said.