Governor Pat Quinn has signed a measure that will reduce Illinois' regional offices of education. To avoid elimination, offices must serve at least 61,000 residents. Whiteside County's population is under 59,000.
The total number of offices will be trimmed from 44 to 35. Smaller offices, that don't meet the new population requirement, will be absorbed by larger ones. If there aren't enough voluntary consolidations by June 2013, the state will decide the rest. The changes won't occur until after the 2014 elections. That's when current terms for regional superintendents are due to expire.
Regional school superintendents have often been a target for officials looking to cut spending. Last year, Quinn proposed eliminating them, but lawmakers instead shifted funding to keep them open.
Math curriculum bill signed
Quinn also signed a measure aimed at increasing math standards for Illinois students. The law requires the state education board to create more vigorous math curricula that schools will have the option of adopting.
Originally, lawmakers wanted to bump the state math requirement for high school students from three years to four. But Lt. Governor Sheila Simon and legislators said they learned that the move was too much to do in a single year. They cited concerns over the additional cost for schools.
Earlier this year, Simon's office released a report based on her visits to Illinois' 48 community colleges. The report showed that most Illinois students aren't prepared for college math. It also showed that almost half of recent high school graduates in community colleges have to take at least one remedial course, usually in math.
She said she hopes that Illinois will eventually raise the requirement.