Johnson County Commissioners’ ROE consolidation discussion left undecided
The Johnson County Commissioners met for a regularly scheduled meeting Monday evening in which a discussion for a resolution on a Regional Office of Education consolidation mandated by the state was left unresolved.
In the same manner as consolidations and closures occurring with other state facilities in Southern Illinois and elsewhere, Gov. Pat Quinn is looking to reduce the state’s budget by trimming the number of ROE offices to just 35. After July 1, 2015, each region must contain at least 61,000 inhabitants and currently the five counties that make up ROE #2 does not qualify for its own ROE.
To meet the population mandate, school districts are given time to voluntarily consolidate with other districts and both Vienna and Goreville school board members have voted to join with Franklin and Williamson Counties in a new ROE. Board of Education members for Vienna and Goreville schools were joined with members of New Simpson Hill and Buncombe in submitting letters to the County Commissioners rejecting the recommendations of a Five Person Citizen Committee that proposed consolidation with the Jackson-Perry Regional Office of Education #30.
After a lengthy discussion of ROE #2 budgetary and financial numbers, the Commissioners moved to the next item on the agenda only to return to the ROE consolidation discussion after all but one district superintendent left the meeting, as it appeared the topic was closed.
Janet Ulrich, regional superintendent of schools, previously requested Johnson County Commissioners to sign a petition in favor of consolidating ROE for Johnson County’s schools with that of Jackson and Perry Counties, a petition rejected by the schools of Johnson County. In her discussion before the board, Ulrich said she was seeking what she thought was best for the schools and that she would not seek re-election when her time expires. The Vienna Times and Goreville Gazette sought further statements regarding Ulrich’s decisions to not seek re-election and her position on the consolidation recommendations but by press time Tuesday night Ulrich had not responded.
The board tabled the action to sign any such petition favoring consolidation with Jackson and Perry Counties until more information was made available, which led some superintendents to argue that there is no hurry making any decision as the county has two years to make a transition as favorable and smooth as possible.
Before the meeting concluded it was never made apparent what the goal of any party was beyond that of the visiting school superintendants who opposed any move of consolidation with the Jackson and Perry Counties if a Franklin and Williamson Counties consolidation was available. Only Commissioner member Jeff Mears made any closing statements in regards to the ROE consolidation voicing his concerns with decisions being made for the County but not by County elected officials as he opposed any move to consolidate with Jackson and Perry against the wishes of the elected school board members.
In moving on with new business, the commissioners voted unanimously to support the re-platting of Egypt Isles and supported a Southern Seven Health tax levy in the amount of $72,451.00. A Southern Seven representative was present and thanked the board for Johnson County’s continued support noting the cuts in state aid have made local support even more important.
The Commissioner voted against supporting a request to pay election judges a $20 portion of pay that was previously paid out by the state.
Before moving to approve both the Village of Cypress Animal Control contract and the City of Vienna Animal Control Contract the commissioners heard from Hope Trust health insurance representatives discussing options available to the county should they join the Hope Trust.
It was also decided that more than one bid was necessary to approve ductwork in the county clerks office and that once bids were in an approval would be made allowing heat and cooling to be restored in the office.
The fiscal year 2013 budget was approved allowing for a three-percent increase in pay for county employees leaving the budget more than $10,000 in the black.
Highway and county bills were approved in the amounts of $92,100.24 and $53,554.92 respectively as well as a termite exterminator renewal contract for all county buildings in the amount of $900.00.
The next regularly scheduled county commissioner’s meeting is set for Tuesday, Nov. 13 to begin at 3:30 p.m.