ROE superintendent seeks new assistant

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Regional Superintendent of Schools Kelton Davis addressed the Monroe County Board on Monday morning with a request to add another assistant superintendent position at Regional Office of Education 45.

ROE 45 provides a variety of services for all public schools in Monroe and Randolph counties. 

Davis said his office is in “dire need” of another assistant, which he believes can be accomplished by submitting resolutions approved by the counties ROE 45 serves.

While his office already employs Chris Diddlebock as an assistant superintendent, Davis explained he is seeking another assistant who specializes in grant writing.

ROEs “live and die by generating revenues,” Davis explained, adding that while federal funding has been readily available in the past few years, he does not anticipate the trend continuing. 

“Financially we’re good but that ends in 2024,” he continued, saying Monroe County is “great” at supplying needed funds, but ROE 45 “relies on grants” for a vast majority of projects.

“For the amount of funds we’re bringing into the county, we’re very light staffed,” Davis said, using “multimillion dollar proposals” he is currently developing as an example.

“As I’m building these (proposals), it takes away my time from building inspections, bus driver training, teacher licensure, professional development, work permits, testing individuals, background checks, compliance checks to make sure schools are following the laws and training for those laws for the schools,” among other services, he said.

One disputed aspect of the proposed new assistant position is funding. By law, the cap for an additional assistant superintendent is 75 percent of a regional superintendent’s salary.

While Davis believes the state should fund the new position, he said the Illinois State Board of Education “doesn’t read it the same way.” 

“There is and has been the ability for multiple assistants at the appointment of county commissioners,” Davis said, adding he believed the position should be funded by Illinois “personal property replacement tax, ” which is used to fund  everything from state judicial and education personnel salaries to the operations of the Chicago Transit Authority.

Monroe County State’s Attorney Lucas Liefer was asked to review the statute to ensure the funding would come from the state, not the counties. Davis said the position would not be filled if Monroe and Randolph counties were the sole financiers.

Randolph County commissioners voted Friday to approve a resolution for Davis to submit the new assistant proposal to ISBE.

Liefer said he’s been in communication with Randolph County State’s Attorney Jeremy Walker regarding the proposal, but said he could not offer an immediate legal opinion Monday.

Rather than approve the resolution pending a positive opinion from Liefer, the Monroe County Board decided to give Liefer time to review the language and call a special meeting to approve the resolution if necessary.

Davis said he would like the matter resolved “as early as possible” because  he has a “small window” to recruit eligible candidates for the position before the summer break.

He explained now is the time to find an “active, licensed” individual with the right qualifications, before they accept other open positions.

Davis added the pool of eligible candidates is already small and regulations do not allow him to “pull someone out of retirement”  for the role.

Liefer said it should only take a few days to research the statute.

In other business, Monroe County Board Chairman Dennis Knobloch announced the county had received a request from the Village of Valmeyer in its pursuit of extending the Rock City Tax Increment Financing District. 

As a recipient of taxes from the area the district involved, Monroe County, along with Southwestern Illinois College and the Valmeyer school and library would need to approve a 12-year extension of the TIF district, which expires in September 2023.

All benefitting taxing bodies would need to approve the extension before it can be sent to Springfield, where a TIF district extension, by law, needs to be passed by an act of state legislature.

The TIF district is eligible for two 12-year extensions. 

Knobloch explained the various elements of the extension, including an estimated $27,800 annual disbursement for Monroe County and its EMS services.

The board did not vote on the resolution at Monday’s meeting, though. 

Knobloch said he will not vote on the resolution because of his involvement as Valmeyer’s village administrator. As commissioner Vicki Koerber was absent from the meeting, consideration was tabled until a future meeting.

Knobloch also noted a change in schedule for the next two county board meetings. 

Due to scheduling conflicts, the next meeting will be on the fourth Monday of the month, May 23. Also, the first June meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 7. 

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