By MATT HOPF
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
The Regional Office of Education for Adams and Pike counties is in discussions to merge with the office that represents Brown, Cass, Morgan and Scott counties.
Debbie Niederhauser, regional superintendent of schools for Adams and Pike counties, told the Adams County Board Tuesday night that she was approached by Jeff Stephens, the regional superintendent of schools for the four counties, as a way to avoid another merger in the future.
State law requires that the number of regional office of education be cut from 44 to 35 by 2015. Districts with less than 61,000 will be required to merge with other districts. The merger would have to be completed by June.
The Regional School Board of Trustees from each region would have to approve it.
"What does that mean for us and how does that impact us?" Neiderhauser said. "We're still working on those things. We don't have all the answers."
Regional superintendents handle a wide array of duties that include certifying teachers, offering GED classes and inspecting school buildings.
The county budgeted $160,000 for Regional Office of Education, which is partially reimbursed by Pike County based on its portion of equalized assessed valuation in the two counties. Salaries for the Niederhauser and Assistant Superintendent of Schools Jill Reis are paid by the state and are not included in the counties budget.
Niederhauser expects that the Quincy office would remain the home office for the combined district and would retain satellite offices in Pittsfield and Jacksonville.
"The way it looks like right now, I will keep my job, Jill will keep her job and we'll use Jeff probably ... as regional manager," she said. "We'll need someone over there in Jacksonville."
It appears that some jobs between the two offices would be eliminated to avoid double staffing certain positions, but Niederhauser did not know elaborate on how many jobs could be eliminated.