By EDWARD HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
The upcoming merger of the Adams-Pike Regional Office of Education with the four-county ROE based in Jacksonville is moving along well.
"A lot of things are happening behind the scenes right now, and I'm very pleased with the progress so far," said Debbie Niederhauser, regional superintendent of the Adams-Pike ROE, who is overseeing the merger along with her counterpart in Jacksonville, Jeff Stephens.
"We are very collaboratively working through this," she said. "We're hoping for a very smooth, seamless transition."
The merger will take place July 1, 2015 -- the result of legislation that required the Illinois State Board of Education to cut the number of ROEs from 44 to 35. To meet that target, many smaller ROEs were consolidated to form larger regional offices of education.
Starting July 1, the newly merged ROE in this part of the state will serve not only the 83,533 residents of Adams and Pike counties but also the 61,481 residents of Brown, Cass, Morgan and Scott counties.
Niederhauser presumably will be the regional superintendent of the new ROE, considering she is the only candidate in the upcoming November election for the expanded ROE leadership position.
"Thank heavens I don't have an opponent this time. That part is really a blessing," Niederhauser said.
Niederhauser is going to be plenty busy over the next 11 months working with Stephens to iron out all the details involved in the transition to the expanded regional office.
"We have a definitive timeline of tasks that need to be accomplished as we move through the months," Niederhauser said. "We have a summer list, a fall list, a winter and a spring list."
Niederhauser said she and Stephens are focusing on the "big picture" items first. "Then we'll start working through the many details," she said.
Niederhauser said she has been spending a lot of time introducing her to the superintendents and other key administrators in the 11 school districts located in Brown, Cass, Morgan and Scott counties. So far she has visited six of the 11 and will be making stops at the rest soon to hear those officials' ideas on what services they would like to see the ROE continue or expand upon.
Niederhauser already knows most of the key players in the nine school districts within Adams and Pike counties. She is planning to host a joint meeting Aug. 5 in Quincy for the top school officials from all 20 counties so they can get to know each other better.
"This will be an opportunity for them to start to build relationships," she said.