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Official enters regional office race

Superintendent would serve Whiteside, Lee, Ogle counties

Published: Monday, Dec. 23, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

Whiteside County’s regional schools superintendent is in the race for the same position in a consolidated regional district. As of late last week, he was the only candidate.

Bob Sondgeroth, who started as superintendent 2 years ago, filed with the state Board of Elections last week for the superintendent’s position in a new district covering Whiteside, Lee and Ogle counties. Today is the deadline for candidates to file. 

Last year, the legislature decided to abolish regional districts that have fewer than 61,000 people, requiring them to combine with other regions. Whiteside County has a population of 58,498, according to the 2010 Census. 

Of the state’s 44 regional districts, Whiteside County’s is the 35th-biggest. 

The changes take effect July 1, 2015, when the new terms for superintendents start.

In some areas of the state, regional districts struggled with consolidation, but it went relatively smoothly in Whiteside, Lee and Ogle counties. 

Regional superintendents inspect school buildings, handle teacher certification issues and provide other help to school districts. 

Regional offices of education have been among Springfield’s favorite targets for budget cuts. In 2011, regional superintendents went months without being paid, after Quinn vetoed funding for their salaries. Most, including Sondgeroth, kept working. The state later paid them. 

Sondgeroth said, if he is elected, he would hire Paul McMahon, the regional superintendent for Lee and Ogle counties, as the assistant superintendent.

“We worked that out,” McMahon said. “We have to consolidate, so there’s no sense beating each other up. We work well together.”

Over the summer, McMahon, previously Lee-Ogle’s assistant, took the top job when Amy Jo Clemens, the superintendent for 9 years, accepted a state position. She became the assistant state superintendent for the Center for Innovation and Improvement for the state Board of Education, overseeing nearly $2 billion in federal education grants. 

The Democratic and Republican primaries for regional superintendent are March 18. Sondgeroth is a Republican.

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