Regional Superintendent of Schools for Mason-Tazewell-Woodford counties Gail Owens will retire effective June 30 after serving six years at the post.

Owens said Friday that there are still three years left on her term and the county boards in the counties she represents will have to appoint someone to fill the vacancy created by her early departure.

In the past, the state has considered closing regional offices to save money, but Owens doesn’t think that will happen.

“I’m not aware of other candidates at this time as this is new news, but my current assistant has expressed a sincere interest in continuing the work of this office,” said Owens. “We are one of 35 regional offices in the state, so my retirement should have little to no impact on the state board’s action with the budget. The Regional Office is funded primarily by the counties and not the state board.”

Owens said she relishes the time she has served in education.

“I have been blessed to be involved in education for a long time in a variety of schools and capacities,” she said in a press release. “ It truly is one of the most important professions in the world.

“It is complex, very hard work, but the reward of making a difference in the lives of children is so gratifying. I have been so fortunate to work with exemplary educators who serve the students and their parents in Mason-Tazewell-Woodford counties. They do their very best day in-and day out to provide high quality educational opportunities for their students.”

Owens previously served as a grade school paraprofessional, substitute teacher, high school teacher, middle school teacher and university professor.

The regional office inspects every school building annually, conducts compliance visits to make sure certain policies and practices are in line with Illinois law and codes, provides training for school bus drivers, and provides professional development opportunities for educators. It provides fingerprinting, GED testing and teacher licensing tests and operates the ROE Academy and the Regional Safe School. The regional office also serves as liaison between Illinois State Board of Education and school districts.

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