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The Illinois superintendent of education has proposed eliminating the state's 57 regional superintendents and transferring their powers to a single, state-run regional system.

Superintendent Robert Leininger late last month said many services are being duplicated under the current system of 18 educational service centers and 57 educational service regions run by elected superintendents.

"The current regional systems, which have served their purposes, now, in fact, could impede the state's efforts to move quickly to a world-class education system,'' Mr. Leininger concluded after reviewing the effectiveness of the regional systems at the request of state legislators.

Mr. Leininger called for the state to set up a single, comprehensive statewide system, governed and administered much like a local district, to operate regional centers that would deliver services in vocational and special education and other areas.

Douglas L. Hoeft, the president of the Illinois Regional Superintendents of Schools, last week criticized Mr. Leininger's proposal as "anti-democratic'' and in conflict with educational research that points to a need for more local control.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals has ruled that voters may call a referendum on all local school taxes except property taxes, exposing another mistaken wrinkle in the state's landmark 1990 school-reform law.

Officials in the state education department said the court's ruling affects only two districts statewide that had blended property-tax increases with utility-tax hikes in order to qualify for higher state funding. The Hopkins County district had challenged voters' ability to call a referendum on the utility-tax increases.

Both districts have since levied higher property taxes to meet the requirement for the state's top funding tier. The state education department has also proposed language for lawmakers to use in correcting their earlier oversight.

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