Gov. Rauner’s state education chief departing
Less than 2 weeks after a landmark education funding reform bill was signed into law, Illinois Education Secretary Beth Purvis is leaving the Rauner administration.
Purvis is leaving the administration to join “a national nonprofit organization where she will oversee educational philanthropy.”
Purvis’ last day will be Friday. Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office announced her departure Monday.
“It has been a privilege for me to work with Governor Rauner and his team,” Purvis said in a statement released by Rauner’s office. “I am proud of what we have accomplished and know that his administration will continue to ensure that Illinois children have access to high quality programs that will prepare them to be engaged community members with meaningful and rewarding careers.”
Rauner said in a statement that he was
“deeply grateful” for Purvis’ efforts.
Purvis chaired the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission that recommended changing the way Illinois distributes state aid to schools to ensure it went to districts most in need. This spring, the Legislature passed a bill to do that, but also added some provisions that Rauner called a bailout of Chicago schools.
Purvis caused a controversy over the summer when she told The State Journal-Register that Rauner supported 90 percent of the school funding reform bill, but would veto it anyway because of the Chicago provisions. The comment was widely criticized by school funding reform proponents.
After that, Purvis was mostly absent from
public view, including when Rauner used his amendatory veto powers to extensively rewrite the bill. When it became obvious the Democratic-controlled Legislature wouldn’t accept the changes, a compromise was forged that was approved by the General Assembly and signed by Rauner.
State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, who served on the funding commission, praised Purvis’ work in getting the final bill passed.
“I thank her for her work in bringing the school funding issue to finality. She played an integral role in that,” Manar said. “She was a positive force within the Rauner administration on school funding.”
State Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Raymond, also served on the funding reform commission.
“I think that she did a lot of really great work to get school funding reform done,” Bourne said. “Every school child in the state has benefited because of the work she has done.”
Bourne said Purvis’ guidance over the commission made it productive.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs said Purvis “played a critical role in fixing our state’s broken school funding formula.” He also credited her with helping secure greater funding for K-12 education.
Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady of Bloomington called Purvis “an education pioneer whose leadership and commitment to our students have helped put Illinois at the forefront of school funding.”
The Rauner administration said Monday that Emily Bastedo, who has served on Rauner’s legal team and as chief of staff to first lady Diana Rauner, will assume oversight of the governor’s education policy team.” Rauner’s office said she will be paid $127,000 a year.
Purvis ran charter schools before becoming a member of Rauner’s transition team after his 2014 election. She was then hired on contract to become education secretary for $250,000 a year. Rauner defended the deal, saying she was a superstar in the education field.