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Rauner's Education Secretary Announces Departure

NBC 5

Wednesday, September 13, 2017  |  Article  |  By Mary Ann Ahern

Employment, Jobs (40) , Rauner, Bruce

Yet another prominent adviser to Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has departed his office.

Following his staff overhaul in early July, then the firing of four communications staffers in August, Rauner's Secretary of Education announced her exit Monday.

Less than two weeks after spearheading a landmark bill to overhaul Illinois' education funding formula, Dr. Beth Purvis accepted a new position with a national nonprofit to oversee educational philanthropy, Rauner's office announced in a statement. After two-and-a-half years, she will leave her $250,000 position this week.

"It has been a privilege for me to work with Governor Rauner and his team," Purvis said in a statement. "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."

Purvis' departure is viewed as a major loss by those who’ve worked alongside her. At the same time, it’s believed the Illinois Policy Institute - the conservative think tank that Rauner turned to for key positions in his staff overhaul - boxed Purvis out, according to those who have worked with her.

During negotiations over the school funding bill, Purvis received pushback after telling a Springfield newspaper that Rauner supported 90 percent of an earlier version of the legislation - but planned to veto it.

Still, those who know Purvis well call her "a mentor, a calming voice, a pragmatic voice, someone who would respectfully challenge and work harder than almost anyone else." One former staffer said "she is a HUGE loss."

When the governor signed the education bill, he hugged Purvis before the television cameras and credited her for her leadership. In Monday's statement announcing her departure, Rauner called Purvis a "tireless advocate for Illinois children and families," saying he was "deeply grateful for her efforts."

After learning of her resignation, Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin said in a statement Purvis "played a critical role in fixing our state’s broken school funding formula."

Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady echoed that sentiment, saying she "has been an education pioneer whose leadership and commitment to our students have helped put Illinois at the forefront of school funding."

Stepping in to replace Purvis will be First Lady Diana Rauner’s former chief of staff Emily Bastedo, an attorney who will now assume oversight of the governor's education policy team.