June 2, 2009

ISBE DELL e-Broadcast 2009.163 - Message from State Superintendent Christopher A. Koch


I am sure you are aware the General Assembly has come to the official end of its session, only to once again face the likelihood members will be called back to Springfield to complete unfinished business.  

There is mixed news for education in the budget that has been so far approved by the General Assembly. Both Houses of the General Assembly have passed a budget bill that includes full funding for Mandated Categoricals (MCATS) at the level proposed by the State Board and also increases the General State Aid Foundation Level to $6,190, a per pupil increase of $231.

Unfortunately, the General Assembly passed what’s being referred to as a “50%” budget for the remaining educational programs, (SB 1197) essentially providing about half of what was requested by the State Board for education spending in FY 2010. One legislative leader cautioned that state agencies should not look upon this budget as a six-month budget, but rather should begin making plans to implement this “50%” budget.                                                                          

SB 1197 will force many difficult decisions. As I said before, GSA and MCATS were not impacted by this “50%” budget, however, many very good programs in the Illinois State Board of Education’s budget will not fare so well.

Some of the programs that could possibly be reduced or eliminated include: ADA Block Grant, Agricultural Education, Alternative Learning/Regional Safe Schools, Bilingual Education, Career and Technical Education, Early Childhood Education, Principal and Teacher Mentoring, Reading Improvement Block Grant, Summer Bridges and the Textbook Loan Program just to name a few.

We anticipate that, at its June 17-18 meeting, the Board will review its FY10 budget recommendation in light of the “50%” appropriation. It is my hope that the Board will not need to adopt a FY10 budget at this reduced level.     

Governor Quinn and legislative leaders will be meeting this week to continue budget discussions and individual legislators have been told to be ready to return to Springfield. I ask that you reach out to your lawmakers and urge them to work to restore the funding that was requested by the State Board in its recommendation for FY 2010, which you can find at http://www.isbe.net/budget/FY10_budget_book.pdf .

Finally, as I mentioned in a prior message, Illinois has joined the Common Core of State Standards Initiative. A total of 46 states and 3 U.S. territories are working with the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to develop common learning standards for English and math. This voluntary, state-led effort will provide the foundation for dramatically improving teaching and learning. We’ll be better positioned to prepare our students for the rigor and challenges of college and careers and to bring consistency to standards, curriculum, assessments and college entry requirements.