From:                     STATE SUPERINTENDENT

Sent:                      Monday, December 09, 2002 2:18 PM

To:                         'District Superintendents, ROEs, Directors of Special Education'

Subject:                 Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 12-6-02

Weekly Message 12-6-02



Good afternoon.  The General Assembly’s fall veto session that ended yesterday yielded important legislation for financially strapped Hazel Crest School District 152.5. Legislation containing strong measures that apply only to Hazel Crest was approved, but an extremely important by-product of this effort was an almost exponential increase in legislator awareness of financial problems in school districts statewide. 


Chairman Gidwitz and I strongly believe that local educators and ISBE need to build on this momentum by making sure this issue maintains a high profile before legislators and the public as we move into the Spring session.  Please continue to raise awareness in your communities, and continue to send me anecdotes about the impact of budget problems in your districts.  The latter are powerful tools in getting lawmakers to understand the enormity of the problem.


In the remainder of my message this week:

Ÿ Legislature acts to keep Hazel Crest doors open this year

Ÿ ISBE upholds Champaign’s charter school denial

Ÿ State Board Summary from November 21

Ÿ Illinois gains 222 Nationally Certified teachers



Legislature acts to keep Hazel Crest doors open this year

Just before leaving Thursday, the General Assembly approved legislation to create a School Finance Authority for Hazel Crest School District 152.5.  The bill enables schools to remain open for the rest of the school year and provides a process for reorganizing or dissolving the district in the future.  The Hazel Crest legislation (substantive bill and appropriation) was the subject of almost non-stop negotiations over two days. 


Chairman Gidwitz and I met with the Governor and legislative leaders to help make decisions and craft legislation.  The bill, which becomes effective when the Governor signs it, permits ISBE to establish a School Finance Authority (SFA) within 5 days of the effective date.  This is likely to be at the December Board meeting, if not at a special meeting sooner. 


The SFA can levy property taxes that the district would be authorized to levy.  The SFA can also levy property taxes to repay loans, up to $4,000 per student ($4,528,000) from either the private sector or –as a last resort –the state. 


The district’s total estimated need for the remainder of the year is approximately $6 Million, including $1.4 M in old bills.  A General Assembly member initiative will provide $1.5 Million, and we estimate that the SFA might be able to secure something over $2.5 Million from private lenders, leaving around $2 Million to be covered by a state loan.  The legislation also authorizes the SFA to modify or cancel contracts, including the Superintendent’s, but excluding collective bargaining contracts.


The SFA can recommend a dissolution plan to the State Board if it reaches agreement with any affected district.  The State Board is empowered to approve the agreed-upon plan.  The Hazel Crest Board, at its last meeting, voted to dissolve at the end of the school year.


Attached is the summary of the bill that we distributed to legislators:




Cook County


Establishes a new Downstate Elementary District School Finance Authority Act.  A School Finance Authority (SFA) may be created by the State Board of Education only for a period of 5 days from the effective date of the legislation.


Provides a School Finance Authority established under this Act with the same general powers and duties currently provided to the Round Lake School Finance Authority pursuant to the Downstate School Finance Authority Act, including:

·    A five member board appointed by the State Board of Education of which two must be representatives of the affected district;

·    Authority to appoint a Chief Executive Officer, a Chief Education Officer and a Chief Financial Officer to manage the district;

·    Ability to manage the district budget and finances, including negotiating contracts; and

·    Ability to borrow and levy property taxes to retire such debt.


Provides additional powers beyond those given in current law, including:

·    Ability to levy property taxes that the district is permitted to levy;

·    Ability to receive a state loan if unable to secure private financing ($4,000 per student) and to levy to repay that loan;

·    Exempt from normal levy notice, hearing and timing requirements;

·    Ability to recommend a plan for the consolidation, annexation, reorganization, or dissolution of the district directly to the State Board of Education.  Such plan must be approved by all affected districts; and

·    Ability to cancel the contract of the district Superintendent for cause and to cancel other non-collective bargaining contracts for insufficient funds.





State Board Upholds Champaign District's Denial of Charter School

Appeal Panel finds proposal not in compliance with State's Charter Schools Law


A state appeal panel has upheld the Champaign School District 4 decision to deny the charter school proposed by the Champaign-Urbana Charter School Initiative (CUCSI).


The Champaign School District voted in April to deny the charter.   CUCSI subsequently requested an appeal through the State Board of Education.  Illinois' Charter Schools Law provides that organizations may seek reversal by the State Board of local board decisions to deny charters.  The State Board may reverse those local decisions if the proposals are found to be in compliance with the State's Charter School Law


CUCSI proposed to establish a charter school to serve grades kindergarten through eight open to students in Champaign School District 4 and Urbana School District 116.  The Urbana district had previously approved the charter proposal.


The Champaign district's denial claimed that the CUCSI could not fulfill contingencies set forth in the proposal and that it did not conform to the Charter Schools Law. 


For more specific information about the charter denial, go to or Current News on the ISBE website at




State Board action, discussion at November 21 meeting summarized


Note:  Please see November Board agenda/packet materials and/or the “Twenty Minute Packet” for information about issues on the November agenda.




Education Policy Planning Issues


Ÿ NCATE Protocol & Partnership Agreement

o The State Board accepted the NCATE Protocol and Partnership Agreement and authorized its filing with the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.

o Per direction given by the Board at the October Board meeting, staff incorporated several changes to the document.

o Approval of the final Partnership Agreement and Protocol allows the State to continue its relationship with the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, and Illinois institutions that seek and earn NCATE accreditation will continue to receive national recognition.


Ÿ Alternative Routes to Teacher & Administrator Certification Update


o The State Board heard an update regarding alternative routes to teacher and administrator certification programs in Illinois.

o The first Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification law was enacted in 1997, which created a certificate that was valid only in Chicago and allowed only 260 new participants in each year.  

o The law was amended in 2000 to allow the application of the certificate statewide and to exempt programs operating under this statute from the five-year experience requirement.  The amendment also created the Initial Alternative Teaching Certificate that is valid for four years of teaching and is not renewable, like the Initial Teaching Certificate.

o A second alternative certificate law, Alternative Route to Teacher Certification, (ILCS 105 5/21-5c), was passed by the General Assembly and enacted in 1998.   Under 5/21-5b, alternative programming was only available in Chicago.  The five-year experience requirement was included in 5/21-5c, but the enrollment cap of 5/21-5b was eliminated.


Ÿ State of Illinois Five-Year Technology Plan


o The State Board approved the State of Illinois Five-Year Technology Plan.

ü The five-year education technology plan commits to readying students to thrive in the “Digital Age” by building on past successes and strengthening the commitment to effective use of technology for all students.

ü By February, staff will prepare a business plan, an implementation calendar, and a budget for each of the five years. 


Ÿ Rules for Public Comment: Part 25 (Certification)


o The State Board approved the solicitation of public comments on rules

o Public comment on the proposed rulemaking for Certification (23 Illinois Administrative Code 25) will be collected.

o The proposed amendments will be published in the Illinois Register.



Finance & Audit Issues


Ÿ Standard Monthly Reports


o The State Board accepted the financial, audit and agency operations reports presented during the meeting in November 2002.

ü The Board Finance & Audit Committee will review each of the reports to improve the reporting of financial data. 

ü The Committee will specifically review the agency administrative costs.


·    Hazel Crest School District 152 ½

o The State Board heard an update on the Hazel Crest School District 152 ½ financial crisis.

o The agency has been working diligently to review the possible solutions to the Hazel Crest situation.

o The Superintendent provided the Board with the current financial position, changes in local school board governance, the pending insolvency of the district, and the legislative options. 


Ÿ Fiscal Year 2004 Budget Development Process


o The State Board discussed the current financial crisis in Illinois.

ü The Economic and Fiscal Commission issued its monthly report on the state’s fiscal condition  It forecasts that the state will collect only $415M more in tax revenue this year, down from the $800M it estimated last spring. 

ü The IEFC reports that the economy remains depressed and appears unlikely to be able to generate the kind of funds that will allow the state to meet all of the budget demands for FY04.  There could be a potential $2B budget shortfall for the next fiscal year (FY04).

ü Another recent report from a Chicago-based civic organization, calculated the FY 2002 deficit at $715 million and FY '03 (assuming constant spending and no increases in revenues) at $2.9 billion.

ü During the December Board meeting, agency staff will provide the Board and the public with a report on the condition of education in Illinois and a variety of options for funding key programs and initiatives for next year and into the future. 



Ÿ Financial Profile


o The State Board approved the School District Financial Profile System.

ü In an effort to provide the public a more accurate picture of school district finances, the State Board of Education approved a proposal for a new School District Financial Profile.

ü This profile will enable the agency to assign districts a rating based on multiple indicators of financial stability.

ü The new Financial Profile will use fund-balance-to-revenue ratio as one of the indicators of financial condition and add four other measures to complete the picture of school district financial health.

ü The Board members will receive training on the system early next year.



Ÿ Additional Announcements


The State Board:

o  Heard the state and federal legislative reports updating the Board on current legislative activity

o Received the “Agency Accomplishments: August-October 2003” report from the Superintendent and Core Team members.


Ÿ Special Guests & Events

The State Board:

o Heard a presentation from the staff of the Museum of Science and Industry explaining the various educational programs available for teachers and students.

o Met with local board members and superintendents in roundtable discussions on November 22 & 23, 2002.




Illinois Gains 222 Nationally Certified Teachers

We were recently notified that 222 Illinois teachers achieved national certification this year from the 

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.


The state ranked ninth in the number of national certificates issued in 2002.  With a total of 569 National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs), Illinois also ranks ninth overall among the states. 


These teachers have completed a very rigorous process to achieve this prestigious acknowledgement of their professional ability.  In addition to the recognition, the extensive certification process helps these individuals improve their teaching, it enables them to help their fellow teachers explore new classroom skills and it yields greater student achievement.


I am very pleased with this substantial increase in National Board Certified Teachers, and we hope to see similar increases in the future.


The General Assembly, the Governor and the State Board of Education have placed a high priority on increasing the number of nationally certified teachers.  The effort got a substantial boost this year through a $3 million appropriation increase, bringing the Fiscal Year 2003 appropriation to $4.075 million, up from $1.075 million in FY 2002.  At the same time, legislation was passed to increase the state stipend for NBCTs from a one-time payment of $3,000 to an annual payment of $3,000, subject to yearly appropriations.


In addition to the stipend, the state appropriation funds the $2,300 cost of completing the certification process.  NBCTs can receive additional state support by mentoring other teachers.  Some school districts also provide additional incentives for teachers to seek National Board Certification.


NBCTs are awarded Illinois’ Master Certificate when they achieve national certification.  Master Certificates are good for ten years and renewable upon completion of professional development requirements.  Standard Certificates must be renewed every five years by completing professional development requirements.


National Board certification is available in 24 subject areas at high school, middle school and elementary levels.  For the first time this year, an Illinois teacher completed her second national certification.  Linda Comminos, an elementary school art teacher in the Chicago Public Schools, received national certification in Early and Middle Childhood Art after achieving national certification in Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood Art in 1999.


The list of the 222 Illinois teachers who received national certification in 2002 and the complete list of 569 Illinois NBCTs are accessible on the National Board’s website at









Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

 of Education