Sent: Friday, January 10, 2003 11:16 AM
To: 'Regional Superintendents and Special Education Directors District Superintendents '
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 1-10-03

Good Morning.  As Springfield and the State of Illinois began the process of governance transition this week, the State Board adopted its budget recommendations for FY04.  This ·Friday Message· will discuss that proposal, a new alternative route program for prospective teachers, appointments to two financial oversight groups, the new ·Quality Counts· report, and State Board personnel matters.

FY04 Budget for Elementary and Secondary Education

When the State Board adopted its FY04 budget recommendations on Monday, it did so within the context of a report on the condition of education in Illinois (see, the urgent need to address three critical gaps in Illinois education · i.e., funding, achievement and quality educators, and the realization that it will not be possible for the state to address all of the problems immediately.

The Board·s proposal recommends a $518 million increase over last year, with emphasis on the following.

The proposal also provides a four-year funding plan that identifies out-year recommendations for key initiatives.  For example, the budget plan includes proposals designed to meet the goal of full funding of the EFAB recommendations by the fourth year.  It also calls for incremental growth in early childhood funding sufficient to eliminate the waiting list and allow school districts to serve all pre-kindergarten children who are at risk of academic failure.

We are well aware that achieving these funding levels will be difficult if state revenues do not improve.  However, we believe it is our responsibility to advocate for the needs of local school districts and to provide a plan for meeting those needs to the greatest extent possible.

This is obviously just the beginning of the budget discussion and I hope that each of you will follow it closely during the coming months.  I also hope you will become an active participant in the quest for increased state funding for your schools. 

Specific information about the budget is available via the press release at and the budget materials/line-item charts at

State Board Members

On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed the appointment of Dean Clark to the State Board of Education.  As I indicated in my last message, Dean has been a member of the Glen Ellyn school board, an active member in IASB, and a voting member of EFAB.  He has resigned the EFAB position.

Dean joins previously confirmed new State Board members Gregory Kazarian of Lake Forest and Joyce Caron of Barrington.

Retiring State Board members Marilyn McConachie, Connie Rogers and Vince Serritella were honored at the December Board meeting.

ISU Alternative Route to Secondary Certification

The State Teacher Certification Board has approved revisions to Illinois State University·s Alternative Route to Secondary Certification, with new programs to be offered in high need areas such as Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math, Business, Spanish and Industrial Technology.  With continued growth in secondary enrollment and shortages in a number of content areas, the new ISU programs provide another option for your districts and for individuals who may be seeking a career change. 

The program consists of intensive course work during the summer, followed by provisional certification and a year-long internship.  Candidates for the program must hold a bachelor·s or graduate degree and have five years of experience directly related to the content they wish to teach, pass the Enhanced Basic Skills test and the relevant content area tests, pass a criminal background check and have an assured internship site. 

If you anticipate that you will have an opening in one or more of the designated subject areas in fall 2003 and would consider Alternative Certification candidates, or if you know someone who might be interested in participating in such a program, you can learn more about it at or by contacting Dr. Michael A. Lorber, program coordinator, at or at

Department of Curriculum and Instruction
Campus Box 5330
DeGarmo Hall, 212
Illinois State University
Normal, Illinois 61790-5330
Office Phone · 309/438-2839
Department Phone · 309/438-5425.

Financial Oversight Appointments

We have named the following individuals to serve as members of two new financial oversight groups.

The members of the Financial Oversight Panel for Livingston School District are three former district superintendents with substantial financial experience --- SIU professor Curtis Smith, who will serve as chairman; retired Edwardsville superintendent Robert Stuart, and retired O·Fallon superintendent Maurice Hesse.

The members of the Hazel Crest School Finance Authority are Lawrence E. Hupe, who will serve as chair; Edward O·Malley; Barbara Toney and two residents of the Hazel Crest district, Steven Wright and Mary Emily Grant.  All of these individuals also have strong finance backgrounds.

For additional information, our press releases can be found at, and

Quality Counts Report

The Education Week ·Quality Counts· report was issued this week.  In this annual report on the condition of education in the states, Illinois received an ·F· in school funding for the third consecutive year.  This confirms what the State Board, EFAB and most of you have been saying · i.e., it·s time for a serious look at the way public education is funded in Illinois.  Illinois received a B- in the area of standards and accountability and a C+ in the area of teacher quality.

The 2003 ·Quality Counts· report particularly focuses on ensuring a highly qualified teacher in every classroom.  This is an area in which we have made progress (our ·grade· was a D+ in 1999), but we still have a great deal to do · particularly in recruiting and retaining teachers in high-poverty schools and in certain subject areas.  For more information, see

Death of Kim Knauer

It is with much sadness I share with you that Kim Knauer, spokesperson for the State Board and leader of our communications and public service activities, last week lost her long battle with cancer. Although I had not known Kim as long as many of you, I came to think of her as a dear friend, as well as a valued advisor and agency leader. Kim was a very brave individual whose style and grace during her struggle with the disease was a testimony to her character. She had been a guiding force in this agency for over 21 years, and her contributions to it and to Illinois education were countless.  She will be greatly missed.

Robert Schiller
State Superintendent
  of Education