Sent: Friday, October 24, 2003 5:07 PM
To: Regional Superintendents and Special Education Directors District Superintendents
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 10-24-03

Good afternoon,

The State Board met this week in Rock Island and took action to address an issue of immediate concern regarding teachers who are 2004 candidates for the Standard teaching certificate. More detailed information on that topic appears below, along with other links from the board meeting.

Today’s message includes:

  • Report Card Update
  • FYO5 Budget Input Sought
  • Other ISBE Board Meeting items
  • Standard Certificate Revisions
  • Administrators’ Academy List
  • Newsclips

Report Card Update

The designated contractor has yet to complete the School Report Cards and related documents. At this point in time, we are unable to provide a specific date as to when the Report Cards will be released.

District superintendents will be notified via e-mail when the Report Cards are available and can be accessed via a secure website.

FY05 Budget Input Sought

Attached are three documents related to the development of the FY05 budget for elementary and secondary education which were discussed at the recent Board Meeting.

The first is our normal line item spreadsheet from FY91 through FY04 to provide a recent historic context of state general fund appropriations.

The second is a set of funding options for most elementary and secondary programs which begin at the current appropriation and increase through inflation and larger levels of funding to what might be considered the financial needs of the elementary and secondary education system to assist all students achieve standards.

The third is a set of education data measures (to be posted soon on the budget page designed to put funding in the context of broader system trends.

The first goal of these documents is to characterize the overall financial needs of schools to achieve high levels of academic achievement by all students. The second goal is to solicit comments on the most appropriate funding options and the most important priorities among programs competing for resources in the FY05 budget process.

It is important to understand that these funding needs are unrelated to where the money comes from – federal, state or local sources – and that these programs are not necessarily additive. Many address similar concerns and if one is funded to address that issue, another may not have to be funded.

We invite you to review this, share it with others and provide comment to help the State Board determine funding priorities and levels for the entire elementary and secondary education system that can be incorporated into the FY05 budget recommendation to the Governor and General Assembly. To help solicit comments we will have a separate comment cell for each program.

Other State Board Meeting items:

ISBE addresses standard certification problem for 2004; names first “Spotlight Schools;” approves SES Providers

At its meeting in Rock Island this week, the State Board voted to develop legislation for the fall override legislative session that would waive certain professional development requirements for 2004 Standard Certificate candidates. A detailed summary of the issue and of the proposal approved by the board can be viewed at

Spotlight Schools

In other business, the Board recognized the first group of “Spotlight” schools – schools that have high academic achievement in school with a majority of students from a poverty background. Additional “Spotlight” schools will be announced soon. Our news release of the first seven recognized schools can be viewed at


In addition, the State Board also approved two new providers for Supplemental Educational Services under NLCB. Our news release can be viewed at

School financial status presentations

The Board also heard presentations from two area schools districts on their financial status (see summary below). We appreciate their attendance and informative presentations.

Bureau Valley Community Unit District #340 is starting their ninth year of consolidation. The district was created when six former districts united to provide a better educational opportunity for their students. State incentive money for consolidation was provided which benefited the process. The district was formed and approved on a referendum on its first attempt in 1994 with almost two-thirds approval - which appeared to be a first in Illinois history. The district has an enhanced curriculum as a result of the consolidation along with improved extracurricular opportunities. The school has earned four state trophies in their brief eight year history. Bureau Valley is still facing the same challenges that all rural schools face involving finances. Decreased E.A.V., increased expenditures in programs, decreased population in rural settings, and legislative non-funded mandates are just some of the issues facing this district.

As a result of the challenges, Bureau Valley has become proactive with several decisions to reduce their expenditures, not waiting for more revenue from either Springfield or Washington. One decision was to grade site their K-5 students this past year. The change has been met with success both, educationally and financially, saving the district some $300,000. A bold undertaking the district is now undertaking is the application for a wind turbine generator that will save thousands of dollars monthly on their utility costs.

Through all its plans, Bureau Valley is very committed to providing the best public education it can for its students.

Rock Island School District 41 Superintendent, Dr. Dave Markward, and Comptroller, Mike Oberhaus, reported to the State Board that the District made $1.5 million in expenditure reductions for the 2002-03 year. Heading into the 2003-04 year, they had presented cuts of $4,500,000 to balance the Education Fund revenues and expenditures. With the State providing $250 in additional state aid, they were able to reduce cuts by $2,200,000. Rather than decimate educational programs, the District adopted a budget with an operating deficit of $2,200,000, utilizing accumulated surplus to cover the deficit. Mr. Oberhaus showed that without additional funding the District would be facing severe financial consequences by 2005-06. Dr. Markward stated that if additional state funding is not available for 2004-05, additional cuts will be necessary. A specific listing of potential cuts was shown. Finally, Dr. Markward stated that the District has moved from financial recognition to financial review and is rapidly heading to financial watch status. He suggested that it would be beneficial to fix the funding problem now rather than dismantling the programs the District has worked so hard to build.

Standard Certificate Revisions

Effective immediately, all subsequent certificates issued to Illinois teachers who hold a Standard Certificate will be issued as Standard Certificates. In other words, once an individual has earned one Standard Certificate, all additional certificates will also be at that level. We will reissue the certificates of individuals who are affected by this change in policy (which is made possible by a recent change in our rules) and we will also modify the TCIS so that the certificates show up at the appropriate level. This is the result of rule changes that were final last week, and it should provide both consistency and clarity for teachers and administrators.

At this point, out of state teachers with more than four years of experience will still be given Initial Certificates unless they have a master’s degree in an educational field and therefore have met the requirement for the Standard Certificate. This is consistent with the law on this topic.

Administrators’ Academy List

A list of approved Administrators’ Academy courses is now available on the State Board website at:


Stories of interest may be viewed at

Robert Schiller
State Superintendent
   of Education