Sent: Friday, November 21, 2003

To: 'Regional Superintendents and Special Education Directors District Superintendents '
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 11-21-03


Good afternoon,


I am pleased to announce that the legislative veto session has resulted in the reinstatement of $1.1 million to our budget. The affirmative action by the Senate yesterday, along with the House action two weeks ago, has restored the funding that is dedicated to the following:


  1. Continuation of the administration of the GED Testing Program in Cook County;
  2. Continuation of the GED Testing Program without a fee increase for FY04;
  3. Continuation of the Non-public Schools Recognition Program by hiring staff to fill the vacant positions that previously administered the program; and
  4. Resumption of the Private Business Vocational School Recognition/Monitoring Program by hiring staff to fill the vacant positions that previously administered the program.


For more on legislative activities through Friday, please see items below.


Also in today’s message:


  • Legislative Update
  • Board Meeting Summary
  • Report Card Update
  • Teacher Salaries Request
  • Certification Rulemaking
  • Alternative Learning Opportunities Program
  • More Spotlight Schools Recognized
  • SIU-E Closure and Property Sale
  • TECH 2004 Conference
  • Meeting the Challenge XIV Conference
  • Dinosaur Expedition Notice
  • Newsclips


Legislative Update


Below is a brief summary on what occurred during the first week of the Veto Session.  This summary does not include action taken after 7:00 p.m. on November 21.


TOTAL VETOES                                                                                                                    Status


SB 70 requires students to complete the full six hours of practice driving.  The bill was vetoed because it would infringe a school district’s right to craft its own drivers education policy and because it would place a financial burden on districts.  ISBE supported the bill during session because the increased driving time has proven to produce safer drivers.


SB 191 allows school districts to continue to receive orphanage reimbursement even after a child has been adopted.  The bill was vetoed due to cost, the Governors Office of Management and Budget estimated that the bill would cost the state $145M a year.  ISBE opposed the bill during the session because there is no way to track when a child stops receiving services from DCFS which is the trigger in the bill for cancellation of ISBE reimbursement.

Override Motion Approved By Senate

SB 192 allows for reimbursement of administrative expenses incurred by districts with large group homes like Maryville Academy in them. The bill was vetoed due to cost.  It is estimated that the bill would cost between $500,000 to $1M.  ISBE was neutral during the session.

Override Motion Approved by Senate

SB 564 extends the sunset of three ISBE funds the ISBE Special Purposes Trust Fund, ISBE Fund and the PBVS fund. The bill was vetoed due to the fact the Governor item vetoed the appropriations that accompanied these funds.  In order to collect or expend monies from these funds we will need substantive language to do so.



Amendatory Vetoes


HB 1180 makes substantial changes to the way districts are reimbursed for special education.  Moves to a per-pupil reimbursement basis rather than per-pupil claiming.  Eliminates the need of districts to submit individual claims for each student.  The AV simply sunsets the bill after FY 04 to allow time to work on a larger consolidation of funds.



SB 150 contains numerous provisions including one to allow for the reimbursement to school districts for the use of mass transportation.  The AV deletes this provision from the bill due to cost.  Reinserted in House Bill 763.

AV Accepted both Houses


SB 207 creates, subject to appropriation, a Student Achievement Improvement Block Grant to be administered by ISBE. The FY 2004 ISBE appropriations bill does not contain funding for this program.  The AV however removes the subject to appropriations language and attempts to insert that funding from this program should come from funds ISBE “may have available for this purpose.”  The AV message goes on to say that the Governor feels that there is still “significant room for savings in the operations of the State Board of Education.”  To the extent those savings can be found he suggests that they be funneled towards the intent of the bill.


SB 777 requires health facilities, including schools, to install defibrillators.  The Governor made numerous changes to the bill.  While the changes still cover school districts it is believed that he has tightened the language so that not all schools will have to install defibrillators.  Provisions reinserted in Senate Bill 865.  This bill was not called for a vote in the Senate.


SB 902 creates, subject to appropriation a K-3 class size reduction grant program to be administered by ISBE. No funds are contained in the FY 2004 budget for this purpose.  The AV would require that only those schools on the academic watch list are eligible for a grant.  The AV also removes language that limited the grants to grades K-3.


SB 1321 This legislation would make changes to 105 ILCS 5/2-3.33 and 105 ILCS 5/2-3.84 of the school code. Currently, adjustments to the EAV used in the calculation of General State Aid (GSA) are applied to the original EAV supplied to ISBE by the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR).  The lower of this traditional EAV or the Extension Limitation Equalized Accessed Valuation (ELREAV) is used in the calculation of General State Aid.  This legislation changes the application of EAV adjustments to the lower of the original EAV or the ELREAV.  The AV limits the fiscal impact of the bill to $20M.

Senate Override Veto

SB 1333 reinstates the ability, with regards to the special ed orphanage appropriation, that if the appropriation is insufficient to cover current fiscal year reimbursements than rather than pro-rating reimbursements, the funds to cover full reimbursement shall be taken out of the next fiscal year’s appropriation.  The AV would delay implementation of the bill until FY 2006.

Overridden both Houses


Other Issues


SB 1400 requires school districts with 40% or more free and reduced lunch count to offer a school breakfast program.  Sponsor agreed to hold until spring session.


SB 1957 contains the Safe School provisions of the NCLBPassed both Houses.


SB 1014 was amended to contain the non-public school recognition provisions.  Passed both Houses.


SJR 39 deals with the Fall Waiver Report.  The Senate adopted an amendment to deny Oak Lawn their waiver request allowing substitute teachers to teach beyond the 90 day limit.  All other waivers and appeals were approved.


No action was taken on teachers moving from an initial to a standard certificate.


SB 1498 would cap Cook County EAV growth to 7% a year.


HB 763 allows those districts that had an intergovernmental agreement with mass transit districts during the 2000-2001 school year to claim for those expenditures.


SB 865 (see SB 777).  Bill was not approved by Senate.


Board Meeting Summary

Action items before the state board included decisions on appeals by school districts heard in October by the Appeals Advisory Committee.


  • From Aurora West District 3129 the Appeals Advisory Committee heard an appeal submitted by Nicholson Elementary School which was designated for public school choice in 2003-2004.  The committee affirmed the designation and the Board voted to accept the committee’s recommendation.


  • Aurora East School District #131 had appealed designations based on results of the IMAGE (Illinois Measure of Annual Growth in English) test.  The committee had affirmed the designations for all six schools.  The State Board voted to accept the committee’s recommendation.


  • Decatur District #61 had appealed the designation of Harris Elementary School for 2003-2004 as a school having to offer Choice.  The district appealed stating that the school had not been notified of their status.  The committee had recommended overturning the designation.  The State Board rejected the recommendation citing that an overturn of the designation would be in opposition to state and federal law.  The school is required to offer “Choice” to parents in the second semester.  The Board also recommends implementation of Supplemental Educational Services (SES) for students because the choice option has not been made available this semester as required by NCLB.


In other action, the State Board approved the addition of two Supplemental Educational Services (SES) providers.  The two added were Rockford College Learning resources Center and the Babbage Net School, Inc.  For more information on these please go to the Board information packet at

For a full list of other providers please go to:


Non-action items included presentations before the board including one by the Large Unit District Association (LUDA). The organization has conducted surveys of its members and provided insights on the financial status of the many districts it represents.  Presentation highlights include:


  • 434 schools from 21 LUDA districts are on the School Improvement Status List.
  • A survey of education revenue sources (for LUDA members) indicates that 59.48% are local, 34% are state and 18.84% are federal.
  • Per pupil expenditures show an average of $4,266 per student for LUDA members compared to the state average of $4,842.
  • 58% of LUDA districts are increasing in enrollment (including Aurora East, Ball-Chatham, Indian Prairie, Oswego, Plainfield and Woodstock.  Some districts like Huntley are increasing by as much as 20% per year).
  • 86% of LUDA districts are in deficit spending with a combined total deficit of $115 million.
  • 35% of districts are using Tax Anticipation Warrants.
  • Expenditures are escalating with Health Insurance showing the biggest increases at 68%.
  • 66% of the LUDA districts are under tax caps.


A summary of LUDA recommendations of what needs to be addressed by the state includes:


  • Making state aid payments on a regular and timely basis.
  • Change the way we fund schools – becoming less reliant on property taxes.
  • Raising the Foundation level to adequate levels.
  • Fully funding mandated categoricals.
  • Renewal of the state Construction Grant Program.


Information from this and other presentations will assist the State Board as it develops and approves its school Financial Profile and the FY05 budget.


Report Card Update

Staff is working with the contractor to finalize data through the weekend.  Our expectation is to have these to you before you break for the holiday weekend.  Please be assured that our staff has been working for several consecutive weekends to work through this new process and see it through its completion.


Teacher Salaries request

Please be advised that ISBE has received a FOIA for this year’s list of teacher’s salaries.  The information is being prepared and will be sent on Monday.  The requests have, so far, come from the Chicago area.


Certification Rulemaking

A discussion draft of rulemaking related to various certification matters has been reviewed by the Certification Board and the State Board, and staff are now working on a formal proposal to go to the two boards in December.  A notice about these rules was provided in an earlier Friday message; however, the discussion draft and an explanatory overview are now more easily available through a link on the ISBE home page (


The preliminary proposals address a wide variety of topics including the criteria for subsequent certification and endorsements, for certification and the internship for school counselors, for paraprofessionals and a variety of other topics of importance to you and you staff.  Note: this is a preliminary discussion document, not a formal proposal, and there will be additional opportunities for comment.  However, it would be extremely helpful if you could review this discussion draft in the near future and respond with your concerns about and/or support for specific provisions of the document.  Comments should be sent to


Alternative Learning Opportunities Program

Alternative Learning Opportunities Programs (ALOP) provide students in grades 4 through 12 who are in risk of academic failure with a broader range of academic, behavioral and social/emotional interventions needed to meet the Illinois Learning Standards and complete their education in a safe learning environment.  ALOPs services should be designed to address individual learning styles, career development, and social services that will enable students to successfully complete their education.  Only school districts may establish ALOPs, either individually or in collaboration with two or more school districts or with one or more Regional Offices of Education, or both, or with Intermediate Service Centers to create and operate ALOPs.  A school district may operate its own program or may contract with one or more entities to operate its ALOP.  Such entities include health, mental health, or human services organizations; workforce development boards or agencies; juvenile detention programs; programs operated by the Illinois Department of Corrections; and other appropriate agencies or organizations that can serve students whose needs are not being met by the regular school program.  Due to budget constraints, grants are not available for supporting local Alternative Learning Opportunities Programs.  However, approved ALOPs may receive general State aid for participating students when they meet the requirements for claiming general State aid as specified in Section 18-8.05 of the School Code.


Applications for ALOP approval are available by contacting Jo Ann Price at 217/782-2948 or


More Spotlight Schools Recognized

Eight schools in metro eastern and southern Illinois will be recognized as “Spotlight Schools” on December 2. I am pleased to have the opportunity to personally present plaques to representatives of each school at Westhaven School in Belleville.  Selection of the schools is done through methodology established by Northern Illinois University.  Two of the schools are in Belleville, the other communities of Livingston, Murphysboro, Anna, Elizabethtown, Metropolis, and Vergennes each have a Spotlight school.  For more on the “Spotlight School” recognitions please go to:


SIU-E Closure and Property Sale

Southern Illinois University has recently ceased operations at its SIU-E East St. Louis Center, East St. Louis, IL 62201.  Miscellaneous surplus property including, desks, office tables, file cabinets, credenzas, computers tables, preschool tables and chairs, and more, will be made available for sale to your organization for two days only: Tuesday, November 25 and Wednesday, November 26, 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.  More information can be accessed at


TECH 2004 Conference

On April 21, 2004 school children from all over Illinois will meet in Springfield, for the 13th year, to demonstrate to legislators how classroom technology is helping them achieve and acquire the 21st Century skills needed by everyone learning and working in the information economy.  The TECH 2004 steering committee is now organizing demonstrations for 2004.


Teams will represent a balanced distribution between legislative districts, grade levels and curricular areas, and at least one will be chosen from each of the 59 senatorial districts.  Preference will be given to projects that demonstrate teaching and learning that are improved through technology.  Each team of two or three students accompanied by one teacher or administrator will present its demonstration for two hours in the morning or the afternoon of Wednesday, April 21, in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building.  The audience for these short student presentations will be legislators, business leaders, and other visitors.  All legislators will be informed about the demonstration schedule, and they will be encouraged by the legislative leadership to visit with the teachers and students that are sent to Springfield.


Past participants at TECH demonstrations have reported high visibility and positive coverage in newspaper articles, on radio and television, in legislative newsletters, and in local school district publications.  Some superintendents noticed improved relationships with legislators and with business leaders who visited the demonstrations and teachers have been impressed by the first-rate instructional projects being developed around the state.


The deadline for applying is December 12, 2003.  The online application is located at


Meeting the Challenge XIV Conference

Educators are invited to attend a fine arts conference January 9, 2004, at the Sauk Valley Community College.  Three workshop sessions will be available to participants:  drama, visual arts, music and dance.  The curriculum used in these sessions is designed for duplicating in your own classrooms.  Five CPDUs will be awarded to conference attendees.  Full conference information, including a registration form, may be accessed at or you may call Whiteside Regional Office of Education at 815/625-1495.


Project Exploration “Dinosaur Expedition

Project Exploration brings you science in action, epic expeditions and dinosaurs…this time in the Sahara.  Follow paleontologist Dr. Paul Sereno and his expedition team as they search for Africa’s youngest dinosaurs.  Dr. Sereno is a University of Chicago professor and a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence.  The expedition runs through December 1, and the site is always available.


Students will be able to log on to the free access website at and visit Dinosaur Expedition 2003 to witness discoveries as they happen, read field updates, engage in hands-on activities and solve real life problems faced by the scientists.  The website includes classroom unites, glossaries, links and bibliographies – and ongoing correspondence between schools and expedition team members.  Students will be able to post messages to the scientists themselves.


This opportunity can be directly connected to classroom curricular connections in Science standards 11A, 12B, 12D and 13B and Social Science 16D.


While online, sign up for Ancient Giants – a January 31, 2004 teacher conference in honor of the premier exhibition of GIANTS, African Dinosaurs’ at the Garfield Park Conservatory, created by Project Exploration.




Please be advised that we do not plan on publishing a Weekly message next week. However, we will send out a notice if there are any major developments.


I hope you have a very safe and happy Thanksgiving.




Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

 of Education