Sent: Friday, February 28, 2003 4:16 PM
To: 'Regional Superintendents and Special Education Directors District Superintendents '
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 2-28-03


Good afternoon.  This week’s most poignant moment will occur at the close of business today, when 84 agency staff will take advantage of the early retirement option and leave State Board service.  Today’s message discusses that topic as well as the following:




Agency Retirements


The 84 individuals taking advantage of the early retirement initiative today brings the total of agency retirements under ERI to date to 139. That is a staff reduction of about 20 per cent since June, 2002, when the first “early retirees” left.  Overall, agency headcount is down by about one-third since June, 2000. 


I have not known our retirees very long but I have come to appreciate their talents and contributions.  Many of them have been with the state education agency for many years (the retiree with the longest tenure began in 1966) and they have helped to bring about many important improvements to our state’s educational system.  You know many of them personally and I am sure you join me in extending heartfelt appreciation for their contributions and best wishes for all of their future endeavors.


We have been working hard to reassign responsibility for programs where managers and staff are retiring, and an updated organization chart and agency contact information will be posted on our website Monday. Meanwhile, if you have questions, call the unit traditionally responsible for the topic or issue and you will be directed to an appropriate respondent. If you experience difficulties reaching the people you need to reach at ISBE, simply send an e-mail to and someone will be in touch with you.


Until such time as we can fill many vacant positions on a permanent basis, the following supervisory and other personnel changes are effective as of March 1, 2003:







Lee Patton, currently Policy Analyst, temporarily will assume the responsibilities of Frank Llano as manager of the Teaching and Leadership Department and of Mike Long as Division Administrator for Professional Preparation and Recruitment.


Dennis Williams, currently Division Administrator for Teacher Certification, will also assume the responsibilities of Rob Sampson, retiring Division Administrator for Certificate Renewal Division.


Kathryn Cox, currently acting Division Supervisor for Special Education Services, will assume the responsibilities of the retiring Jack Shook as Division Administrator of Special Education Services – Springfield.


Gail Lieberman, currently assistant to the Director of Teaching and Learning, will temporarily assume the responsibilities of Richard Miguel as manager of Standards-Aligned Learning and Tanya Patton as Division Administrator of New Learning Opportunities.




Lynne Haeffele-Curry continues as director. She will also be responsible for the divisions of Student and School Progress and for External Relations; she will also temporarily serve as division administrator for ROE Services, a position formerly held by Ray Schaljo.


Don Full, currently Division Administrator for Accountability, will temporarily add the duties previously performed by Sheryl Poggi as Division Administrator for System of Support.


Connie Wise, currently Division Administrator for Data Analysis and Data Reporting, will also temporarily serve as Division Administrator for Student Assessment, succeeding Carmen Chapman-Pfeiffer.





Donna Luallen, formerly district superintendent in Shiloh, Illinois, is the new manager for School Finance, succeeding the retiring Gary Ey.


Two acting Division Administrators have been given permanent status: Dave McDermott for Budget and Financial Management and Deborah Vespa for School Business and Support Services.


Robert Wolfe, becomes Division Administrator for External Assurance, succeeding Nancy Spinner, and Timothy Imler becomes Division Administrator for Funding and Disbursement, succeeding Marcia Sailsbury.





Wade Nelson, director, will also serve as Division Administrator for Public Service and Communications, a position held by the late Kim Knauer.



 Time-sensitive Alert for Teachers


Teachers who hold an Initial Teaching Certificate and who will complete four years of experience by June 30, 2003 should be urged to submit their application for the Standard Certificate as soon as possible and no later than June 30, 2003.  The experience requirement can be met by any combination of in-state and out-of-state teaching experience and any combination of certification-based teaching assignments – e.g., a teacher would be eligible if she completed two years of teaching on an early childhood certificate in Iowa and is now completing two years of teaching on an elementary certificate in Illinois.  Information about this process and applications for the Standard Certificate may be obtained through the Regional Offices of Education.  The State Board will verify the experience of the applicants at the end of the year and then certificates will be issued to applicants who present the required experience.  If a teacher who is eligible in this period does not meet the application deadline, he or she will need to start the eligibility process (i.e., another four years of teaching experience) on a different Initial Certificate.  We hope you will notify your teachers about these provisions and urge them to submit their applications as soon as possible. 


House Education Appropriations Committee


I appeared before the House Education Appropriations Committee on Wednesday to discuss state categorical funds for schools.  My testimony had two parts:

·        the need for a supplemental appropriation of $32M this year to meet the federal maintenance of effort requirements for categorical programs; and

·        the State Board’s budget request for full funding of the mandated formula categorical programs, which will require an increase of $211M. 

I again pointed out, as vigorously as it is possible to do, that underfunding of mandated categorical programs intensifies local district financial problems, since you must provide the services and make up for the shortage with other funds.


An audio version of my presentation to the committee is available on the State Board website –


21st Century Community Learning Centers Grants


Thirty-five local agencies have been awarded 21st Century Community Learning Center Grants to provide low-income students with high-quality, after-school programs that focus on academics, especially in reading and mathematics.


This program is part of the NCLB law and is designed to support improved achievement.  Guidelines for high-quality, research-based after-school programs were developed in collaboration with the Governor’s Task Force for After School Programs and the Department of Human Resources.


Agencies eligible to apply for the competitive grants included public school districts, public university laboratory schools, charter schools, area vocational centers, community-based organizations, and other public private entities.  A total of 157 applications were received and the final decisions were based on recommendations from an educator review team.  Grant recipients are identified in a press release at


Reading First Grants


Seventeen local school districts will share the $11M available to Illinois through the No Child Left Behind’s Reading First program.  The grant awards are designed to improve reading achievement in grades pre-kindergarten through third grade by implementing a classroom reading program based on phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency and reading strategies.


Eligibility for these competitive grants was based on the number of third-grade students not meeting the English Language Arts Learning Standards and the number of low-income students.  A list of the grant recipients can be seen on the State Board website at  Additional grants may be awarded in the future.



Constitutionally Protected Prayer Certification Process

As mentioned in the Superintendent's Bulletin on February 21, 2003, Section 9524 of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requires that, as a condition of receiving ESEA funds, a district must certify in writing to its State educational agency that it has no policy that prevents, or otherwise denies participation in, constitutionally protected prayer in public schools as set forth in the federal guidance.  Information may be accessed at or

In order to receive these federal funds, a district must certify in writing that no policy of the district prevents, or otherwise denies participation in, constitutionally protected prayer in public elementary and secondary schools as set forth in this guidance.  While the original date for submitting this certification was October 1, 2002, it was conditioned on states receiving federal guidance last summer.  That timeframe was delayed by the lack of guidance from the United States Department of Education (USDE) until this month.

In terms of the recent timeframe, the district will need to provide initial certification by March 15, 2003.  The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) in turn will inform USDE of those districts that have not filed the required certification or against which complaints have been made to ISBE that the district is not in compliance with this guidance by April 15, 2003.

________________________________________________________________Please complete and return the following certification to your regional office of education by March 15th.  The regional superintendent/staff will aggregate these figures and return them to the State Board of Education [Attention: Gail Lieberman, 100 North First Street, S-290, Springfield, Illinois 62777].  If there is a need to delay certification for any reason (e.g., awaiting an upcoming board meeting), please indicate that prior to March 15th and then do a follow-up message.

No policy of the district prevents, or otherwise denies participation in constitutionally protected prayer in public elementary schools and secondary schools as set forth in the “Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools” from USDE.



_______________________________                                  ________________

Name of District                                                                    Date



_______________________________                                  ________________

Name of District Superintendent                                        Phone Number




Signature of District Superintendent












Poverty Counts – Federal and State


Finally, I would like to recapitulate some information we have shared with you previously regarding the issue of the poverty counts used by the federal government for the Title 1 program and by the state for the poverty component of General State Aid.



Federal: We have no say in the federal government’s use of census figures to determine distribution of Title 1 money.


The U.S. Census Bureau recently released the 1999 Small Area Income Poverty Estimates for school districts, which the U.S. Department of Education will use  as the basis for Title I funding.  In addition to SAIPE, the Department of Education will include other poverty measures, such as children in (1) institutions for the neglected and delinquent; (2) foster homes; and (3) families above poverty receiving assistance under the TANF program.  However, children from these three other poverty measures will add little to the Title I–eligible count for districts – only 0% to about 5%. 


SAIPE data for your district is at  For the poverty estimate, look at the third column of data after the district name.  It comes just before “sd99_IL.dat” in the fourth column. 


The Census Bureau has provided an appeal process for those who believe a SAIPE estimate is incorrect.  Appeals should be sent directly to the U. S. Census Bureau to Dr. Daniel Weinberg, Chief, Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC 20233-8500, via fax to 301/457-6813, or via e-mail to


For details on appeals, please refer to Question #24, and if you have other related questions, refer to Question #25 of the Frequently-Asked-Questions section of the SAIPE Web site at 



State: The poverty component of the Illinois General State Aid formula will be based on a separate set of poverty data derived from decennial census – unless the General Assembly enacts legislation to change to a different measure.


ISBE supports the recommendation of the Education Funding Advisory Board that the state should adopt the use of the count of children from low-income households as determined by the Department of Human Services as the measure used in the calculation of the GSA poverty grant.


This approach is embodied in House Bill 430, which ISBE supports. If you believe the DHS count gives a more accurate picture of poverty in our state, contact your legislators regarding HB 430.


Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

  of Education