Sent: Friday, May 23, 2003 3:36 PM
To: 'Regional Superintendents and Special Education Directors District Superintendents '
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 5-23-03

Good afternoon.

This week I am happy to announce that Dr. Janet Steiner was confirmed by the Senate as State Board Chair and that the House and Senate have approved an education budget.

This message also contains information on the following items:

·        State Board of Education meeting is scheduled for June 16 and 17.

·        End of the Year Report must be submitted via IWAS this year.

·        ISBE’s new Web-based system for processing grant applications is being piloted.

·        “Click It or Ticket” car safety-belt mobilization is underway.

House and Senate Pass Education Budget

The Illinois House and Senate have both approved an education budget totaling $6.4 billion in General Funds and will send the measure to the Governor. But the issue is far from finally resolved, for two main reasons: neither chamber has yet addressed the revenue side of the equation – how to pay for the programs they have approved; and the Governor has line-item veto power over the state budget, so he is able selectively to remove items for whatever reason he deems appropriate.

So, next week promises to be another critical one for education funding in Illinois, building on the exceptional activity of the past 24 hours.

Last night, the Senate passed its version of the spending bill, which made certain changes – mostly cuts – to the spending planned previously passed by the House Education Appropriations Committee. Then today, the full House accepted the Senate version of the bill by a vote of 66 to 51.

In what we all know is a very difficult fiscal year, the General Assembly bill confirms some important proposals that had been made in the Governor’s proposed budget and/or in proposals made by the State Board of Education.

The bill maintains the Governor’s recommended increase of $250 per pupil in the foundation level and perhaps even more significantly, assumes use of the Department of Human Services count rather than the U.S. Census to calculate poverty grants. Use of this far more accurate calculation will direct more money to school districts and addresses a critical structural deficit in our General State Aid formula. Because of the increases in poverty grants, we were able to reduce both hold harmless funding and the transitional funding proposed to make sure no district receives less GRF money this year than last.

This is an important first step down the road to revamping the way schools are funded in Illinois.

Additionally, the budget that was passed today restored dollars in several important areas that had been targeted for cuts. These include textbooks, technology, and district consolidation.

Today’s measure also funds ROE operations at $17 million (instead of the $22 million proposed by ISBE) and the Truant Alternative program at $16 million (instead of the $18.5 million in the ISBE proposal.)

It increases funding for bilingual programs and early childhood in line with ISBE’s original January recommendation. Unfortunately, the measure funds the mandated categorical programs at the same 91 percent level as last year. 

In an inclement fiscal climate, this budget achieves about as much as could realistically be expected. But the process is not yet complete. Anything can happen next week. I will keep you informed.

You can access a comparison of the final FY03 education budget and the version passed today by the General Assembly at

You can access district-by-district projections of General State Aid and selected categorical programs under the bill passed by the General Assembly at

Steiner Confirmed by Senate

Dr. Janet Steiner of Carlinville today was unanimously confirmed by the Senate as Chair of the Illinois State Board of Education. Dr. Steiner was appointed acting chair on April 18, 2003, by Governor Blagojevich.

June Meeting of the State Board of Education

The State Board will meet Monday and Tuesday, June 16 and 17, 2003, in the State Board offices, 100 North First Street, Springfield. In Chicago, interested parties may listen to the meeting at the ISBE office on the 14th floor of the James R. Thompson Center, 100 West Randolph. The 20-minute packet and meeting agenda will be posted at

The Board will not meet in July.

End of the Year Report Form

The End of the Year Report, ISBE data collection form 87-04, will be collected online for the first time this year. The form, which was previously submitted on paper, must now be submitted via IWAS. It will be available online in June 2003. To access the form, you must use your IWAS (ISBE Web Application Security) account. A guide on how to establish a personal IWAS account is available online at (click on IWAS in the column on the left side of the page). If you do not have an IWAS account, you should create one as soon as possible.

We will notify you of the date when you will be able to access the End of the Year Report form via IWAS. If you have IWAS questions or need assistance, please call 217/558-3600.

Web-Based System for Process Grant Applications to Be Tested

State Board staff will pilot test a new Web-based eGrant Management System (eGMS) this June and July. When the new system is completely phased in, it is expected to provide a consistent, streamlined application process for both state and federal grant programs. Participants will be able to complete all steps in the process electronically, from design and publication of grants, through application and review, to approval and disbursement of funds.

Early in 2004, districts will be able to use eGMS to apply for grants for the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and a select number of other grants for the 2005 fiscal year. More information is posted at

“Click It or Ticket” Mobilization for Car Safety-Belt Use, May 19–June 1

ISBE is cooperating with the Illinois Department of Transportation in IDOT’s Click It or Ticket Mobilization that began Monday, May 19, and will continue to June 1. During this time, law enforcement officers will be conducting safety-belt checkpoints statewide. Earlier this month, IDOT mailed information to schools, regional and district superintendents, high school principals, driver education instructors, pupil transportation officials, and PTA officials. You can access information about the mobilization and copies of the IDOT informational materials at


Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

   of Education