Sent: Friday, September 26, 2003 4:06 PM
To: Regional Superintendents and Special Education Directors District Superintendents
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 9-26-03
Good afternoon,

This week, members of ISBE staff and I completed a very successful series of six regional conferences with superintendents. It is continually gratifying and energizing to meet with so many of you and hear what is on your minds. I hope those of you who have been able to attend have left with more information and a better understanding of the agency’s NCLB activities and updates.


Illinois continues to be in line with NCLB guidelines.  ISBE was recently visited by USDE representatives who wanted to meet with staff on Illinois’ criteria for highly qualified teachers (see first article for additional information).


Also, I’d like to bring your attention to several important items covered at the recent Board meeting and thank the representatives from three school districts for accepting our invitation to attend and provide district financial status and background for our Board.  Please visit our Board webpage for documents related to the recent board meeting


This week’s message contains:

·        Update on Federal Relations/NCLB

·        Update on General State Aid and Hold Harmless

·        Impact of the 2004 Budget and Budget Implementation (Education) Act on Gifted Education

·        Driver Education Cost Claim Due

·        Changes to Driver Education Blue Slips

·        Certification Update: Initial to Standard Certification

·        RFP for Mathematics and Science Partnerships

·        Annual Financial Report Calculation of Profile Score and Designation

·        Illinois Alliance for Administrators in Special Education Conference

·        Announcing ‘Wild About School Meals’ Workshop

·        Newsclips


Update on NCLB/Assessment


As requested by USDE, ISBE staff and I met recently with a team of individuals regarding Teacher Quality issues.  The team was composed of 3 USDE staff and 2 external persons from the field of education.  They were interested in understanding the Board's policy of June 17, 2003, and wanted more details.  Our staff had the opportunity for dialogue and gained some additional information on the overall picture across states. 


The Assessment and Accountability Task Force met on September 16th. Members heard status reports on various issues (e.g., RFSP for revised assessments; IAA and IMAGE exams; status of schools for 2003-04).  They discussed several of these in detail, particularly alternate assessment.  A subcommittee was established to discuss school and district rewards, which will report back to the full task force.


The Appeals Advisory Committee, created by Public Act 93-470 (SB 878 of 2003) to give districts an opportunity to appeal their placement on state academic warning lists, held its organizational meeting on September 16th.  Several of its appointed members serve on the Assessment and Accountability Task Force so these meetings were held back-to-back.  There are 2 teachers – Ava Evbuoma, Flossmoor and Trudy Grishom, Waukegan; 2 superintendents – Charlie Kent, Jr., Country Club Hills and Robert Nielsen, Bloomington; 1 principal – Becky McCabe, Urbana; 1 parent – Gretchen McDowell, Chicago; 1 business representative – Norman Jones, Bloomington; 1 Chicago representative – Phil Hansen and 1 member of the general public (a school board member) – Ron Gray.  All have been appointed by the Superintendent to serve.  They drew straws for terms of office (4 for 3 year terms and 5 for 2 year terms) and selected a chairperson.  Three appeals have been received to date, and will be heard at the upcoming meeting of the Committee on October 9th.



Update On General State Aid and Hold Harmless


The State Board has not yet received final certified EAV data from the Illinois Department of Revenue for Cook and Lake Counties and it appears that it may be a while before the counties send it to Revenue so that it can be reviewed and certified.  This information is necessary to finalize General State Aid and Hold Harmless payments.  To assist school districts the State Board will voucher an estimated payment of 80% of the expected final Hold Harmless amount to school districts by September 30.  Once final certified data is received, the State Board will calculate the Hold Harmless amount due each school district and either voucher the full balance due or seek repayment of any overpayments.


Once final certified data is received, the State Board will also calculate the GSA amount due each school district.  In the mean time, payments are being made at 100% of the statutory $4,810 foundation level pursuant to the formula even though the FY04 GSA appropriation appears to be insufficient to pay this amount.  Public Act 93-21 provides that any GSA shortfall is to be reduced first from the poverty component.



The Impact of the FY2004 Budget and Budget Implementation (Education) Act on Gifted Education


There have been dramatic changes in the financial and statutory provisions for gifted education in Illinois.  The following explanation outlines both elements of the changes.


Financial Provisions

The State Board of Education supported funding for the Gifted Education Reimbursement Program in its FY04 funding proposal.  The funding proposal was approved by the Board in 2002-03 and then shared with the General Assembly and Governor Blagojevich.


In Governor Blagojevich’s Budget Address of April 2003, he proposed to roll some categorical grant funds, including gifted education funds, into the overall line item to increase General State Aid funding to schools.  As a result, there was no funding proposed for the Gifted Education Reimbursement Program in the initial legislative appropriation bill for 2003-04.


Prior to the finalization of the budget, no legislative amendments were made to reinstate gifted education funds into the program.  Hence, no funds for the Gifted Education Reimbursement Program were included in the final budget for 2003-04.  Other changes were made in the final budget amendments that affected the gifted education program provisions in law at the state level.


Statutory Provisions

Since the mid 1990’s, Chicago has received funds in a general education block grant and an educational services block grant, in lieu of receiving separate State funding for each program.  The Gifted Education Program was included in the statutory description of the programs to be addressed with block grant funds.  In the FY2004 Budget Implementation (Education) Act, an amendment to Senate Bill 744 of 2003, the reference to “gifted education” was removed from the block grant description.


The School Code also required the State Board of Education to analyze the current and anticipated problems and deficiencies in education, and design and prepare a Comprehensive Educational Plan to improve the situation.  A list of areas to be considered while formulating this Comprehensive Educational Plan for elementary and secondary education was presented.  "Gifted" was removed from this list of programs to be considered.


The FY2004 Budget Implementation (Education) Act also affected the way that schools could use funds from summer school grants from the State Board of Education.  References in the School Code to "gifted and talented children" were removed from Summer School Grants (Sec. 2-3.61) and from services provided by Regional Service Centers (Sec. 2-3.62).  These services had included experimental projects for students and gifted education institutes for teachers.


Article 14A of the Illinois School Code set parameters for the gifted student program.  It provided the authority for the State Board to administer the gifted program, to establish standards for personnel in gifted programs, and to “provide that, to the extent possible, with the resources available, all gifted and talented children have an opportunity to receive services and participate in appropriate programs.”  Article 14A also provided for the creation of the Gifted Advisory Council and enumerated the responsibilities of the council.  The FY2004 Budget Implementation (Education) Act terminated the gifted mandated activities in the School Code by repealing Article 14A.



Now that Article 14A of the Illinois School Code has been repealed, school districts are no longer mandated to provide certain gifted student activities as they once were.  However, in the era of attending to the needs of all students and "leaving no child behind," it is imperative that school districts address the needs of their gifted student population. 


Assistance from the gifted community and its supporters for school districts in meeting the needs of their gifted students is more crucial now than ever before.


If you have further questions, feel free to contact Dr. Wendell Meeks, Curriculum and Instruction Division, at 217/557-7323.  Comments or concerns about the statutory or financial status of gifted education may be directed to your state representative or senator.



Driver Education Cost Claim Due October 1


Claims for costs associated with Driver Education courses offered by school districts are statutorily due on October 1.  Paper claims will not be sent this year as claims will be required to be filed electronically through ISBE Web Application Security System (IWAS) at located on the ISBE homepage.  The Driver Education claim (ISBE 54-30) will only be available for transmission until midnight October 1.  No claims will be honored after that date.  Questions regarding completion of the Driver Education claim can be directed to Janet Ovall, Division of Funding and Disbursement Services at 217-782-5256 or via email at



Changes to Driver Education Blue Slip Procedure Begin Monday


The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) in cooperation with the Illinois Secretary of State (ISOS) has developed a new electronic process that will eliminate the need for printing 127,000 yearly Driver Education Blue Slips for students who have completed classroom and behind-the-wheel training.  Beginning Monday, September 29, 2003, student data will be submitted via the new Driver Education – Student Coursework Completion system which will be accessed through the ISBE Web Application Security System (IWAS) at located on the ISBE homepage.  Driver Education instructors or other school district staff responsible for submitting student data should make certain that they are approved to transmit by creating an IWAS account and obtaining approval from their district superintendent.  ISBE call center staff are available at 217-558-3600 to assist you in creating an IWAS account for approval.  Instructions will be available to assist you in entering the student data into the system.  Once the student records have been submitted to ISBE and uploaded to ISOS, an email from ISBE will be sent back to the sender notifying them that they should login to the Driver Education – Student Coursework Completion system to verify the student approval status.  The sender (e.g. Driver Education instructor) will be responsible for notifying students of their approval status or students may check their own approval status with ISOS by entering their student instruction permit number at  Students with an approved record status can go to the nearest ISOS Drivers Facility with three forms of identification to obtain their license.


In addition, school districts will be able to submit driver education instructors for approval via the Driver Education – Driver Instructor Eligibility system which can also be accessed via IWAS.  Districts can submit driver education instructor information which will be cross-checked with ISOS for serious driver violations such as a suspension, revocation or a restricted driving permit.  This system was developed to be in compliance with 23 Illinois Administrative Code Part 252 Driver Education Section 252.40 “Driver Education Teacher Requirements.”  The full text of the Driver Education rules can be accessed at  ISBE staff will notify the appropriate district superintendent via email if there is a suspension, revocation or restricted driving permit as indicated from ISOS.  ISBE staff may disapprove an instructor for submitting classroom or behind-the-wheel data to ISBE if notified by ISOS of such violations.


Questions about these new procedures can be directed to Janet Ovall, Division of Funding and Disbursement Services at 217-782-5256 or via email at



Certification Update: Initial to Standard Certification


Electronic applications are now available on the State Board website for proposals to deliver “X-type” CPDUs and Induction and Mentoring programs that will help beginning teachers establish eligibility for the Standard Certificate.  The electronic applications for self-assessment and NBPTS-related coursework are likely to be available by October 6.


The proposals will be evaluated on their completeness and their consistency with the requirements, most of which are built into the electronic applications.  However, we urge you to review the rules and the information on the State Board website prior to developing your proposals.


In the near future, we will provide examples of each type of proposal, using actual submissions from districts, ROEs, higher education institutions, unions and others.  Our initial goal will be to illustrate the kinds of programs and activities that have been submitted and approved.  However, we also hope that these examples might become replicable models.


We are very much aware that, at this time, there are very limited ways for beginning teachers to meet the requirements for the Standard Certificate.  We also recognize that between budget cuts and ever-increasing demands on your time, this is not a good time for thoughtful development of new initiatives.  We are working on these problems on two fronts:

  1.  Finding ways to rapidly expand the availability of programs that will meet the requirements (including support for adoption of already developed models) and
  2. Finding ways to address the particular problems for the teachers who will become time-eligible for the Standard Certificate on July 1, 2004.

We do have ideas for both challenges and we will get back to you within a couple of weeks.  Meanwhile, please inform your beginning teachers that this effort is in progress and ask for their patience.


Professional Development Provider Status


The Professional Development Provider system which you have been using for teacher certificate renewal proposals has been modified to accommodate the new programs and activities for moving from Initial to Standard certification.  Our transition to the new system has had the following results: viewer access to previously approved certificate renewal programs is temporarily unavailable and we have a small backlog of notices waiting for response.  If you have a concern that relates to these problems, please let us know via email --


The new system includes a renewal option for provider approval.  This is aligned to the year of expiration of the previous approval and will be displayed only to the providers whose approvals are due for renewal.  If your approval expires in 2003 (all providers whose approval expired in June 2003 were previously granted an extension until October 1), you must affirmatively indicate your desire to continue to serve in this role.  If you have not already done so, please immediately go to the PDP system and click on “Renew/Update Approved Provider Status” link (after you log in).  The critical date for this cycle is October 1, 2003.  Note: if your PDP site does not include a link for renewal of your provider approval status, it means that your approval is not yet scheduled for renewal and you do not need to take any action at this time.



RFP for Mathematics and Science Partnerships

ISBE is proud to announce the release of a new request for proposals (RFP) for professional development opportunities for K-12 mathematics and science teachers.  The Illinois Mathematics and Science Partnerships program is authorized through NCLB, Title II, Part B and approximately $3,200,000 will be awarded to Illinois partnerships composed of universities and local education agencies and other possible partners.  The RFP will be released within the week.  See for details.  A live webcast is scheduled for October 1 from 10-11 am to provide an overview and further explanations of the RFP.

A comprehensive needs assessment is required by the legislation.  ISBE is organizing an on-line needs assessment for K-12 teachers (  Please encourage staff and colleagues to participate in this valuable process between September 26 and October 31.  It is estimated that the survey can be completed within ten minutes.  Anonymity is assured; participants will only need to identify teaching assignment and county.  Prospective partnerships need to be able to access this vital information in order to respond more effectively to the professional development needs of our K-12 teachers of mathematics and science.  Please contact Gwen Pollock, or 217/557-7323 for further information.



Annual Financial Report Calculation of Profile Score and Designation


The purpose of this notice is to alert you to a couple of errors found in the “Estimated Financial Profile Sheet” (FPDPG2a) of the FY03 Annual Financial Report (AFR).  These errors do not affect your AFR data.  This sheet was included as a tool for districts to calculate a preliminary FY04 Financial Profile Score.  The errors have to do with how some of the calculations round the data and the assignment of the “Warning” and “Watch” designations.  A new sheet should be available on our website within the week at  We apologize for any problems this may have caused.


We are in the process of reviewing the Financial Profile System to determine if any adjustments are needed for system improvement.  It is possible that the calculation of the final FY04 score (and FY03 score) could change based upon the system review.  A message will be sent through the Superintendent’s Bulletin to alert you of the final decisions regarding changes to the calculation of the Financial Profile Score.  If you have further questions regarding your AFR, please contact Debbie Hemberger at 217/785-8779 or if you have questions regarding the Profile, contact Sally Cray also at 217/782-8779.



Illinois Alliance for Administrators in Special Education Conference


ISBE staff presented at the Executive Board meeting and quarterly conference for the Illinois Alliance for Administrators in Special Education (IAASE) in Tinley Park where over 200 participants were in attendance.


ISBE staff including Chris Koch, James Gunnell, Gail Lieberman, Tim Imler and Peter Leonis met with representatives of IAASE to discuss and strategize approaches to special education funding reimbursement following the amendatory veto.  Pros and cons of various strategies were discussed.  The amendatory veto will result in HB 1180 sunsetting in one year's time essentially making the bill's implementation more trouble than it is worth.  The bill was designed to simplify the reimbursement process and was alleged to significantly reduce paperwork.


Chris Koch led the Illinois Team to the National Leadership Summit on Improving Results for Youth in Washington, D.C. on September 18-19.  Also attending from Illinois were Deb Heckenkamp, ISBE; Meg Hutchins and Debbie Shelden of ISU; Marva Campbell-Pruitt of DHS, Office of Rehabilitative Services; Yvonne Singley of the Illinois Community College Board; Kristine Smith of DHS and Susan Walter, a parent of child with disabilities and transition trainer through the federal grant managed by ISBE.


Participants prioritized transition objectives of the Interagency Coordinating Council and IDEA State Plan and planned for their implementation.  Results of the conference included improved interagency understanding of transition gaps and a communication strategy for ensuring all partners are aware of transition requirements.  Many presenters remarked on a likely lack of emphasis on transition as a result of NCLB focus on academic achievement.



Announcing ‘Wild About School Meals’ Workshops


We invite you to explore the world of school meals with speakers from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), Nutrition Programs and Support Services; Illinois Nutrition Education and Training Program; the Illinois Department of Public Health; the St. Louis District Dairy Council and the Midwest Dairy Council this October at the Wild About School Lunch workshops.


The purpose of the workshops is to provide an update to participants on the changes for the new school year and review the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program regulations.  These workshops are geared for business managers, food service directors, managers, or persons responsible for the administration of the food and nutrition services in schools.


Workshops will be held at the following 6 locations across the state:

October 7, 2003 - Marion

October 8, 2003 - Belleville

October 21, 2003 - Peoria

October 24, 2003 - Champaign

October 27, 2003 - Tinley Park

October 28, 2003 - Rockford


Pre-registration is required.  Please register no later than five days prior to workshop date.  A brochure with more information is available at ../pdf/wild_brochure.pdf






Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

  of Education