I’m going to take my opportunity today to update you on a couple of items that we’ve been working on here at the State Board that have a great deal of importance to numerous audiences.
First, a guidance letter from the agency regarding criminal background checks and fingerprinting under P.A. 93-909 will be issued very soon. In advance of that, however, want to alert you to a crucial element in that guidance letter: The FBI will NOT conduct a fingerprint check for any personnel who are not required to be fingerprinted under the Act. This includes—among other groups—volunteers, student teachers and university supervisors. It is the State Board’s guidance that school districts should not require student teachers to submit to an FBI fingerprint background check. This has been a major concern for the teacher preparation program folks in working with their local school districts, so I hope this information will be helpful in that regard.
An additional note: As ISBE issues a variety of guidance letters to assist you in statutory and regulatory interpretation on this and a host of other issues, we will attempt to create a standard format for these letters and post them on the ISBE website. In this way, there will be an archive of these letters that you can easily refer to for assistance in administering various programs. If you have any suggestions for us as you review this information, please do not hesitate to let me know. All of us at the State Board want to do everything possible to provide you with useful and timely information, and these guidance letters are part of that process.
Second, the Division of Data Analysis and Progress Reporting is presently working non-stop (giving up yesterday’s state holiday, plus working through this weekend) to run the School Report Cards. More will be announced soon in terms of the exact time frames, embargo period, and other details, so a final bit of patience is appreciated as we bring this process to fruition. Nonetheless, I want to take the opportunity to once again thank all of you for your patience and assistance through the data correction period. I know it was a trying time for many of you, but I’m also heartened that we made the right call on this—the stakes are too high to have done it differently.
As you will note below, there will be an opportunity to meet and greet our State Board members in the Comiskey Room during the Triple-I Conference in Chicago next weekend. I look forward to the chance to see many of you there as we renew old acquaintances and make new ones. Many thanks, too, to Dr. Michael Johnson and his staff at IASB in helping us put this event together.
Randy J. Dunn
State Superintendent of Education (Interim)
Also in today’s message:
· Employer contribution rate to increase on salaries paid from federal funds
· Charter school RFP released
· Reminder: 2003-04 performance report for districts receiving Title funds due November 19
· Reminder: Invitation to meet board members
· New online teacher resource available through U.S. Geological Survey
· Weekly Newsclips
Employer contribution rate to increase on salaries paid from federal funds
The Teachers Retirement Service (TRS) has announced that effective July 1, 2005 the employer contribution required to be paid to TRS on salaries paid from federal funds will increase from 10.5 percent to 14.0 percent for earnings in the 2005-2006 school year. This change is in accordance with Section 16-158(b-3) of the Illinois Pension Code.
The new employer contribution rate on salaries paid from federal funds of 14.0 percent for the 2005-2006 school year is equal to the State funding rate for 2005-2006. This rate will be calculated on an annual basis and will increase annually over the next several years.
Superintendents should alert the business offices of this change for the next school year. It will very likely have a significant impact on budgeting and financial planning for 2005-2006, especially in districts paying large numbers of employee salaries from Title I, Title II and other federal grants. For further information, contact the Division of Federal Grants and Programs at 217-524-4832 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charter schools RFP released
The FY 2005 Federal Public Charter School Start Up Program request for proposals (RFP) has been released. Grants are available to support charter schools through different phases of planning and implementation, including:
§ Pre-Proposal Grants for not-for-profit entities and public schools to develop proposals for submission to a local school board to establish a new charter school;
§ Planning Grants for newly approved chartered schools to develop curriculum and pay limited salary and benefits for the charter school director prior to opening;
§ Implementation Grants to support charter schools upon opening to purchase equipment, books, computers and other long term school necessities; and
§ Dissemination Grants for established charter schools displaying educational achievements in line with their goals to help other schools implement their successful curriculum.
Please go to www.isbe.net/charter/index.htm for a copy of the RFP. If you have questions or need a hard copy of the RFP, contact Richard Loman at email@example.com or call the State Board’s Accountability Division at 217-782-2948.
Reminder: 2003-04 performance report for districts receiving Title funds due November 19
The 2003-2004 NCLB Performance Report is now available for completion in IWAS. This report must be completed by all public school districts or entities in Illinois that received any Title funds in school year 2003-2004 (Title I, Title II, Title III, Title IV and/or Title V) not later than 5 p.m. on Friday, November 19, 2004. ISBE must assemble the data and complete a federal report on December 1. If there are any questions, please call the Division of Federal Grants and Programs at 217-524-4832 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reminder: Invitation to meet board members and superintendent
The Illinois State Board of Education and Interim State Superintendent Randy Dunn invite participants of the IASA/IASB/IASBO Annual Conference to stop by the Comiskey Room of the Hyatt Regency so they can hear about the great things happening in your areas! Please share this information with your school board members.
Hyatt Regency, Comiskey Room (Bronze level)
Friday, November 19, 2004 · 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 20, 2004 · 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
New online teacher resource available through U.S. Geological Survey
The U.S. Geological Survey has completed a website about the water cycle. Found at http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/watercycle.html, it features a diagram of the natural water cycle and an in-depth discussion of each of the 15 topics on the diagram. The diagram is available in 45 languages. The website is part of the existing Water Science for Schools Web site