Sent: Friday, February 20, 2004 4:56 PM
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 2-20-04
Good afternoon,


Education wins!?!


This week we heard the Governor pledge 400 million new dollars for education. It’s an amount, in light of the state’s financial woes that is nothing to sneeze at, but we all know that it doesn’t address the greater needs of our school districts.


I felt that the State Board’s role in the budget process was validated when reporters immediately equated the Governor’s proposed funding increase with the amount of money needed to fund the $250 per pupil increase of General State Aid. They asked me where I thought the money should go. I told them that we will meet soon to define some priorities based on the amount of new dollars offered by the Governor.


I was pleasantly surprised when I began to read the newspaper articles about the budget address. The articles highlighted the fact that $400 million can’t possibly fund: $396.5 million needed to continue the $250 increase of GSA; $66.9 million needed to the ADA Block Grant to its FY03 level; $139.1 million to fully fund the state Mandated Categorical grants; $13.3 million increase for the Bilingual program to increase the pro-ration from 64% to approximately 75%; and the $19 million for Gifted Education; $30 million for Early Childhood.


Again, it validated our role. We have to propose a budget that best represents the needs of all of our districts. We can’t say that what’s good for one city is great for the rest. We must choose to be equitable with our resources. And the needs that drove the State Board’s budget proposal provided reporters and editorial writers over the past month with the information that they needed to ask the tough questions.


We stand at the beginning of what will be an intriguing session of the General Assembly. As I read those newspaper stories it was obvious that the battle lines were already drawn, with suburban lawmakers pitted against downstate and Chicago pitted against them all. If everyone wants a piece of the pie, there will surely not be enough to go around. It is my hope that in our quest to get the most possible tax dollars for districts, we don’t lose sight that this is about education. I fear that fact will get lost in the political rhetoric of the weeks to come.


The answer that remains to materialize is where that $400 million will come from, if the corporate tax loopholes are not closed.  How great of a priority is education then? Is education a real priority or a bargaining chip for other wants and needs of this current administration?


So stay tuned, because at this point it remains to be seen whether or not education can claim its share of this budget as a victory.


Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

  of Education


Also in today’s message:           

English Language Proficiency Standards

Illinois has new English Language Proficiency (ELP) Standards designed to provide consistency in how students who are new to the U.S. as well as the English language are taught.  This week the Illinois State Board of Education approved English Language Proficiency Standards, which may be a model for the rest of the nation.  These standards will also drive development of new proficiency tests.


Students New to the U.S.

Based on a recent announcement from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), ISBE has decided to no longer include limited English proficient (LEP) students who are new to the U.S. (i.e., who are in their first school year in this country) in AYP performance computations.  However, these students will still be included in AYP participation calculations.  Unfortunately, the information that is needed to identify these students is not being collected in pre-ID label data files, on pre-ID label rosters, or by gridding on students’ state testing answer documents.  ISBE is exploring options for collecting the information after testing is completed.  Detailed instructions for identifying LEP students who are new to the U.S. will be provided later to schools and districts.


Financial Profiles Coming Out

School districts will receive their Financial Profile scores based on 2003 data next week.  Several changes have been made to the calculations (for instance, to include the working cash fund) and both 2002 and 2003 scores have been provided.  It is important for you to review these scores to verify the accuracy of the data and score and to submit any public comments through the process that is outlined in upcoming communication.  We anticipate making the 2004 designations based on the 2003 data during the State Board’s March meeting.


Proposed Rule Making

This is a reminder that the public comment period on proposed changes to the certification rules Part 25 will end on March 2, 2004.  The public comment period on the companion rule changes to Part 1 will end on March 22, 2004.  An overview of the proposal rules is available on the State Board’s website along with links to the rules documents.  Comments should be submitted to


New Uses for OTIS

We are moving ahead with additional uses for the Online Teacher Information System known as OTIS.  Two new uses have been announced to the groups most affected – i.e., online application for certificates by candidates for certification by entitlement and online application and registration of substitute certificates for Chicago.  In both cases, candidates may use a credit card to pay the applicable fees.  The procedures for use of the new processes are available on the ISBE website.


Most significantly, you will now be able to use OTIS as described in earlier messages to determine whether a teacher has been certified even before their certificate has reached the candidate.  Of longer-term significance, we plan to expand the use of OTIS for substitute and duplicate certificate applications within the next month.  Soon thereafter we expect to make it possible for candidates to apply for all types of certificates and endorsements online.


Those of you who use OTIS will notice that it has been further simplified and we believe that it is even more user-friendly than when it was first introduced.  This new system has been quickly developed in order to better serve Illinois educators at a time of reduced staff resources at the state and regional levels, and we hope you agree that it is an important step forward.


NCLB & eGrant Management System Training

Plans are underway to release the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) consolidated application this spring through the State Board of Education’s new eGrant Management System (eGMS).  The following grants will be included:


This web-based system eliminates the paper process, improves data quality and makes filing grant applications more efficient by improving the review and approval turnaround.  Over the next two to three years, the Agency plans to phase in the release of more than 60 grants through eGMS.  Training dates and locations are being scheduled and will be shared with you in the coming weeks.


Data Verification Deadline Reminder

Window for 2003 test cycle closes March 1-- We are still accepting requests from districts for 2003 data verification and corrections until March 1.  This deadline will allow ISBE to process all data prior to the 2004 state testing dates. 


To request data verification forms, send your request on district letterhead to:

Planning & Performance Center

Illinois State Board of Education

100 N. First Street

Springfield, IL 62777-0001

ATTN:  Data Verification


You may also send an e-mail with the same request to


Be sure to include the names of the schools in your district for which data verification is being requested, and describe the types of data corrections you seek.


Statewide Professional Development Activities Webpage

We have now listed the “Statewide Professional Development Activities Webpage” on the main “Teachers” page and the “Administrators” page 


You will find them under announcements and also under professional development on these pages. 


United States Department of Agriculture Commodity Alert A672 Pork Roast

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has received a complaint regarding United States Department of Agriculture Commodity A672 Pork Roast.  The string wrapping the A672 Pork Roast may be green and/or moldy.  The Illinois Department of Agriculture is investigating the complaint and has determined A672 Pork Roast found in this condition should not be used.


If you have received A672 Pork Roast you are advised to carefully inspect each roast as it is unpacked for evidence of moldy and/or green string.  Any A672 Pork Roast found in this condition should not be used.


If you find A672 Pork Roast in this condition, immediately contact ISBE, Nutrition Programs and Support Services at 1-800-545-7892.  Please keep the A672 Pork Roast, box, and packaging so they are available for inspection.


GIS in K-12 Education: Opening Your Student's Eyes with GIS & GPS
Wednesday, April 14, 2004 from 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Plaza G in
Springfield, IL

The Illinois GIS Association is happy to announce a free half-day workshop offered to teachers in K-12 classrooms to learn about Geographical Information System and Global Positioning System (GIS – GPS) and how these technologies can be incorporated into the classroom.

Discover the rapidly growing benefits of GIS and GPS as new and essential tools for student learning in the 21st Century. These two tools engage students in active hands-on learning, foster critical thinking, involve students in investigations of relevant real-issues, employ problem based learning, and advance the technology literacy, goals of the educational community.

It is our hope that this workshop will stimulate the interest of schools across the State of
Illinois, allowing students to explore the possibilities of the technology available that can be incorporated into community planning, workforce development, demographic analysis, marketing, and many other career fields.

The workshop will be held April 14 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield, Ill., from 1pm - 4pm. CPDU's will be available for this workshop as well. This hotel offers plenty of convenient parking. Seating is limited, so if you are interested in attending, be sure to RSVP so a seat and materials can be reserved.  Additional information can be found at

Week of the Classroom Teacher

The Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) has named May 2-8, 2004, as “Week of the Classroom Teacher.”  This week is set aside to encourage communities to honor the professionalism and dedication of their teachers.


Free resources to use in planning activities that honor teachers can be found at under “Week of the Classroom Teacher.”


Illinois Teacher of the Year Available to Speak

Illinois’ 2004 Teacher of the Year Dave Morrison is available to speak at your next inservice, workshop, assembly, ceremony, or meeting. 


Dave is the band teacher at Prospect High School. Under his guidance and direction, the band has won numerous national and international awards.


Dave is a passionate teacher who is excited to share his experiences with other teachers and exchange ideas for strengthening and uplifting the teaching profession.


To schedule Dave for your next function please contact Bonnie Schaap at 847/718-7609.


National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

February 22-29 will mark the 17th annual National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAW).  Sponsored by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), NEDAW is the nation’s largest eating disorders outreach effort.  During NEDAW, more than 500 volunteer activists will partner with NEDA to help individuals in their community “Get Real” about eating disorders. 


An important aim of NEDAW is to inform the public about the serious consequences of eating disorders not only through events, but also through information and stories in national and local media. 


For information about NEDAW activities and events visit


Questions regarding this issue should be directed to Jerry Scranton, Principal Operations Consultant at 1-800-545-7892 or


Severe Weather Preparedness Week

Severe Weather Preparedness Week is scheduled for February 29 - March 6, 2004.  This week is observed to highlight the importance of knowing what steps to take before, during and after severe weather strikes.  Schools are encouraged to test their severe weather plans during the annual statewide tornado drill scheduled for 10 a.m., Tuesday, March 2.  An IEMA informational packet is available at or by contacting Lynda Gallo, School Business and Support Services at 217/785-8779.


Essay Contest

Congressman Henry Hyde recently announced the 6th Congressional District Essay Contest.  The contest is offered to 8th grade students and high school seniors. The topic of the essays is: What is the role of the United Nations in fighting terrorism?  Deadline for entries is April 13.


All contestants will receive a certificate of participation.  Cash awards will be given to the top three winners in the amounts of $500, $200 and $100.  For additional information call 630/766-8384.


Young Authors Conference

The 30th Annual Statewide Young Authors Conference, co-sponsored by the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Language and Literacy Council, will be held on Saturday, May 15, 2004 on the campus of Illinois State University.  The registration deadline is April 9, 2004.  The conference guidelines are available on our web site at