Sent: Friday, April 02, 2004 4:40 PM
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 4-2-04
Good afternoon,


Each week when the General Assembly is in session we try to keep you abreast of bills that are making their way through the legislative process. It occurred to me last week when I wrote to you about the many voices crying out in unison for increased state funding of education that there are plenty of other issues for which many of you have said you could use more information.


This week our staff put together the first, of what we would like to be, a series of fact sheets, under the title: Did You Know? We would like to offer you a one-pager that briefly details an issue in a format that is concise enough to tuck in your date book, post on your bulletin board, share with your school board members, or include in your school newsletter. One issue that appears to be of great concern is Senate Bill 3001, the Governor’s legislation that requests $2.2 billion in bonding authority to continue and re-fund the school construction/ maintenance grant programs.


When I first became aware of the bill, it concerned me, not so much because it removes ISBE’s ability to fairly run the program, but because it strips school districts of their ability to oversee the construction of their own schools.


I know that if I was a local superintendent, investing an awful amount of money in a new building, that I would like my general contractor on-site, not running the program from Springfield.


Last week, in Elmhurst, there were several people who expressed opposition and/or reservations about SB 3001 before the education committee meeting hosted by Senators Miguel Del Valle and Dan Cronin. Our staff reached out to one of them, retired Superintendent Jerry Gordon of Bloomingdale District 13. His experience with the school construction program handled by the Capital Development in the 1970s can be heard through some audio bites recorded by our staff that can be accessed through the links below. We hope you find his insight helpful.


I would really appreciate your assistance in this effort. Are there certain pieces of legislation that gravely concern you? Others whose consequences seem too vague? Whatever the case, I would like to know. Those are issues we can also explore.


I felt that SB 3001 was a good starting point for this project, because upfront it looks like it means $2.2 billion for schools, but the devil is in the details: schools must sacrifice a lot, and all for an uncertain result.


While the General Assembly is on Spring Break over the next few weeks, we would like to get more issues completed and posted on the web site. We can really use your insight, and, as we did with Mr. Gordon, your voice, too.


Please check out this new feature through the links below:


One more thing -- last week we began ISAT testing. I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to the principals and district superintendents for their oversight and attention to detail throughout this process over the next few weeks. Because of last year, I think it is fair to say that we are all operating with a heightened awareness about the importance about checking and re-checking data. We really appreciate the attention that you are paying to the details as they come in on the front end of assessment, because all of your work ensures a quality work product by data analysis.


Thank you.


Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

  of Education


Also in today’s message:


Legislative Update


The third Senate Education Committee hearing concerning Senate Bills 3000 and 3001 is anticipated to be held April 14 in Carbondale.


There were two key legislative committee hearings last week, both occurring almost simultaneously.


On Thursday, April 1, the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee held its second and final hearing on the Governor’s proposal to create an autonomous teacher certification board as called for in Senate Bill 1074.  I appreciated the opportunity to speak on this issue and share with the committee, which included Speaker Michael Madigan, why this bill is bad public policy.


I believe the concerns raised by different interest groups regarding the teacher certification process can be resolved without the creation of a new state agency.  I have provided my suggestions on how Illinois can drastically improve the current process that is mandated by statute.  Please keep in mind that the primary goal of SB 1074 is to shift the governance of the teacher certification process to a teacher-controlled board.  The legislation does not address the real issues surrounding teacher certification on how the process would be streamlined.


The other hearing on Thursday before the Senate Insurance and Pensions Committee concerned Senate Bill 3002, currently a shell bill that simply calls for a technical amendment to the downstate teachers’ portion of the Illinois Pension Code.  Senate Bill 3002 will become the Governor’s proposal to create a pooled health insurance program for all teachers and school districts outside of Chicago.


A staff member from the Governor’s office briefly explained the administration’s plan which they are negotiating with the Illinois Education Association, Illinois Federation of Teachers, and other groups.  The administration wants to see the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Program extended for three more years.  By Fiscal Year 2007, Illinois would begin a new health insurance program that would cover both retired teachers, active teachers, and support personnel.


According to the Governor’s office, local school districts would have the opportunity to opt out of the state system, but would still be required to pay approximately 7 percent (current estimates are between 6.2 and 6.8 percent) of their healthcare costs to the State of Illinois.  In other words, districts that choose not to buy into the insurance pool and keep their local control will face an increase in healthcare costs.


Many school districts from across Illinois – from Rockford and suburban districts to smaller downstate districts – sent representatives to the hearing to oppose the proposal currently being floated.


Also this week, the House passed the following education-related bills:

HB4522 (David E. Miller), as adopted by the House, would eliminate the current provision of the School Code that provides for any appropriation shortfall in General State Aid to be taken against the poverty component (supplemental GSA) and not the foundation GSA.


HB6954 (Ronald A. Wait) provides that, upon enactment of a federal transportation bill with a dedicated fund available to states for safe routes for schools, the Department of Transportation would, in cooperation with the State Board of Education and the Department of State Police, establish and administer a Safe Routes to School Construction Program for the construction of bicycle and pedestrian safety and traffic-calming projects.


HB4167 (Brent Hassert) would require pupils to daily engage in courses of physical education for such periods as are commensurate with the students' other courses of study.  It also changes requirements with regard to a physical education course of study and requires a physical education course of study to provide students with an opportunity for an appropriate amount of daily physical activity.  The legislation would allow a school board to excuse pupils in grades 9 through 12 from engaging in physical education courses if those pupils must utilize the time set aside for physical education to receive special education support and services.


HB3980 (Patricia R. Bellock) amends provisions of the Illinois Human Rights Act prohibiting sexual harassment in higher education so that they also apply to sexual harassment in elementary and secondary schools.


HB5215 (Renee Kosel) Amends the section of the School Code that requires a school district that provides transportation on buses that are owned by the district and are operated by drivers who are employed by the district to solicit sealed bids if the district receives a request from an interested private school bus contractor, provides that a district or special education cooperative is not required to respond to such a request more than once every 3 years.


NCLB Performance Reports Due

Districts that participated in the following programs for the 2002-2003 school year must complete and submit the NCLB Performance Report by May 30, 2004


                  Title I               Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged


                  Title II              Teacher and Principal Training and Recruiting Fund


                  Title IV            Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities


FY 2003 Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP).  (Only districts using REAP authority under Titles I, II, IV, or V.)


Districts will be able to submit NCLB Performance Reports electronically via the internet using the IWAS system. If you have any questions regarding the NCLB Performance Report, please contact the System of Support Division by telephone at 217/524-4832 or by fax at 217/785-9031


Notification of Services from Illinois School for the Deaf and Illinois School for the Visually Impaired

Public Act 093-0282 amended The School Code by changing Section 14-8.02 to read:


“If the child is deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or visually impaired and he or she might be eligible to receive services from the Illinois School for the Deaf or the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired, the school district shall notify the parents or guardian, in writing, of the existence of these schools and the services they provide.  This notification shall include without limitation information on school services, school admissions criteria, and school contact information.”


The Illinois Department of Human Services has developed one-page fact sheets which include all of the mandated information regarding each of these schools.  Districts are encouraged to provide this fact sheet to the parents or guardians of each student with a primary disability label of hearing impairment or visual impairment at the IEP meeting.  Copies of the fact sheets are attached, and may also be obtained on our Special Education homepage at


Districts are reminded that all decisions regarding placement of a student with a disability must continue to be made in accordance with 23 Illinois Administrative Code 226.240.


Illinois School for the Deaf Fact Sheet:


Illinois School for the Visually Impaired Fact Sheet:


Amendment Request #2:  Averaging and Exceptions for Participation Rates

In light of new policies issued by the U.S. Department of Education on March 29, 2004, the Illinois State Board of Education is requesting the following modifications to its Accountability Workbook:

·         Using averages across 2 to 3 years to determine 95% participation rate, for schools and for countable subgroups, and

·         Allow schools to exempt students with serious medical conditions from being counted in participation rate calculations (numerator and denominator).


Illinois is among the many states cited anecdotally by the U.S. Department of Education as having many small rural schools where a student or two makes the difference in overall school participation rates.  For the 2003 tests, we had 310 schools with fewer than 40 students in the tested grades (smaller than our minimum subgroup size.) Of these schools, 6 missed their 95% participation rate due to the absence of one student to a few students.  In addition, subgroups near the low end of the minimum size of 40 are similarly affected by small numbers of non-participating students.


The averaging process will apply to all schools and will begin with 2004 data, averaging back with 2003 participation rates to determine 2004 (averaged) participation percentages.  Beginning with 2005, and in the subsequent years, a “rolling” three-year average will be used.


The changes in this portion of our request simply codify into the Illinois Accountability Workbook the policy changes issued by the Department this week.


Application for Approval of Private Residential Placement Room and Board Reimbursement

The ISBE Form 34-37 (Application for Approval of Private Residential Placement Room and Board Reimbursement) is now available on the ISBE Web site, in an on-line format.  As a result, private placement coordinators will be able to complete the 34-37 Form on-line and then print it for mailing.  This improvement to our on-line system was a direct result of input from the field for a more “user friendly” system.   In addition, the 34-37 form was revised slightly in December 03 to align with the language found in IDEA.  Please note that the ISBE Form 34-37 is found on the ISBE Web site at:


Training Available for Transition Planning: Aligning Characteristics and Developmental Traits with Transition Service Needs

This training is the first in a series being presented by The Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Rehabilitation Services for staff working with transition-aged youth.   “Aligning Characteristic and Developmental Traits with Transition Service,” is fast paced, informative, and will cover topics such as: Chronology of Laws Governing Service for Students; Possible Transition Service Needs Based Upon Characteristics and Developmental Traits Needs of Students; and Reasonable Accommodations and Assistive Technology for Employment will be presented by Illinois Assistive Technology Program. 


This training is specifically designed for:  High School Special Education Teachers, Transition Specialists, Transition Counselors, RCD & BBS providers of transition - aged youth, and DRS’ residential schools’ staff, and Transition Planning Committee members.


Allotments Per Zone:

30 Slots for DRS Staff

30 Slots for Other Participants


Cost:  No Charge


Locations/Dates: One in each zone

Zone A:   June 1, 2004  - Holiday Inn Select and Convention Center @ I-80 and Harlem Avenue, 18501 S. Harlem Avenue, Tinley Park, IL 60477. Phone 708-444-1100


Zone B:   May 18, 2004 - Radisson Hotel and Conference Center, 10 Brickyard Drive, Bloomington, IL 61701. Phone 309-664-6446


Zone C:   May 25, 2004 - Four Points Sheraton, 319 Fountains Parkway, Fairview Heights, 62208. Phone 618-622-9500


Advanced Registration Required – NO ON-SITE REGISTRATION.  Complete Registration Form and FAX to Marva Campbell-Pruitt


Space is limited and seating is first come, first served.  No reimbursements of any kind by DHS for staff outside the Division of Rehabilitation Services


Additional E-Grants Training Workshop Scheduled

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has scheduled an additional training date and location for a total of nine workshops throughout the state for the new E-Grant Management System (eGMS).  The additional workshop is scheduled in Springfield on Monday, May 10 for those who are not able to attend the April workshops.  There will be no fee for participating, however, registration is required.  Registration spots are filling quickly at many of the workshop sites and space is limited.  Electronic registration and additional info can be accessed through our eGMS web page at  Please submit separate registrations for each person that will be attending.


ISBE will release its first grant application through eGMS this spring.  Districts will submit the FY05 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) consolidated application for the following grants:

·         Title I, Part A, Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged

·         Title II, Part A, Teacher Quality

·         Title II, Part D, Enhancing Education Through Technology (formula grant)

·         Title IV, Part A, Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities

·         Title V, Part A, Innovative Programs


All districts will use ISBE's Web Application Security (IWAS) to access eGMS and submit the NCLB consolidated application via the Internet.  The system will significantly reduce grant preparation time for districts, improve data quality and communications, standardize ISBE grant applications, and improve efficiency of the grant review and approval process.  Questions about the workshops can be directed via email to


New OTIS Feature

Another new feature on the OTIS system will be ready for use on Monday, April 5.  Individuals who wish to apply for an Elementary (03) or Early Childhood (04) Certificate by transcript evaluation will be able apply for that certificate through the Online Teacher Information System (OTIS) and to pay for it by credit card.  Detailed information regarding this new opportunity can be found at the OTIS web site


National Food Service Management Institute’s Coaching Employees Satellite Seminar Announced

The National Food Service Management Institute (NFSMI) has announced its next satellite seminar, Coaching Employees:  Will You Make a Difference? on FONT size=2>April 28, 2004, from 2–3 p.m.  A second viewing is available from 4–5 p.m.


NFSMI invites all food service assistants, managers, food service directors, child care staff, and State agency staff to view the satellite seminar. School administrators and teachers are encouraged to participate as well.  Visit NFSMI’s website at for further information.


School Breakfast Start-Up Grants Available Now

Breakfast is a bonus that helps prepare students to be ready-to-learn.  Help your students by offering school breakfast this year!  Did you know federal funding—up to $2,700 per school—is available to select schools to begin School Breakfast Programs?  In addition, state funding of up to $3,500 is also available.  Take advantage of this funding opportunity available to select Illinois schools today to begin School Breakfast Programs.


Visit the Nutrition Programs and Support Services website at  Click on Breakfast Start-Up Funding.  If you have any questions, please contact us at 800/545-7892 or 217/782-2491.


10th Annual Character Education Conference

The tenth annual Character Education Conference will be held in St. Louis, Missouri July 8-10.  Learn strategies designed to help you bring high-quality character education to your classroom and community.  Hear keynotes from B. David Brooks, Michael Pritchard, Anita Peek, Marvin Berkowitz and more, along with over 50 break-out sessions to choose from.  To register, visit or call 1-800-835-8282, ext. 250.