Sent: Friday, April 23, 2004 5:23 PM
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 4-23-04
Good afternoon,


Two hundred and thirty two million dollars: Some might say that is an awesome amount of money, others may think it’s a paltry sum. We say it is needed.


There is only a $232 million difference between what the State Board recommended for schools and the Governor’s recommendation. The amount is less than 1-percent of the total amount of Fiscal Year 2004 General Funds appropriations of $23.315 billion. The $232 million difference was the subject of my testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday.


Let me illustrate the difference for you:

$250 increase in the General State Aid       $354.5 million*

100% of statutory formulas for MCATs     $139.0 million

                                                               $493.5 million


Then when you add in the reinstatement of the $19 million for the Gifted Program, the $30 million for Early Childhood, the additional $23 million for Extended Learning Opportunities, the $13 million increase for Bilingual Education, and the other important initiatives that were included in the State Board of Education’s FY 05 budget recommendation you come up with $632 million.


The State Board spent months putting together its budget recommendation.  It was a labor intensive process. It was an itemization of priorities. It was a very intense effort to try to best maintain our educational foundation in Illinois. It was done with input from many of you, with legislators, and with our stakeholders. It was done in the light of day.


My support of the State Board budget recommendation remains unwavering because I know it spreads the money as fairly as possible, in the areas of greatest need and represents the funding principles presented to us by the Education Funding Advisory Board.


But, when you subtract $232 million from that recommendation, you land in the bargain basement of school funding. It’s a dark hole, with a lump sum of money hanging overhead, where we are surrounded by lots of questions, no answers, and no clear cut priorities.


The cheaper alternative, the ambiguous alternative is not the better alternative.


We have a month to go in this legislative session. Remember the sound and fury with which it began? How everyone thought that based on that tenor that education was going to be a priority? I’m glad to say that the rhetoric has died down, but conversely sad to say that’s in its absence we have yet to have any clarity on what education really means to the Governor’s administration.


I will say that when we do emerge from the dark, I hope that schools are funded adequately enough to keep their lights on. I hope that includes the opportunities to mentor and support our underachievers through the Extended Learning program, to better fund our bilingual programs and additional funds for our System of Support. That’s what we recommended, and while that is still not enough, it’s better than teaching in the dark.


* I also want to share with the most recent estimates for General State Aid, including the poverty component, based on the EAV information that we just received from the Department of Revenue. This was used in my testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee this week and with the new EAV information reflects the decrease in the total amount of new money needed for the $250 per pupil increase to GSA.


Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

  of Education



Also included in this week’s message:

·         Legislative Update

·         Illinois Receives Top Grade for High Quality Teacher Standards

·         2004 Illinois Teacher of the Year Named

·         Nearly 100 Illinois Schools to Receive Academic Improvement Award

·         New Public School Calendar System Available in IWAS

·         Deadline Approaching for Fordham

·         National Childhood Nutrition Employee Appreciation Week

·         Summer Food Service Program Week

·         News Clips


Legislative Update

House Speaker Michael Madigan has scheduled a special Elementary and Secondary Education Committee hearing for Tuesday, April 27 at 10:00 a.m. to take testimony on the Governor’s proposed restructuring of the State Board of Education.  I appreciate the opportunity Speaker Madigan and the members of the House committee are giving us to show how a new bureaucracy with a different name will not solve the critical issues facing our schools.


Also coming up next week on April 28 at 9:00 a.m. will be a hearing on teacher certification issues.


Earlier this week I appeared before the House Elementary and Secondary Education Appropriation Committee to testify regarding poverty grants.  As I am sure many of you are keenly aware, the new poverty formula is based on a count by the Department of Human Services on the number of children being served within districts instead of the decennial U.S. Census.  While school districts that would have lost funding due to the formula change were completely held harmless for the first year, next year’s hold harmless drops to 66 percent.


The issue facing the legislature this session is whether or not to extend the hold harmless and, if so, to what percentage.  An approximate $16.5 million increase will be required in next year’s budget in order to ensure schools do not lose poverty grant money.


I also testified before the Senate Appropriation II Committee concerning the proposed ISBE budget for Fiscal Year 2005.


Also last week, the House introduced and passed an amendment to House Bill 1271 that would restore the $1.5 million appropriation to ISBE from the Teacher Certificate Fee Revolving Fund for the current fiscal year.  Last year the appropriation for teacher certification reduced by Governor Blagojevich to only $375,000, resulting in dramatic cuts in ISBE staff that process teacher certifications.  The measure to restore the funds now moves to the Senate.


The Senate also passed an amended version of House Bill 850 which could lower property taxes for some Illinoisans, while at the same time pull desperately needed funding away from schools.  The bill would allow counties to adopt a property tax cap to limit any increases in assessed valuation to seven percent per year.  The loss of local revenue to school districts would not be recoverable from General State Aid.  House Bill 850 has been sent back to the House for consideration.


Below are House bills that passed out of the Senate Education Committee and will be considered by the full Senate:


HB4944 (Vince Demuzio), identical to SB2732, would establish, subject to appropriations, a three-year technology immersion pilot project to provide a wireless laptop computer to each student, teacher, and relevant administrator in a participating school and implement the use of software, on-line courses, and other appropriate learning technologies that have been shown to improve academic achievement and specified progress measures.  It provides that the State Board of Education shall select 7 (instead of 8) school districts to participate in the pilot project, one located in the City of Chicago, 3 located in the area that makes up of the counties of DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, Will, and that portion of Cook County that is located outside of the City of Chicago, and 3 located in the remainder of the State.  A similar measure, HB 4944, also passed the House.


HB5562 (Jacqueline Y. Collins) amends the Charter Schools Law of the School Code. It would allow the Chicago Board of Education to designate attendance boundaries for no more than one-third of the charter schools permitted in Chicago if the Board determines that attendance boundaries are needed to relieve overcrowding or to better serve low-income and at-risk students. It would also allow students residing within an attendance boundary to be given priority for enrollment, but prohibits them from being required to attend the charter school.


Below are Senate bills that passed out of House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and will be considered by the full House of Representatives:


SB1550 (Marlow Colvin) Creates the Grow Our Own Teacher Education Act. Establishes, subject to appropriation, the Grow Our Own Teacher Education Initiative to prepare highly skilled, committed teachers who will teach in hard-to-staff schools and hard-to-staff positions and who will remain in these schools for substantial periods of time.


SB2115 (William Delgado) sets the conditions under which a student may be denied enrollment into school for one semester for failing to meet minimum academic or attendance standards if certain conditions are met.  It also requires a district to identify, track, and report on the educational progress and outcomes of reenrolled students.


SB2135 (Monique D. Davis) creates a K-3 class size reduction grant program to be implemented and administered by the State Board of Education. It provides that only those schools that are on the early academic warning list or academic watch list and that maintain grades K-3 are grant eligible and must use the grant funds to defray the costs and expenses of operating and maintaining classes in grades kindergarten through 3 with an average class size within a specific grade of no more than 20 pupils.  If a school's facilities are inadequate to allow for this specified class size, then a school may use the grant funds for teacher aides instead.  The bill is subject to appropriations.


SB2444 (Thomas Holbrook) provides that if, at the time of enrollment, dependents of United States military personnel are housed in temporary housing located outside of a school district, but will be living within that school district within 60 days after the time of initial enrollment, the dependents shall be enrolled, upon a sufficient showing of proof, and shall not be charged non-resident tuition. It also provides that non-resident dependents of United States military personnel attending school on a tuition-free basis may be counted for the purposes of determining the apportionment of State aid.


SB2732 (Michael K. Smith) is identical to HB 4944 above.


SB2769 (Cynthia Soto) is designed to ensure that every student takes the Prairie State Achievement Examination prior to receiving a high school diploma.


Illinois Receives Top Grade for High Quality Teacher Standards

In a first report of its kind, Illinois received a grade of 'A' for its Highly Qualified teacher standards designed to meet requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The grading was conducted and recently released by The National Council on Teacher Quality.


In the first of several report cards, NCTQ gave Illinois the highest grade (and only 'A') noting the state is, "Very rigorous; teachers become highly qualified (HQ) primarily through a hefty 24 semester hours in content course."  NCTQ surveyed 20 states with the average grade for all resulting in a D+.


For the full press release and links to the full report please go to:


2004 Illinois Teacher of the Year Named

Deborah Perryman, biology and environmental science teacher at Elgin High School in Elgin, has been selected the 2004 Illinois Teacher of the Year.  Deb has been teaching for 12 years, nine of those at EHS.  Under her guidance her students created a storm drain stenciling program that was so successful Elgin High now serves as a Stenciling Clearinghouse for the Conservation Foundation.  She has also converted 35 acres of land on the school grounds from a dumping ground to a Nature Trail that has become a district-wide teaching and learning resource.  Deb will be available to speaking engagements beginning July 1.  If you would like Deb to visit your district call (217) 785-5571.


Nearly 100 Illinois Schools to Receive Academic Improvement Award

During its monthly meeting this week, the Illinois State Board of Education voted to approve criteria for an Academic Improvement Awards program.

Northern Illinois University partnered with the Illinois State Board of Education to identify nearly 100 schools where students have made consistent academic improvement while meeting Adequate Yearly Progress criteria.


To receive an Academic Improvement Award, schools must:


The 7.5% improvement increments were selected to match the projected increase in annual academic performance targets under No Child Left Behind beginning in 2005.  The program is an extension of the Spotlight Schools honored last fall. Spotlight Schools are public schools that achieved high academic performance in an environment where a majority of students’ come from low-income families.


Schools will be invited to awards events in north, central, and southern Illinois locations during the month of May.


New Public School Calendar System Available in IWAS

The Public School Calendar system has been developed and is available through the Illinois State Board of Education Web Application Security (IWAS) system.  IWAS can be accessed from the ISBE homepage.  Detailed instructions along with the appropriate screen shots are available when you enter the Public School Calendar system and click on the User Guide menu option.  All 2004-2005 public school calendars must be submitted through the new system and are due on or before June 15, 2004.  This new system continues towards ISBE’s goal to reduce paper, create a more efficient method for transmitting data and foster better communication.  Users will receive email notifications throughout the submission process.  Questions can be directed to the Call Center at (217) 558-3600.


Deadline Approaching for Fordham

The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation is currently accepting nominations for its Excellence in Education program.  Two awards of $25,000 each are awarded.  The first is the Fordham Prize for Distinguished Scholarship which is awarded to an individual who has made major contributions to education reform via research, analysis, and successful engagement in the debate of ideas.  The Fordham Prize for Valor is awarded to a leader who has made major contributions to education reform via noteworthy accomplishments at the national, state, local, and/or school levels.  The deadline for nominations is May 14.  Please visit for additional information.


National Child Nutrition Employee Appreciation Week, May 3-7

The American School Food Service Association (ASFSA) has designated May 3-7 as National Child Nutrition Employee Appreciation Week.  The week acknowledges the work completed year-round by these professionals.  Visit for ideas,

proclamations, and details on honoring your Child Nutrition employees.


Summer Food Service Program Week

Summer Food Service Program Week is May 30-June 5 and correlates with National

Hunger Awareness Day, June 3.  Use this week to increase awareness of program benefits, to promote programs within the community and increase community participation, and help serve more eligible children during the summer months.


News Clips