Sent: Friday, May 28, 2004 1:09 PM
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 5-28-04
Good afternoon.


Well, the end of this session of the General Assembly is yet to be determined so we can not report at this time how the Fiscal Year 05 budget will impact K-through-12 education in Illinois.


That being said, I do believe it is of great importance that we highlight one of the most substantive pieces of legislation whose future looks successful. Last night the House Elementary and Secondary Education committee unanimously approved streamlining the teacher certification process as proposed in Senate Bill 1553. This bill is the result of an incredibly productive process facilitated by House Speaker Michael Madigan following hearings on the Governor’s original proposal to change the structure of the Teacher Certification Board.


The House saw through that smokescreen and instead chose to make the necessary changes to the teacher certification process in Illinois that will actually help teachers and, consequently, positively impact education.


The legislation could make its way through the House and onto the Senate as early as today. House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie brought everyone to the table and we are grateful and proud of the end-product.


While I sent you a summary of the changes this morning, some of improvements address the class of 2004, initial certificate holders seeking the standard certificate, will automatically receive a one-year extension period of Initial certificates that will expire on June 30, 2004. For Standard and Master Certificates, the proposal eliminates the requirement that holders of Standard and Master Certificates must develop a certificate renewal plan and submit it to an LPDC for approval. Also addressed are professional development activities, the role of the LPDC’s and the Regional Offices of Education, and out-of-state teachers seeking certification. Those are just a few of the improvements that again are the result of your input, our representation, the teacher’s unions, higher education officials and representatives from the Governor’s office coming to table and reaching a consensus.


As part of SB 1553, there is an amendment to the school construction law, which maintains the current administration of the school construction program with the Illinois State Board of Education and Capital Development Board. There is also a continuing appropriation of $13 million to the Teacher Health Insurance Security Fund through 2007.


Also, I am glad to announce, and by now you have likely received word, that we rolled out the E-Grant Management System this week. Within a few hours on Wednesday we had more than 100 districts access the system. Belvidere Consolidated Unit School District 100 was the first district to see its application approved from start to finish. This of course is an addition to the many Web-enabled programs that we have brought online in recent years to both decrease the amount of paperwork sent back and forth between districts and ISBE and increase the efficient disbursement of state funds. We had more than 1,200 people participate in the e-GMS training throughout the state. If you need a refresher course, CD-ROMs have been sent to all districts to assist you through the application process, or you can access the training online at


In parting, I want to acknowledge some of the departures that were announced this week, include the retirements of Lugene Finley, Director of Information Technology; Lee Patton, Interim Director of Teacher Certification; Lynne Curry, Director of Planning and Performance; and the resignations of Mary Anne Graham, Division Administrator of Student Assessment; and Kevin Richardson, Division Administrator of Multimedia and Web services.


These five people represent more than a century of experience in education and more than 80 years of experience ISBE. Their contributions can not go unnoticed, their knowledge can not be transferred or replaced and their dedication to public education in Illinois can not sufficiently be articulated.


While we still have no final language of how pending legislation will affect the administration at the State Board of Education, there will likely be changes in faces at ISBE. It is my sincere hope that whatever changes occur that we are fortunate enough to have the same caliber of people come into this agency, and that their first priority is the providing the best education possible for all of our children.


For those of you dismissing classes for the summer, I wish you a wonderful summer and commend you on another successful year. And for those of you who will be back next week, I wish you a restful Memorial Day weekend. I assure you that we will keep you abreast of the final decisions regarding funding and governance of education once the General Assembly adjourns.


Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

  of Education



Included in today’s weekly message:

·    Legislative Update

·    Annual Financial Reports Information

·     News Clips


Legislative Update

The Spring 2004 waiver requests have now been finalized by the General Assembly.  The following school districts were denied waivers:


            Summit SD 104 (Cook County) – limitation of administrative cost;


            Rutland CCSD 230 (LaSalle County) – limitation of administrative cost;


            Wallace CCSD 195 (LaSalle County) – limitation of administrative cost;


            Waukegan CUSD 60 (Lake County) – substitute teachers; and,


            Steeleville CUSD 138 (Randolph County) – certification appeal to the legislature.


The General Assembly also approved a request from Ridgeview CUSD 19 (McLean County) to raise driver education fees for only one year and disapproved the remaining four years.


The following bills have now passed both chambers of the legislature and will be forwarded to the Governor for final action:


HB752 requires all children in kindergarten and the second and sixth grades of any public, private, or parochial school to have a dental examination. The bill provides that if a child in the second or sixth grade fails to present proof of having been examined by a dentist by May 15th of the school year, the school may hold the child's report card until one of the following occurs: (i) the child presents proof of a completed dental examination or (ii) the child presents proof that a dental examination will take place within 60 days after May 15th. Requires the Department of Public Health to establish, by rule, a waiver for children who show an undue burden or a lack of access to a dentist.


HB5215 provides that school districts or special education cooperatives are not required to respond to a request from an interested private school bus contractor more than once every two years.  Currently, school districts that own and operate their own buses are required to solicit sealed bids if the district receives a request from an interested private school bus contractor.


SB2112 would increase the maximum for the general homestead exemption and the senior homestead exemption.  It would also allow counties to adopt an alternative general homestead exemption for property taxes which would cap property tax assessments at seven percent annually for residences.   For non tax-cap districts, all of these exemptions would result in less property tax revenue.  The alternative exemption would also cause problems in the General State Aid formula for all school districts in any county that opts in.


SB2395 would allow a licensed speech-language pathologist to receive a certificate from ISBE to work in a school without having to meet the content area standards for speech pathologists.  The bill would instead allow a person who does not meet these standards to complete 150 hours of supervised experience in speech-language pathology with students with disabilities in a school setting.


SB2940 provides that school health examinations shall include the collection of data relating to obesity, including at a minimum, date of birth, gender, height, weight, blood pressure, and date of exam. It requires the Department of Public Health to collect and maintain health data on the extent, nature, and impact of obesity. The Department of Public Health may collect health data from local schools and the State Board of Education relating to obesity on health examination forms.


HB6906 requires a school board to spend at least 40% of the money it receives from Title 2 grants under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 on recruitment and retention initiatives to assist in recruiting and retaining highly qualified teachers.  As the number of highly qualified teachers increases in a school district, the school board may use any surplus of the Title 2 funds in any manner deemed appropriate.


SB2349 provides that in recomputing a general State aid claim that was originally calculated using an extension limitation equalized assessed valuation, a qualifying reduction in equalized assessed valuation shall be deducted from the extension limitation equalized assessed valuation that was used in calculating the original claim. Provides that in calculating the amount of State aid to be apportioned to school districts, the State Board of Education shall incorporate and deduct the total aggregate adjustments to assessments made by the State Property Tax Appeal Board or Cook County Board of Appeals from the equalized assessed valuation that is otherwise to be utilized in the initial calculation. Provides that from the total amount of general State aid to be provided to schools districts, adjustments under (i) the Section allowing recomputation of State aid claims and (ii) the Section requiring the incorporation and deduction of adjustments to assessments in calculating State aid together must not exceed $25 million of the general State aid appropriation in any fiscal year. Includes provisions concerning proration.


Annual Financial Reports Information

It is time to complete the audit for fiscal year 2003-2004 (FY04).  Section 3-7 of the School Code sets forth the duties and responsibilities needed to meet this requirement.


For the year ending June 30, 2004, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is providing the Illinois School District Annual Financial Report (AFR) (Form 50-35) and Joint Agreement Annual Financial Report (Form 50-60) electronically supported in Excel version 97 and higher.  Excel 5.0 will not be supported.  These forms are to be used for the financial reporting required by all school districts and joint agreements.


There are several items regarding the FY04 AFR that we would like to bring to your attention.


·         The filing deadline for the AFR is October 15, 2004.  Statute requires that the AFR and attachments be filed on or before October 15 of each year with the appropriate Regional Superintendent.  In extenuating circumstances, the Regional Superintendent may grant up to 60 days extension per Section 3-7 of the School Code.  If an extension has not been granted, the AFR must be forwarded by the Regional Superintendent to ISBE on or before November 15 (Cover page through page 8 with all signatures).  Timely filing of the AFR is important for a number of reasons and we ask your cooperation in adhering to this time frame.



Note:  Auditors’ notes and report letters must be submitted on paper if not submitting electronically.  Copies of all documents must be filed with the School District and the Regional Office of Education (ROE).



·         The “Limitation of Administrative Costs Worksheet” is included with the AFR.  It must be filed with our office by November 15 whether or not the AFR is completed.  If the AFR is submitted before the budget is adopted, then the worksheet must be separately filed (appropriate signatures required).  This document does not need to be filed through the ROE.



The AFR and related materials will be posted out on the specified website (listed below) on June 25, 2004 after all of the workshops have been conducted with the CPA firms.  Select School Finance, and FY04 Annual Financial Report.


Instructions and related requirements for submitting the school district/joint agreement AFR are provided on the form(s).  See the AFR’s Table of Contents (TOC tab).


If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact the School Business and Support Services Division at 217/785-8779.


Weekly News Clips

To read this week’s news clips, please visit