Sent: Friday, May 07, 2004 4:08 PM
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 5-7-04

Good afternoon,


It was busy week in Springfield. The week started with plenty of rain and an air of ambiguity about many of the outstanding issues that belie us. It ended with potential good news on certification, good debate on some substantive changes proposed by the Governor to change the administration of school construction, forward-thinking public policy put forth by Speaker Michael Madigan and the possibility that there are more positive alternatives to follow.


I am sure that every single one of you has had a beef or knows someone who has had one with the certification process in Illinois. Speaker Madigan commenced several hearings on the Governor’s proposal to form an Independent Teacher Standards Board, and expressed his concern about the influence of unions on the proposed board. This week House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie convened a meeting which included Rep. Renee Kosel, ISBE, representatives from both teacher’s unions, and representatives from the Governor’s office to discuss a solution to the onerous amounts of paperwork that teachers need to fill out to get recertified and address the Initial to Standard situation.  I believe that we are well on our way to having a problem solved. We support a legislative proposal granting the Class of 2004 a paperless answer to the Initial to Standard issue. There’s more to come on this issue, but the long and the short of it is, you had problems with this area and we have tried to fix it.  With all of the groups working together I believe we can have significant reform in teacher certification.


On Tuesday, the House Secondary and Elementary Committee took testimony on Senate Bill 3001. The legislation would transfer the school construction program over to the Capital Development Board. Everyone appeared to agree that the school construction program is a great program, but many people opposed the transfer to CDB and the creation of another layer of bureaucracy. The legislation would create new priorities for the program, including mixed use facilities, and also would allow the CDB to control the construction, engineering, surveying of projects. While not specifically included in the bill ISBE believes that CDB is proposing to nullify all school construction applications submitted since FY 2002 and Capital Development Board testified to that effect. While ISBE supports the $2.2 billion in school construction bonding, ISBE opposed the remainder of the bill because we do not think that CDB should control locally raised funds. For audio of this hearing can be found at


On Wednesday, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Chairman Calvin Giles of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee held a hearing on the constitutionality of the Governor’s Education Plan. Two delegates from the 1970 constitutional convention appeared and testified that they believed that the Governor’s plan was wrong and contradicted the intent of the people to keep education free from direct control by the Governor. Later in the day the Speaker issued a statement that he agreed with the delegates and offered a compromise, which does not create a new Department of Education and keeps the State Board intact, while offering the Governor unprecedented control through a majority of appointments at the beginning of his term as well as limiting the term of the CSEO to no longer than the term of the Governor.  Audio of this hearing can be found at


On Thursday the House Republicans offered an alternative to the Governor’s plan and we could see another plan offered by Senator Miguel DelValle as early as next week.


Aside from the administration of education in Illinois we have not yet seen substantive debate about where the Governor’s proposed $400 million increase for elementary and secondary education will be spent. While the General Assembly has passed HB 4266 which provides for a $250 increase to the foundation level we need to continue to advocate for the full funding of the mandated categoricals, early childhood education, bilingual education and system of support dollars to help our schools in academic difficulty. I assure you I will continue to advocate for an adequate solution.


Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

  of Education



Included in today’s message:

Certification Funds Restored

The Illinois State Board of Education today had praise for Governor Rod Blagojevich for restoring $1.2 million to the area of Teacher Certification, giving ISBE the authority to rehire personnel critical to support teachers awaiting issuance of certificates.


Governor Blagojevich signed Senate Bill 1271 Friday, part of which included a request by the General Assembly, brought forth by Senate President Emil Jones and House Speaker Michael Madigan to re-appropriate $1.2 million from the Teacher Certification Revolving Fund.   For more on the press release please go to:


Budget/Joint Agreement Budget Forms

For Fiscal Year 2005, ISBE is providing the School District Budget (Form 50-36) and Joint Agreement Budget (Form 50-39) in an electronic spreadsheet.  These forms are available for downloading via the internet:


Select Budget Form for FY05 (School District and Joint Agreement).  Follow the instructions to save the excel file to your computer.  Note:  All updates and current information will be posted and maintained on the Internet site.


Requirements Include:

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


Legislative Update

The Senate and House hearings on the Spring 2004 Waiver Report will both be held this Wednesday, May 12.  Should you wish to attend these hearings, the time, date and location of each hearing are as follows:

·         The Senate hearing on waivers has been scheduled for May 12 at 8 a.m. in Room 212 at the Capitol.

·         The House hearing on waivers has been scheduled for May 12 at 3:00 p.m. in Room 118 at the Capitol.

The following education related bills were passed out of the opposite chamber last week and will be forwarded to the Governor:


SB2135 creates a K-3 class size reduction grant program to be implemented and administered by the State Board of Education, subject to appropriation, for only those schools that are on the early academic warning list or academic watch list.  The grants would be used help defray costs related to keeping class size under 20 students.


SB2444 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.


Department of Special Education Parent/Guardian Survey

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is pleased to announce the development and dissemination of the first statewide data collection effort to assess parent involvement in the education of students with disabilities.  The Parent/Guardian Survey (ISBE form 34-68) can be completed online at and is available in English and Spanish.  The survey is being disseminated to parent leaders, directors of special education, superintendents and others in an effort to outreach to families across the State.  Printed copies are available for families who do not have access to the web.


The purpose of this survey is to collect information from parents and guardians of students with disabilities in order to measure their participation, involvement, satisfaction, knowledge and awareness of the special education services delivery system.  Survey data for this year will be collected from May 6, 2004 through August 1, 2004 and every two years thereafter.  By collecting data over time, ISBE will create a solid foundation of information for improving policy and programs for students with disabilities.


In 2002, ISBE finalized the Illinois Continuous Improvement Plan (ICIP).  The ICIP is a critical component of the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) Continuous Improvement Monitoring Process.  Annual receipt of grant funding through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is dependent upon compliance with the requirements covered by the federal monitoring process.  The ICIP includes a goal to increase the meaningful, effective involvement of families in the educational process of children with disabilities as measured by analyses of survey data and progress from baselines.  Stakeholders identified the development and implementation of a survey instrument as a priority activity.  Based on that priority, ISBE developed the Parent/Guardian Survey (ISBE form 34-68), incorporating questions from two national studies, the Special Education Elementary Longitudinal Study (SEELS) and the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2 (NLTS2).


The Parent/Guardian Survey results will be used as data for future planning to inform decision-making and to improve practice.  In addition, the results of the survey will be widely disseminated across the State and reported to the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in the annual update of the ICIP activities.


E-Grants Approval Groups Setup

By the close of business Friday, May 7, 2004, ISBE will add a new system in IWAS under the “Grants” category named “NCLB Consolidated Application” for which staff in your local education agency can request sign-up authorization.  This will allow each staff person to be approved into their appropriate IWAS approval roles prior to the release of the new Electronic Grant Management System (e-GMS).  The NCLB Consolidated Application will be available through the e-GMS very soon as final testing is being completed.  Local IWAS Administrators (primarily district superintendents) will have automatic approval access to this system.  If other staff already have an IWAS account, they can sign up for the new system by logging into IWAS from the ISBE homepage, clicking on “System Listing” and then at the bottom of that page, click on “Want to Signup for Other Systems?” link.  The “NCLB Consolidated Application” will be available in the “Other Systems” list under the category of “Grants.”  To sign up for the system, they can click on the “Sign Up Now” button and follow the instructions.  If you have questions regarding IWAS approval setup, please contact the ISBE Call Center at 217-558-3600.


OTIS, Highly-Qualified, and Other Certification Matters

The State Board is creating a data base that will eventually show, on OTIS, the areas for which each teacher is highly qualified.  Within the next two weeks, we will provide you with additional information about this initiative.  Shortly thereafter, we plan to send each teacher a letter regarding how they can submit relevant information to the State Board.  That letter will also include other critical information about changes to the certification rules (already adopted by the Board and now under review JCAR) and potential changes to the requirements for moving from Initial-to-Standard certification and certificate renewal, which are under consideration in the General Assembly.


You can help by encouraging your teachers to immediately establish a personal account on OTIS, the Online Teacher Information System.  The instructions for doing this are at; the procedures are very easy and without cost.  Once the teacher has an account, he or she will be able to view the information we have about his or her credentials and, with the creation of the proposed system, we will be able to work together to fill in the information gaps.  The teacher will also be able to correct any personal information, such as his or her current mailing address; this is a critical step to assuring that each teacher receives the information letter about new requirements.


Watch for additional information in future messages, but please urge your teachers to “Go OTIS!” as soon as possible.


Bridges Extended Learning Opportunities

The Bridges Extended Learning Opportunities program, formerly known as Summer Bridges, is a cooperative effort of the Governor’s Office and the Illinois State Board of Education.  This program offers students who are performing below standards in reading an extended learning experience.  In anticipation of a favorable outcome from the legislature, we want potential participants to submit their plans to this office by May 17, 2004.  Eligible districts have already been notified.  For additional information please visit


FOCUS 2004: Beyond Education & Training…Leading Economic Growth

The 2nd Annual National Conference to focus on application of Skill Standards and Industry-based style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt">Certifications Set for Fall of 2004.


The State of New Jersey in association with Global Skills Exchange (GSX) is sponsoring FOCUS 2004 in Atlantic City on October 5, 6 and 7 at the Trump Plaza.  This second annual national conference is designed to educate and equip workforce development, education and training decision makers and practitioners to successfully use industry skill standards and certification in exciting, innovative and value-added ways.  For more information and a downloadable flier go to: