Sent: Friday, June 18, 2004 1:43 PM
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 6-18-04
Good afternoon,


I regret to report that I do not have a FY05 State Elementary and Secondary Education budget to share with you. Budget negotiations continue in Chicago today, but it was reported this morning, that if an FY05 budget is not in place by the end of the month the House is poised to convene and approve an interim budget solution.


I do want to share some testimony and information that I presented to the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee Thursday.


State agencies, constitutional officers and boards were called before House appropriation committees to present a budget that illustrated core services. On Thursday we addressed the core services provided to elementary and secondary schools. The Committee has scheduled a follow-up hearing for next Wednesday and asked that ISBE submit a budget that reflects funding for “core services” by Monday.


Since the request for the appearance was to illustrate core needs/services, we set forth a one-page budget overview based on FY04 appropriations. By listing each separate area of funding and connecting it to the section of the School Code which requires us to fund those areas, we illustrated to the committee that with very few exceptions almost all of what is spent on Elementary and Secondary Education is statutorily mandated.


The following link will take you to the packet that we presented to the committee, page 1 includes the budget to maintain core services, page 8 illustrates our payment distribution dates, and page 10 outlines our cash flow needs on a quarterly basis:


There was some focus on a $98 million increase in Elementary and Secondary education funding. The increase reflects every program-area receiving flat funding, but the increased appropriation would be warranted if the state maintained the current 97.2 % pro-ration of the Mandated Categoricals.


I went over payment distribution dates, and illustrated that our first and greatest demands will come in August with the General State Aid payments. I previously notified you this week that Governor Rod Blagojevich did send a letter to State Comptroller Daniel W. Hynes and Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka requesting the advance of the 23rd and 24th General State Aid payments. I have included that message below, if some of you did not see it.


Members also addressed the possibility and potential ramifications of not having a budget in place by July 1. If that is the case we would be unable to pay the following programs during the month of July: Extended Learning opportunities (Summer Bridges), and Alternative Education/ Regional Safe Schools. We also would be unable to make the first payment in July on Chicago Block Grant.


We further walked the members through the demands on our cash flow on a quarterly basis, noting that to get through the first quarter of the fiscal year we would need roughly $994 million, based on our expenditures in FY 04.


Overall, I think it went very well and I stressed the fact that it will be difficult for school districts to receive flat funding when they already are picking up the majority of the tab for public education in Illinois.


That point was reiterated by several members who said that not only is $400 million not enough money for schools, but that the system need is much greater. Members addressed the fact that the $400 million barely covers the $250 per pupil increase for General State Aid. Additionally, the MCAT formulas are both outdated and insufficient (see page 6 of the handout). The current year pro-ration of 97.2% represents the state not even reimbursing schools at the statutory requirement.


I saw this as an opportunity to highlight the State Board’s proposed budget for FY05, noting that ISBE advocated for the $250 per pupil increase, funding the MCATS at 100 percent, and increasing the ADA block grant to benefit the suburban districts. The State Board’s budget did try to equalize funding throughout the state.


I do believe that this year has been a learning experience for legislators, who do understand and appreciate the disproportionate amount of local revenues that schools rely on. How that awareness and appreciation translates into dollars and cents for each of your districts is still anybody’s guess and is still subject to budget negotiations.


I also want to take this opportunity to let you know that the Illinois State Board of Education and the East St. Louis School Board are working toward an intergovernmental agreement that would transition out the current Financial Oversight Panel that is set to expire in October. I am in the process of searching for highly-qualified and experienced candidates for the positions of Interim Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Deputy Superintendent and Internal Auditor. These one year positions (all but the CEO will be eligible to have their employment extended) will play a vital role in the transition to the district becoming independent of oversight. If you know of anyone interested in these positions, please have them email a cover letter and resume to me at , or fax the information to at (217) 785-3972 by June 24th. If they need more information, the job descriptions are available on page 66 of the board packet:


On a separate note this week we saw the departure of Mary Anne Graham, division administrator of Student Assessment. Many of you have worked with Mary Anne and know that she headed up the data verification process, which we announced this week resulted in roughly 400 schools having their AYP change for the better. I am pleased to announce that as we search for a permanent replacement, Becky McCabe, a principal from Urbana and a member of the Assessment and Accountability Task Force is going to take on the position for the summer. Becky has recently been chosen as the Illinois Elementary Principal of the Year and has been a vital, integral part of the Task Force.  She will serve as the Acting Division Administrator through July 30, at which time she will return to her position as principal. Becky met with Mary Anne, before she left this week, and I am confident that she will assist us through the summer.


Lastly, I would like to bring you attention to an important announcement below regarding 175 schools that have yet to input their participation data from the first day of testing. I know many of you have likely received information from our office or the notices that we sent to the IPA and the IASA. We have worked hard over the last six months to tighten up deadlines to ensure that we can return your report card in a timelier manner and we hope that these labors do not prove futile. As always we appreciate your assistance.


Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

  of Education


Today’s message includes:


GSA Payments to be Advanced

We were notified Wednesday by the Governor’s office that he has directed the advance the 23rd and the 24th General State Aid payments, which are normally made in July, to the month of June.

The direction from the Governor to the Comptroller and Treasurer is to advance the necessary transfers so that the GSA payments can be released to districts on June 25th (next Friday).


PLEASE NOTE: For the Regional Offices who serve as intermediate fiscal agents for their school districts we respectfully request that they expedite the turnaround of these final GSA payments to their member school districts before June 30.


At this point there has been no FY04 supplemental appropriation passed for the Poverty Grant, and because of that the 24th portion of the GSA payment will be prorated. However, if a supplemental is passed, districts will still receive the full amount. That is not expected to occur until the lapse period, which would be in July or August.


To view the Governor’s announcement:


Chicago Regional Certification Office Re-Opens

The Illinois State Board of Education announces the official re-opening of its Chicago Regional Certification Office.  The office is located on the SECOND FLOOR in the Chicago Public Schools main location at 125 S. Clark Street.


The hours of operation are 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.  Educators may contact the office during the above times by calling 773-553-1240 or by visiting the office in person.


The following services are currently available:


Please note that educators will be able to utilize the Online Teacher Information System (OTIS) web site to register certificates beginning in July 2004.  OTIS is a secure site that can be accessed from any internet connection by using the following web address:


Certification Updates

To simplify access to the latest and most accurate information about certification and professional development, the hot button on the ISBE main page titled “Certification Update” will now link directly to a new site that contains only the updates and new information.  Over time, that site will become the main resource for information about all certification and professional development.


For now, the site will list key topics of major interest and include a “Question and Answer” section that will respond to issues raised from the field.  The information on this site should be regarded as the authoritative explanation of state requirements and procedures, superseding any previous information that may still be on the web.  We encourage you to visit this site often – just click on the “Certification Update” box on the upper right side of the ISBE homepage.


New material posted on the site this week includes the following information and clarification:


Please visit the “Certification Update” site for more information on these topics.


College Program Approvals and Accreditation

The Illinois State Board of Education has approved the following new college education programs:


The Board has also awarded continuing accreditation to the following institutions:


Certification Board Appointments

The following members will be leaving the Certification Board at the end of June, 2004.  We appreciate their dedication and service.


The State Board of Education appointed the following individuals to three-year terms on the State Teacher Certification Board, beginning July 1, 2004.

Representing the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT)


Representing the Illinois Education Association (IEA)


Representing the Illinois Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (IACTE)


Representing the Illinois Association of Regional School Superintendents (IARSS)


Invitation to Comment on Rules

At its June meeting, the State Board of Education released five sets of proposed rules for public comment.  These items have been posted on the agency’s web site at

Please submit any comments or suggestions you may have to


Also, please go to

for summary on the following items:


Transition Outreach Training for Adult Living (TOTAL) Multimedia Training Package

The Illinois State Board of Education’s Transition Outreach Training for Adult Living (TOTAL) project is pleased to announce the development of multimedia training materials for the transition of secondary students with disabilities. The materials were developed through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and are available to schools, districts, parents, and others who wish to be trained or become trainers. There is no charge for the training materials, which include a manual and DVD. 


This is the first of several multimedia training packages that will be developed and disseminated under the TOTAL Project. It is currently available on the special education page of the ISBE web site at  In the future all TOTAL multimedia training materials will be available on line. If you have questions, comments or concerns please contact Marilyn Zick at or 217-782-5589.


The training package will contribute toward increasing Illinois’ capacity to provide quality transition services and improve post-school outcomes for students with disabilities. It is designed to enable individual stakeholders to learn how to implement research based best practices in secondary transition. Four one-hour modules cover the following topics:


Users are encouraged to complete the form at the end of each module and return it to the Illinois State Board of Education. User comments and insights will help to refine and improve the multimedia materials developed under the TOTAL Project.


Schools Selected to Implement High Schools That Work

Five Illinois high schools have been selected to join the High Schools That Work network through a competitive Request for Proposal process.  Those schools selected include:


High Schools That Work (HSTW) is a framework for whole-school improvement that seeks to advance the mathematics, science, and communications competencies of students who complete a career major and to increase the percent of students who continue postsecondary education in their chosen field of study.  The intent is to assist school districts by integrating and upgrading the level of academic studies that students receive in both academic and career and technical courses.  High schools in the network must commit to:


These five new sites will join Carlinville High School, Charleston High School and Waverly High School selected last year to implement the High Schools That Work model as well as 1,100 high schools in the network throughout the country.  Additional information is available at


USDE Approves Amendments to the Illinois Accountability Plan

The United States Department of Education has approved Illinois’ request to amend its state accountability plan under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).  The following statements reflect the amendments to the plan.


System of Rewards (Element 1.6)

Revision:  Illinois has updated its system of rewards for schools and districts.


Identification of Schools and Districts for Improvement (element 3.2)

Revision:  Illinois will identify schools and districts for improvement on the basis of not making AYP for two consecutive years in the same content area.


Assessment and Accountability for LEP students (Elements 5.1 and 5.4)

Revision:  Illinois will include in its accountability plan the flexibility that the Secretary’s letter of February 20, 2004, provides relative to limited English proficient students for assessment and accountability purposes.


Alternate Assessments (Element 5.3)

Revision:  Illinois will be using the final regulation in the Federal Register issued December 9, 2003, concerning the 1.0 percent cap.  Specifically, Illinois will ensure that the “number of proficient and advanced scores based on the alternate achievement standards,” does not exceed 1.0 percent of all students in the grades assessed at the state and LEA levels.


Participation Rate (element 10.1)

Revision:  Illinois will adopt the new flexibility regarding multi-year averaging of the participation rate.  Illinois will also adopt the new flexibility regarding students who have significant medical emergencies during the testing window and its affect on a school’s participation rate.


Adding a multiracial/ethnic group to the state’s major racial/ethnic groups for both accountability and reporting purposes has also been approved.


The amended accountability plan can be viewed at


Censorship in Schools in Libraries exhibit available for display

The Long Island Coalition Against Censorship is a non-profit education association of 22 organizations (15 of which are libraries or professional library organizations). They have published the 2004 edition of their exhibit, “Censorship in Schools and Libraries,” and it is available for display during Banned Books Week in September or at another time during 2004-2005.


For more information go to  Click on Exhibits, "Censorship in Schools and Libraries" and excerpts. The cost of the exhibit including mailing charges is $38.00 postpaid. A check to the Long Island Coalition Against Censorship may be mailed to PO Box 296, Pt. Washington, N.Y. 11050. For additional information contact the coalition at or call (516) 944-9799.


Lightning Safety Awareness Week will be observed June 20-26, 2004

There are an estimated 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning flashes each year in the United States, nearly 650,000 of which occur in Illinois alone. Lightning can be fascinating to watch, but it is also extremely dangerous - it is the underrated killer. Few people really understand the dangers of lightning. Many people don't act promptly to protect their lives, property, and the lives of others. The first step in solving this potentially life-threatening problem is through education.


The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) has a new Lightning Safety Awareness booklet which can be accessed at:


For more information on lightning and other severe weather hazards, contact the following:

Your local Emergency Management Agency (EMA)

Illinois Emergency Management Agency

Your local chapter of the American Red Cross (ARC)

The National Lightning Safety Institute

The National Weather Service Lightning Safety website


Missing Enrollment Data Reminder

In an effort to provide AYP participation calculations based on accurate first-day-of-testing enrollment data, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is providing an electronic early data correction window now through June 28, 2004.  During this window, districts and schools can verify and, if needed, correct enrollment data that should have been entered by May 21, 2004, on Pearson Educational Measurement’s SchoolHouse Web site.


During the data collection process, the number of students enrolled on the first day of testing should have been entered for each school with one or more tested grades and then these enrollment data should have been approved at both the school and district levels by the district superintendent.


To date, about 175 schools in about 125 districts have not entered any enrollment data for their schools in the SchoolHouse system.  In addition, a number of schools have entered enrollment data, but the data were never approved by the district superintendent at the school and/or the district level.  In order for ISBE to use the data in final AYP participation calculations, separate approvals are required on SchoolHouse for each school and for the district as a whole (all schools).


Unless these data are entered and subsequently approved by the district superintendent, AYP participation cannot be calculated and the affected school(s) will be considered as not having made AYP.


Pearson sent several e-mail reminders to district superintendents last month (on May 7, 14, 18, and 20) regarding incomplete or unapproved enrollment data.  This month, ISBE Student Assessment Division staff will be placing phone calls to the approximately 125 districts that have one or more schools with no enrollment data entered.


If enrollment data have been entered for a school, but these data have not been approved at both the school and district levels, the district superintendent should review the instructions on pages 21 – 23 (HOW TO APPROVE ENROLLMENTS) in the Illinois Data Collection User’s Guide, which is available on the ISBE Web site at  If you still have questions about the approval process after reviewing the instructions, please contact Pearson Educational Measurement at 800/627-7990, state code 814.


Thank you for your help in accomplishing this important task that is necessary to satisfy the requirements of NCLB.


News Clips

News clips for the week of June 14-18 may be viewed at