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State of Illinois - Governor Blagojevich 

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News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 24, 2003

Line Item Veto Cuts Will Eliminate Statewide Education Services

The State Board of Education today directed Robert E. Schiller, State Superintendent of Education, to take appropriate action to bring the agency's expenditures for FY04 in line with available appropriations. It will mean the elimination of 54 positions in the agency.

"As much as we would like to provide these services, the truth is we no longer have the resources or capacity to offer them," said Dr. Janet Steiner of Carlinville, board chair. "The very specific cuts contained in the Governor's line item vetoes were made without our agency's input. They mean we have to eliminate the jobs of the people who manage these programs."

Today's cuts - which will go into effect no later than August 8 --come on the heels of a previous round of job elimination announced on June 19 by ISBE is response to appropriation level approved by the General Assembly and sent to the Governor. The Governor's line item vetoes, announced in July, cut another $4 million from the administrative operations lines of the ISBE budget, resulting in the program and oversight cuts directed today by the state board.

Since January, 2003, as a result of these two rounds of position cuts and the state's Early Retirement Initiative, ISBE headcount has dropped by almost 25 percent.

In addition, the agency has in recent months reduced operating costs by canceling or reducing about $9 million in contracts, freezing management salaries for two years, cutting travel and the purchase of commodities and reducing office space in Springfield by 8,000 square feet.

"It is unfortunate that Illinoisans will lose education services and program oversight," Steiner said. "The state budget is in a difficult situation and we understand the reasons behind the Governor's decision to eliminate administrative funding. Make no mistake, though: these cuts will eliminate programs, not just administrative spending."

The programs most seriously affected by the cuts are:

Bullet Item Certification of teachers, particularly services provided to meet the needs of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS);

Bullet Item GED (High School Equivalency exam) testing, which served almost as many as 40,000 candidates yearly;

Bullet Item Non-public school recognition process, whose elimination will create difficulties for nonpublic students applying for college or for Illinois Student Assistance Commission awards and scholarships. It could also make it impossible for some non-public schools to participate in Illinois High School Association athletic events.

Bullet Item Private Business and Vocational Schools (PBVS) oversight;

Bullet Item Numerous state and federal grants, but particularly grants in the areas of Early Childhood and Career Technical Education, where ISBE oversight of the use of grants funds will be curtailed; and

Bullet Item Health, Life, Safety program, which reviews school building safety issues.

CERTIFICATION: These cuts flow from the Governor's veto of almost $2 million from the Teacher Certification Fund and the ISBE Regional Services line. The cuts, which eliminate 20 of 46 positions in the division, will require ISBE to stop functioning as the Regional Office of Education (ROE) for Chicago, a role that ISBE filled in part to provide certification and testing for Chicago teachers. The results will be a delay in the hiring of teachers, administrators and substitutes for CPS. The cuts also will greatly delay the processing of statewide teacher certification, extending the process to about seven months. A veto of $240,000 will also jeopardize the Administrators' Academy program, which provides management and leadership training for school administrators. New administrator certificate renewal requirements went into effect on July 1, essentially doubling the need for Academy courses and the need for updated certification.

GED SERVICES: The veto of about $1.25 million to the ISBE Regional Services line will cause regional GED services and testing will end unless the current $35 fee charged participants is doubled. As many as 40,000 candidates take the GED annually, with an estimated 18,000 in Cook County alone. The line item veto of this service will result in the closing of 71 official test sites and 81 addendum sites, as well as the interruption of issuance of GED transcripts and certificates. "The cuts impact those who can afford it the least," said Beverly Turkal of Robinson, board vice-chair. "But we cannot conceive of continuing these services without a way to pay for them." Through FY03, funds to operate the testing program were received in the form of application ($35), retest ($5-30), and transcript fees ($2) from GED candidates. Any excess costs are absorbed by the Regional Offices of Education.

NONPUBLIC SCHOOL RECOGNITION: This program helps assure the comparability of grades and course offerings in non-public school with those offered in public schools. The cuts, which flow from the Governor's veto of about $1.2 million from the ISBE Standards, Assessment and Accountability line, mean ISBE will no longer carry out the function of registering and recognizing the state's 1400 non-public schools (including Catholic, Lutheran and other private institutions). Among other thing ISBE recognition is needed for non-public schools to participate in IHSA-sanctioned interscholastic academic and sports competitions (per IHSA constitution, Sec. 1.210). Such recognition is and aid or requirement to entrance to many colleges or acceptance to most military training programs and expedites student transfers. It is a voluntary program in which 800 non-public schools currently have sought and received ISBE recognition.

PRIVATE BUSINESS AND VOCATIONAL SCHOOLS (PBVS): The Standards, Assessment and Accountability cuts also mean the agency will no longer function in the role of registering and recognizing Private Business and Vocational Schools (PBVS), including some from out of state that recruit and collect fees in Illinois. ISBE currently has more than 200 schools registered and recognized as operating legally within the state of Illinois. Most (nearly 150) are in the Chicago area and collar counties. At least 25 are from out of state (which recruit students from Illinois and/or collect fees from Illinois students).

In addition to registering these private schools (such as computer schools, dental career schools, massage and paralegal study schools), ISBE processes requests for transcripts or student complaints. Additionally, ISBE is the repository for schools that go out of operation. Currently, those records total as many as six million records on students, finances, etc. The agency is required by law to keep such records for 50 years. The budget cuts eliminate ISBE staff that maintains the records and processes requests for them.

GRANTS OVERSIGHT: In addition, the cuts will make it more difficult for the agency to oversee the way school districts use federal and state grants, particularly in the area of Career and technical Education, where a cut of $415,000 will eliminate two-thirds of the staff in FY05, and in Early Childhood, where a $215,000 veto will eliminate three of five employees overseeing the grants.

HEALTH, LIFE, SAFETY: A veto of $420,000 in the area of School Construction Services will mean the elimination of five of seven employees who work with Regional Offices of Education to review school building safety issues. This process will be greatly reduced and delayed, affecting school districts' ability to receive state money to improve building safety, and ending onsite reviews by ISBE for fire safety, soundness of buildings and general inspection.

ISBE's function is to ensure taxpayers that their state and federal dollars are being spent appropriately," Steiner said. "With staff reductions, we will no longer be able to guarantee the expected high level of assurance, and Illinois taxpayers and consumers will lose the protection provided by these programs," she said.

Bullet Item View a detailed description of the effect on agency programs at: http://www.isbe.net/news/pdf/staff_reductions_plan_072203.pdf PDF File

Bullet Item View a graph of the agency headcount from FY85 to FY03 at: http://www.isbe.net/news/pdf/yearly_headcount_graph.pdf PDF File

 

Illinois State Board of Education
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