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June 19, 2003

State Superintendent announces agency budget cuts

State Superintendent of Education Robert E. Schiller today announced cuts in the Illinois State Board of Education’s (ISBE) FY04 budget to keep the agency’s spending in line with the budget proposed by the Governor and approved by the General Assembly.

In a message sent yesterday, the superintendent informed ISBE employees that to balance the agency budget, it will be necessary to eliminate 45 positions and reduce spending in every category, particularly on contractual agreements, effective June 30. According to Schiller, additional positions would have had to be eliminated had the agency not been able to identify about 35 positions that could legitimately be transferred within the agency and paid for with federal funds.

In anticipation of the reduced appropriation, the agency has in recent months reduced operating costs by freezing management salaries, cutting travel and the purchase of commodities and reducing office space in Springfield by 8,000 square feet. Even with these reductions, elimination of positions is necessary.

“The reduction by the General Assembly to our operations budget means we do not have sufficient funds to support our projected level of staffing,” said Schiller. “This is a great disappointment for the board, the agency and me. There is no doubt these cuts will reduce our capacity to serve Illinois school districts and students.”

The agency had planned for 640 positions in its proposed budget at an expenditure of about $40 million - $24.6 million from state funds, the rest from federal funds. Although the amount of available federal funds has increased, the FY04 budget passed by the General Assembly reduced the agency’s funds available for salaries by $7.1 million compared to FY03, leaving $17.5 million in General Revenue Funds for that purpose. That total will support about 275 positions.

Over the past 18 months, through a combination of re-organization, streamlining, attrition and the state’s Early Retirement Initiative, ISBE’s head count has dropped from about 700 to the current 535. Management positions, which totaled 67 in October, 2002, now number 58 -- a reduction of 13 per cent.

The cuts announced today affect the following of the agency’s organizational “centers”: Public Information, Human Resources, Planning and Performance/Regional Offices, Operations, Standards-Aligned Learning, Teaching and Leadership, Special Education and Information Technology. The agency also will close its Mount Vernon office.

The 45 positions announced for elimination today include 18 in the AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) bargaining unit, 16 in the IFSOE (Illinois Federation of State Office Educators) bargaining unit, four probationary employees, three resignations and four non-union employees.

Schiller also announced the agency will reduce its contractual obligations by a minimum of $9.6 million in state funds out of a total of $33.8 million. Most of the remaining contractual money is earmarked to assessment programs and building rent.

Further reductions in contracts may be necessary, Schiller said. If the Governor uses his item veto authority to reduce or eliminate any other lines in the ISBE budget, or if the allocated state revenues are reduced throughout the fiscal year, additional decisions on personnel would have to be made as well.

If the State succeeds in selling the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago, where ISBE’s offices are located, and the agency is required to lease space, additional reductions in personnel could be necessary, Schiller said.

Schiller and center directors began meetings Wednesday regarding the cutbacks with affected individuals and with union representatives.

More information on the State Education Budget FY04 can be accessed at:

Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777