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June 25, 2003

State Board Approves Oversight Panel for Venice

Will seek to develop emergency financial recovery plan

SPRINGFIELD - The State Board of Education today certified Venice CUSD #3 as in financial difficulty and approved creation of a financial oversight panel (FOP) to help develop an emergency assistance and recovery plan for the troubled school system.

The State Board took action in a special meeting held by conference call. “This is an important first step in making sure Venice can manage its resources and operate its programs in the best interests of its students and the taxpayers,” said Robert E. Schiller, State Superintendent of Education. “The FOP, the local board and the community must work together for this to succeed.”

The Venice School Board voted June 18 to ask the State Board to create the oversight panel. The district is in the midst of a major financial crisis, Schiller said.

The school district maintained no financial records for FY02 and 03 and has not filed its annual financial report with ISBE for FY02. The district could not meet its last teacher payroll nor pay its adult education staff. In addition it has not paid its special education co-op nor provided special education services for students.

The district submitted a corrective action plan to the State Board in June, but it was considered insufficient in addressing these problems. The district submitted a revised plan June 20, which is under review by ISBE.

Under state law, the financial panel created today is empowered to provide oversight and approval for additional borrowing by the district, as well as development of an emergency recovery plan. It has the authority to approve or disapprove spending decisions made by the local school board.

Under the law, the panel can recommend an Emergency Financial Assistance grant from ISBE of $66,250 ($250 per student) and an Emergency Financial Assistance Loan of $265,000 ($1000 per student.) The loan would have to be approved by the General Assembly and the Governor. Neither request has yet been made.

In addition, the panel could recommend special legislation – such as creation of a School Finance Authority or even dissolution of the district – to address the situation.

State Superintendent Robert E. Schiller has 10 days to appoint the three-member oversight panel.

Venice becomes the fourth Illinois school district under an FOP, joining East St. Louis, Livingston (Madison County) and Cairo.

School districts in Round Lake and Hazel Crest are under the oversight of School Finance Authorities, which have broader powers than the FOP.

Attached is a copy of the resolution approved today by the State Board.

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