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State of Illinois - Governor Blagojevich 

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For Immediate Release
May 7, 2004

Teacher Certification Funds Restored by Governor Blagojevich

(SPRINGFIELD) – The Illinois State Board of Education praised Governor Rod Blagojevich Friday 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.

“We saw our staff in Teacher Certification cut in half last year as a result of the budget cuts,” said State Superintendent Robert Schiller. “We will move forward to hire staff that can best support our teachers’ applications for certifications.”

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.

In June of last year, the Illinois State Board of Education had reduced a three-year backlog of teacher certificates awaiting renewal down to a matter of a few months. One month later, that accomplishment was history when the Governor line-item vetoed more than $21 million from the ISBE budget. One of the areas hardest hit was the Teacher Certification Department, where staff was cut so drastically no one was available to answer the phones.

Teacher Certification is no different than many areas of state government that are funded through the assessment of fees. Teachers pay a renewal fee for their certificates and that money is deposited into the Teacher Certification Revolving Fund, from which ISBE staff are paid to support this process. Last July’s line-item veto of $1.125 million prohibited ISBE from utilizing these fees that are paid by teachers to support certificate renewal.

An additional consequence was the closing of the Regional Office of Education for the city of Chicago. The State Superintendent also serves at the Regional Superintendent for Chicago, where teacher certification renewal should be handled just like the other ROE’s. When the Governor vetoed the $2million allotted for State Board of Education Regional Services, he also eliminated funding for the Chicago ROE where last year alone 10,000 certificates were issued. After an unsuccessful attempt to get the money reinstated during the veto session last fall, the State Board of Education closed the Chicago ROE in December.

During the course of several hearings this legislative session members of the General Assembly recognized the critical services provided by staff in supporting teachers through the certificate renewal process.

Schiller said ISBE has immediate plans to reopen the Regional Office of Education in Chicago. ISBE is set to re-hire staff in the department of Teacher Certification, including transcript evaluators that ensure that a teacher’s education preparation meets the requirements of the teaching certificate being sought, and support staff, which can again begin to answer phones from teachers and help navigate them through the certificate renewal process.

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