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For Immediate Release
February 18, 2005

State Board approves rule providing preschool access
for undocumented immigrants

Streamlines rules and passes budget

Springfield, Ill. –The State Board of Education has answered Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s call to prohibit state funded preschools from denying undocumented immigrants access to their programs. At its February meeting on Thursday, the Board approved a rule amendment that will prohibit Illinois public schools from denying any services to children because they lack documentation of immigration status or legal presence in the country.

“We took this action because no student should be denied access to high- quality preschool based on his or her immigrant status,” said State Board Chairman Jesse Ruiz. “The Governor called for this action, and the Board unanimously agreed that it is the right thing to do.”

The amendment to the rule impacts all public school programs in Illinois. No program for children funded by a grant from the State Board of Education will be permitted to discriminate based on immigration status. This prohibition will be incorporated into all ISBE grant agreements.

The rule change now goes to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

Rules Reduction Process
Also on Thursday, the State Board approved moving forward with the elimination of approximately 150 pages of administrative rules and the amendments to other rules to ease the administrative burden on schools. One example is the Board’s action to change the rule requiring parents to sign permission forms in order for their children to receive free textbooks provided through the State Board’s loan program. The State Board proposed a revision to eliminate this needless paperwork and allow districts to develop their own procedures for submitting textbook requests.

The State Board action on Thursday revised a number of current rules and eliminated hundreds of inactive rules. The Board’s action follows significant input from educators and constituent groups throughout the state, who have worked with agency staff. A complete review and overhaul of the Illinois State Board of Education’s 2,800 pages of rules will continue and is expected to be completed in the next six months. The rules reductions approved by the board will not take effect until approved by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

Budget Approval
The Illinois State Board of Education has made specific recommendations for allocating Governor Blagojevich’s proposed $140 million funding increase for elementary and secondary education in Fiscal Year (FY) 2006. The Governor’s proposal follows his administration’s $400 million and $389 million funding increases for education in FY 2004 and FY 2005 respectively.

The Board’s specific recommendations make increasing the foundation funding level its number one priority. The Board also placed a high priority on Early Childhood Education, increasing funding for high-quality preschool programs by $30 million. The Board’s recommendations include:

  • $80 million increase to General State Aid, resulting in a $40 to $45 per pupil increase
  • $30 million increase to Early Childhood Education
  • $20 million increase to Mandated Categorical Funds
  • $2 million increase to Bilingual Education
  • $2 million increase to Career and Technical Education, including Agriculture
  • $10 million increase to the Average Daily Attendance (ADA) Block Grant
  • $2 million increase to Regional Safe Schools
  • $2 million increase to the Truant Alternative Optional Education Program
  • $1 million increase to Learning Technologies
  • $200 thousand increase to the Philip J. Rock School
  • $800 thousand increase to Teacher Certification and other agency priorities
  • $10 million decrease to grants for Fast Growth Districts

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