For Immediate Release
October 25, 2011

ISBE Chairman Tours Egyptian High School to observe academic improvement efforts

Federal Funds target lowest performing schools

SPRINGFIELD—Illinois State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico today visited Egyptian High School in Egyptian Community Unit School District 5 to see how officials there are spending nearly $4.4 million in School Improvement Grant funds. Egyptian is one of 20 High Schools in 10 districts across the state that have been awarded $108 million in federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) funds in Fiscal Year 2011 and 2012. The grants, awarded through a competitive application and review process, aim to help improve student achievement at some of the lowest performing schools in the state.

“The State Board of Education is taking on a much more proactive role in working with our lowest achieving schools. This is expensive work so it’s important we know what’s working so we can share it with other districts.,’’ said State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico. “We’re investing more than $100 million in just a few districts across the state. It’s vital that the changes they implement improve instruction and support services so that students are better prepared to achieve in college and careers.”

Under the SIG terms, each district must implement one of four intervention models; Turnaround, Restart, Transformation or School Closure, as approved by the U.S. Department of Education. Money is allocated to each district with the bulk of funds going toward the reform strategy at the specific schools and a smaller portion going toward district oversight. Districts and schools are to receive funds for three years but must go through an annual re-application process. Initial applications were evaluated and scored by review teams made up of national and state experts.

The SIG districts are required to work with one of 16 organizations, called Lead Partners, that have been pre-approved by the Illinois State Board of Education. The state agency will also provide technical assistance during the process and each district will have to re-apply for continued annual funding in FY 2013 and FY 2014.

For a list of all SIG districts and schools, please visit

In addition to visiting Egyptian High School, Chairman Chico will participate in two events at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. The first event, “Pizza and Politics,” is an informal discussion of current events and politics with students from Southern Illinois University. Chico will also be the featured speaker at the Paul Simon Institute’s forum, “Putting Action in Civic Education,” on the SIU campus Wednesday, October 26.