From: STATE SUPERINTENDENT
Sent: Friday, May 02, 2003 4:16 PM
To: 'Regional Superintendents and Special Education Directors District Superintendents '
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 5/02/03

Good afternoon.

Discussion of the FY04 budget remains the most important issue on everyone’s mind this week. Budget discussions dominated the State Board of Education meeting on Thursday, April 30. The following issues are included in this message:

·        Changes suggested by the State Board of Education regarding the FY04 budget; my testimony this week and next before House and Senate Committees.

·        Announcement of Illinois Rural Bond Bank (IRBB) Application Deadlines.

·        Information about the Illinois Community Involvement Model School Program.

·        A summary of Special Education legislation (H.R. 1350) recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Correction:  Last week’s message erroneously stated that “Administrators and Master Certified teachers will be interested in the Illinois Teaching Excellence Program that provides a one-time stipend of $3,000 to teachers who achieve a Master Certificate…” The program, in fact, provides an annual stipend of $3,000.

State Board Takes Action on FY04 Budget; Schiller Testifies in Both Houses

The Illinois State Board of Education at its meeting on April 30, 2003, reviewed its January budget proposal and the Governor’s proposed education budget in the context of overall state revenue projections. It directed me to advocate for modifications in the Governor’s proposal that would retain under ISBE administration several programs proposed to be transferred to other state agencies, direct more resources to special education and transportation programs, and fully fund some programs proposed for elimination. The Board’s specific recommendations can be viewed on our Web site at http://www.isbe.net/news/2003/may1-03.htm.

On Tuesday and Thursday of this week, I appeared before the House Education Appropriations Committee to testify on the education budget, and on Thursday I appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee. At the Thursday hearings, I  shared the witness table with State Budget Director John Filan, with whom I have met regularly in recent weeks to consult regarding education spending in general and the Governor’s proposed budget in particular. I believe our voice and our concerns are being heard by the Governor’s office and I will continue to advocate strongly for an education spending plan that serves Illinois schools the best way possible in these difficult fiscal times.

The next significant discussion of education spending will be Tuesday, May 6, 2003, at 11:00 a.m., when the House will meet as a Committee of the Whole to question Director Filan and me regarding the budget.

Illinois Rural Bond Bank (IRBB) Application Deadlines

G. Eric Watson, executive director of the IRBB, has sent applications to district superintendents for the IRBB’s Pooled Warrant Program (PWP) for Illinois School Districts. This new program pools the needs of multiple school districts into one bond issue, which results in reduced fees and lower financing rates. Bonds issued by the IRBB are exempt from state and federal taxes.

The PWP is specifically for school districts that need short-term borrowing. In the future, the program will be offered twice each year, once in the spring and once in the fall. 

To accommodate the immediate needs of school districts, the PWP’s first cycle has the following short timeframe:

May 12:                    Part I Application due

May 15:                    Part II Application due (cash flow)

May 15–June 10:       School districts adopt authorizing resolutions

June 17:                     IRBB sale of tax anticipation warrants

June 30:                     Issue closes

July 1:                        Funds distributed to school districts

To download an application, go to http://www.irbb.org/application.htm. For further information, go to the IRBB Web site (http://www.irbb.org/default.htm) or contact them at

Illinois Rural Bond Bank

427 E. Monroe, Suite 202

Springfield, IL 62701

217/524-2663 or 800/897-6306

217/524-2663 (Fax)

E-mail:  irbb@cms.state.il.us

Illinois Community Involvement Model School Program

The Illinois Community Involvement Model School program was established to work toward a future in which “Every Illinois school exemplifies successful community involvement.”

Illinois is currently identifying schools that are successfully implementing community-wide support for the Illinois Learning Standards. These model schools will become resources for other schools in the state to assist them in their quest toward successful implementation of the Illinois Learning Standards. To be considered for inclusion in the model school program, please visit the Community Involvement Web site.

Schools develop partnerships with businesses, civic organizations, and other community groups to promote participation in children’s education and maximize the resources available to support learning. Research confirms that community involvement is an essential component of student achievement. The University of Illinois has conducted a four-year study to evaluate the implementation of the Illinois Learning Standards. As a result, levels of implementation have been developed.

If you have any questions about the program, contact

Michael Cord, Community Involvement Coordinator
Illinois Office of Educational Services
2450 Foundation Drive, Suite 100
Springfield, IL 62703-5464
Phone:  800/252-4822 or 217/786-3010 (ext. 243)
mcord@ioes.org

Summary of Federal Special Education Legislation

The National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE, www.nasdse.org) has sent a summary of the status of H.R. 1350, the Improving Education Results For Children With Disabilities Act of 2003. The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 251–171. Included in the bill were the following amendments:

1.      Castle/Boehner:  technical amendments.

2.      Vitter:  amendment requiring Comptroller General to include recommendations to reduce or eliminate excessive paperwork for teachers, related services providers, parents, and school administrators.

3.      Bradley:  amendment increases small state set-aside for administration from $500,000 to $750,000.

4.      Davis:  language defining a free, appropriate public education added to Section 602(8)(C) in connection with the goal for a child with disabilities defined as the child’s being provided with the services necessary for him or her to access the general curriculum.

7.      Shadegg:  findings and sense of Congress that to qualify for special education a child should be diagnosed by a physician or other health professional (intention is to avoid children being misidentified as having disabilities).

9.      Kirk:  sense of Congress regarding safe and drug-free schools as being a laudable goal for children with disabilities.

10.    McKeon/Woolsey:  caps state set-asides at 2003 funding levels.

11.    Nethercutt:  added language to 635(a)(16)(B) “or in a setting that is most appropriate, as determined by the parent and the IFSP team.”

12.    Sanchez:  added language regarding training of personnel to recognize autism.

13.    Wu:  targets SIG grants to focus on personnel preparation for early and appropriate identification of children with disabilities.

14.    Garrett:  requires Secretary of Education to conduct a study and submit a report on the cost of state compliance with IDEA within 2 years of this Act.

If you would like further information, refer to the amendments at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/T?&report=hr079&dbname=cp108&.

 

Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

  of Education

statesup@isbe.net