Next week education will take center stage as the Senate will convene a committee of the whole. What we hope will emerge is a forthright debate about education, including, the real financial needs of our 888 school districts, as well as the facts about the plan put forth by the Governor’s office.
Upon closer inspection of the Governor’s plan, it still
falls short of acquiring $1 billion in savings, and does not advance education
This week the Legislative Research Unit of the General Assembly reviewed the constitutionality of the Governor’s proposal and concluded that the legislation is inconsistent with the expressed intent of the majority of the delegates at the Constitutional Convention. Meaning that the swapping of one administration for another could result in a constitutional challenge – one that would likely involve dollars that could be best spent on education and also inhibit improvements to our system.
I have attached the LRU review for each of you and ask that you read through it and ponder how much we would see our schools improve, if their administration hangs in the balance of the courts. I suspect that none of us would be any closer to successfully addressing the funding inequity that belies us today.
I continue to meet with legislators and explain to them the process of how education money is appropriated by them, distributed through ISBE and spent at the local level.
In this week’s message we have also included a summary of pending education legislation and audio links to testimony from Ursula Ahern, a board member, Community Consolidated School District 46 in Grayslake, as well as the Governor’s staff testimony to the House Elementary and Secondary Education Appropriations Committee. It appears that the Committee was left with more questions than answers.
Also in today’s message:
· Legislative Update
· Financial Profiles
· Futuristic Presentation
· RFPs Released
· Nontraditional Breakfast Service Options (book)
· Remembering Victims of the Holocaust
There continues to be much discussion and
legislative activity concerning the governance of education in
On March 3, I will be appearing before the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing to discuss the Governor’s education proposal. For those interested in listening to the debate it can be accessed on the General Assembly web site at http://www.legis.state.il.us/senate/audvid.asp
It will also be a busy week with many substantive bills that will be discussed at the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee hearing also scheduled for March 3. Some of the bills up for consideration at this hearing are:
The House Elementary and
Secondary Education Appropriations Committee will also be taking
public testimony on the ISBE FY 2005 budget request. For those who are interested in
testifying on the need for more funding for education please feel free to
attend. It is posted for
The ongoing governance and funding debates have overshadowed several substantive bills that concern education that have made it out of committee and continue to advance, including:
would require school districts to perform a fingerprint-based criminal
background check on applicants for employment. The fingerprinting method expands the
results of the background check from just
proposes to make it unlawful for a child sex offender to loiter, or live within,
1,000 feet of a school building.
HB4944 and SB2732 are both bills that call for the State Board to establish a three-year technology immersion pilot project that would provide a wireless laptop computer to each student, teacher, and relevant administrator, in the participating pilot schools.
HB6813 would allow the parents of special education students who prevail in a due process hearing to recover attorney fees and expert witness fees.
SB2115 sets the conditions under which a student may be denied enrollment into school for one semester for failing to meet minimum academic or attendance standards if certain conditions are met. It also requires a district to identify, track, and report on the educational progress and outcomes of re-enrolled students.
SB2135 would create a K-3 class size reduction grant program for schools that are on the early academic warning list or academic watch list.
SB2360 proposes a student achievement improvement grant program to provide 2-year grants to school districts on the academic watch list and other school districts that have the lowest achieving students.
SB2362 would ensure the recent tax amnesty funds received by many school districts will not be included in calculation of available local resources.
SB2769 is designed to ensure that every student takes the Prairie State Achievement Examination prior to receiving a high school diploma.
SB2864 would require a person having custody or control of a child who is below the compulsory school age and who is enrolled in kindergarten in a public school to cause the child to attend.
SB2918 proposes a new graduation incentive program. It increases the compulsory school age to 17 (with exceptions) and creates incentives for school districts to recover dropouts. The proposal also provides possible reimbursement for dropouts who wish to attend vocational training programs offered through the community college system, or approved vocational training programs.
SB3091 would allow a joint agreement made up of school districts, or a regional superintendent of schools on behalf of programs operated by the regional office, to apply for a waiver or modification of mandates.
SB3109 would permit the State Board to establish, by administrative rule, a system to ensure the accurate tracking of transfer students. The system will, at a minimum, require that a student be counted as a dropout in the calculation of a school district’s annual student dropout rate unless the school district to which the student transferred sends notification to the school district from which the student transferred.
The new School District Financial Profile Designations will be presented to the Illinois State Board of Education at the March Board meeting. The Designations are based on the Annual Financial Reports (AFRs) from fiscal year 2003 and the revised calculations. Please review your Financial Profile Report through the ISBE Web Application Security System (IWAS) – District Financial Report System. You may also enter comments to be publicly included with your 2004 final report.
Only district superintendents have access to this report but may grant permission to other district personnel to review it through the IWAS System. In the Financial Profile Section there is a link: AFR Profile Score Report. When you click on the link it will bring up the Financial Profile Report. The report is two pages long. The first page is the revised 2003 score (based on the FY02 AFR data) and the second page is the PRELIMINARY 2004 score (based on the FY03 AFR data). Based on your feedback, we have made significant enhancements to the calculation of each indicator, as described in an earlier email this week. For comparison purposes, we have revised the 2003 Profile Score and Designation released last March so that both the previous year and current Profile will be calculated using the exact same formulas.
Although comments on the
2004 score are optional, this is an opportunity for districts to explain
financial circumstances. The data
verification and comments should be completed through your respective IWAS
If you have any questions, please contact Ken Wargo or
Lou Ferratier of the School Business and Support Services Division at
217/785-8779. If you have any
technical questions about IWAS, you can contact our
Very shortly, district superintendents and principals
will receive Test Security and Confidentiality Agreements that must be signed
for the 2004 state assessments. The
ISAT/IMAGE agreements, which will arrive beginning the week of March 8, must be
signed and returned no later than March 29. PSAE agreements will arrive the week of
April 5 for return by April 26.
Security procedures for the assessments are outlined in the ISAT and
IMAGE coordination manuals and in the test-administration manuals for ISAT,
IMAGE, and Day 2 of the
School administrators and local school board members are
invited to attend a special futuristics presentation with science teachers in
their districts on July 13. The
Illinois Science Teachers Association has invited Dr. Dennis Bushnell, Head
Scientist at the
Two separate RFPs have been issued under the Stewart B. McKinney Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program—one for regional grants and one for a statewide awareness grant. Both RFPs will provide resources to successful applicants to assure that homeless children and youth are enrolled immediately in school and receive services for which they are eligible under federal and state laws. The statewide awareness program provides homeless-related materials to all school districts and Regional Offices of Education. It is expected that grants will be funded for a three-year period, with grants for years 2 and 3 contingent upon a sufficient appropriation and satisfactory performance of grantees in the preceding grant period.
Both RFP documents may be downloaded at http://www.isbe.net/grants/html/RFP.htm.
If there are any questions on either RFP please contact Rich Dehart at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust
During the week of April 18-25, the
This year’s observance will honor the memory of the Jews of Hungary, deported sixty years ago in the final stages of World War II, as well as those courageous individuals, organizations and countries who attempted to rescue them.
Please visit www.ushmm.org for additional information.