NEWS

McGee Commends Staff, Makes Changes
to Help Schools Be Second to None

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June 2, 2000

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“State Board staff are to be commended for substantially reducing the number of findings in the agency’s annual audit, State Superintendent of Education Glenn W. McGee told agency staff as he called on each of them to continue improving agency operations and services to schools and communities.

Findings in the agency’s annual audit decreased from 45 in FY97 to 23 in FY98 to 8 in the latest audit (FY99).

“Agency staff pulled together to tackle these audit findings,” McGee said.  He asked staff members to similarly pull together to “provide nothing less than first-class service to schools and the students they serve.

“We want to be known for providing first-class service to help the 2 million students who depend on us for leadership and support.”

McGee, whose goal is to make Illinois schools “Second to None,” called on employees to “Step Up and Make it Happen” and he announced several changes in his office to involve employees in more effectively responding to the needs of schools and their students.

“We must listen better and respond quicker to our local schools and communities,” McGee told his staff in agency meetings.  “We are here to help students.  Schools need our best efforts and support to enable students to meet or exceed the Illinois Learning Standards.” 

“The State Board will be synonymous with improvement and innovation,” McGee emphasized.

McGee announced three major changes designed to help agency staff gather more firsthand knowledge of the needs of local schools:

·        Establishing a Customer Services Field Team to provide direct liaisons to local districts;

·        Establishing a “Student for a Day” program to allow all staff to get inside schools to “listen and learn,” in order to more effectively contribute to services to schools; and

·        Transforming the Information/Reception Centers into “Customer Service Centers” to serve as ‘one-stop shops’ for services from the agency.

A new Customer Services Field Team will serve as the State Board’s network of liaisons in the field.  The Team will interact with local schools, community leaders, employers and elected officials, making presentations and delivering materials from the State Board.  Most important, McGee emphasized, Team members will listen and learn, serving as a conduit of information and feedback from the field to agency program staff.

“This firsthand information will enable us to better assist schools in their efforts to ensure that all students meet or exceed the rigorous Illinois Learning Standards. The Team will provide the grass-roots information and constant guidance necessary to accomplish our mission of better serving all students in the state.”

The “Student for a Day” program will allow agency staff to go into a school for a day to observe, listen and learn.  “The role of all agency staff is to help ensure that all schools are Second to None, but many rarely have the chance to see students in classrooms.  The needs of schools and students have changed since most of us were in school.”  He said staff going into schools to gain firsthand knowledge of the challenges they face will enable them to “collaboratively develop innovative and effective solutions that really impact teaching and learning in our classrooms.”

“All members of the agency staff will be actively involved in developing and delivering services to schools.  This inside look will help all of us more effectively contribute to those processes,” McGee said. 

These staff visits will be informational and not regulatory, McGee emphasized.  He pledged that by Thanksgiving all school districts would be visited by an ISBE “ambassador.”

Creation of a “Customer Service Center,” is another initiative McGee will implement to better serve schools and communities.  The present “Information/Reception Centers” in the Springfield and Chicago offices will be equipped to provide “more innovative and responsive services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

“This agency is made up of a lot of dedicated, hard-working employees who are trying to meet the needs of schools.  By expanding their knowledge of the needs of schools through direct interaction with local communities, this agency can be even more effective in helping schools prepare students for the challenges of tomorrow.  Improving our services will help ensure that Illinois schools are Second to None.”  

McGee also announced the hiring of a new General Counsel in his office.  Respicio F. Vasquez will start June 12, replacing Michael Hernandez who left for private practice.  Vazquez is currently General Counsel for the City Colleges of Chicago.