For Immediate Release
March 23, 2004
Schiller: Governor's School Construction Power Grab
is Losing Proposal for Schools and the Legislature
(Springfield) - The Governor's current proposal to transfer
the state's school construction program to the Capital
Development Board will leave nearly 200 school districts
in a lurch as well as deprive them of the ability to manage
their own school construction projects, the Illinois State
Board of Education announced Tuesday.
"This is a frightening proposition for school districts
statewide," State Superintendent Robert Schiller
said. "The Governor's proposal will empower the Capital
Development Board to control $2.2 billion in bonds for
school construction projects and will remove the Legislature's
priorities for the program."
Senate Bill 3001 will remove the current priorities set
forth by the Legislature when it first approved the School
Construction program in 1997. The State Board of Education
currently prioritizes school districts whose buildings
are aging and whose communities are expanding, as prescribed
by the Legislature. Distribution of the grant money comes
through the Capital Development Board.
The Governor's most recent proposal will fund 24 schools
that have been waiting for funding since fiscal year 2002.
It does not address the remaining 194 school districts
that have submitted applications over the past two years.
Because SB 3001 will wipe out the Legislature's priorities
for the program, there is no guarantee that the projects
applied for by the 194 school districts will be approved
"Removing a fair process set into law by the Legislature
with a program that is discretionary can not possibly
serve all of our schools equitably," Schiller said.
The Governor's proposal also empowers the Capital Development
Board to procure all architectural, engineering and land
surveying services for the authorized projects and also
authorizes it to charge a one-percent administration fee
to the school district for CDB oversight of the projects.
Currently, some school districts use their business managers
as project managers, while others pay a small percentage
of the total cost to a contractor to oversee the construction,
"Taking away a school district's power to choose
who will build its schools may not be in the best interest
of its community," Schiller said. "This proposed
change in the law should definitely raise the brows of
school board members and administrators statewide."
Also of great concern to Schiller is the addition of
a new category in the bill which includes construction
of shared use facilities that provide for school districts'
joint use for recreational, clinical, library, pre-school
or before or after school programs with other governmental
units including State Institutions of higher learning.
Schiller fears that instead of building schools with the
grant money, communities could push for baseball diamonds
and community centers under this provision in the bill.
Schiller corrected the Governor's assertions regarding
the funding of the School Maintenance Grant Program. The
Governor said that "ISBE has not funded the program
since Fiscal Year 2000."
Schiller said, "ISBE does not appropriate - we advocate."
The School Maintenance Grant Program was funded in FY
2000 for $52 million, again in FY 2001 for $73 million,
and ISBE requested $58 million in FY 2002 but that was
not appropriated. ISBE has repeatedly advocated for the
"This bill dangles $2.2 billion over the heads of
districts in exchange for their support of the Governor's
takeover of the State Board of Education," Schiller
Construction Program Status