|For Immediate Release
September 22, 2004
State Board Sets Agency Priorities
First regular meeting highlights Early
Springfield, Ill. - Interim State Superintendent of Education
Randy Dunn and the new State Board of Education today
laid out the direction for the agency at the first full
regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday. Just days after
taking on the role as Interim Superintendent and a little
more than a week after the Board was appointed they set
out to implement Gov. Rod Blagojevich's goals for the
Chairman Jesse Ruiz led the board's discussion. He re-emphasized
Governor Blagojevich's priorities and asked Dunn for a
report to the board each meeting. The Governor outlined
the four goals for the board last week.
"We are proceeding as a unified team," said
Dunn. "Now it is time to focus on our priorities.
The State Board needs to eliminate the certification backlog.
We need to create a better working relationship with schools,
in part by eliminating rules. We need to look for ways
to save schools money and innovative ways to improve education."
Dunn stated that even after just two days, work has already
begun on priorities through an initial assessment of each
area. He provided status for each goal.
On teacher certification Dunn pledged that the agency
would eliminate the backlog and discussed his meetings
with the certification staff. He has also met with staff
to begin looking at rules and regulations that can be
reduced. Dunn says this would be a first step toward creating
a culture of collaboration with school districts.
With regard to seeking ways to save schools money, Dunn
reported that he is directing staff to begin planning
to launch a purchasing and prescription drug buying pool.
Dunn indicated that one innovative way to improve education
is already underway through the Early Childhood Block
Grant program that the Governor supported in the FY05
budget. The Board received an update on the program from
Kay Henderson, ISBE's Early Childhood Education chief
who indicated that the agency is primed to increase and
surpass past services to the young at-risk student population.
For the past two years the governor has included an increase
of $30 million each year for the Early Childhood Block
According to Henderson, Illinois remains at the forefront
of pre-kindergarten programs. She said the National Institute
for Early Childhood Research (NIEER) gave Illinois high
"Those increases and the governor's commitment mean
that more than 16,000 young children are now enrolled
in high quality early childhood programs," said Henderson.
"Illinois ranks among the top three states in program