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The Education Year in Review -- 2000-2001


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Legislative Issues
School Funding
State Board of Education Budget

Legislation
Retired teachers health benefits
Temporary superintendencies
School construction grants
Substitute teachers

IASB Governmental Relations

llinois Education
SAT, ACT college entrance scores soar for high school seniors
Illinois Virtual High School

The Federal Scene
No Child Left Behind

Significant Developments

Participation in IASB Programs
Click here to download a table in portable document format showing numbers of participants in IASB programs for the past three years.

IASB Financial Report
Click here to download the IASB financial report for FY 2000 in portable document format.

Awards and Honors
Thomas Lay Burroughs Award
Cole Awards
Those Who Excel Awards


LEGISLATIVE ISSUES


School Funding

Despite state lawmakers’ adoption of a "maintenance budget" for FY 2002 – one that contained little new money in most spending categories – schools received a substantial $230.3 million increase in general state aid. With the budget adopted May 31, 2001, the legislature boosted the foundation level for general state aid by $135 per pupil, meanwhile fully funding categorical programs and increasing poverty grants across the board.

Education again received the 51% of new revenue growth promised by Governor George Ryan. This was roughly at the level originally proposed by the Governor. Lawmakers increased the general funds appropriation to the Illinois State Board of Education by $303 million, including a $91 million boost for the downstate teachers retirement fund.

Essentially the state budget for schools was contained in two bills:

  • H.B. 3050 (Turner, A., D-Chicago), the school aid formula bill, increased the general state aid foundation level for the 2001-2002 school year from $4,425 per student to $4,560 per student. This legislation authorized the calculation of general state aid using the best average daily attendance of the previous three years. It also continued the hold harmless and continuing appropriation provisions for one year, and allowed all school districts access to the "poverty grant."
  • H.B. 3440 (Madigan, D-Chicago), the budget bill, supported the changes in H.B. 3050 and fully funded mandated categorical programs.

A supplemental appropriation was approved, as well, to make up a shortfall in the previous year’s categorical grant programs. Between the supplemental appropriation and the new FY ’02 state aid increase, $3.225 billion in general state aid was appropriated to Illinois school districts. Much less money (roughly $28.8 million less) was needed to fund the hold harmless line item than in the previous year; the FY ’02 line item totaled $37 million.

State Board of Education budget

For the legislature to fund the new foundation level and the new poverty grant formula and still remain within budget, funds had to be shifted from other education priorities outlined in Governor Ryan’s budget. Lawmakers first shifted funds away from the state superintendent’s priority programs, holding most State Board of Education line items at the previous year’s funding level.

The majority of the funds reallocated to general state aid came from the school safety and educational improvement block grant. The governor had recommended the block grant remain at the past year’s level, roughly $111.6 million, but the legislature reduced the appropriation to $72 million (a $35.6 million difference). The legislature then "zeroed out" the Professional Development Block Grant, taking the entire $24.3 million and putting it into general state aid and poverty grants. Though these line items were reduced drastically, budget analysts said every dollar originally budgeted in them would be sent to school districts, allowing districts the discretion of targeting local priorities.

The following line items were significantly increased, even while most other state board line items were funded at the previous year’s level.

Program FY '02 Increase
Early Childhood Block Grant $4 million
Summer Bridges Program $3 million
Alternative Learning/Regional Safe Schools $2 million
Career Awareness and Development $2 million
Teachers Academy for Math and Science $1.1 million
Reading Improvement Statewide $1 million
Regional Offices of Education – Salaries $250,000
Minority Transition Program $300,000

One negative aspect of the budget involved early education. The $4 million increase for Early Childhood Education was $3.2 million less than recommended by the governor. Earlier in the year Governor Ryan announced the formation of a task force to design and implement a statewide preschool system that would make services available to all parents who chose to use them. Despite this action, the budget proposal included only a 4 percent increase for pre-kindergarten education, which represented fully 92 percent of the Early Childhood Education Block Grant. Voices for Illinois Children advocates said the final appropriation increase – at roughly 2 percent – could not serve the eligible children on long waiting lists. It was also the smallest increase since the program’s inception in 1985.

The School Construction Grant Program, on the other hand, was quite generously funded. Along with the increases granted in the state’s bonding authority for construction projects and the so-called Illinois First Program, the state was authorized to spend $740 million in new money for school construction projects. This sum was designed to cover all school districts currently waiting for state funding for pending projects that had been properly approved.

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LEGISLATION


Retired teachers health benefit premiums—Governor George Ryan ordered that the scheduled premium increase for the Teachers’ Retirement Insurance Program (TRIP) be reduced to 21 percent. The state had announced plans for a 45 percent increase. The governor accomplished that feat by ordering the state agency responsible for program administration to accelerate use of the funds appropriated for the insurance program to the current year. The increase was effective July 1; and the program would be facing a real crisis by December. The Illinois Senate appointed a special bi-partisan committee to look into the matter and report its findings by November 1, 2001. IASB Executive Director Mike Johnson and IASA Executive Director Walt Warfield were named to the committee, along with lawmakers and state leaders. The governor appointed a committee as well.

Temporary superintendencies—The General Assembly also approved a significant pension bill before adjourning the spring session. HB 2157 (Crotty, D-Oak Forest) made various changes in both the Downstate and Chicago Teachers’ Retirement Systems (TRS). For the Downstate TRS the bill provided a five-year window from July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2006 during which time TRS annuitants could work 120 days or 600 hours and not lose their right to receive a TRS pension. Currently the limit is 100 days or 500 hours. The bills were particularly useful in allowing retired superintendents to work as temporary superintendents.

School construction grants—Another bill, HB 2255 (Hoffman, D-Collinsville), changed the school construction grant program to alter the criteria for unit school districts. If the district was pursuing a construction project for K-8 it fell into the "elementary" category for calculation of the matching grant, and if the project was for 9-12 it fell into the "high school" category for making the calculation.

Substitute teachers—Two pieces of legislation, HB 2425 (Cowlishaw, R-Naperville); and SB 1293, (Cronin, R-Elmhurst) were adopted to increase the number of days a substitute teacher could teach from 90 days to 120.

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IASB GOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS

During the spring of 2001, more than 1,200 Illinois House or Senate bills, impacting most of the 151 official position statements of IASB at the time, were followed by IASB lobbyists and the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance. New legislation covered topics such as property taxation and assessment, changes in the way state aid is calculated, student assessment, length of the school year and day, distribution of state revenue, grants for various projects, school construction, teacher certification, worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance, election issues, local government, staff retirement, transportation issues, health insurance mandates, and a plethora of other unfunded mandates of various kinds, to name just a few. The Association’s position statements gave IASB staff direction on these and hundreds of other significant pieces of legislation in the Illinois General Assembly. IASB Governmental Relations staff worked successfully to help public schools obtain $303 million in new state funding, and $740 million in new money for school construction projects from the legislature. Staff helped to produce and distribute by broadcast fax 40 Legislative Reports of the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance to the state’s grassroots public education community during the year. Compiled each week during sessions of the General Assembly and as needed during off-session times, Legislative Reports summarized major legislative activities and bills of interest. IASB staff worked through the Illinois School Management Alliance to play an instrumental role in passing favorable legislation and in defeating many bills that would have imposed unfunded mandates or hampered local control of public education.

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ILLINOIS EDUCATION


SAT, ACT college entrance scores soar for high school seniors—Illinois student scores on the 2001 SAT college placement exam improved more than student scores in any other state, SAT officials announced in August, 2001.

The news followed similar results on the ACT exam, taken by 71 percent of Illinois seniors. Illinois students showed greater gains over the previous five years than students in any of the 25 other states in which a majority of graduating seniors took the ACT.

The SAT and the ACT are standardized tests, usually taken by college-bound high school seniors. The SAT I: Reasoning Test, for example, is a test of verbal and mathematical reasoning ability. Like the ACT, it is designed to help schools determine which individual students will do well in college.

In Illinois, mean scores of seniors on the verbal portion of the SAT increased 8 points to 576 and 3 points on the math portion to 589. The new results meant that in the previous decade Illinois’ combined scores had risen 66 points.

Nationally, scores on the verbal portion of the SAT increased by 1 point to 506, and math scores did not budge from 514, which remained the highest level in 30 years. Since 1991, the combined scores nationally had risen by 21 points. The best score possible on either section is 800.

Illinois Virtual High School—During the pilot semester of the Illinois Virtual High School (IVHS), which ended June 30, 2001, a total of 292 students were enrolled in 24 courses around the state. Customer satisfaction surveys revealed that student and teacher enthusiasm was high for the online learning.

During the first semester, schools encountered some minor problems with course servers and vendor procedures. As a result, IVHS implemented improvements to its system.

Governor George H. Ryan established IVHS in January 2001 as part of his VentureTech Initiative. The goal of IVHS online learning is to use new and emerging technologies to expand boundaries for student and teachers, thereby providing them with increased equity and access to top quality educational opportunities.

A total of 127 high schools completed the necessary forms to participate in the IVHS in its second term.

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THE FEDERAL SCENE


No Child Left Behind—Before voting to create the so-called No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, U.S. Senators rejected a last-ditch attempt to revive President George W. Bush’s school voucher program, defeating a voucher amendment by a vote of 58-41.

A Senate bill for funding elementary and secondary schools called for about $30 billion for 2002, nearly $11 billion more than President Bush proposed. But House lawmakers approved their own, less costly, version of the measure (H.R. 1) May 23, 2001, after the House also rejected vouchers.

The final version of this Bush plan required states to oversee annual math and reading tests for students in grades three through eight, and in one grade in high school. It was designed to implement a series of accountability measures linked to the state assessments, to ensure schools and districts improve student achievement. Accountability provisions require corrective actions for those that fail to make "adequate yearly progress" (AYP).

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) expressed serious concerns about the provisions of NCLB for determining AYP. According to Reggie Felton, NSBA’s director of federal relations, "the legislation, as drafted, will result in the over-identification of many schools and school districts as ‘failing’ when, in fact, they are not."

The Act requires that data on student achievement be broken out by racial and ethnic group and by other group characteristics, including: economically disadvantaged students, those with limited English proficiency (LEP), those in special education, and those who are migrants. At least 95 percent of the students in each of these groups is required to take the state tests.

Schools yielding low test scores receive additional aid, but if a school still fails to show enough progress after two years, low-income students are free to transfer to another public school. After three years, the same students are permitted to use federal funds for tutoring or transportation to another public school.

The NCLB law did, however, give schools additional flexibility in the use of federal dollars, and the legislation created a demonstration program in which seven states and 25 school districts could receive even greater spending latitude.

In addition to the assessment and accountability measures, numerous other new provisions were included in the NCLB law. These included enforced public school choice, a new initiative to mandate improved teacher quality, liability protections for school board members, and provisions to make it easier for school officials to discipline special education students who are violent.

The NCLB law also requires secondary schools to provide access to military recruiters if the school accepts federal funds and permits on-campus recruiting. And it requires schools to obtain written consent from parents before giving any non-emergency examinations or tests.

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SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENTS, 2000-2001

  • The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announced it will require high school students to take the ACT college entrance exam along with the new Prairie State Achievement Exam. (June 2000)
  • The Illinois Senate Appropriations Committee creates a subcommittee to study school funding and the Governor appoints an education funding advisory board headed by former State Superintendent Robert Leininger. (July 2000)
  • State education leaders launch a $250,000 project to establish an Illinois Virtual High School, beginning in School Year 2000-01. (August 2000)
  • Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) results show progress overall in students' abilities to meet and exceed the Illinois Learning Standards. (September, 2000)
  • Four Illinois school board members win NSBA's Distinguished Service Award, including IASB's past president Jay B. Tovian, and the Association's North Cook Division director Barbara J. Somogyi. (October, 2000)
  • IASB's Web site adds links to division Web sites for all 21 divisions of the Association. (November 2000)
  • IASB's Delegate Assembly agrees to work with the state to increase the number of days during a school year than any individual may work as a substitute teacher. (November 2000)
  • Responses from district superintendents to a survey from IASB and Western Illinois University indicate that more than 90 percent of districts do not perform drug testing of students. (November 2000)
  • The IASB Delegate Assembly elects new officers to lead the Association in the coming year, including Dennis J. McConville, of Dimmick C.C. District 175, as President; and Christy Coleman, of Geneseo C.U. District 228, as Vice President. (November 2000)
  • Members of the IASB Board of Directors begin to be assigned to all Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) committees to provide local board perspective to the state board staff. (January 2001)
  • IASB announces for the first time the Association has begun to offer links to hundred of school district Web addresses from the Membership Directory on the IASB Web site. (February 2001)
  • Cynthia Woods, IASB assistant director for advocacy, is honored with an award from AT&T and Tech 2000 as Outstanding Technology Contributor of the Year. (March 2001)
  • PRESS, the Policy Reference Education Subscription Service is first published online. PRESS is a subscription service providing sample board policies and administrative procedures to approximately 700 member school districts. (May 2001)
  • Education Funding Advisory Board (EFAB) chairman Robert Leininger, tabs spring 2003 as the ideal time for school leaders to pressure lawmakers to reform the general state aid formula. (May 2001)
  • The beta site for IASB's online policy services is introduced at the annual conference of the Illinois Association of School Administrators. (May 2001)
  • IASB Executive Director Dr. Michael Johnson is appointed to two state panels-one gubernatorial and one legislative-searching for a long-term solution to a funding crisis facing the Teachers' Retirement Insurance Program (TRIP). (June 2001)
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AWARDS AND HONORS


Thomas Lay Burroughs Award – Gina Thompson, president of the Manteno C.U. District 5 Board of Education, won the Thomas Lay Burroughs award at the 2000 annual conference. The award goes to the state’s outstanding local school board president. Specifically, the award is presented annually to a school board president who has shown outstanding leadership on behalf of improved student learning, educational excellence, equal opportunity, and crisis resolution. The award is named in honor of the late chairman of the State Board of Education who died at age 40 in 1991.

Cole Awards -- A third category was added to this year’s Robert M. Cole Awards, which annually recognize newspapers doing a superior job of covering issues facing Illinois school boards. The top prize in the large newspaper category—for weeklies or dailies with a circulation greater than 8,000—went to the staff of the Rockford Register Star. For the first time, two top awards were offered to smaller papers, one to dailies and one to weeklies. The Free Press Advocate, Wilmington, won the top prize for weeklies with a circulation less than 8,000. The Leader-Union, Vandalia, won first prize for dailies having a circulation of less than 8,000. Second prize for larger papers was awarded to The State Journal-Register, Springfield. There was a tie for third place among larger papers, however, between The Daily Journal, Kankakee and The Daily Gazette, Sterling. Second prize for smaller weekly newspapers was awarded to the Salem Times Commoner. Third prize for smaller weeklies went to The Cahokia Herald, while an honorable mention in this category went to the Mason County Democrat, Havana. Second prize for smaller dailies was awarded to the Morris Daily Herald, while third prize went to The Courier, Lincoln. The awards have been sponsored by IASB for more than 20 years as part of the Illinois Press Association’s annual newspaper contest.

Those Who Excel Award -- The annual awards were not made this year in order to move up their timing in the calendar from the fall to the spring. Also, the deadline for submitting nominations for future awards was moved up from July to February.

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