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The Education Year in Review -- 2001-2002


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Legislative Issues
Program funding cuts
New bonding authority
No cuts in per pupil foundation level

Illinois Education
College entrance exam scores soar for high school seniors
Illinois needs to spend $500 million more each year on schools, EFAB reports
Poverty a significant, growing concern in many counties
Prairie State test finds most students meeting standards
Those who failed certification exams teaching state's neediest students
Legislature provides short-term fix to state's TRIP crisis
Third superintendent in several months at ISBE
Other highlights

The Federal Scene
Bush education plan, the NCLB Act, becomes law
Congress underfunds NCLB

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 2002 in portable document format.

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


LEGISLATIVE ISSUES


Faced with dwindling state revenue for the first time in 50 years, state lawmakers adopted a 2003 elementary and secondary education budget that provided $176 million less than the previous year to local classrooms. Programs cuts included teacher training, transportation, reading improvement, and financial incentives intended for consolidating districts. Cuts generally ranged from 3.5 percent to 10 percent per program.

State leaders provided $500 million in new bonding authority for school construction, however, as grassroots support helped rescue a program insiders feared might expire. Also softening the impact of the cuts, was the fact that federal appropriations provided more than $300 million in additional funding for Illinois school districts, mostly for targeted school programs. The federal funding boost was called the largest ever, but it arrived with considerable strings attached, including restrictive mandates on teacher certification, and on student choice. These costly mandates were written into a landmark piece of federal legislation called the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

In cutting state funding for schools, the legislature and governor approved a $23 million decrease in General Revenue Funds expenditures. They made no cuts to the per pupil foundation level: it was held flat at $4,560, thanks to a plan that largely exempted schools from the deep budget cuts made to other expenditure categories.

Lawmakers not only approved the governor's recommendations for $500 million in new bond funds for the School Construction Grant Program in FY 2003, they approved another $500 million for the program for FY 2004. Budget analysts said this additional debt would be retired with revenue from the state's new "sin taxes," including major tax increases on cigarettes and riverboat gaming.

Other highlights included the following:

  • State budget makers go into overtime Governor George Ryan said the budget adopted by lawmakers before they adjourned their spring session was not balanced; he called legislators back into session after vetoing $500 million from proposed expenditures, including over $100 million in school funding.
  • Increase in property tax assessment appeals seen Experts said under-valuations of commercial properties continued to become increasingly common in 2001, as were tax appeals by corporations seeking to cut their tax bills.
  • Tax credits aid just one in eleven Illinois families with school-age children Only about one in eleven Illinois families with children in school received a new state tax break in 2001, averaging roughly $361 per recipient family, according to state officials.
  • New law requires boards to adopt policy on bullying Legislation signed August 7, 2001, H.B. 646 (Rep. Patricia Lindner, R-Aurora), required every school board to adopt provisions in their student discipline policy to control bullying.
  • New laws call for posting budgets on Web, longer TIFs New laws affecting schools cover myriad topics, from allowing Tax Increment Financing districts to remain in effect up to 35 years in financially distressed cities, to requiring school districts to post their current annual budgets on their Web sites.

Note: The text of all new laws and legislation can be found online at the bill text/status Web site of the Illinois General Assembly at http://www.ilga.gov/

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ILLINOIS EDUCATION


College entrance exam scores soar for high school seniors Student scores on the 2001 SAT college placement exam improve more in Illinois than in any other state, SAT officials.

Illinois needs to spend $500 million more each year on schools In order to fund public schools equitably the state needs to spend that much more annually, according to a study funded by the state's Education Funding Advisory Board (EFAB).

Poverty a significant, growing concern in many counties Roughly one in three Illinois counties is mired in poverty to the degree that it should be placed on a "poverty concern" or "poverty watch" list, according to a study conducted by the Heartland Alliance.

Prairie State test finds most students meeting standards Between 50 and 60 percent of all Illinois high school juniors meet or exceed the Illinois Learning Standards on the first Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE), according to PSAE results released in the summer of 2001.

Those who failed certification exams teaching state's neediest students A Chicago Sun-Times investigative series on Illinois teacher certification and employment finds "hundreds [of teachers] employed full time last year in Illinois public schools who had not passed both a basic skills test and a subject matter test."

The legislature provides a short-term fix to the state's TRIP crisis Legislation is adopted requiring local school districts to pay a new tax - 0.4% of their TRS payroll - to the Teachers' Retirement Insurance Program (TRIP).

Third superintendent in several months at ISBE The State Board of Education appoints its general counsel, Respicio Vazquez, as new interim state superintendent, February 1, 2002.

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THE FEDERAL SCENE


Bush education plan, the NCLB Act, becomes law

President George W. Bush signed a landmark new education plan, known as the No Child Left Behind Act, in January 2002 after pushing the plan through Congress with the help of opposition party leaders. The bill contained a comprehensive overhaul of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), including numerous mandates for schools.

Under the Act, schools yielding low state test scores receive additional aid, but if a school fails to show enough progress after two years, some students may be permitted to transfer to another public school. After three years, some students are to receive federal funds for tutoring or transportation to another public school.

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) expressed serious reservations about the provisions of the new law for determining progress. According to Reggie Felton, NSBA's director of federal relations, the Act would "result in the over-identification of many schools and school districts as 'failing' when, in fact, they are not."

Congress underfunds NCLB

Congress completed approval for a fiscal year 2002 appropriations bill in December 2001, including a record 16 percent increase for education, $6.7 billion more than the previous year. The appropriations bill did not, however, fully fund the newly approved NCLB Act, falling $4.3 billion short.

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SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENTS, 2001-2002

  • July 2001 - The Teacher's Retirement Insurance Program (TRIP) emergency study group, a 16-member executive panel that includes IASB Executive Director Michael Johnson, begins deliberations. The statewide task force is charged with finding a short-term solution to skyrocketing insurance costs faced by retired teachers.
  • August 2001 - The Illinois Council of School Attorneys (ICSA) prepares alternative special education procedures to enable school districts to comply with difficult new state requirements. Because ICSA attorneys donate their time, and IASB covers all other costs, the procedures are distributed free of charge.
  • September 2001 - An IASB survey reveals teachers in 98 percent of Illinois school districts are organized for collective bargaining, and a majority (52.8%) of districts use "traditional" bargaining processes.
  • October 2001 - Schools across the country sponsor "moments of silence" to allow students and staff to reflect upon the nation's tragedy of September 11.
  • November 2001 - IASB's 69th Joint Annual Conference draws nearly 12,000 people to Chicago.
  • December 2001 - The legislature provides a short-term fix to the state's funding crisis for the Teachers' Retirement Insurance Program (TRIP), December 2001.
  • January 2002 - Evaluation of the superintendent is the subject of the latest publication from IASB, entitled "How to Develop a Performance Evaluation Process." The 48-page booklet is produced by IASB staff as a resource for both boards and superintendents.
  • February 2002 - IASB Directors and staff toured Chicago District 299 schools on the city's southwest side February 22 in order to stay in touch with developments in the state's largest school district.
  • March 2002 - Voters approve 27 of 54 school tax increases, and 43 of 60 bond proposals (72 percent), on the March primary ballot, according to the April 2002 Illinois School Board Newsbulletin.
  • April 2002 - IASB releases an updated step-by-step guide to conducting student disciplinary hearings, The School Official's Guide to Student Disciplinary Hearings, updated by attorney Alan Mullins, of the law firm Scariano, Ellch, Himes and Petrarca, Chtd.
  • May 2002 - IASB announces a new service to disseminate school board policies via the Web, in order to keep current policies in the hands of people who need them, and enabling each policy to be linked directly to the statutes, regulations or case law related to that policy.
  • May 2002 - IASB's board of directors visits a potential building site after plans are approved to hire an architect and explore purchase options for construction of a new IASB headquarters, to be funded from budget reserves.
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AWARDS AND HONORS


Thomas Lay Burroughs Award. IASB Director Roy Midgett, a former member and President of the Robinson C.U. District 2 Board of Education, was co-recipient of the tenth annual Thomas Lay Burroughs award at the 2001 Joint Annual Conference in November, along with Darell Bellm, of the Highland C.U. District 5 Board of Education. The award recognizes the state's most outstanding local school board presidents, while celebrating the work of all school boards for their service to children and to education. Specifically, the award is presented annually by the Illinois State Board of Education to local school board presidents who have shown outstanding leadership on behalf of improved student learning, educational excellence, equal opportunity, and crisis resolution. The Thomas Lay Burroughs Award is named in honor of the late chairman of the State Board.

Cole Awards. Ten different Illinois newspapers received recognition in the 2002 Robert M. Cole competition for best coverage of local school board issues. The contest is sponsored by IASB and conducted by the Illinois Press Association. The top award for larger dailies went to the Rockford Register Star. First place for small dailies went to The Daily Herald, Morris. The top award for medium-sized dailies went to the Times-Courier, Charleston. Among weekly newspapers, the top award went to the Wednesday Journal, Oak Park. Other papers winning awards this year included: the Ledger-Sentinel, Oswego; Pioneer Press, Glenview; Times-Republic, Watseka; the Daily Times, Ottawa; the Telegraph, Alton; and the Gazette/Telegraph, Sterling/Dixon. Over 120 different newspapers have received recognition in the 22 years IASB has sponsored the competition. The awards are named in honor of IASB's first full-time executive director.

Those Who Excel. Ten school board members were honored by the State Board of Education in 2002 for their outstanding contributions to Illinois schools. The board members receiving Those Who Excel awards included: Kathy Havens, Bloomington District 87; Elizabeth Klein, Skokie District 69; Katie Wright, Department of Corrections District 428, Springfield; Jill Bertels, Edwardsville C.U. District 7; Byron Heape, Triad C.U. District 2, Troy; Anna Klimkowicz, Township High School District 211, Palatine; Steven Lillie, Geneva C.U. District 304; Jan Mandernach, Decatur District 61; Ted Stenerson, Belvidere C.U. District 100; and Ronald Thouvenot, Central District 104, O'Fallon.

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