Network 21 Legislative and Budget Update - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Network 21 Legislative and Budget Update

End of session legislative/budget summaries of items of interest to Network 21: Quality Schools and Stronger Communities members.

Bills

HB 5343 (Bassi/Sieben) - Interfund Transfers: 
This legislation, which provides school districts additional fiscal flexibility by allowing them to make transfers between funds under certain circumstances, passed both houses and awaits the governor's signature.  The bill eliminates the limit on the amount of money that can be transferred.

Senate Amendment #1 to HB 5343 restores the provision that interfund transfers will be made to the fund most in need of the funds being transferred. The second Senate amendment restores the language that transfers between a school board's funds may be used only for one time, non-recurring expenses. Even with these amendments, this legislation helps districts by eliminating the provision from existing law that the transfer cannot be more than 20 percent of the taxes received in the fund. 

Send an e-mail to Gov. Ryan and ask him to sign HB 5343.

To read the current text of the legislation and amendments, please click here.  

Health/Life-Safety-PTELL (Tax Cap Act) Exemption 
Legislation allowing school districts to levy outside the limits of the Tax Cap Act to undertake urgent health/life-safety projects was not reintroduced during the spring session.  Network 21 helped to keep this concept alive, however, and at a meeting last week at Voices for Illinois Children a number of proponents explored how best to advance this issue in the future.

Even with additional school construction grant money a part of the FY 2003 budget, the need for this legislation is paramount. In the absence of comprehensive school funding reform, school districts must rely on their property tax base to adequately fund their operations; yet in the past year a 1.6 percent inflation rate limited school board levy increases sharply, leaving little money for costly health/life-safety projects. 

The original sponsor of last year's SB 22, Sen. Steven Rauschenberger, continues to support passage of this legislation, as do many other legislators from both sides of the aisle.  The Chicago Public Schools were extended this authority this session with the enactment of HB 5734 which was just signed by the governor.

SB 1953 (Cronin) - Teacher Preparation - Basic Skills Test
This legislation requires that a student pass the basic skills test required for teacher certification prior to enrolling in a teacher preparation program at a recognized teacher training institution.  Senate Amendment #1 prohibits student teaching beginning with the 2004-2005 academic year until the teacher education student has passed the subject matter test in the discipline in which he or she will student teach. The bill passed both houses and awaits the governor's signature.  To read the current text of the legislation and amendments, click here.

HB 1436 (Daniels/Cronin) - Teacher Certification
This bill affects requirements for a teacher moving from an Initial certificate to a Standard certificate, providing six different avenues over a four-year period for doing so. This replaces the Standard Teaching Certificate Examination a written test as a requirement to obtain a Standard Certificate.  The latter provision, due to be phased in as of 2003, was part of legislation enacted four years ago. HB 1436 passed both houses and awaits the governor's signature.

Senator Cronin, chair of the Senate Education Committee, described the total package that would now be required of teacher candidates as "very rigorous".  He noted in a recent committee hearing that SB 1953 (see above) would require would-be teachers to pass a rigorous basic skills test before entering a school of education, and that a content knowledge of subject matter before student teaching would also be required. The legislation also makes changes concerning certificate renewal for a Standard Teaching Certificate, and contains a provision for Administrator Re-certification that somewhat mirrors the teacher process.

Opponents of this legislation argue that a performance-based test is a critical part of a teacher's demonstrating that he or she knows Illinois' professional teaching standards.  Written- and portfolio-based tests (the latter using lesson plans and student work) should be part of the process for obtaining a Standard Certificate according to those who opposed HB 1436. 

Proponents of HB 1436 include the governor's office, Statewide School Management Alliance, Illinois Education Association (IEA), Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT), Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), Education*Research*Development (ED-RED) and Large Unit District Association (LUDA). To read the current text of the legislation and amendments, click here.

SB 1707 (Sieben) - Teacher Certification
This bill, which passed both houses and awaits the governor's signature, provides that a resident teacher certificate is valid for up to four years (instead of two), but restores the prohibition on teaching in place of a certified teacher.  The bill provides that "the holder of a resident teacher certificate shall be deemed to have satisfied the requirements for the issuance of a Standard Teaching Certificate if he or she has completed four years of successful teaching, has passed all appropriate tests, and has earned a Master's Degree in education."

To read the current text of the legislation and amendments, click here.

HB 4466 (Pankau) and SB 1777 (Burzynski) - Cross-Categorical Special Education Teacher Certification
These bills (identical as amended), which received overwhelming support in both the House and Senate and are now on their way to the governor, "require the State Teacher Certification Board to categorically certify a special education teacher in one or more specialized categories of disability if the special education teacher applies and qualifies for certification."  Though opposed by the State Board of Education and others, many teachers and administrators including a number in special education supported the bills. Some opponents have expressed concern that this legislation will anger the court that passed the "Corey H" case.  That court had recommended a new classification to license special education teachers in response to a class-action suit contesting that the Chicago Public Schools and Illinois State Board of Education were failing to properly educate students with disabilities as required under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. To read the current text of the legislation and amendments, click here.

House Joint Resolution 76 (Curry) - State Annual Assessments
Under the provisions of the original resolution, HJR 76 would have stripped the state of its authority to mandate any student assessment that exceeded the requirements of the federal law (No Child Left Behind), beginning with the 2002-03 school year, and created a new task force (broader than the existing one) to determine how best to implement the new law. While local math and reading assessments would have remained in place, science and social studies ISATs (Illinois Standards Achievement Tests) and the Prairie State Achievement Examination (administered to 11th graders) would not have to be given by school districts since these exceed the federal requirements (science would be added by the feds in 2007). Under the original resolution the State Board could not promulgate rules to implement the federal law until after the task force finished its work in the spring of 2003. 

An amendment to HJR76 changed the language so that current ISAT and Prairie State Achievement Exams would have been continued, but prohibiting ISBE from pursuing testing expansion without legislative approval. The amendment also required that ISBE make recommendations, in conjunction with the task force, designed to maximize federal moneys available under Public Law 107-110 (No Child Left Behind). The amendment also removed the provision that the state must comply with the federal legislation by implementing, beginning with the 2002-03 school year, testing of students in the subject areas of reading and mathematics once in grades 3-5, 6-9 and 10-12. Finally, the amendment reduced the number of members on the new task force to 17.

This resolution, as amended, passed the House overwhelmingly (112-02), but was held in the Senate Rules Committee with no further action.

Proponents of the original legislation including the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance, the IEA and the IFT argue that No Child Left Behind provides a perfect opportunity to re-examine Illinois' student assessment system and to create an alignment between state standards and tests; moreover, over the short run it would save the state the money it costs to administer the additional tests.  The resolution is also in response to the concern by some that the ISAT is "flawed" in not providing timely and useful data that can be used to improve student outcomes (explaining why many school districts use their own assessments in addition to the ISAT).

Opponents like ISBE and the Illinois Business Roundtable are very concerned that this resolution represents a step backward for Illinois.  Rep. MaryLou Cowlishaw, the only committee member opposing the resolution, said that the federal government does not support Illinois' using H.R. 1 as a reason to back off its current testing system. In a recent ranking by Education Week, Illinois received an A- on its system of standards and assessments, and ranked 5th of all 50 states.)

To read the current text of the legislation and amendments, click here.

Teacher Mentoring and Induction
While several bills were introduced this session to implement mentoring and induction programs, none was expected to survive the budget crisis. However, the final budget included $8.5 million for mentoring, induction and recruitment programs, and one of the provisions in HB 1436 (see above) to move from the Initial to Standard Certificate has a mentoring and induction component.  This is one of six avenues a teacher may pursue as he or she works to gain a Standard Certificate.  State Board of Education and State Teacher Certification Board approval of such a program would be required for the individual teacher.

SB 1983 (Cronin/Delgado) - Includes several No Child Left Behind implementation provisions

This bill outlines provisions for National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) testing to be completed by 4th and 8th graders in a sample of Illinois school districts. In addition, SB 1983 includes provisions for the parents of children who have been enrolled in transitional bilingual education programs. 

House Amendment #1 "requires a school board to establish and implement a policy governing the transfer of a student from one attendance center to another within the school district upon the request of the student's parent or guardian."  Such transfers may be barred if a school would then be overcrowded, or if the student wishing to transfer does not meet the academic qualifications of the school to which he or she wishes to transfer. 

House Amendment #2 added a provision having to do with notifying parents and making available to them copies of a school district's report card placed on the district's Web site.
 
A third amendment was added by Rep. William Delgado to make changes in the state's charter school Law.  This amendment would have expanded the number of charter schools allowed in Chicago (from 15 to 30), changed the certified teacher provisions in charter schools and enacted other provisions. The sponsor, for fear of killing the whole bill, ultimately withdrew the amendment.

Amendments #1 and 2 were sent to a conference committee for final agreement.  The bill then passed both houses and is now waiting for the governor's signature.

To read the current text of the legislation and amendments, click here.

House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 13 (Hoeft)
This resolution, which passed the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee 14-2, could give voters the opportunity to change the Illinois Constitution in order to return to an elected State Superintendent of Education. The timing of the committee hearing on HJRCA13 rendered the resolution ineffective at least for now, however, because such a proposal must be passed both by House and Senate and submitted to voters at least six months prior to the general election. The matter will be the subject of summer hearings. To read the current text of the legislation and amendments, click here.

HB 1440: (Cronin/Daniels) - Requires Senate confirmation of appointees to the job of State Superintendent of Education
This legislation passed both House and Senate but had been placed on Calendar Order of Concurrence in the House. A non-concur motion was filed in the House, and ultimately the bill was sent back to the chamber's Rules committee with no further action taken.  To read the current text of the legislation and amendments, click here.

For additional information on these and other bills from the spring 2002 legislative session, click on the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance Web site.

Budget

After the legislature adjourned on June 2, the governor vetoed an additional $502 million stating that the state budget was out of balance because legislators had added additional spending in the waning days of the session and inadequate revenue enhancements to meet those expenditures (and due to falling state receipts in May). Of those reductions, $100 million was cut from the ISBE budget. Projections through May 2002 showed a state revenue shortfall of more than $2 billion. 

When the legislators returned to Springfield on June 10, they ultimately restored nearly $47 million to the ISBE budget, while sustaining many of the governor's vetoes in other areas.  They considered all 234 line item vetoes, overriding only a handful with the needed three-fifths vote. While the restoration of at least some of the education funding is a positive sign that legislators placed priority on K-12 education programs as compared with other state budget areas, the overall loss to Illinois schools in state funds as compared with the current FY 2002 budget is $176 million.  Of this, the majority is in General State Aid (-$111.4 million dollars) and mandated categorical programs like special education and transportation (-$42.4 million). 

Some highlights of the FY 2003 final State Board of Education budget as compared with FY 2002:

  • Foundation level: remained the same at $4,560 per pupil.  Because of increases in local property wealth across the state, this represented a $111 million cut in general state aid.  
  • Hold Harmless: Increased $31 million over FY 2002.
  • Poverty Grant:  Approximately $10 million in additional funding over FY 2002 was appropriated to districts in two low-income ranges (20-35 percent poverty and 35-50 percent poverty).

The poverty grant measure supported by both EFAB and Network 21 (Department of Human Services unduplicated count: TANF, KidCare, Medicaid and food stamps) was not enacted; in fact, it was not even debated though the census data on which the grant is currently based is quickly outdated and must be used for 10 years before it can be updated.  Nor was the appropriation formula changed to get rid of the "step" approach that allocates money to poverty districts using a range of poverty incidence (e.g., 20-35 percent, 35-50 percent) rather than for every additional poverty student.

  • School Construction grants:  An additional $1 billion in bonding authority was approved by the legislature over the next two fiscal years.  This means that the school capital projects currently entitled (approved by ISBE) will be funded.  Network 21 advocated for $1.5 billion in funding but given the fiscal crisis, the final amount is not as bad as had been expected.
  • Early Childhood Education:  While Early Intervention funding was cut by more than $3 million, it could have been worse. The legislature restored $650,000 that the governor cut from this budget area by overriding his line item veto. Fortunately, the Early Childhood Block grant was preserved at FY 2002 funding levels and the Universal Preschool program endorsed by Network 21 received $5.2 million.
  • Education technology:  This budget category lost more than $12 million net, with more than half of the $49 million being transferred out of the Technology for Success program.
  • Teacher Retirement:  A mandatory contribution of $111.6 million was made to the downstate teachers' pension fund. (The Chicago Public School teacher retirement fund does not receive state funding.)
  • Private School Tuition Tax Credit: It was noted that this program was left unscathed, to the tune of $61.2 million ($500 to families with no income threshold), while other school funding was cut.

Though federal and local dollars combined to minimize the state reduction impact on K-12 schools, this does not bode well for the state's already poor showing (48th out of 50 states) in its contribution to public school funding.  Moreover, this just exacerbates the adequacy and equity funding issues facing Illinois schools already.  (In an Education Week ranking based on data that does not include this state budget cycle, Illinois received a grade of "F" for equity and "C-" for adequacy.)

To view the final Illinois State Board of Education budget for Fiscal Year 2003, click here.

Revenue "enhancements" and "adjustments" to the state budget included a:

  • Cigarette Tax increase ($230 million), 
  • Casino tax increase ($135 million)
  • Real Estate Transfer Tax reapportionment ($15 million)
  • Local portion of the Photo Processing Tax ($25 million)
  • Decoupling from the new federal depreciation rules for corporations ($240 million)
  • $750 million in permissive long term borrowing, and
  • $1 billion in authorized short-term borrowing.

These changes were in addition to budget cuts in many state agencies, though legislators retained millions of dollars in local member initiative "pork" projects.

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