FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Statement of Respicio
State Superintendent of Education
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It is my privilege to
come before you today to discuss our agency and proposed spending
for elementary and secondary education in the FY 2003 budget.
We very much appreciate the ongoing support of this committee
for the schools of this state and the students they serve.
we all know that in this year of extreme fiscal challenge,
we have a particularly difficult task ahead to devise a budget
that provides local school districts with the resources they
need to educate our children.
partners in Illinois public education must work together to
arrive at a spending plan that allocates limited dollars in
the most efficient way possible, and it is in that spirit
that I come here today.
to make brief remarks to you regarding the proposed budget
that the State Board of Education approved last January, as
well as about the re-organization of the agency that is taking
place. Then, of course, I will answer your questions.
But before I begin that, I would like to spend just a few
moments telling you who I am and how I plan to manage the
agency during my tenure as State Superintendent.
I have most recently been, as some of you know, General Counsel
at the agency, a job I held for two years. Before that, I
spent eight years with the City Colleges of Chicago, the last
two as General Counsel. Before that, I was an attorney with
the Chicago Board of Education and before that an assistant
in the Illinois Attorney Generals office.
My first job out of law school was with Travelers and Immigrants
Aid, where I supervised staff and represented clients in court.
I have my undergraduate and law degrees from DePaul University.
I grew up in the Marquette Park neighborhood of Chicago and
graduated from De LaSalle high school.
were rural people who emigrated from Mexico to Chicago. They
saw education as the sole opportunity for success for their
children. They had the opportunity for only an elementary-level
education, and they worked their entire lives to ensure that
their four children were educated to the maximum extent possible.
They instilled in me the value of education and the desire
to improve myself by opening the doors of opportunity created
I believe you will find me approachable and collegial and
that Ill be direct in telling you what I believe, and
I would welcome the same directness from you.
Now I would like to talk briefly about the State Board of
Educations proposed budget for Fiscal year 2003
not so much about the numbers it contains, but about the education
assumptions that underlie the numbers.
As you know, the Board approved this budget on January 4,
and it was developed using the best revenue estimates that
were available to us at the time. Of course, those revenue
estimates have changed significantly and for the worse. Our
state is facing a fiscal crisis that will affect every citizen
and every schoolchild.
the educational foundation on which the January budget was
built we believe remains a credible basis for discussion as
we move toward the shared goal of arriving at a final document
that best serves the needs of our school districts and our
two million students.
Our proposed budget called for a total of $6.46 billion in
spending from general state funds an increase of $250
million over last year. It contemplates about $2 billion from
federal and other funds for a total proposed in all funds
of $8.53 billion. The new federal No Child Left Behind
legislation (Public Law 107-110) (HR 1) brings with
it some more money and many more responsibilities.
The budget is organized around the idea that three great challenges
three great gaps face public education in Illinois.
Whatever funding level is ultimately agreed upon, the Board
believes that the goals of any spending plan should be to
target state funds to priority areas that address one of these
First is the achievement gap the difference in student
achievement by race and economic background. The State Board
has made eliminating these gaps a top priority and our proposed
budget includes numerous line items that address this challenge.
Increases in funding are requested for four programs regarded
as critical: Academic Early Warning to help students
in the 594 schools on the AEWL, Assessments to fund
commitments for the current program, Early Childhood
to reduce the number of students on the waiting list, and
Summer Bridges to expand services to more at-risk students.
is the teacher gap. The issues of educator quality
and quantity have been on the front burner in recent months.
The General Assembly provided impetus for the Governors
two-session Teacher/Education Summit and it appears the Governor
will have a legislative proposal addressing some key issues
from the Summit. Many of you have already submitted legislation
to address this gap as well.
There is no factor that plays a greater role in assuring student
success than a qualified teacher. But in Illinois we are short
of qualified teachers in many geographical areas and in many
subject areas, and too often our least qualified teachers
teach in our most needy schools.
In this proposed budget, we sought new funding in only three
key programs: Mentoring, Induction and Recruitment; National
Board Certification; and Regional Office of Education School
The third gap is the funding gap which results
from a system that relies heavily on local property taxes
to fund education. The haves and have nots are
easily identifiable in our state by measures such as equalized
assessed valuation and per pupil spending.
In the long range, this question can be addressed only by
every one of us in Illinois committing to change the system
of funding education. In the near term, our proposed budget
sought increased funding in three important areas: General
State Aid and Hold Harmless, Mandated Categoricals and Retirement.
The remainder of the requests of this January's proposal
were generally proposed at the FY02 level.
Clearly, allocating our scarce statewide resources provides
us all with a significant challenge this year. But the
Board believes that the appropriate path to follow in reaching
agreement will address the three gaps and also do two other
things: establish more flexible and less bureaucratic ways
of distributing money to school districts; and maintain leadership
and administrative funds at a level sufficient to assist districts
Everyone at the State Board of Education is ready to work
with all of you in reaching an acceptable agreement.
Finally, I would like to tell you briefly about our recent
re-organization at ISBE why we did it and where it
is taking us.
We re-organized to become more efficient in delivering services
to local school districts. We have hundreds of individual,
committed, capable employees who do good work and serve the
taxpayers well. But, overall in recent years, I believe our
agency had become top-heavy in administration, was not organized
to execute its mission and was perceived as unresponsive.
Under Superintendent Wish, a new leadership team, that included
me as General Counsel, undertook an analysis of the agencys
resources and its functions and developed a new organization
plan that aligns the two with our mission to serve schools.
In early January, we announced the first phase of the re-organization,
including a reduction in the number of senior managers. In
early February, we announced the second phase, which completed
the organization chart and announced the further elimination
of positions. We estimate that by the end of June our headcount
will be about 60 less than it was at the end of last December.
is driven by the desire to improve services to schools and
the students they serve. It was not designed as a headcount
reduction plan or a dollar-savings plan. It is a plan aimed
at increasing the efficiency with which we deliver services.
We have combined small divisions, united similar functions
and consolidated fund management responsibilities.
We have created as the centerpiece of the organization the
Center for Teaching and Learning that is organized into four
units targeting the high priority areas of: Standards Aligned
Learning, Teaching and Leadership, Specialized Support and
Student and School Progress.
We have created a new focus on helping underperforming schools,
another new focus on strengthening partnerships with the Regional
Offices of Education and a new department to centralize and
improve accountability functions to ensure the quality of
programs we administer.
is the culmination of a careful re-assessment of operations
that has been ongoing for more two years. By June 30, we will
have reduced headcount by more than 15 per cent since December
of 2000. Through self-reflection and a careful analysis of
our resources, we are streamlining our agency to better meet
the needs of Illinois schools and students.
Its a challenging time for state government in general
and education in particular.
At our agency, were excited to face that challenge and
were prepared to do that by putting our full effort
into providing better service and support for schools.
Thank you for your continued support for education and I look
forward to working with you to ensure that Illinois students
are well prepared to face the challenges of tomorrow and beyond.
Ill be happy to answer your questions.