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May 28, 2004

Governor Blagojevich and legislative leaders announce sweeping education reform agreement
Bipartisan effort leads to major overhaul of Illinois State Board of Education

Plan replaces seven members of Illinois State Board of Education, allows governor to remove members, creates line-item budgeting, reforms procurement process, provides administrative and health care savings and reduces paperwork

SPRINGFIELD - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich and representatives from all four legislative caucuses, led by Senate President Emil Jones, House Speaker Michael Madigan, House Republican Leader Tom Cross and Senate Republican Leader Frank Watson, announced today they have reached an agreement to make the Illinois State Board of Education accountable to the Governor, legislators, school districts and school children.
The sweeping reform will allow the Governor to replace seven members of the Illinois State Board of Education and will give governors the ability to replace members who cannot achieve results.  The result will be an Illinois State Board of Education focused on and accountable for serving educators and improving the education of students in Illinois, not just regulating school districts.
“Back in January during my State of the State address, I announced that my top legislative priority for this session would be education reform.  Thanks to the men and women standing with me here today, that reform is about to happen.  The children of Illinois deserve better schools.  And the schools around Illinois deserve better from us.  Today, I’m proud to announce that our schools are going to get just that.  We have reached an agreement that means sweeping reform in the way the state manages its schools.  It means real accountability where the State Board of Education now has to answer to the Governor, to the legislature, to the parents and to the children of our state,” said Governor Blagojevich.
"I commend the Governor for his leadership in focusing attention on the critical need for more accountability and efficiency in our education system, and for working with members of the legislature to accomplish those goals,” said House Speaker Michael Madigan.
“I am very pleased that we were able to come together and put forward an education reform bill.  I want to credit my Senate Education Committee Chair, Senator Miguel del Valle, for his tremendous work on this effort.  Without his commitment and effort, this compromise would not have occurred,” said Senate President Emil Jones.
“We felt there was an opportunity to greatly change our education system for the better by reforming the State Board.  This compromise legislation includes the components we felt necessary to achieve our 3 goals: increasing accountability from the department, improving delivery of services, and changing the philosophy of the board from watchdog to partner,” said House Minority Leader Tom Cross.
Under the terms of the agreement, the Illinois State Board of Education will be radically restructured, while remaining the state’s education agency.  Governor Blagojevich will replace seven current members of the board on July 1, 2004 and the legislation reduces the length of board members’ terms from six years to four years.  The bill also allows governors to remove board members for incompetence, neglect or malfeasance.  Future governors will appoint five board members at the onset of their terms and four more appointments two years into their terms.
In addition, the legislation subjects the State Board to line-item budgeting for the first time.  This change allows the Governor and legislature more control over the board’s financial management.  Line-item budgeting and new agency divisions specifically proposed in the legislation will also allow the Board to better focus on helping schools educate children and improve services such as early childhood education. 
The agreed-upon bill also includes various cost-saving measures similar to those Governor Blagojevich outlined during his State of the State Address.  The bill creates shared service centers, allowing school districts the option to pool their resources to save on administrative costs.  The legislation also creates a new purchasing program to allow local schools districts access to statewide contracts where they might find lower prices.  And, to assist local school districts with their health care costs, the proposal authorizes districts to participate in the state’s prescription drug purchasing plan.
The education plan also takes several steps to reduce the 2,800 pages of rules and regulations imposed on local school districts by the Illinois State Board of Education.  The legislation will make ISBE more accountable by requiring the board to follow statutory rule-making procedures when it makes new rules. Second, most of the recommendations from the School Code Commission to reduce existing rules will be sent to the General Assembly for approval.  And third, one of ISBE’s statutory tasks will be to further reduce the number of existing mandates.
Governor Blagojevich thanked members of the General Assembly who contributed to real education reform, including Speaker Madigan, Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Collinsville), Rep. Calvin Giles (D-Chicago), Rep. Mike Smith (D-Canton), House Republican Leader Tom Cross (R-Plainfield), Rep. Jerry Mitchell (R-Rock Falls), Rep. Renee Kosel (R-Mokena), Rep. Roger Eddy (R-Hutsonville), Senate President Jones, Sen. Miguel del Valle, Sen. Patrick Welch (D-Peru), Sen. Deanna Demuzio (D-Carlinville), Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Chicago), Senate Republican Leader Frank Watson (R-Greenville) and Sen. Dan Cronin (R-Lombard).
“I know that previous governors have tried to make major changes at the State Board of Education and that previous legislatures haven’t always supported those changes.  This couldn’t have happened without the bipartisan cooperation of both chambers of the General Assembly,” said the Governor.”

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