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June 16, 2006

Gov. Blagojevich signs new law to eliminate bureaucratic “red tape” for schools
New law will help schools function more efficiently by reducing unnecessary burdens placed on teachers

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed a new law that will help schools operate more efficiently and better meet students’ needs. Senate Bill 2829, known as the “Less Red Tape” bill, will eliminate unnecessary state bureaucracy burdening teachers and school administrators.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) and Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Westchester), eliminates duplicative requirements in the school and district improvement planning processes and revises a number of other statutory requirements to reduce the administrative and financial burdens on school districts associated with publishing financial information, administering building code requirements, and obtaining waivers and modifications of School Code mandates.

“Bureaucracy and red tape can drain precious time and resources from local schools and teachers. When we began reforming the State Board of Education, we focused on getting rid of unnecessary rules and regulations that take attention away from the classroom. By signing this law, we’re eliminating more burdensome regulations so schools can focus on what’s really important – teaching kids,” said Gov. Blagojevich.

When Gov. Blagojevich appointed new members to the State Board of Education in September of 2004, he called on the Board to reduce the red tape and bureaucracy that creates unnecessary burdens on school administrators and teachers, thereby diverting focus from the classroom. The State Board immediately launched the “Less Red Tape” initiative, soliciting extensive feedback from educators and parents about how state requirements could be changed to allow districts to focus on their core mission. As part of this effort, the State Board has eliminated approximately 500 pages of rules and numerous unnecessary regulatory burdens. The “Less Red Tape” legislation builds on these efforts to ease the bureaucratic burdens on teachers, administrators, schools and districts.

"For the last several years I have been working with Gov. Blagojevich on the ‘Less Red Tape’ initiative. We have made great progress in helping the Illinois State Board of Education run more efficiently,” said Sen. Lightford. “Ultimately, this initiative is allowing our students to have greater learning opportunities by not burdening teachers and administrators with more work than they can handle. This initiative will provide an opportunity to increase teacher to student contact time, alleviating some of the time consuming paper work requirements."

“It is critically important that we give our administrators and teachers the opportunity to use their time educating our children rather than filling out paperwork,” said Rep. Lang. “This legislation is a big step forward in cutting out some of those burdensome requirements.”

“Our schools have much important work to do, therefore we should alleviate the burden of needless red tape that unnecessarily drains the time and resources of school officials. This is another important step toward that effort,” said Illinois State Board of Education Chairman Jesse Ruiz.

The new law includes:

· School/District improvement plans: School districts across Illinois are struggling to comply with the federal mandates set out in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). SB 2829 eliminates several state-imposed planning burdens and allows ISBE to better support districts’ efforts to implement NCLB. It also eliminates duplicative requirements associated with the school and district improvement planning processes.

· Reporting, Fiscal and Administrative Requirements. The state should not mandate reporting from school districts and teachers unless the benefits of receiving the information outweigh the burdens on districts to provide it. Some statutory reporting requirements fail this test. A number of other statutory requirements can be revised to reduce the administrative and financial burdens on school districts associated with publishing financial information in newspapers, administering building code requirements, and obtaining waivers and modifications of School Code mandates.

With the Governor’s signature, the “Less Red Tape” bill takes effect on July 1, 2006.

Also today, the Governor signed House Bill 2734, legislation that will place a restriction on the rate of legal notice advertising in newspapers. The bill, which unanimously passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly, was sponsored by Rep. Roger Eddy (R-Hutsonville) and Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) and will go in to effect January 1, 2007. Entities like school boards are often required to print notices about their business in local papers, and this legislation will prevent newspapers from charging more for those notices than they would for an advertisement of similar size.


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