SPRINGFIELD – One of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s education initiatives to help schools operate more efficiently and better meet students’ needs won approval today in the Illinois House. Senate Bill 2829, known as the “Less Red Tape” bill that will eliminate unnecessary state bureaucracy burdening teachers and school administrators, passed the House unanimously and now heads to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
The legislation eliminates duplicative requirements associated with 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."
“When we began reforming the State Board of Education, eliminating the bureaucracy and red tape that wastes time and money for local schools and teachers was one of our top priorities. So far, we’ve eliminated nearly 500 pages of unnecessary rules and regulations. And the bill we passed today gives us the authority to do even more,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
The “Less Red Tape” bill is sponsored by Senator Kimberly Lightford (D-Westchester) and Rep. Lou Lang (D- Skokie). When Governor Blagojevich appointed new members to the State Board of Education in September of 2004, he called on the Board to reduce red tape and bureaucracy creating 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 Governor 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, and I look forward to the Governor signing it.”
“We appreciate the fact that legislators are increasingly supporting our Less Red Tape initiative. Our schools are being asked to shoulder plenty of responsibilities, and burdensome paperwork shouldn’t be draining their time, energy and resources,” said Jesse Ruiz, Illinois State Board of Education Chairman.
Senate Bill 2829 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 will take effect on July 1, 2006.