"The State Board of Education
made the right choice when it named Chris Koch today the new state
superintendent of schools," Blagojevich said. "Chris and I share the
same belief that one of the most important functions of state
government is providing children with the best possible education.
Our schools have been chronically underfunded for decades. Our
Helping Kids Learn plan is not just an investment in schools, it's
an investment in our future and in our children. Chris is the right
person to lead our schools as we propose historic funding increases
that will improve the quality of our education system, while raising
the bar for accountability and building needed infrastructure."
am excited about the possibilities ahead and the difference we can
make in children's lives," Koch said. "Improving education in
Illinois requires consistency and resolve, and I know this board and
Governor Blagojevich understand that. I am delighted to be working
with them to deliver for our schools."
Among the priorities for Koch and the State Board of Education is
to implement the governor's Helping Kids Learn plan, which will
invest $10 billion in new education funding over the next four years
so that school districts will have the money they need for things
like replacing old textbooks, repairing schools and even building
new schools to ease overcrowding. Helping Kids Learn boosts funding
by an unprecedented $1.5 billion in fiscal 2008. Under the plan:
General state aid
to schools will increase by $800 million, to $6,058 per student.
An increase of $200
million will boost the state's reimbursement rate for special
education teachers -- the first increase districts have seen
An increase of $153
million will fully fund "mandated categorical" programs like
special education and transportation.
An additional $69
million will accelerate implementation of Preschool for All, and
additional resources will be made available for school districts
that provide full-day kindergarten.
schools will share in $100 million in new support for
after-school tutoring, curriculum and textbook enhancements,
longer school days, or other proven strategies that raise
deteriorating school buildings will find relief in a $1.5
billion capital construction plan for projects to improve and
upgrade classrooms and schools.
[to top of second column]
Koch has served in various capacities with the State Board of
Education, including chief education officer from 2002 to 2003.
Prior to his appointment as interim superintendent, he served as
assistant superintendent for special education. In that role, he
ensured the continuation of federal Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act funding to Illinois without conditions, corrected
compliance issues at the state and local level, implemented a
performance-based accountability system for special education,
established public reporting of performance data for school
districts, and promoted parent and school district partnerships.
Koch also has experience as a special educator. He taught in four
states in various settings, including an Outward Bound program, a
college preparatory school, a youth detention center, a psychiatric
hospital and a church-sponsored day school. In addition to teaching
and his work at the Illinois State Board of Education, he worked at
the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Vocational and Adult
Education. There he administered programs in correctional education
and school-to-work transition. In his initial years at the Illinois
State Board of Education, he helped secure school-to-work funding
for Illinois, including Chicago.
"Dr. Koch brings a strong education background and diverse resume
that includes being a classroom teacher as well as an administrator
on the state and national level," said Jesse H. Ruiz, chairman of
the State Board of Education. "His experience and commitment to the
students of Illinois make him a perfect fit for the superintendent's
position. In his time as interim superintendent, and even before as
director of special education for ISBE, he has shown the leadership
qualities the board feels it needs to continue its efforts to
improve educational opportunities for all."
An Illinois native, Koch is a product of Illinois public schools,
having graduated from Brown County High School in Mount Sterling and
from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He obtained his
master's and doctoral degrees in educational policy and leadership
from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
In addition to the selection of a new state superintendent,
Blagojevich announced he has asked five board members to continue
their service through 2011. Those members are Ruiz, Dr. Andrea
Brown, Dr. David Fields, Edward Geppert Jr. and Dr. Vinni Hall. The
terms of board members Dean Clark, Brenda Holmes, Joyce Karon and
Dr. Christopher Ward expire in 2009.
[Text from file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]