Monday, October 24, 2016

Alliance Legislative Report 99-54

Both Governor Bruce Rauner’s Illinois School Funding Reform Commission and Senator Kimberly Lightford’s (D-Maywood) group of education stakeholders and legislators continue to meet to discuss school funding reform. The Commission, comprised mostly of legislators, has been meeting every two weeks for the past couple of months. Lightford’s group has been meeting regularly as well.

Much of what has been done to this point is background information and research, but there has been discussion of potential alternative funding distribution plans like the Evidence-Based Funding Model highlighted in the Vision 20/20 platform. The Alliance organizations have been actively involved in the meetings and discussions and have made presentations regarding the evidence-based plan.

Now that all four legislative caucuses and the governor’s office are fully engaged in the process, expectations have risen to the point where some type of new school funding formula is anticipated in the spring.

Click here to read the complete Alliance Legislative Report, including a list of enacted laws with additional mandates on local school districts. 

See and hear student artists at Conference

The Monticello Middle School Jazz Ensemble will
perform at the First General Session of the 2016 Conference.
Those attending the 2016 Joint Annual Conference will have the opportunity to sample visual and performing arts featuring Illinois school students.

Selected artwork from Illinois public elementary and high school students will be on display in the Grand Ballroom area of the Hyatt Regency Chicago East Tower. There will be 40 pieces of art highlighting a variety of media, including painting, drawing, and printing. The Illinois Arts Education Association has curated this exhibit to be a cross-section of what Illinois students are capable of creating artistically.

Participating students hail from THSD 113 (Highland Park), Grayslake CHSD 127, Niles THSD 219, Homewood-Flossmoor CHSD 233, Lake Zurich CUSD 95, Township HSD 211 (Palatine), Maine THSD 207, Oak Park River-Forest HSD 200, Lyons THSD 204, Community High SD 99 (Downers Grove), Chicago Public Schools, Hinsdale CCSD 181, McHenry CCSD 15, Naperville CUSD 203, Arlington Heights SD 25, Medinah SD 11, Kaneland CUSD 302, Indian Springs SD 109, Orland SD 135, Fairmont SD 89, Hinsdale CCSD 181, CCSD 89 (Glen Ellyn), Skokie SD 68, Indian Prairie CUSD 204, Komarek SD 94, Lake Zurich CUSD 95, Henry-Senachwine CUSD 5, Lisle CUSD 202, Homewood-Flossmoor CHSD 233, and Belvidere CUSD 100.

In addition, the Monticello Middle School Jazz Ensemble will perform for Conference attendees as they enter the Grand Ballroom for the First General Session on Friday, Nov. 18. The group has also been invited to perform at the SuperState Band Festival at the University of Illinois and at the Illinois Elementary School Association.

Both events are new features of the annual conference. For more information about other new features at conference, consult the conference program.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Parallel paths: Groups work towards school funding reform

Ben Schwarm
IASB Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm comments on the efforts towards reforming Illinois school funding formula.

Separate groups looking into making changes to the state’s school funding formula seem to be moving on parallel paths to this point. Governor Bruce Rauner chose state Secretary of Education Beth Purvis to head up his Illinois School Funding Reform Commission. The Commission, comprised mostly of legislators, has been meeting every two weeks since August 3. The target for the Commission is to unveil its proposal in February.

Meanwhile, Senator Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) has established a group of education stakeholders and legislators who also are seeking to make changes to the current school funding formula. The senator would also like to have a new plan ready to roll out next year. Generally, the same participants attend the meetings of both groups.

Has there been progress?

To this point, much of what has been done is background information, reviewing prior research and comparing various funding models used across the country. The governor’s Commission has brought in experts from other states to consider those funding systems, experts on Illinois’ current funding system, and experts on the state property tax system. The Lightford group has focused more on the various education and reform organizations that have funding plan proposals or have conducted research in this area.

These steps are obviously necessary before moving forward with a plan, but it also makes for a very slow process (especially when having a fairly quick timeline). Sometime soon after the November election, the groups will need to put forth a proposal that they wish to pursue. The negotiating, crafting, and fine-tuning of any plan will likely take months after the first bill draft is printed and before any legislation is formally introduced.

Most everyone involved in the discussions has agreed that any new funding formula for schools must focus on distributing the scarce state resources to those school districts in the most need. What became evident over the last two years was that it will take additional funding to do this. Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) sponsored bills to address the disparity in school district spending, but his plan was labeled as taking funding from some school districts and sending it to others. Having “winners and losers”  created an untenable situation for legislators.

The prospect of finding additional revenues  brings up the ongoing saga of trying to agree upon a state budget. Again, after the election, lawmakers have to seriously look at approving a budget for all of state government. Though the education budget approved last June covers the entire year, spending authority for the rest of the budget expires on December 31.

Involvement of school management

IASB, and its School Management Alliance partners (IASA, Illinois ASBO, and IPA), have been involved as participants and spectators. Multiple IASB staff members, including Executive Director Roger Eddy, have been in attendance of every Commission meeting in person and by phone. Before each meeting of the Commission, the governor’s office conducts a stakeholders meeting where all of the education organizations are briefed on what will happen at the meeting. The Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA), the Illinois Association of School Business Officials (Illinois ASBO), and the Illinois Principals Association (IPA) have staff (including the executive directors) that also attend.Staff of the associations has been involved in all of the Lightford meetings as well.

Deeper involvement, too, has occurred on behalf of the Alliance as both panels have been extremely in interested in the Evidence-Based Funding Model presented in the Vision 20/20 platform. The executive directors of the Alliance organizations have been given opportunities to present the evidence-based plan at previous meetings. The general concept has been very well received by both groups, though participants are still getting through the details and nuances of the rather complex formula.

Where does this leave us?

Discussions will continue in the coming months. But with the year-long dialogue that has already taken place, and the involvement now of all four legislative caucuses and the governor’s office, the expectation has been raised that there will be legislation in the spring to comprehensively change the way we fund our public schools.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

2016 Conference Planner available

The online Conference Planner is now available for those planning to attend the 2016 Joint Annual Conference, Nov. 18-20. By accessing the planner, participants can view all events and create a personalized agenda.

Instructions for creating the personal planner are available by logging-in to the IASB member database, choosing the Members-Only tab at the top of the page, and selecting Annual Conference from the drop down menu. Once there, find the section entitled “2016 Conference Schedule Planner” and follow the link.

The Conference Planner allows the user to view by event type or category. Individual events in each category are listed in chronological order by title and description. Listed at the right of each event is the location by hotel, time, and room name. Multiple events may be chosen for each time slot.

After completing the personal agenda for the Conference, either download and print the agenda, or save it to a smartphone, tablet, or other device.

Those who are attending Conference for the first time may want to consider attending one of two orientation sessions (Friday at 11 a.m. or Saturday at 7:30 a.m.) for help in finding and selecting topics of interest.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Sneak peek of upcoming “Issues in Education” broadcast with IASB and IASA

The Illinois Association of School Boards and the Illinois Association (IASB) of School Administrators (IASA) will take part in a live radio broadcast of “Issues in Education” on October 27 with St. Louis’ KTRS 550. The program, scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. in the Old State Capitol in Springfield, will preview the 2016 Joint Annual Conference.

A sneak peek of the upcoming broadcast is now available at the “Issues in Education” website. The one-and-a-half hour program will be broadcast and streamed live here. Ittner Architects is sponsoring the program.

The scheduled speakers and topics for the radio program are as follows:

10:30 a.m. Segment 1: Opening, Introductions and Overview

Dennis Young, President & CEO, Ittner Architects
Robert Vogel, Director of Business & Relationship Development, Ittner Architects

10:45 a.m. Segment 2: Conference Overview, Vision 20/20 and School Funding Formula Update

Roger Eddy, Executive Director, Illinois Association of School Boards
Dr. Brent Clark, Executive Director, Illinois Association of School Administrators

11:15 a.m. Segment 3: School Safety and Security Updates

Ben Schwarm, Deputy Executive Director, Illinois Association of School Boards
Sara Boucek, Associate Director/Legal Counsel, Illinois Association of School Administrators
Rick Johnston, Superintendent, Mahomet-Seymour Community Schools

11:45 a.m. Segment 4: Optimizing Human Performance

Dennis Young, President and CEO, Ittner Architects