Sunday, September 23, 2018

Schools urged to use October 3 test of national warning system as ‘teachable moment’

Nearly all cell phones will be sent a message on Oct. 3.
School safety partners say a great teachable moment lies just ahead in the national warning system test on Wednesday, October 3, beginning at 1:18 p.m. Central Time, when nearly all cell phones will be sent a message. This first nationwide test of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) is being conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Officials said the test of IPAWS and its Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) is intended to (1) assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and (2) determine whether improvements are needed. The new WEA portion of the test commences at 1:18 p.m. CT, and the EAS portion follows at 1:20 p.m. CT. This WEA test message will be sent to all cell phones that are connected to wireless providers participating in WEA.

Since learning time will likely be disrupted, school safety partners, including the Youth Preparedness group within FEMA's Individual and Community Preparedness Division, highly encourage schools and other organizations to use the time to provide a teachable moment about emergency preparedness. For example, school officials can do the following:
  • Craft a customized message notifying of the upcoming IPAWS test, while also providing information specific to your area. For example, schools may want to provide details about the local emergency notification systems or describe how the school plans to communicate with students and teachers during real emergencies.
  • Ensure that messaging sent about IPAWS is accessible to those with access and functional needs. FEMA has prepared an accessible version of the announcement about this month's test that can be shared with the whole school community.
  • Recommend that schools and school districts plan a drill or exercise to coincide with the IPAWS notification. For example, many schools are required to conduct annual evacuation drills, and the IPAWS notification on October 3 could serve as a marker to conduct this drill. If planning a drill or exercise at this time is not possible, emergency planning teams of schools and school districts can use this event as an impetus to set their calendar of drills and exercises for the school year.
  • Share details about the need for schools and school districts to create a Communications and Warning Annex as a part of any comprehensive, high-quality school emergency operations plans (EOPs).  This is recommended in the Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans.
  • Post the fact sheet that FEMA created in English and Spanish to describe IPAWS and its EAS and WEA systems to agency Web pages and share them via social media and other dissemination channels.
For more information about the upcoming nationwide warning system test, see the FEMA press release about it (note that the test was pushed back to October 3 from an earlier scheduled date).

To get answers to questions about this test, or for general support with emergency preparedness planning, contact the national school safety technical assistance center, at or 1-855/781-REMS [7367].

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Topics slated for Fall Division Meetings

The Illinois Association of School Boards will feature school safety, emergency management, and other significant topics in the programming for the speakers and sessions at all of the 2018 Fall Division Meetings. For each set of division meetings, spring and fall, representatives from each division’s leadership select and schedule topics of interest to their localities. Depending on the division, some meetings will feature a choice of topics or a “carousel” where attendees can hear multiple presentations.

Max McGee, a former state superintendent of
education, is among scheduled presenters
at IASB's 2018 Fall Division Meetings.
Several autumn gatherings will feature topics related to school safety and security. Representatives from Dixon Unit SD 170 and the Dixon community present “School Safety: What We’ve Learned,” reflecting on the school shooting that took place there last spring. They will present twice, on October 11 for the Starved Rock meeting and again on October 29 for the Northwest meeting.

Safety and security will also be part of the conversation for Three Rivers on October 2 in Lockport; Wabash Valley, also on October 2, in Robinson; Abe Lincoln on October 4 in Rochester, Blackhawk, also on October 4, in Aledo; Central Illinois Valley on October 10 in Pekin; Corn Belt on October 11 in Forrest; Two Rivers on October 25 in Jacksonville; and South Cook on October 30 in Alsip.

Student social/emotional learning and wellness will be featured at the October 2 DuPage meeting and again at the October 10 Lake meeting, at which author and educator Max McGee will present “From Distress to Success.” Pamela Randall Garner will speak on “Building Supportive School Communities: The Impact of Social/Emotional Learning & Equity” for the Southwestern Division on October 2.

Updating members on the  Every Student Succeeds Act will be featured at the Illini Division Meeting in St. Joseph on September 25; Wabash Valley on October 2, and Egyptian Division on October 4. David Braun will also be speaking on current legal issues at the Egyptian meeting.

Superintendents and co-authors Michael Lubelfeld and Nicholas Polyak will present “The Unlearning Leader: Leading for Tomorrow’s Schools Today” for the North Cook Division in Des Plaines on October 24, and for West Cook in Elmwood Park on October 29.

Other topics include, for the Western Division on September 12, “How Present-Day Challenges Impact Effectiveness in Our Education System,” presented by Stuart Yager, Jodi Scott, Thomas Sargent, and Sen. Chuck Weaver. On October 10, the Shawnee Division will host a legislative candidate forum in Carbondale. Nokomis will host the Kaskaskia Division Meeting with “Career and Technical Education Success Stories” on October 23. The Kishwaukee Division will hear from IASA’s Brent Clark on education funding and get a legislative update on October 25.

IASB Executive Director Thomas E. Bertrand will share his 5 Es philosophy for the Association at the Abe Lincoln Division Meeting in Rochester on October 4.

Further information and registration for each 2018 Fall Division Meeting can be accessed at IASB’s Events Calendar.

The 2018 Fall Division Meetings are sponsored by

Legacy Sponsors
Guin Mundorf, LLC
Kings Financial Consulting Inc.

Millennium Sponsor
NextEra Energy Services

Century Sponsors
First Midstate Inc.

Division Meetings Sponsors and Illinois Council of School Attorneys
Tueth, Keeney, Cooper, Mohan & Jackstadt, P.C.

Division Meetings Sponsors and Service Associates
ABM Education
ENGIE Services U.S.
Larson and Darby Group
Legat Architects

Friday, September 21, 2018

State’s high court upholds but clarifies hospital tax exemption law

The Illinois Supreme Court upheld a law in a September 20 ruling to allow not-for-profit hospitals property-tax exemptions but stated that hospitals must show that any such exempt property meets the constitutional definition for exclusive charitable use. School attorneys said the ruling is effectively a victory for school districts and other taxing bodies, provided that state tax officials follow the law.

IASB, along with Illinois ASBO and IASA, filed an Amicus brief in the case. The lead attorney in that filing, John Izzo, explained: “While the symbolic victory of the invalidation of … [the law] would have been gratifying, the practical effects of this decision are just as beneficial to school district finances.”

The value of such tax exemptions is hard to pin down, but a 2009 study by the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability suggested the value of the exemption in 47 Chicago-area not-for-profit hospitals totaled $279 million a year. This law has proven costly to school districts because schools receive the lion’s share of property tax revenue in Illinois.

Attorney Izzo, of the firm Hauser, Izzo, Petrarca, Gleason & Stillman, LLC, said the ruling should be helpful for schools. “Non-profit” hospitals are in no better position legally than they were before Section 15-86 was enacted in 2012; they still have to show facts which demonstrate that they are truly and primarily charitable, including factors such as the public or charitable source of their funding, the dispensing of services regardless of ability to pay, and the absence of private profit or gain to those connected with the institution.”

Supported by lower court rulings, the law newly upheld by the state’s high court says that not-for-profit hospitals in Illinois don’t have to pay property taxes as long as the value of their charitable services is at least equal to what they would otherwise pay in taxes.

The court stressed it was ruling only on whether the tax exemption law, called Revenue Act Section 15-86, was unconstitutional on its face, and it found that it was not.  But in order to uphold the validity of that law, attorneys say, the court was forced to expressly state that Section 15-86 does not dispose of the traditional constitutional definition of charitable use for hospitals.

“What remains to be seen is the reaction of the Illinois Department of Revenue, the various county boards of review, and the local assessors to this decision,” Izzo added.  “If those agencies implement the constitution as they should, we are confident that most of the 157 non-profit hospitals in Illinois will be returned to the tax rolls and their EAV will be considered ‘new property’ under PTELL,” Izzo said.

School attorneys will be communicating with the Illinois Department of Revenue in the coming days to see how they plan to address these issues, Izzo said. He is scheduled to present a panel discussion on this topic at the Joint Annual Conference in November, along with attorney Eugene Edwards, of the same law firm, who was also heavily involved with John Izzo in the drafting of the Amicus brief in this case.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

IASB welcomes three new Service Associates

Three firms have recently joined IASB's Service Associates, a group of businesses that offer school-related products and services that have earned favorable reputations for quality and integrity. Prospective members are screened by the Service Associates Executive Committee, which recommends membership to the IASB Board of Directors.

The member firms that make up the IASB Service Associates represent a wide range of expertise, the and make a wealth of knowledge and information available to the Association and its member school boards.

The new Service Associates include the following:
  • BMO Harris Bank, based in Chicago, is a financial services firm that that offers strategies for closing budget gaps and maximizing resources; and also offers a financial education curriculum.
  • Computer Information Concepts, Inc., based in Colorado, is a computer services firm that offers professional services and support for Infinite Campus and Tableau products.
  • DecisionInsite, LLC is a California-based consultancy that specializes in enrollment analytics and forecasting, location intelligence technology (mapping), and community demographics.
In addition to the three new members, one member firm recently changed its named from GCA Education to ABM Education. ABM Education, a New York-based building maintenance and facility services firm, offers customized solutions for cleaning, energy management, parking, and landscaping.

IASB currently has 73 Service Associates members. A complete database listing of these members can be found here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Candidates can circulate petitions
starting today

Today, September 18, is the first day for school board candidates to circulate nominating petitions for the April 2, 2019, election.

Updated information is available on the IASB website for all candidates and prospective candidates for school boards in Illinois. See the complete list of resources here.