Friday, December 15, 2017

ISBE Issues RFP for FY19 Prevention Initiative

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has announced it is re-constituting its entire Early Childhood Block Grant for Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) and every school district that wants to receive a grant must re-apply, even if planning just to continue current services.

This presents a chance for grant winners to change things around – to do more full-day school programming, for example, focused on higher-need children. The preschool applications are due in early January 2018, and in early February for the grades 0-3 programs.

ISBE has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Prevention Initiative program for FY19. The RFP form must be submitted by 4 p.m. on February 9.

Please note that an RFP for the FY19 Prevention Initiative program is not available for electronic submission in the Illinois Web-Based Application System (IWAS), the usual channel for filing applications. Eligible applicants must submit an Intent to Apply before submitting an application. Those proposing to provide services for children and families within the Chicago city limits must apply for funds through Chicago Public Schools.

Officials say this opportunity to reinvent the local prevention block grant has not been available for many years, and communities should think broadly about what is required in order to better serve the needs of local children under age five, and their families. School districts must submit a FY19 application to continue and expand existing programs or to access new funding to begin new services. If a program has already submitted a proposal for the FY18 Prevention Initiative, it must still apply for the FY19 Prevention Initiative.

Please check the ISBE RFP page regularly for resources, including the RFP rubric and updates. A Bidders Webinar is forthcoming. Questions should be directed to the Early Childhood Division of ISBE at 217/524-4835 or emailed at

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

ISBE Briefs

IL-EMPOWER pilot districts set
Eighteen Illinois school districts have confirmed their participation in the IL-EMPOWER pilot project. Once a final district has completed the confirmation process, all 19 school districts will be announced by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Thirty providers have been approved by ISBE to administer services under the new statewide school improvement system. A full list of providers, an overview of their services, and their contact information is available here.

IL-EMPOWER will replace the previous single-provider model used by ISBE to assist districts with school improvement. The new system is intended to give schools more choices, while focusing resources on the needs of the whole child.

ESSA district-level reporting
Under the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), all districts will be required to report per-pupil expenditure data at both district and school levels beginning with 2018-2019 school year. ISBE recognizes the challenges this will present for schools across the state and is working to align the requirements of the Evidence-Based Funding Formula (EBFF) and ESSA to minimize reporting as much as possible.

To assist with the reporting requirements, ISBE developed an “Introduction to Site-Based Expenditure Reporting” webinar to help districts begin preparation for the new standards. The webinar slides and a question and answer document are also available. 

New Evidence-Based Funding Formula resources
ISBE has also created a number of new EBFF resources and updated others to reflect common questions. quick guide and technical guide to base enrollment have been posted, in addition to an updated FAQ

Three new webinars to aid districts in “Understanding the Evidence Based Formula Distribution Calculation” are also available. The webinars are broken into three modules: Determining a district’s adequacy target, determining a district’s local resources, and the distribution of state funds. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Choate recognized for 50 years of board service

Don Choate
At the close of the Delegate Assembly at the 2017 Joint Annual Conference, delegate Don Choate, of Jonesboro CCSD 43, was honored with an ovation for 50 years of service as a school board member.

“It has been my honor and privilege to make a contribution to our schools for so long,” Choate, who is 82, said in recalling the recognition. He noted this was the first time he had ever served as his district’s representative at an IASB Delegate Assembly.

Choate was previously on hand for a similar ovation back in 2009, at the 77th Joint Annual Conference. At that time the longest-serving board member was John Vancil, of DuQuoin, who was likewise recognized for 50 years of school board service.
Choate was recognized at the close of the Delegate Assembly. 
Choate said he is proudest of having formerly served “as board president for 24 years without ever missing a meeting, either regular or special.” He adds that he also previously held the posts of vice president and board secretary.

He has served IASB, as well, representing the Shawnee Division as Resolutions Chair, and serving on the governing panel of the Workers’ Compensation Self Insurance Trust, a pooled insurance program for school districts that is sponsored by the Association.

Choate, who attended college at Southern Illinois University, grew up in Jonesboro, graduating from Anna Jonesboro Community High School with the class of 1952. His career has been focused on marketing and management, utilizing his post-secondary classwork in those areas, and he is currently the manager of store operations and sales for an auto parts company located in Anna.

Choate says IASB has helped him develop as a school board member, and he tries not to miss any IASB division meeting or annual conference, nor does he miss many conferences of the National School Boards Association (NSBA).

His advice for new or prospective board members? “Attend every meeting provided, local, state, and national; and surround yourself with good people, board, staff, and administrators; and stay within the chain of command.”

Friday, December 8, 2017

Webinar to share advocacy
storytelling tools with school advocates

The webinar will share tools to more effectively tell the story of
public education and win lawmakers' hearts, minds, and votes,
and may be particularly valuable for Advocacy Institute participants. 
School advocates and supporters will not want to miss Monday’s webinar “Advocacy Storytelling: Winning the Hearts, Minds, and VOTES of Lawmakers.” (Register here to participate.)

At noon on December 12 the presentation will cover the seven key elements of public policy advocacy storytelling. Based on the premise that people have trouble remembering facts, but they never forget a good story, it will walk participants through an exercise designed to develop their own personal story. The aim? To move the hearts, minds, and VOTES of lawmakers.

Organizers say effective advocacy appeals to the heart, the head, and political health of the legislator, and thus participants will learn how to organize and present their stories exercising the tactics actors use.

Insiders say this webinar may be particularly valuable for those who may wish to prepare for the National School Boards Association (NSBA) Advocacy Institute in Washington, D.C. from February 4-6, 2018.

The 2018 Institute will give attendees an opportunity to lobby their own members of Congress on Capitol Hill. Meetings with the Illinois delegation will be a particularly important opportunity to discuss the direction of public education and protection of local governance in Congress.

The Institute, to be held Sunday through Tuesday, is designed to update attendees on current federal issues affecting public education and teach effective advocacy strategies. Programing includes interactive panel sessions, nationally recognized speakers, and networking forums to allow colleagues to share best practices in advocacy.

“Attending Advocacy Institute will be a great opportunity to be one of the first voices the new Congress hears from on what their priorities should be regarding public education,” said Susan Hilton, IASB director of governmental relations.

Last year more than 21 board members and superintendents from 12 Illinois school districts took part in the national lobbying event.

IASB also sent officers and staff, including President Phil Pritzker, Vice President Joanne Osmond, Past President Karen Fisher, Executive Director Roger Eddy, Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm, and Susan Hilton.

More information about the Advocacy Institute and the agenda can be found on the NSBA website.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Referenda deadlines near

IASB's School Calendar lists dates
and deadlines, including key election dates.
Boards of education have until Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018 to place tax and bond referenda or other public policy questions on the Mar. 20, 2018 general primary ballot (10 ILCS 5/28-2). School board secretaries have until Thursday, Jan. 11, to certify those questions to the county or municipal election authority (10 ILCS 5/28-5).

These are among the numerous dates and deadlines for school districts that can be found on IASB’s 2017-2018 Annual School Calendar. For information on past public policy questions, including specific school finance questions, visit the Illinois State Board of Elections referenda search website.