Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Alliance Call to Action


A bill is moving through the Illinois legislature that would require mandatory salary increases for teachers statewide. SB 2892 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill) provides that under the Minimum Salary section of the School Code schools would be required to pay teachers an annual salary increase, up to $40,000 over 5 school years if they are receiving a salary less than $40,000 per year. The schedule looks like this:
  • A minimum of $32,076 for 2019-2020
    • $34,576 for 2020-2021
    • $37,076 for 2021-2022
    • $40,000 for 2022-2023
  • The bill further adds that for each school year thereafter, an automatic salary increase would be required including the minimum salary rate for the previous school year increased by the Consumer Price Index.

Illinois has a collective bargaining law that empowers local school boards, together with their teachers and support staff, to set salaries in consideration of the revenues available to run their schools. School leaders and staff must take into consideration all aspects of its budget and make very difficult decisions to provide an effective education program that meets the needs of all students.

A top-down approach to MANDATE a minimum salary for one group of employees within the school setting, without fully funding the increases, will cause layoffs, dismissals, and program cuts across the board in Illinois schools. Additionally, programs required to meet state and federal education standards will suffer as there will not be enough qualified staff or programming to meet student needs.

School leaders SUPPORT their teachers! This proposal will not help teachers and support staff, it will wreak havoc after Illinois just passed school funding reform that has put Illinois “Back-on-Track” to funding our schools.

It is imperative that you contact your state representative and ask for a NO VOTE on SB 2892!

1. Click here to send a note to your legislator. Please edit the message to include the financial impact of this legislation on your school district. “This measure will cost our district $___ dollars to comply, which could mean laying off staff, cutting programs, etc.” Information regarding how much this mandate will cost your district and cuts that would have to be considered to comply are most compelling.

2. Please SHARE THE FINANCIAL IMPACT OF THIS LEGISLATION with your legislators and with us at mbuch@iasb.com.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Vision 20/20 to refocus in summer of 2018

With new money flowing to schools across the state via the Evidence-Based Funding formula, Illinois Vision 20/20 will begin a process to refocus efforts on other public education priorities while continuing to advocate for the necessary dollars to meet adequacy targets for every school district.

“We’ve certainly made a lot of progress over the last few years in achieving the goals envisioned when Vision 20/20 was launched,” said IASB Executive Director Roger Eddy. “The Evidenced-Based Funding formula is obviously at the forefront of those accomplishments, but we’ve also worked to address teacher reciprocity and varied accountability in the Balanced Accountability pillar.”

Launched in the summer of 2013 with the goal of providing a more equitable and adequate education for children in every region of the state, the initiative has been a success in achieving many of its goals. The four pillars, Equitable and Adequate Funding, Highly Effective Educators, 21st Century Learning, and Shared Accountability, will remain but be repurposed with updated legislative proposals.

Eddy said Vision 20/20 architects and contributors from throughout the state will identify additional proposals to alleviate the ongoing teacher shortage, expand access to high-speed internet for districts, and suggest ways to improve school safety.

“It’s also important that we continue to monitor the initiatives that have been signed into law. For example, the new funding model is intended to get districts to 90 percent of their adequacy target in 10 years. To meet that goal, Illinois schools will need approximately $350 million in new education dollars each year added to the state budget while we also protect local revenue sources. It will be important for Vision 20/20 supporters to continue to advocate for that funding and show how the new formula is contributing to student success,” he added.

In addition to a refocused effort, Illinois Vision 20/20 has a new director. Ralph Grimm, a former superintendent of four western Illinois school districts, has indicated the initiative will have both short- and long-term goals. 

In a newsletter highlighting achievements of the campaign, Grimm announced plans to conduct a revisioning meeting in early August: “The purpose of the meeting will be threefold. First, the success of Vision 20/20 will be highlighted and celebrated. Second, participants will review the four pillars and the original concepts that were adopted for further action. Additional issues within each of the pillars will be identified for possible legislative action. Third, participants will identify those issues that should be moved forward for additional consideration.”

More information and updates on the initiative will be posted on the Illinois Vision 20/20 website and announced on Twitter @ILVision2020

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Alliance Legislative Report 100-68

Many pieces of legislation that infringe on local decision making and increase costs for school districts are still moving through the Illinois General Assembly as we move closer to the scheduled adjournment day of May 31st. We encourage you to take special notice of the mandates covered in this report, as well as our previous Alliance Legislative Reports, and reach out to your state legislators to oppose legislation that negatively impacts school finances and local curricular determination.

When both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly meet next, there will only be 10 days remaining to get a Fiscal Year 2019 budget in place before the legislative deadline. While there may not be agreement among all parties on a budget, there are more discussions and negotiations taking place, albeit behind closed doors, than in years past. The four legislative leaders met with the Governor on a few occasions this week to plot the course for the next fiscal year as well as discuss a potential supplemental appropriation for this fiscal year. 

Click here to read the complete Alliance Legislative Report 100-68, including floor and committee action and information on an IEPA settlement with Volkswagen that could result in transportation upgrade funds.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Court ruling upholds school district protections from liability

In a major case upholding school district protection from liability, the Illinois First District Appellate Court recently ruled that Chicago District 299 is immune under Section 2-201 of the state’s so-called Tort Immunity Act from a lawsuit.

The lawsuit involved a high school student allegedly attacked by another student off campus. Student Elizabeth Castillo and her family had charged the district with failing to discipline the alleged attacker in compliance with the School Code’s bullying prevention statute, and failing to prevent an attack through “supervisory” actions.

According to the decision filed on April 24, however, Section 2-201 of the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (Tort Immunity Act, 745 ILCS 10-2-201) shields school districts from such a lawsuit. The law applies to public employees, including school employees, performing discretionary functions.

The court noted that Castillo’s “failure to discipline” claim involving Section 2-201 of the Tort Immunity Act (Tort Immunity Act, 745 ILCS 10-2-201) “only mandates that every school district create a policy on bullying; it does not mandate that a school respond to a particular instance of bullying in a particular way.” But because implementation of the district’s anti-bullying policy required both discretion and decision making by school officials, the Court found that the district was immune under Section 2-201 of the Tort Immunity Act.

Castillo’s “failure to prevent" claim involved Section 4-201 of the Tort Immunity Act (745 ILCS 10/4-201), which provides that neither a public entity nor its employees are liable for failure to provide police protection service. Illinois courts have repeatedly held that school officials are immune from suit when a student is harmed off-campus, even if school officials knew that violence was likely. Castillo attempted to distinguish her case by arguing she did not allege the district should have acted in the role of police to prevent Martinez’s the off campus attack, but that it should have protected her through “supervisory” actions. The Court did not buy this argument, stating there is no case distinguishing Castillo’s suggested actions as “supervisory” instead of “police,” and that the “supervisory” actions Castillo suggested could “inevitably slide into the area of school discipline,” which is covered by Section 2-201 immunity.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Governor unveils gun safety proposals

Through the use of a sweeping amendatory veto of existing gun legislation, Governor Bruce Rauner has introduced a list of new measures regarding gun safety – with specific provisions for school safety.

HB 1468, approved by the House of Representatives in February and by the Senate in March, sat on the governor’s desk until the last possible day for gubernatorial action. As passed by the legislature, the bill simply extended the 72 hour waiting period currently required before the purchase of hand guns to the purchase of assault rifles.

On May 14, the governor issued his amendatory veto with his comprehensive “specific recommendations for change.” One provision would allow for receipts that schools receive from the County School Facilities Sales Tax to be used for the costs of school resource officers (SRO) and mental health professionals. Currently, funds from the county-wide sales tax can only be used for school facility purposes.

The bill will now head back to the legislature where both chambers will have to accept the governor’s changes before it could become law.

For counties that have already adopted the county-wide sales tax for school facilities, they would have to go back to the voters to ask for authorization to also use the funds for SROs and mental health professionals. In the future, counties that have the sales tax question on the ballot would specify whether the receipts could be used for school facilities, SROs and mental health professionals, or both. Also, for those counties that impose the sales tax in the future, the county could place on the ballot a referendum on whether or not the tax should be reduced in rate or discontinued.

Other provisions proposed by the governor include

  • Requiring a 72 hour waiting period before the purchase of any firearm;
  • Allowing for family members and law enforcement to identify individuals who pose a danger to themselves or others to petition a court to disarm those individuals;
  • Strengthening laws regarding charging individuals with the most serious offense in cases involving the illegal use or possession of a firearm; and
  • Imposing the death penalty in cases of deliberately killing a law enforcement officer or committing mass murder.

Updates on how the legislature proceeds with HB 1468 will be provided in the Alliance Legislative Reports.