Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Delegate Assembly convened
at Joint Annual Conference

IASB supports proposal to ensure hospitals
meet tax-exempt qualifications
The Illinois Association of School Boards supports legislation that would require hospitals to meet constitutional standards as charities in order to qualify for property tax exemptions.

Representatives from 371 Illinois school districts considered resolutions on public school issues at the Association’s annual Delegate Assembly. The assembly was held November 21 in Chicago, as part of the 2015 Joint Annual Conference.

The hospital charitable tax exemption resolution was submitted by Niles THSD 219. The rationale for the resolution states that property tax revenue is the primary source of financial support for public schools in Illinois, and the sudden loss of this tax revenue further exacerbates current financial hardships already faced by districts across the state.

One local school board member, Matt Warner, who is board president of Virginia CUSD 64, dissented, suggesting that the Association instead find ways for districts to work with hospitals on local education programs. Warner also mentioned that when the original law was passed it was part of a larger compromise involving a range of issues.

Bourbonnais SD 53 Board President Rob Rodewald countered, and said the resolution was appropriate because “some hospitals are not reaching the level of charitable giving to be classified as tax exempt.”

According to IASB, the intent of the resolution is to clarify previous court decisions and various state laws involving the charitable tax status of Illinois hospitals.

Association officers elected
In addition to setting legislative priorities, IASB delegates voted to elect a new president and vice president. Phil Pritzker, who serves on the Wheeling CCSD 21 school board, becomes president and Joanne Osmond, a member of the Lake Villa elementary school board, is the new vice president. Both will serve one-year terms.

Pritzker had been Association vice president for two years. He replaces Karen Fisher of Marseilles.

Pritzker is in his 27th year as a school board member. He was appointed to the Wheeling board in July 1989 and was elected in November of the same year. He has served as board president and vice president and has chaired the board finance committee. In 2009, Pritzker was named director of IASB’s North Cook Division.

In addition to her duties on the Lake Villa board, Osmond has also served on the Special Education District of Lake County Governing and Executive Board since 2007. She has been an IASB Lake Division officer since 1996, servicing as chair and director.

“I appreciate being able to achieve something I never thought possible 27 years ago after being appointed to the Wheeling board of education,” Pritzker said when accepting the nomination. “I’m grateful for the support of my local board and look forward to serving nearly 6,000 school board members and 843 member districts.”

Delegates also received a written report from IASB Executive Director Roger Eddy. In his annual report, Eddy discussed changes to the Association’s mission and vision and how both are now embedded in their own governance policies. The executive director also highlighted support for two public education initiatives, Vision 20/20, “Fulfilling the Promise of Education in Illinois” and the national “Stand Up 4 Public Schools” campaign.

IASB Treasurer Dale Hansen also delivered his final financial report for the Fiscal Year ending on June 30. Hansen highlighted the Association’s strong financial standing according to audit standards and spoke to IASB’s investment in technology upgrades.

Three other resolutions also came before delegates and all were approved by consent vote. As a result, the Association will be supporting legislation to amend the School Code to allow districts to advertise and sell a structure constructed (or renovated) by students as part of its curricular program by means other than the sealed bid process.

The two other consent votes reaffirmed current IASB position statements. The first urges the creation of new methodology for the funding of State Authorized Charter Schools that would not cause negative financial impacts to the host districts. The other seeks continuation of support for the School Construction Grant Program and urges that current grant entitlements be paid the entire amount before a new school construction program can be implemented.

Ben Schwarm, IASB deputy executive director, spoke to the importance of school district participation in the Assembly. “The Delegate Assembly process is so important because these are the issues that we will take to legislators in Springfield. This event sets our legislative priorities for the coming year,” he said.

One new belief statement was approved by voice vote. Hoover Schrum Memorial SD 157 submitted the statement that reads: “The Illinois Association of School Boards believes that effective local school board governance is vital to the success of our public schools and urges local boards of education to abide by IASB’s Foundational Principals of Effective Governance, avoid real or perceived incidents of impropriety, and adopt policies or procedures to ensure that board members and elected board officers have no conflicts of interest.” This proclamation will be added to current IASB beliefs.

A list of the Association’s current position statements can be found at http://iasb.com/govrel/positions.cfm.