Wednesday, February 24, 2016

VIDEO: A Conversation with IASB Governmental Relations

IASB Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm and Director Deanna Sullivan recently sat down with Assistant Director Zach Messersmith to discuss Governor Bruce Rauner's budget address, what may be in store for the coming year, and how long it could take before a finalized budget is approved.


If the video is not displaying correctly in your browser, click here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Alliance distributes new school laws info

The Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance recently compiled and distributed a publication to inform school leaders about new laws and changes in existing laws made in the year 2015 and taking effect in 2016.

The Alliance is comprised of the Illinois Association of School Boards, the Illinois Association of School Administrators, Illinois Association of School Business Officials, and the Illinois Principals Association.

Included in the document are 64 new laws impacting school districts, including concussion protocols, civics course requirements, student discipline, teacher licensure and reciprocity, accountability, health and safety concerns, as well as several Tax Increment Finance bills.

Also included in this publication is IASB Policy Reference Educational Subscription Service (PRESS) information regarding new legislation, where applicable. If a new law requires action by the school board, the corresponding PRESS policy number will follow the public act information.
This publication has been mailed to district superintendents, business officials and principals, along with each school board’s legislative liaison and president.

The complete document is also available online; click here to access.

Federal Legislative Report 114-8

EVERY STUDENT SUCCEEDS ACT (ESSA) UPDATE
Education stakeholders in Washington, D.C., have been very busy since the passage of ESSA working on the implementation. The House Education & Workforce Committee held a hearing on February 10, which focused on ESSA implementation and strengthening local governance. The Senate will hold a similar hearing on February 23.

Click here to read the complete Federal Legislative Report 114-8, including more on ESSA, proposed "white collar exemptions" in labor regulations, school nutrition reauthorization, federal education budgets, and health care and education.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Registration re-opens Feb. 23
for Advocacy Institute

An NSBA website promotional shot shows last year's event.
The Advocacy Institute, which has been rescheduled for June 12-14 due to the blizzard that hit Washington, D.C. in January, will re-open registration on Feb. 23. All event registrations from January were rolled over to the June institute; however, registrants must make their hotel reservations again with NSBA’s housing company to ensure the group rate.

Contact NSBA at 1-800-950-6722 or email to registration@nsba.org, with any questions or concerns.

Visit the NSBA website for more information about the Advocacy Institute.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Conference exhibitor information, forms posted

The 2015 Joint Annual Conference drew 1,224 exhibitors.
IASB has posted information for registration and housing for all exhibitors planning to attend the 2016 Joint Annual Conference.

Information and forms were posted online Feb. 12. Registration and housing forms can be downloaded as a fillable PDF; however forms cannot be submitted online. Forms will be accepted by fax or email if payment is made by credit card. If payment is made by check, forms must be submitted by mail to IASB, 2921 Baker Drive, Springfield, 62703.  

“We will do our best to assign the same booth space as last year or the closest space to the booth requested for those who get the contract signed early,” said IASB Meetings Management Assistant Director and Exhibit Manager Dana Heckrodt.

Instructions and forms are posted here.

Now in its 84th year, the Joint Annual Conference has welcomed exhibitors for the past 68 years. The Conference is proud to have vendors that have exhibited annually for 10, 20, and even 30-plus years. It annually draws nearly 10,000 school leaders and guests. This year’s conference will be held Nov. 18-20 in Chicago. The exhibit hall will be open on Friday and Saturday.

Questions about exhibitions, forms, or procedures, should be directed to IASB Meetings Management at 217/528-9688, ext. 1115.



Essentials of Illinois School Finance
now available

Special edition published in e-book form

Since it was first published in 2002, Essentials of Illinois School Finance has been a mainstay for Illinois universities that teach school finance classes to prospective school administrators. Newly available is the latest version – a special edition in consideration of the ongoing budget stalemate in Illinois.

The author, James B. Fritts, has continued his work on other parts of the book and updated the essential financial, statutory, and regulatory data wherever possible.

The scope and purpose of the book, sub-titled “A Guide to Techniques, Issues and Resources,” remains the same. The first part of the book deals with revenue — where schools get it, how they maximize it, protect it, manage it and plan for it. The second half of the book addresses expenditures — how schools budget for them, reduce them, and make plans to deal with them. Together, the two sections provide a solid base for financial management and long-range planning.

This special edition is only available in “e-book” format, which is a first for IASB. This was done in order to meet the timeline needs of university customers as all parties deal with Illinois state budget delays. In addition to timeliness, the new e-book edition is searchable and offers bookmark, highlight, and note-taking utilities and live links.

For more information, visit the IASB online bookstore, or go directly to Essentials of Illinois School Finance at amazon.com.

IASB anticipates standard ink-and-paper printing of this and other titles in the future. Until then, if you have comments on the e-book format or require more information, contact srotherham@iasb.com.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Division dinner meeting sponsors announced

This year’s round of Illinois Association of School Boards’ spring division dinner meetings is sponsored by the following organizations:
  • Legacy Level sponsors: NaviGate/Lauren Innovations, Workers’ Compensation Self-Insurance Trust (WCSIT), and Illinois School District Agency (ISDA)
  • Millennium Level sponsor: NextEra Energy Services
  • Century Level sponsor: First Midstate, Inc., Stifel
  • Decade Level sponsor: Kings Financial Consulting Inc.
  • Division Meeting sponsors: GCA Education Services, Inc.; Larson & Darby Group; Legat Architects, Inc.; OpTerra Energy Services; and Wight & Company. 
The IASB sponsorship program provides opportunities for individuals and organizations to provide financial sponsorship to support and enhance all of the division meetings program purposes: board member professional development, networking, peer recognition, association governance, and learning about resources available from IASB.

For more information about division meeting sponsorship opportunities, contact Cathy Talbert, associate executive director, field services and policy services, at ext. 1234, or email her at: ctalbert@iasb.com.

Division Leadership Workshop
informs, develops, celebrates

IASB staff presenters shared ideas with 45 division leaders.
Forty-five school board members recently attended the second IASB Division Leadership Workshop, designed to strengthen leadership skills, network with other division leaders, understand their roles and responsibilities, and be recognized for service to the Association.

“This is where you get a voice,” one division leader noted about division governance and the opportunity it gives to local school boards to discuss challenges and concerns with similarly situated boards and with IASB leadership.

IASB staff facilitated the workshop. “There were many moments when leaders from varied divisions could share their experiences and ideas,” said Perry Hill, IASB field services director for the South Cook, Three Rivers, and West Cook divisions. “These moments affirmed a spirit of collaboration and comradery that may contribute to an infusion of innovation within a host of future division activities.”

Participants commented favorably on the workshop, which helped them develop awareness of how they can make a contribution in their leadership position, network with others in similar roles and with shared ideas, and learn more about IASB, especially the differences in leadership challenges among the 21 divisions.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Alliance Legislative Report (99-37)

GOVERNOR PRESENTS BUDGET MESSAGE
As the state is in the middle of the eighth month of the fiscal year with no budget in place, Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his annual Budget Address today before a joint meeting of the Illinois General Assembly. Stating that 2016 cannot be a repeat of the budget failures of last year, he laid out two options from which the legislature must choose to implement a budget.

Option one, the governor’s preferred choice, would have the legislature reach a compromise with the governor’s office on a mixture of budget cuts, fiscal reforms, and increased revenues to approve a balanced budget. The reforms would include some of the components of, or at least a portion of components of, Governor Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda.”

Option two would be for the legislature to approve a general budget along with legislation to give the governor authority to make cuts where he feels it is necessary in order to balance the budget.

CPS representative named to IASB Board of Directors

Jaime Guzman
The newest member of the Chicago Board of Education will also serve as the latest appointment to the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) Board of Directors.

Jaime Guzman accepted a position on the Chicago District 299 school board on Jan. 11, filling the vacancy left by former member Jesse Ruiz. Guzman was also elected as the District 299 board vice president on Jan. 27.

Throughout his career Guzman has held positions in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. He is currently executive director of the Taproot Foundation, which connects social change organizations and other not-for-profits with skilled volunteers who share their expertise pro bono.

Guzman has an extensive career in education, holding positions at the elementary, secondary, and college levels. He has been a bilingual teacher with Teach For America, where he went on to hold the position of program director for the nonprofit’s Chicago division. Guzman was also employed at Chicago Public Schools as a teacher at Kanoon Magnet School, and later in the Office of New Schools, where he managed the authorization of new public schools. He has also served as chief advisor to the City Colleges of Chicago Board of Trustees and as regional director for education at the National Council of La Raza.

Guzman replaces Ruiz, who stepped down from the CPS board in December and was appointed to chair the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners. Ruiz served on the IASB board since 2011. Prior to that, he chaired the Illinois State Board of Education.

Guzman is the latest member to join the IASB board. In 2015, seven new members were seated  on the board, including Mark Christ (Southwestern), Dennis Inboden (Wabash Valley), Carla Joiner-Herrod (West Cook), June Maguire (Lake County), David Rockwell (Blackhawk), Thomas Ruggio (DuPage), and Denis Ryan (South Cook).

IASB President Phil Pritzker (North Cook) personally welcomed Guzman, adding: “The Board of Directors welcome the appointment of Jaime Guzman to represent CPS on our eclectic mix of local board members from around the state.”

“As a former teacher and administrator with great academic and real-life credentials in education, Jaime will arrive on day one with a special perspective, I believe, which will add to the engaging debate we have underway on how to bolster excellence in local school governance supporting quality public education,” Pritzker said. “Mr. Guzman succeeds a tremendous public servant in Jesse Ruiz; someone who brought value and wisdom to our deliberations. I am confident that Jaime will similarly bring a high level of engagement for our special mission,” he added.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Construction bonds approved

Twenty-nine Illinois school districts have been authorized to issue bonds that will benefit from an interest subsidy through the federal Qualified School Construction Bond (QSCB) program.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) approved this essentially interest-free bonding authority at its Feb. 10 meeting for the top qualifying school districts under program rules. A total of $495.6 million in bonding authority from the federal government will be available, or an average of $17 million per district.

“This authorization means selected districts can take advantage of low- to zero-interest bonds to pay for building and construction needs rather than diverting limited financial resources away from the classroom” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith. “No state dollars are being spent and local taxpayers will not have to help foot the bill for high interest costs.”

A total of 193 applications were received from Illinois school districts, totaling $2.4 billion. Twenty-eight of the 29 districts are recommended for the full amount of their authorization request. The 29th district is recommended for the amount of authorization that remained available, which covered more than half (52.4 percent) of the district’s requested amount.

The other 164 school districts applied by the Jan. 15 deadline but were not recommended for approval. ISBE had announced in December that first priority was to go to school districts having “shovel-ready” projects in the works, and to those districts having the ability to borrow money. Because the requests far exceeded availability, school districts that applied were also ranked based on additional factors, including their count of low-income students, available local resources, existing tax rate, and the amount of inadequately housed students learning in mobile classrooms, as well as their reliance on very old buildings or buildings that are over capacity.

Districts are limited to a maximum request of $50 million each. The largest project granted was $50 million requested by Aurora East SD 131. The smallest amount was $670,000 requested by Burnham SD 154 ½. If any authorized district does not issue the QSCB bonds within 18 months, the authority will revert back to ISBE. Under program rules, also, bond proceeds must be spent within three years of the issue date.

The QSCB program was created under Section 1521(a) of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The program is a source of limited financial bonding for school districts to fund the rehabilitation or repair of an existing public school facility, construction of a new public school facility, equipment associated with repair or construction, or for land acquisition related to the construction of a new facility. Bond proceeds can be used for building rehabilitation and repair, allowing districts to issue low- to no-interest bonds in lieu of higher-interest Fire Prevention (health, life, and safety) bonds.

Below is the list of the 29 districts approved for an award of authorization by the Illinois State Board of Education.


County
District Name
QSCB Authorization Requested
QSCB Authorization Recommended
Cook
Chicago Heights SD 170
$45,000,000
   $45,000,000
Lake
Waukegan CUSD 60
7,000,000
        7,000,000
Cook
Lincoln ESD 156
4,350,000
        4,350,000
Cook
Community Consolidated SD 168
9,000,000
        9,000,000
Lake
Round Lake Area Schools 116
900,000
           900,000
Kane
Aurora East SD 131
50,000,000
      50,000,000
Cook
Park Forest SD 163
13,000,000
      13,000,000
Cook
Sandridge SD 172
1,300,000
         1,300,000
Cook
Burnham SD 154-5
670,000
            670,000
Cook
Lansing Elem SD 158
18,000,000
       18,000,000
Cook
Cicero SD 99
28,445,000
       28,445,000
Cook
Hoover-Schrum Memorial SD 157
3,000,000
         3,000,000
Marion
Sandoval CUSD 501
2,000,000
          2,000,000
Cook
Posen-Robbins SD 143.5
11,700,000
11,700,000
Winnebago
Rockford PSD 205
29,086,530
29,086,530
Vermilion
Danville CCSD 118
3,365,500
3,365,500
Cook
Country Club Hills ESD 160
6,000,000
6,000,000
Kankakee
Kankakee SD 111
29,820,000
29,820,000
Champaign
Rantoul Twp. HSD 193
1,015,874
1,015,874
Cook
JS Morton HSD 201
50,000,000
50,000,000
Cook
Argo CHSD 217
17,800,000
17,800,000
Cook
Bremen Twp. HSD 228
50,000,000
50,000,000
Cook
W Harvey-Dixmoor PSD 147
10,000,000
10,000,000
DuPage
Marquardt SD 15
26,700,000
26,700,000
Champaign
Rantoul City Schools 137
10,000,000
10,000,000
Cook
Bloom Twp. HSD 206
30,000,000
30,000,000
LaSalle
LaSalle ESD 122
5,478,000
5,478,000
LaSalle
Streator ESD 44
5,500,000
5,500,000
Kane
Aurora West Unit School District 129
50,000,000
26,471,096
Total
$519,130,904
$495,602,000












Wednesday, February 10, 2016

ISBE News

FY 17 ed budget requested
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has released its Fiscal Year 2017 budget recommendation calling for an additional $262.1 million in funds and increasing the Foundation Level to $6,327 per student. The Foundation Level has not been raised since FY 2010 and hasn’t been fully funded at the statutorily required $6,119 amount since FY 2012.

In order to align ISBE’s goals of providing an equitable distribution of education dollars, the state board has suggested reallocating the $305 million line item for special education into the General State Aid (GSA) formula. Superintendent Tony Smith says that the change will ensure GSA funds will be distributed on a more equitable basis. If approved, the formula adjustment would benefit 77 percent of Illinois students in districts with the least wealth and the greatest number of low-income pupils. School districts that generate greater local resources and have a smaller amount of low-income students would receive a smaller portion of GSA funding. Losses for those schools would amount to less than one percent of their district’s operating revenue.

The complete budget proposal can be found here. A district-by-district analysis of the proposed GSA changes is available here.

SAT selected as entrance exam
After reviewing various proposals from vendors to administer a college entrance exam for all Illinois 11th grade students, ISBE selected the College Board. In a change from the past, the College Board administers the SAT. Meanwhile, ACT has filed a protest to the selection, temporarily halting the finalization of the contract, as ISBE has sought to speed up that decision.

Because the budget for Fiscal Year 2016 is still not complete, ISBE does not know if funds will be available to pay for the administration of the test this spring. ISBE’s current plan is to provide two spring dates for the test and require districts to choose one.

The College Board also offers free, personalized practice testing through a partnership with Khan Academy. Students have access to videos, numerous practice questions, an app, and four practice tests. 

ESSA guidance offered
In order to ease the transition into the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the U.S. Department of Education has outlined flexibilities available to states for the 2016-2017 school year. The majority of the 2016 grant funds will continue to use the formula allocations and procedures currently in place, with exceptions relative to educational agency interventions and supports, interventions for English learners, and No Child Left Behind provisions that were excluded from ESSA.

Most of ESSA will not go into effect until the 2017-2018 school year. ISBE is in the process of creating a webpage to help guide districts through the changes. In the meantime, questions and concerns should be emailed to essa@isbe.net.

I-Star system
ISBE will begin using the I-Star system for the 2016-2017 school year, replacing the iePoint software currently in use. I-Star is a web-based special education database and data management system for all districts and joint agreements. The new system incorporates student and personnel approvals, while also offering an additional individualized education component.

The upgraded features in I-Star include:

  • Access to ISBE’s IWAS portal
  • Student demographic information will be automatically populated from the Student Information System, eliminating duplicative entries
  • Personnel data will be populated from the Employment Information and Educator Licensure Information Systems
  • Feedback and verification of data with ISBE systems will occur in real time

Additional information regarding I-Star is available through Harrisburg Project’s I-Star webpage.

ACCESS testing dates
Materials for the ACCESS for English Language Learners assessment have been shipped to districts later than originally planned, pushing back the timeframe in which tests will be given and collected. Testing should be completed by Feb. 26. Testing materials should be returned to the vendor by March 4.

Health exam forms revised
A revised Child Health Examination Form will be available for use during the 2016-2017 school year. The updated form is not required for next year, but will be mandatory for the 2017-2018 school year. All first-time students entering Illinois schools must complete a physical exam, and students entering kindergarten (or first grade if not enrolled in kindergarten), as well as the sixth, and ninth grade must provide proof of examination. The new form can be found on ISBE’s website.

Census estimate could affect Title I
The Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) for 2014 have been released by the U.S. Department of Education. The data will be used by Local Education Agencies (LEA) to determine funding eligibility for Basic, Concentration, Targeted, and Education Finance Incentive grants.

ISBE will be using these numbers to calculate 2016-2017 Title I, Part A allocations. School officials and Title I directors should review the data closely as this information will determine whether the LEA may be gaining or losing in eligibility for FY 2017 Title I funds. The challenge period for the SIAPE estimates ends on March 8. Information on how to challenge the findings can be found here.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Seven countywide sales tax proposals
face voters

At least 11 local school finance referendum questions in 10 school districts are set to appear on the March 15 primary election ballot. Dozens more school districts would also benefit from seven countywide referenda on sales tax propositions earmarked for school facility purposes.

Seven counties (marked by an X) will vote on school sales tax referendums in March.

The largest of these finance propositions is at North Shore SD 112, Highland Park, where $198 million in bond revenue could be obtained if voters approve the proposal. The measure asks voters to endorse borrowing to fund a school consolidation plan to reconfigure and reduce the district’s number of school buildings.

Districts known to be placing local school finance issues before voters in March include:

  • Galena USD 120, a $15.7 million bond issue, to renovate an existing facility and construct a new combined middle and high school building
  • Hillsboro CUSD 3, a $34.5 million bond issue, for facility upgrades, including construction of a new high school
  • Hinsdale CCSD 181, a $65 million bond issue, to fund a new middle school
  • Homewood SD 153, a $9 million working cash bond issue over a seven-year period, to cover fiscal shortfalls as property values have dropped and state aid cuts have cost the district million of dollars in lost revenue
  • Monticello CUSD 25, a $40.9 million bond issue, for construction of a new high school building
  • Morton CUSD 709, a property tax hike of 29 cents per $100 market value for building repairs, meanwhile using $1.5 million in working cash bond reserves
  • North Shore SD 112, Highland Park, a $198 million bond issue, to improve facilities for the purpose of consolidating schools in the district
  • Peotone CUSD 207-U, a limiting rate increase to boost property taxes by 90 cents per $100 of home value, generating about $3 million, for district operations
  • Taft School District 90, Lockport, a limiting rate hike to increase property taxes by $333 for a home valued at $100,000 per year in order to fund district operations and help offset a 30 to 35 percent decline in equalized assessed value in the past couple of years
  • Valmeyer CUSD 3, a $1.5 million bond issue, for school funding purposes

In addition to school district propositions, countywide sales tax proposals to benefit schools are scheduled in the following seven counties: Bond, Carroll, DeWitt, Edwards, Jefferson, Macoupin, and Monroe. Since the state law took effect in January 2008, 33 counties have adopted the retailers occupation and service occupation tax for school facilities.

IASB will report on results of all the March 15 school referenda. The passing rates of school finance referenda since 1989 are available online.

Topics vary for
spring division dinner meetings

From school finance to school governance, the Illinois Association of School Boards will offer a wide range of topics at its 2016 spring division dinner meetings.

The meetings begin Feb. 25 and conclude April 25 (click to see complete list).

A discussion of legal issues will be presented as a panel or breakout session at eight division meetings. “Trends in the Schoolyard” will include teams of legal experts examining student management issues.

Beth Purvis
Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis will discuss her role and the current trends in “Cradle-to-Career Strategy & Policy” at the DuPage and Lake divisions, while community engagement will be on the menu at the Central Illinois Valley and Three Rivers divisions. School safety and security will also be on several agendas, featuring Paul Timm of RETA Security, and Patrick M. Twomey of Macomb CUSD 185.

Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, school board member and a familiar face at division dinner meetings, will present “The Future of Illinois & State Funding” at four of this year’s meetings. Finance will also be the topic for Jim Burgett of Stifel and Michael Jacoby, executive director of the Illinois Association of School Business Officials.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Index of articles posted

The index of The Illinois School Board Journal is now updated for all issues published through 2015. Journal indices are available by both author and by subject, dating back to 2008. Journal subjects covered in 2015 ranged from administration and assessments, to new media and nutrition, to technology and training.

A separate index is also available for articles published in the Illinois School Board Newsbulletin, for the period of January through May 2015. Publication of the Newsbulletin ceased in June, but the same content was reconfigured to appear in the Illinois School Board NewsBlog. All content posted on the blog is fully searchable and indexed through labels on the column to the right.

The index for both publications is now available.