Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Journal covers student discipline,
tips for school board candidates

The September/October issue of The Illinois School Board Journal offers insight on two hot topics for school board members.

Commonly known as Senate Bill 100, Illinois’ new student discipline law aims to reduce exclusionary discipline, such as expulsions and suspensions. In “New direction for student discipline” by school attorney Courtney Stillman, read about the reasons behind Senate Bill 100 and its application in today’s school policies, including special education. Also, discover the role restorative justice plays in student discipline in the article “Using carrots instead of sticks” by IASB Assistant General Counsel Maryam Brotine.

“Getting on, and staying on, the ballot,” is an important topic for new candidates as well as school board members seeking re-election. Read the piece by school attorneys Scott F. Uhler and Gregory T. Smith to discover the best practices to employ, and possible pitfalls to avoid, in preparing and submitting nominating papers.

Baseball is also in this month’s Journal lineup, with a look from Diallo Telli Brown at how Moneyball-style analytics can be applied to the running of schools.

Additionally, the Journal’s recent series on arts in education prompted G. Howard “Bud” Thompson, IASB president in 1976-1977, to reflect on the importance of art in his life. “The arts are not a frill,” Thompson says. “They are not only important, they are crucial.”

Watch for the print edition of The Illinois School Board Journal in your mailbox, or click here or below to read the full digital edition.



Tuesday, August 30, 2016

New laws to impact access to closed meeting recordings, student residency procedures

Ben Schwarm
As the General Assembly spent the spring months debating and passing legislation, the governor is now using the summer to review proposals approved by legislators. In doing so, a number of initiatives that will impact local school governance have become law. 

Two initiatives that will carry substantial changes for how boards of education deal with closed session recordings and student residency procedures were recently added to Illinois statutes.

Public Act 99-515, sponsored by Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton), amends the Open Meetings Act (OMA) to require that a public body’s closed session minutes and verbatim recordings be made available for review by a newly elected or appointed public official.  It does not allow the removal of closed session minutes or verbatim recordings from the public body’s administrative offices, and the items must be reviewed in the presence of certain listed officials of the public body.

IASB Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm said the original opposition from IASB was due to significantly altering previously negotiated and agreed OMA requirements for the purpose of closed session verbatim recordings. “We opposed the bill because it far surpasses the intent of the original verbatim recording legislation,” indicated Schwarm. “School boards need to be careful with this implementation and should consult the district’s local attorney for guidance.”

Kimberly Small, IASB General Counsel, also cautioned boards to be aware of the changes contained in the amended Act, paying particular attention to where closed session verbatim recordings and closed session minutes can be accessed and who must be present.
Kimberly Small

“There have been a lot of a questions about the intent of the new language that requires the access to be given in the public body’s main office or official storage location, in the presence of a records secretary, an administrative official, or any elected official of the public body,” said Small.

“The intent of the language is that no one requesting access views or listens alone. This is to prevent misuse and/or removal of closed session minutes or the closed session verbatim recording from district offices,” she said. “It is also intended to prevent the board member who wants access from being alone and in a situation where he or she could be accused of taking or doing something he or she did not do. Board members should work with their counsel to develop logistics of how to best comply locally with these requirements.”

The measure became law on June 30 and is effective immediately. IASB’s PRESS service will be addressing the changes in Issue 93, due to be published in October.

Major changes in the procedures for challenging student residency, made by Public Act 99-0670, should also be on board member’s radar beginning Jan. 1, 2017.

Sponsored by Rep. William Davis (D-Hazel Crest) the law changes notification procedures and the appeal process of a non-resident student for which tuition is required to be charged.
The 2016 edition of IASB’s Digest of Bills Passed
contains descriptions of recently adopted bills.

Amongst the new requirements are that the notice of non-residency given to the individual who enrolled the student, which currently notifies the individual of the tuition amount to be paid, must also detail specific reasons why the board believes the student is a nonresident of the district. If the individual challenges the district’s non-residency determination by requesting a residency hearing, then the notice of hearing will need to notify the individual that any written evidence and testimony or witnesses not disclosed to the district at least three calendar days prior to the hearing are barred. This requirement also applies to the district, which must disclose all of the written evidence and testimony that it may submit during the hearing, as well as a list of witnesses it may call, to the individual requesting the hearing at least three calendar days in advance of the hearing.

Following the residency hearing, the board of education will still decide whether or not the student is a resident of the district. However, as of Jan. 1, 2017, the individual who enrolled the student will be entitled to petition the regional superintendent of schools to review the board of education’s decision. After reviewing any written evidence and testimony submitted by the parties during the hearing, as well as any written minutes or transcript of the hearing, the regional superintendent will issue a written decision as to whether or not there is clear and convincing evidence that the student is a resident.

IASB opposed the legislation because it removes the final decision making authority of student residency from locally elected school boards, and instead puts the outcome in the hands of regional superintendents. The newly added review requirements will substantially prolong the process, potentially creating increased costs for both school districts and families.

“Though we were able to make some moderate improvements to this bill during the legislative process, this law will add some very specific procedural and notification changes for school districts regarding residency hearings,” cautioned Schwarm. “Districts need to make sure they consult IASB’s PRESS policy service and their district attorney.”

Descriptions of bills passed by the General Assembly and under consideration by the governor can be found in the 2016 edition of IASB’s Digest of Bills Passed.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Funding hike brings budget flexibility

Jennifer Gill, superintendent,
Springfield School District 186
The state budget and education spending dominated Illinois news coverage for the first half of 2016. Among the issues: proposals to change the way tax dollars are distributed to schools; recommended increases in school funding that varied from $100 million to nearly $1 billion; and the doomsday prospect of schools not opening on time because a budget was not finalized. All came and went, with more money funneled to schools but little change in the way those funds are dispersed.

Illinois school districts will see more than $360 million in new state funding during fiscal year 2017. The per-pupil foundation level will be fully funded at $6,119 per student, an additional $250 million sent via “equity” grants to schools with the highest poverty ranks, and $75 million more dedicated to early childhood education. Mandated categorical grants remain at FY 2016 amounts and Chicago Public Schools receive $215 million toward the normal cost of their teacher’s pensions, contingent upon legislators approving some kind of pension reform by the first of the year.

The resulting prospects are positive for districts around the state. For the first time in nearly seven years, schools will receive the statutorily set foundation level, leaving them additional flexibility to spend on other critical needs.
Jay Strang, chief business official,
Indian Prairie School District 204

Jay Strang, the chief school business official of Indian Prairie School District 204 (Naperville), said he is pleased with the education spending approved by the state.  “It is higher than the pro-rated amounts we have received in the past. We had originally projected a 92 percent proration, but the full funding amounts to an additional $3 million,” Strang said.

District 204 will spend around $321 million next year, with nearly $47 million, or 15 percent, coming from the state, and $265 million, or 83 percent, from local property taxes. The federal government will provide the remainder: roughly $9 million, or a little less than 3 percent.

While encouraged by the increase in funding, Strang said the state’s delay in approving a spending plan presented other challenges. 

“When revenue projections are that late you can’t plan for projects. We then have to take money out of our capital outlay and that delays those projects,” Strang indicated.  “We were working to install air conditioners in our elementary classrooms.  That is a summer project that has to be pushed back to the fall and possibly to next year because we missed the prime bidding season in the spring.”

Springfield School District 186 plans to spend a little over $190 million for the current school year. The district will have a surplus of $2.6 million in its education fund. Technology upgrades for teachers and students, as well as the addition of new positions, such as a psychologist, are on the agenda for this year.

District 186 Superintendent Jennifer Gill also expressed her optimism regarding the fully funded general state aid formula. "It allowed us to pass a balanced budget and have a small surplus that we can utilize to support teaching and learning in our district,” Gill acknowledged. “While it will take us more than one year to replenish things we have lost over the past few years with several rounds of budget cuts, this year we will feel less pressure when student needs arise.”

The fiscal 2017 education budget is promising for districts throughout the state; however, the unknowns for the coming year are certainly on the minds of school officials.

“As lawmakers consider school funding formulas, it is important for them to remember the needs of school districts like ours,” said Gill. “We also hope that transportation reimbursement will be considered in new funding formula models, since we are currently at 70 percent proration. This directly affects our overall operating budget and is essential for students getting to school safely each and every day.”

When asked what he would like to see from the state before the start of next school year, Strang said, “A two-year state budget would be nice. I would like to see them work toward the Vision 20/20 Evidence-Based Funding model, but that will require additional revenue from the state.”

A full list of all Illinois school districts general state aid budget allocations is available at the Illinois State Board of Education website.



Saturday, August 27, 2016

Alliance Legislative Report 99-53



GOVERNOR VETOES BILL ON ESP RIGHTS

Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill that would have granted new rights to educational support personnel (ESP) in school districts in cases of reduction in force (RIF). HB 6299 (Andrade, D-Chicago) provides that if ESPs are dismissed as a result of a RIF and the employee accepts re-employment with the same district, the employee maintains any rights accrued during the previous service with the school district. The Alliance had opposed the bill throughout the legislative session and strongly urged the governor to veto the bill.

The governor, in his veto message, stated that the bill “would impose another mandate on school districts in how they manage their personnel” and that these decisions “should be made at the local level, not mandated by statute.”

The Alliance letter to Governor Rauner can be found here. The governor’s veto message is available here.

Click here to read the entire Alliance Legislative Report 99-53

Friday, August 26, 2016

IASB school calendar released

IASB has posted its Annual School Calendar of legal dates and deadlines for 2016-2017 online. This is published in order to help school districts prepare their local school calendars. Dates contained in it comply with all statutory deadlines in the Election Code, the School Code, and selected acts of the General Assembly.

Among the noteworthy new listings in the calendar are the updated election deadlines and a deadline arising under a new state law regarding board expenditures. On the board expenditure law topic, for example, the calendar entry for November 15 states:

Last day for school district to file with the State Board of Education, a one-page report that lists the actual administrative expenditures for the prior year from the district’s audited Annual Financial Report, and the projected administrative expenses for the current year from the adopted budget. (17-1.5)

The calendar is a PDF that can easily be downloaded here.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Conference hotels filling up

The Hyatt Regency Chicago is nearly booked up.
With the 84th Joint Annual Conference just three months away, there is still time to register for the upcoming event and related professional development opportunities; however housing blocks at reduced rates are filling up fast.

Three participating hotels, the Fairmont, SwissĂ´tel, and Embassy Suites, are sold out, and the Hyatt Regency Chicago is nearly sold out as well. Housing offered through IASB at conference rates is still available for the Hyatt, the Sheraton Grand Chicago, Marriott Chicago Downtown, and Intercontinental Chicago.

More information on housing is available on the Conference registration and housing webpage for school districts. Conference registrations will continue to be accepted at the pre-conference rate of $445 per person through Oct. 14. After that date, registration fees will be $470 per person.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

LSBA establishes school flood relief fund

The Illinois Association of School Boards is responding to a request made recently by Scott Richard, executive director of the Louisiana School Boards Association in Baton Rouge:

“Natural disasters such as the historic flooding event occurring in south Louisiana never happen at a ‘good time’ … this one is hitting just as many school districts started the new school year. In fact, the most seriously affected school districts had just completed day one or two of the new school year, and now face the challenge of trying to get schools up and running again ― without the necessary supplies needed to do so. Moreover, many families have lost all their belongings and their homes.

“While we know state and federal assistance is in process, the LSBA Board of Directors and membership felt it appropriate to establish an LSBA Fund for Restoring Schools in order to provide some additional assistance in the short term ... As we learned from past experience with natural disasters; it's imperative that schools get up and running as soon as possible. Every day that is lost is a day a student is not learning,” Richard said.

The Louisiana School Boards Association represents 69 local public school districts in the state of Louisiana. Their relief effort is aimed at helping the schools most dramatically affected by the recent and unprecedented flooding, back up and running. All contributions into the fund will be donated by the LSBA to school districts based upon the proportion of students whose schools were flooded.

The school district will then decide how best to expend the funds, as they will best know how to address their individual needs. While there is the promise of federal assistance, that often takes time. The LSBA will be able to provide short-term assistance for such necessities as classroom supplies, repairs, clean-up costs, and basic technology replacement.

“Your help will make the difference in the education of children, many of whom have suffered the loss of their homes and personal belongings,” Richard added. 

To access the LSBA fund for restoring schools, click on this link:

Monday, August 22, 2016

Directors review Association results

Treasurer Thomas Neeley
gave the financial report,
which showed FY16 ended
better than first projected.
At the quarterly meeting of the Illinois Association of School Boards Board of Directors on August 14, the board continued its ongoing review of governing policies and procedures.

A new report allowed the board to assess which specific services and programs are being offered to members by the Association. In the future, additional reports will show how the Association is doing, according to IASB consultant Angie Peifer. Combined, these policies enable the board to connect its work to the Association’s mission and vision, she said.

The Board’s job as trustees is to represent, lead, and serve member school boards and to govern the Association by establishing expectations for organizational results, establishing expectations for quality operational performance, and monitoring actual performance against those expectations. Written evidence of Association results was compiled for the board by the following departments: policy services, field services, board development, governmental relations, executive searches, general counsel, communications, and meetings management.

The board also continued its discussion of how it connects with member school boards by preparing brief, personal conversations on what IASB is and does, so that directors can engage with local board members about their district needs. Executive Director Roger Eddy said that it’s important to know what services are provided, but also to ask how they are being used. 

The board also reviewed its annual self-evaluation and met with Eddy to evaluate his performance. Also approved were bylaws for several divisions, including: Central Illinois Valley, Corn Belt, Egyptian, Illini, Southwestern, Three Rivers, Wabash Valley, and Western.

Treasurer Thomas Neeley gave the Association financial report, which showed that FY 16 ended better than initial projections. While revenues dropped in some sponsored programs, Eddy said that others increased. Investments and containment of expenses also contributed to the improvement.

The need for an evidence-based funding model is the subject of a new video from Vision 20-20 that was previewed at the board meeting. Eddy said additional messages are being developed and will be shared statewide for local districts and other education groups to use.

Reports were also heard from the conference co-chairs, Barbara Somogyi and Thomas Ruggio, resolutions chair Joanne Osmond, and Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm.

The Board of Directors will meet again on Thursday, Nov. 17, and Sunday, Nov. 20, in conjunction with the Joint Annual Conference.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Division meetings to cover ‘essential Qs,’ ESSA, etc.

Brad Ware of the FBI will speak on
keeping schools safe at four division meetings.
IASB’s slate of fall division dinner meeting topics includes a myriad of acronyms: ESSA, IVS, Rs and Ds, five essential Qs, and the FBI.

Held in each of IASB’s 21 divisions, these meetings offer topical presentations, networking opportunities, and updates from IASB staff, directors, and division leaders. Attendees will hear about the latest news on resolutions, legislative updates, and other Association activities. The fall meetings also feature Master Board Member award presentations and recognition of school boards that have achieved Board Governance Recognition.

A complete list of division dinner meetings, dates, and presentations is below.

Expanding course offerings with online learning through the Illinois Virtual School (IVS) will be among the choices at Abe Lincoln, Corn Belt, Blackhawk, and Kaskaski divisions. What you need to know about ESSA – the federal Every Student Succeeds Act – will be featured at the Wabash Valley, Illini, and Egyptian meetings. SB 100, requiring changes in student discipline, will be discussed at the South Cook Meeting.

Two divisions – Starved Rock and Shawnee – will feature legislative candidate forums, offering the chance to interact with state leaders on issues of education, while the DuPage division will gather to watch and discuss a video outlining “Five Essential Questions in Life” from James E. Ryan, dean of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education

Other attendees will have the opportunity to learn about the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as Brad Ware, community outreach specialist from the FBI Field Office in Springfield, shares the bureau’s resources on keeping schools safe. Ware will visit with Central Illinois Valley, Southwestern, Blackhawk, and Two Rivers divisions.

Other participants will have the opportunity to explore community engagement’s role in developing a successful referendum plan. The Illini, Abe Lincoln, and Kaskaskia divisions will get to hear “Winning before You Start,” presented by Anne Noble, managing director, Public Finance, Stifel; and Rod Wright, president, UNICOM ARC. Central Illinois Valley attendees can learn about Morton CUSD 709’s long-term plans and community engagement initiatives on behalf of its referendum.

Potential school board members can find information during “A Briefing for Candidates” at the West Cook, South Cook, and Three Rivers meetings.

Be advised that, for the first time, division dinner meeting registration will be online, through IASB’s new database management system. Go to iasb.com and click MY ACCOUNT to begin. For assistance with your account, click here or call (217) 528-9688 ext. 1100..

2016 Fall Division Dinner Meetings:

 

Starved Rock                 Sept. 15    Senica’s Oak Ridge, LaSalle

                                                         Legislative Candidate Forum

Wabash Valley              Sept. 20    Altamont CUSD 10

                                                        So What’s the Plan? Illinois’ State Plan for ESSA; Student Assessment: All Learners

Central Illinois Valley   Sept. 22    East Peoria SD 86

                                                         So You think You Know the FBI?; Building Capacity Through Community Engagement: A Journey Leading to the Successful Passage of a Building Referendum

Kishwaukee                   Sept. 22    Hononegah CHSD 207

                                                         Collective Bargaining for the Long Term

Illini                               Sept. 27    Mattoon CUSD 2; Riddle Elementary

                                                         So What’s the Plan? – Illinois’ State Plan for ESSA; Winning Before You Start

Abe Lincoln                    Oct. 4        Warrensburg-Latham CUSD 11

                                                         Online Learning: A Successful Alternative for Meeting Student Course Needs; Winning Before You Start

DuPage                          Oct. 4        Hilton Lisle/Naperville, Lisle

                                                         Listen, Learn, & Share: An Opportunity to Hear the “5 Essential Questions in Life”

Egyptian                        Oct. 4        Rome CCSD 2

                                                         So What’s the Plan? Illinois’ State Plan for ESSA; School Safety – Trends, Ideas, and the Law

Western                         Oct. 4        Galesburg CUSD 205; Silas Willard Elem

                                                         Rural Schools Matter – David Ardrey, AIRSS Exec Director

Three Rivers                  Oct. 4        Prairie Bluff Golf Club

                                                         A Briefing for Candidates; A Look at Governance Through Laughter

Southwestern               Oct. 5        O’Fallon THSD 203

                                                         So You Think You Know the FBI? – Brad Ware

Shawnee                       Oct. 6        Carbondale ESD 95

                                                         Legislative Candidate Forum

Northwest                     Oct. 6        Maxson’s Riverside Restaurant, Oregon

                                                         The Future of Illinois & State Funding – Ralph Martire

Corn Belt                       Oct. 13      Olympia CUSD 16, Danvers

                                                         Drug Awareness – From Dope to Hope; Online Learning: A Successful Alternative for Meeting Student Course Needs

North Cook                    Oct. 19      European Crystal Banquets, Arlington Heights

                                                         Illinois Arts Learning Standards for 21st Century

Blackhawk                     Oct. 20      Moline-Coal Valley SD 40, Moline

                                                         So You Think You Know the FBI?; Online Learning: A Successful Alternative for Meeting Student Course Needs

Kaskaskia                      Oct. 25      Staunton CUSD 6

                                                         Online Learning: A Successful Alternative for Meeting Student Course Needs; Winning Before You Start

Lake                               Oct. 26      DoubleTree by Hilton, Libertyville-Mundelein

                                                         Disturbing the Peace: Handling Community Dissent in Public Schools

South Cook                    Oct. 26      Camelot Banquets, Hickory Hills

                                                         A Briefing for Candidates; SB 100 and Its Effects on School Boards

Two Rivers                     Oct. 27      Hamilton’s, Jacksonville

                                                         So You Think You Know the FBI? – Brad Ware

West Cook                     Nov. 3       Elmwood Park CUSD 401

                                                         A Briefing for Candidates; School Crisis Planning: The Board Response

Friday, August 19, 2016

Alliance Legislative Report 99-52


ALLIANCE INITIATIVES SIGNED INTO LAW

Two bills have recently been signed into law that were initiated by the School Management Alliance. HB 5529 (Crespo, D-Hoffman Estates) extends by three years the expiration date of the law that allows for school districts to transfer monies between dedicated funds. This provision is a necessary tool that gives school districts additional flexibility in handling local finances. Historically, the provision has never been permanent but always contains a sunset date that requires legislative action to be renewed. The bill is now Public Act 99-0713, effective Aug. 5, 2016.

SB 2823 (Koehler), in the case of a residential property constructed or renovated by students as part of a curricular program, allows a school board, by a resolution adopted by at least two-thirds of the board members, to engage the services of a licensed real estate broker to sell the property for a commission not to exceed 7%, contingent on the sale of the property within 120 days. This initiative is the result of IASB’s Resolution and Delegate Assembly process, with the proposal having been adopted by school board members in 2015. The bill is now Public Act 99-0794, effective Jan. 1, 2017.

Click here to read the entire Alliance Legislative Report 99-52.