Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Veto Session Update

The second week of the Veto Session of the Illinois legislature is progressing and most issues are still unsettled. A full Alliance Legislative Report will be available upon adjournment. But for now, here is the IASB lobbyists’ scorecard:
  • The governor and legislative leaders have scheduled meetings throughout the week in an attempt to agree to a full-year budget. House Speaker Madigan was a “no-show” Tuesday but attended Wednesday’s meeting. Hopes are not high around the Capitol that any breakthrough will happen this week.
  • SB 550 will be amended with provisions requiring school districts and day care centers to test for lead in the drinking water supply. IASB/Alliance has been at the negotiating table on this issue since the spring session. The amendment is scheduled for a hearing at noon today in the House Environment Committee.
  • SB 516 was amended to make specific changes in property tax law to allow Mascoutah CUSD 19 to receive federal Impact Aid because of the military base within the area. The bill was approved by the House and is pending in the Senate.
  • SB 1393 was a bill with an amendment filed to add burdensome new provisions on school districts regarding student data privacy. The amendment was defeated in the House Judiciary – Civil Committee. IASB/Alliance was the only entity to testify against the amendment.
  • HJRCA 62 would revise the Illinois Constitution to require a 3/5 vote of both chambers to increase the income tax rate in a “lame-duck” session. The resolution was approved by the House State Government Administration Committee and is pending on the House floor.
  • HR 1494 opposes voting on an income tax rate increase in a “lame-duck” session. The resolution was approved by the House State Government Administration Committee and is pending on the House floor.
  • SB 2814, the multi-billion energy package that would allow two of Illinois’ nuclear power plants to remain open, is still under consideration. Negotiators have met, committees have convened, and lobbyists have been dispatched in order to push the bill through. The bill is pending in the House of Representatives.

Previous Alliance Legislative Reports are available on the IASB website.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Survey: Share your thoughts
on the 2016 Joint Annual Conference


2016 Joint Annual Conference attendees can help IASB improve future conference programming by completing an online survey. The survey is available until December 12, 2016.

Click here to take this online survey.

There are two sections and a total of 35 questions on this survey. Section I deals with the overall conference experience, including registration, housing, conference facilities, and the exhibit hall. Section II asks opinions about specific conference sessions and activities.



Saturday, November 26, 2016

Floski wins Burroughs Award
as top school board president

Douglas P. Floski, president of the Byron CUSD 226 Board of Education, was named the winner of the 2016 Thomas Lay Burroughs Award on Nov. 20 at the Third General Session of the IASB/IASA/IASBO Joint Annual Conference.

Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) member Lula Ford presented the award to Floski.

Floski’s accomplishment on behalf of students, taxpayers, and district staff were highly praised by Ford, including: service as board president since 2011; leadership of a board committee structure for quality review, buildings and grounds, and finance and policy that has enhanced achievement of district initiatives; advancement of communications opportunities with members of the district, including presentations to the Rotary Club, the chamber of commerce, financial forums, and strategic planning groups for buildings and grounds and teaching and learning; leadership of a results-oriented model for decision-making including a five-year financial forecasting model, enrollment-based staffing, and assessment of learning through student achievement information. 

He has also been a consistent advocate for a fair assessment of the Byron Nuclear Generating Station and efforts at advancing an equitable salary and benefits schedule for all district employees.

In his work as board president, Floski has led the achievement of the district in a number of ways:

  • The district recorded its highest ACT scores ever for the graduating classes of 2015 and 2016.
  • The state’s new PARCC (Partnership for Advancement of Readiness for College and Careers) examinations placed Byron CUSD 226 with the 2nd-highest overall achievement among Illinois Districts for 2015 and 2016.
  • The 2016 Illinois Report Card placed Byron CUSD 226 with the highest percentage of 8th-grade students who achieved passing scores for Algebra 1, the highest college-readiness score (based on the percent of students who completed the ACT examination with a score of 21 or greater), and the 2nd-lowest percentage of students who enroll in a community college and require the taking of remedial coursework prior to advancing on their courses of study.
  • Byron received an overall grade of “A,” according to one rating service, ranking the district in the top 7 percent of Illinois school districts overall. Byron was ranked in the top 12 percent for teacher quality, top 9 percent for safety and top 11 percent among schools that are good for athletes. The District received grades of “A-” or better for Academics, Administration, Clubs and Activities, Health and Safety, Resources and Facilities, Sports, and Teachers.

The Byron district is located in the Northwest Division and has a current enrollment of 1,065 students.

“I want to thank all those who serve on school boards, and on our board in particular,” said Floski after accepting the award. “I accept this on behalf of all board presidents, for the role of board president is challenging, as we all know,” he added.

The Burroughs Award, created in 1991, is given annually for extraordinary educational leadership at the local level. Specifically, the award honors the demonstration of extraordinary leadership:

  • on behalf of improved student learning and educational excellence;
  • in resolving a crisis or major difficulty; and
  • on behalf of equal education opportunities. 
Named in memory of the late ISBE chairman who served as school board president at Collinsville CUSD 10, the award honors leadership in the context of a seven-member school board that represents the citizens of a community. The award honors group skills, such as consensus building and teamwork, as well as individual traits such as vision, courage, integrity, etc.

For information about other awards and events at the 2016 Joint Annual Conference, see the Conference Home Page.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Registration open for NSBA Conference

Registration is open for the 2017 NSBA Annual Conference and Exposition in Denver, scheduled for March 25-27, 2017.

Billed as “The Conference for Public Education Leaders,” convention organizers say it is the one national event that brings together education leaders at a time when domestic policies and global trends are combining to shape the future of students.



Featured focus areas include:
  • Advocacy
  • Governance and Executive Leadership
  • Innovations in District Management
  • Master Class (innovative approaches to improve student achievement)
  • New School Board Member Workshops
  • School Board/Superintendent Partnerships
  • Student Achievement and Accountability
  • Study Halls
  • Technology + Learning Solutions
Keynote speakers for 2017 include history-making U.S. astronaut and retired U.S. Navy Captain, Scott Kelly; Huffington Post founder and Thrive Global CEO, Arianna Huffington; and New York Times best-selling author, and youth advocate, Wes Moore.

The annual NSBA conference is one of the largest national gatherings of school leaders and 2017 NSBA Annual Conference and Exposition information is now available.

Click here to view the registration form.

Monday, November 21, 2016

IASB delegates debate
use of schools as polling places

A proposal that would have prohibited school buildings from being used as polling places did not gain sufficient support to change a position held by the Illinois Association of School Boards since 2007.

IASB member delegates vote at the 2016 Assembly.
Representatives from 357 school boards considered resolutions on a variety of public school issues at the Association’s annual Delegate Assembly. The assembly was held Nov. 19 in conjunction with the 2016 Joint Annual Conference in Chicago.

IASB’s existing position statement supports legislation that allows school districts the right to refuse the use of their school buildings as polling places. The resolution that would have changed this position, submitted by Indian Prairie CUSD 204 in Naperville, failed by a vote of 143 for to 173 against. The Association has long held that the safety of students should be considered in the decision to use school buildings as polling places.

A total of 16 resolutions as part of 27 recommendations were heard by delegates. Two were debated and voted on separately. The others were approved as part of a consent agenda, involving topics such as early childhood education, school finance reform, standardized testing, healthier schools, and student readiness.

The suggested change to the position involving polling places initially included wording to move election days to days when students are not in attendance.  Mark Rising, representing Indian Prairie CUSD 204, said the issue was about increasing student safety.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

2016 Conference panel handouts posted

Follow the link from the section
entitled "Conference Handouts."
Discussion panel Handouts and PowerPoints from many of the presentations at this year's Joint Annual Conference are now available on the Members-Only portion of the IASB website. Please note that panels are only listed if materials have been submitted. The handouts will be available for the next several months.

Handouts are listed in the same order as the Conference program and are grouped together by date and time. All submitted handouts from the Board Secretaries' Program are grouped together at the bottom of the listings.

The handouts are available to anyone who is in the IASB member database. This includes board members, superintendents, secretaries, and other individuals associated with IASB member districts.

Access is gained by logging-in to the IASB member database, choosing the Members-Only tab at the top of the page, and selecting Annual Conference from the drop-down menu. Once there, find the section entitled “2016 Conference Handouts” and follow the link.

The panel materials may be downloaded as PDF files (Adobe Acrobat Reader required) by clicking the link associated with the desired panel title.

For instructions on how to log in to the IASB member database, click here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Attendance Commission seeking comments

The Illinois Attendance Commission will be hosting a public hearing at this year’s Joint Annual Conference on Friday, Nov. 18 from 2-3 p.m. at the Sheraton Grand Chicago in the Michigan A/B room. The forum is intended to provide school officials an opportunity to comment on various attendance-related experiences, share success stories and challenges, and discuss how attendance figures may be impacted by state and federal education policies.

The Attendance Commission, created by Public Act 099-0432 in 2015, is charged with generating recommendations to help prevent chronic absenteeism. Those suggestions are compiled and sent to the General Assembly each year in December.

Among the immediate goals of the Commission are to look at what constitutes an absence and chronic absenteeism, develop better data systems to track and monitor absenteeism across the state, craft multiple measures for reporting absences, and improve responses to challenges presented by chronic absenteeism.

A list of questions to assist those who wish to submit public comments is available here. Board members and administrations should consider the local impacts of potential attendance policies and what solutions have been shown to improve attendance figures at their schools. Additionally, school officials should think about how they have approached attendance issues with regard to special student populations and what type of coordination with community stakeholders could be used to improve attendance numbers.

This will be the third and final public hearing of the Commission before the end of the year.  The panel was scheduled to ensure that school administrators and board members have an opportunity to share their opinions on attendance-related matters before the final report is submitted.

The hearing will be led by Chairwoman Antoinette Taylor and commissioners Jennifer Gill, superintendent of Springfield CUSD 186 ; Scott Wakeley, superintendent of Bradley-Bourbonnais CHSD 307; and Deanna Sullivan, IASB director of governmental relations. A full list of Commission members is available on the Illinois State Board of Education’s website.
 
For more information about the Illinois Attendance Commission and the Attendance Works campaign, click here.

The attendance hearing is open to the public, but if guests wish to attend other Conference-related events and activities, registration is required.

Alliance Legislative Report 99-56

ILLINOIS GENERAL ASSEMBLY RE-CONVENES
The Illinois General Assembly will meet for the fall Veto Session Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to take up those bills vetoed by Governor Bruce Rauner. The governor issued either a total veto or amendatory veto on 41 bills. The legislature is also scheduled for session Nov. 29-Dec. 1.

Other issues and bills are also expected to be addressed during the abbreviated session, not the least of which is a state budget for the remainder of the fiscal year. The governor and the four legislative leaders are scheduled to meet Tuesday morning to discuss the budget. House Speaker Michael Madigan initially declined to attend citing a scheduling conflict, but his spokesman today announced that the Speaker will be present.

The Alliance is mainly focusing on a few issues: sustaining the veto on HB 6299; passage of SB 2912; the Mandate Waiver Report; and the issue of lead concentrations in water in schools and day care centers. Alliance members are encouraged to contact their legislators and urge this action.

Click here to read the entire Alliance Legislative Report 99-56, including information on veto session priorities and legislative panels to be presented at the 2016 Joint Annual Conference.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Legislators ready for veto session after contentious election

Lawmakers are set to review 40 school-related bills
vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, including a MAP grant
funding bill, and a mandate on Reduction in Force (RIF).
A week after voters cast their ballots in one of the most contentious elections in recent history, Illinois legislators will head back to Springfield for the annual Veto Session. The General Assembly is scheduled to be in session for a total of six days starting next Tuesday in three-day blocks; Nov. 15-17 and Nov. 29-Dec. 1.

While the election results may have changed the composition of the House and Senate next year, current officeholders still have unfinished business to complete before newly elected members are sworn in on Jan. 11. Foremost on that priority list is completing a budget for the remainder of the year. The state education budget was finalized on the final day of June, but other state programs, services, and agencies only received a partial spending plan designed to keep them afloat until the end of 2016.

Also on the agenda will be a number of bills vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner. Lawmakers will need to determine whether to sustain or override the vetoes of 40 proposals that range from funding MAP grants to expanding prevailing wage laws.

One measure that IASB will be focused on is House Bill 6299. This legislation allows educational support personnel who were dismissed as a result of a Reduction in Force (RIF) to maintain any rights accrued during the previous service with the school district, if that employee returns to the job with that same district. The Association will be encouraging General Assembly members to sustain the governor’s veto.

IASB opposed the bill because it removed local control with regard to certain collective bargaining matters, which in turn could cost districts more money. The governor cited similar concerns in his veto message, stating that the legislation would impose yet another unfunded mandate on local districts.

Click here to read IASB’s letter in support of the governor’s veto of HB 6299.
 

IASB will be monitoring and reporting on the outcome of the veto session.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Alliance Legislative Report 99-55

STATEWIDE ELECTION RESULTS
 
After hard fought political campaigns with astronomical spending from both parties, Illinois Republicans seemed to have emerged with the edge after Tuesday’s general election. In the Senate, the GOP went into election night knowing they were gaining at least one seat as former State Representative and Lieutenant Governor candidate Jil Tracy (R-Mount Sterling) was running unopposed for the seat vacated by Senator John Sullivan (D-Rushville). The other Senate Republican gain came from southern Illinois where former Harrisburg mayor Dale Fowler defeated Gary Forby (D-Benton). Longtime incumbent Forby was a regular target of the Republicans, but had always been able to retain the 59th District seat until this week.

Many politicos will probably predict that the “Trump wave” that helped to defeat Forby in deep southern Illinois also helped to defeat State Representative John Bradley (D-Marion). President-Elect Donald Trump won big in this traditionally Democrat part of the state as he carried Franklin County (71% for Trump), Williamson County (68% for Trump), and Pope County (79% for Trump). As with many races across the state, Bradley’s close connection to House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) was used as campaign fodder against him. Bradley, the House Revenue chairmen, lost to Dave Severin of Benton. House Republicans picked up five seats in total, but GOP incumbent Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) lost resulting in a net gain of four seats.
   
Even with losses in the House and the Senate, Illinois Democrats still have a firm grip on control of both legislative chambers with a 37-22 edge in the Senate and a 67-51 advantage in the House. However, with the GOP gains in the House, Speaker Madigan no longer boasts a veto-proof majority. The question now will be does the composition of the new Illinois General Assembly lead to cooperation between the Democrat controlled legislature and Republican Governor Bruce Rauner or further stalemate? Only time will tell.

Click here to read the entire Alliance Legislative Report 99-55

Three tax propositions,
ten bond issues approved

Eight counties adopted sales tax plans for school facilities.
Voters approved 13 of the 26 local school funding increase referendum questions on the Nov. 8 general election ballot, including ten bond issues and three tax increase proposals. Many school districts will also benefit from the eight countywide sales tax referenda approved for school facility purposes.

The largest of the district finance propositions adopted was in Champaign CUSD 4, where $183 million in new bond revenue is to be raised after voters approved the district’s bond issue. The proposal asked voters to endorse borrowing to fund various school additions and renovations, and to completely replace one school building.

In addition to Champaign, other districts to benefit from local bond issues are:

  •     Central CUSD 301, a $22 million bond issue to renovate a high school
  •     CCSD 181, Hinsdale, a $53.3 million plan to build two new schools
  •     Deer Creek-Mackinaw CUSD 701, a $5.89 million bond issue for facility upgrades
  •     East Prairie SD 73, Skokie, a $47.4 million plan to replace one old school
  •     LaSalle-Peru THSD 120, $38 million for working cash
  •     Palos CCSD 118, Palos Park, a $6.5 million plan to build an a grade school addition
  •     Paxton-Buckley-Loda CUSD 10, a $31.4 million plan to construct a new school and repair others
  •     Rankin District 98, a $2.25 million plan for an addition to an elementary school
  •     Salt Creek SD 48, an $8 million plan for repairs to four buildings

Education tax increase proposals, per se, appeared on the ballot in five school districts, but voters approved none of them. But the lone operations fund proposal was adopted, passing in Laraway CCSD 70C (Joliet). Specifically, tax increases were voted down in:

  •     Aviston Elementary SD 21, a proposed 45-cent tax increase for every $100 of EAV
  •     Deer Creek-Mackinaw CUSD 701, a 30-cent tax increase per $100 of EAV
  •     Edwardsville CUSD 7, a 55-cent tax increase for every $100 of EAV
  •     Maroa-Forsyth CUSD 2, a 50-cent tax increase per $100 of EAV
  •     Metamora CCSD 1, a 31-cent tax increase for every $100 of EAV

Increases were sought under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL), also known as tax caps, to authorize increasing property taxes in five other school districts. Voters approved two tax increases under PTELL: in LaGrange SD 102, a .42 percent hike, and Newark CCSD 66, a .70 percent hike in the PTELL limit. Voters rejected such increases in Carlinville CUSD 1; Central City SD 133; and Norridge SD 80.

In addition to the school district tax propositions, countywide sales tax proposals to benefit schools won approval in all eight counties where they were proposed: Coles, Edgar, Jackson, Lee, McDonough, Peoria, Rock Island, and Wabash. Since the state law on this topic took effect in January 2008, 47 counties have now adopted the retailers occupation and service occupation tax (sales tax) for the benefit of school facilities.

Other education-related proposals on the November ballot included three school district consolidations. One was approved, combining Dimmick CCSD 175 and Cherry Grade School District 92. Meanwhile voters turned down a consolidation proposal for Kewanee CUSD 229 and Wethersfield CUSD 230. The latter proposition failed because voters in the Wethersfield district overwhelmingly voted no, even though Kewanee voters approved the idea and the combined vote in the two districts favored the plan. Voters also weighed in on a consolidation proposal for combining three districts: East Alton-Wood River CHSD 14, Wood River-Hartford ESD 15, and East Alton SD 13. It is currently too close to call, with 2,654 voting yes, and 2,663 voting no.

There were a handful of miscellaneous propositions, including six to authorize the at-large election of school board members. One other miscellaneous proposal received voter approval of an alternative revenue plan for using a state allocation of Personal Property Replacement Tax (PPRT) funds, among other revenue sources, to construct a new school in Laraway CCSD 70-C (Joliet).

Finally, seven of the eight non-binding advisory questions on the ballot regarding education were approved. Those approved ranged from one question put to Chicago District 299 voters about whether the state should provide full and equitable funding for the Chicago Public schools, to one asking voters in Waltham CCSD 185 (Utica) whether the district should make every possible effort to use funding sources to build a new Waltham School Building without increasing property tax rates. Meanwhile voters in the same district said no to an advisory question on whether to build one new Waltham School Building to replace the current Waltham North and South school building.

Voters also approved advisory questions in portions of two Chicago wards when they were asked about placing a limitation on any new charter schools in their area. But a question about expanding use of charter schools in Chicago was voted down by a wide margin in every precinct where it appeared on the ballot in Chicago Wards 1, 25, 26, and 27.

Passing rates of school finance referenda since 1989 are available online.

IASB Director of Editorial Services Gary Adkins and Governmental Relations 
Assistant Director Zach Messersmith discuss the Nov. 8 election results.If this
video is not displaying correctly, click here.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Latest PRESS issue largest ever

PRESS Issue 93 – the largest-ever issue of IASB’s Policy Reference Education Subscription Service – is live online and has been mailed to subscribers.

PRESS is a resource tool for school administrators, school board members, or school attorneys looking for well-reasoned sample policies and procedures and the legal rationale and references to support them.

The active legislative season, including the work of the Illinois General Assembly, the U.S. Congress, and state and federal regulatory agencies, created a “perfect storm” of necessary PRESS Policy Reference Manual (PRM) updates. By the numbers, this update includes:

  • 150 PRESS materials updated (policies, administrative procedures, exhibits, etc.)
  • 516 pages of the PRESS PRM replaced – this includes 327 PRESS content materials, plus 189 pages from miscellaneous and index additions (note that the previous PRM was 1040 pages – these updates replaced almost half of it).
  • 94,198 words and 824 footnotes in the 327 pages of PRESS content materials, excluding the 189 pages of misc. and index additions

PRESS Issue 93 addresses many topics, including Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA); expenses (board member and employee); Open Meetings Act; Freedom of Information Act; residency; the Speech Rights of Student Journalists Act; employment and licensure disqualifications; employee leaves; Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act; final Smart Snacks rules; concussion oversight team and protocols; SB 100 finalization; and miscellaneous legislative changes such as curriculum, medications, and more.

To access PRESS, subscribers will need to sign in to the IASB Member database (go to IASB.com and select the yellow “MY ACCOUNT” button, or see log-in instructions). For PRESS Plus subscribers, PRESS updates have been applied to local school board policy manuals and customized packets have been mailed.

Each issue of PRESS is drafted and then sent for review to the PRESS Advisory Board. This feedback is incorporated into each issue. As the IASB Office of General Counsel completed PRESS Issue 93, they led an in-service meeting for the IASB Policy Department. During that meeting, IASB attorneys discussed all changes to PRESS materials. Examples of conversations that occur during this meeting include reasoning for specific footnotes, choices of sample policy language, and what questions may come forth for a policy consultant when working with a board on a service offered through the Policy Department that uses PRESS as its foundation. Generally, these meetings last about two hours; however, PRESS Issue 93’s meeting was over five hours.

The IASB Office of General Counsel is currently planning PRESS Issue 94, the annual veto-session issue that will address any new legislation during that session. Publication is expected in the first quarter of 2017.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Opinions on education

The following are editorials, commentaries, and opinions from various sources regarding public education, collected in October 2016. Comments and opinions of websites linked from this page do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Illinois Association of School Boards.

Editorial Board, Champaign News-Gazette, October 27

Michael J. Petrilli and Brandon L. Wright, Thomas B. Fordham Institute, State Journal-Register, October 2

Mike Chamness, Illinois Association of School Administrators, Southern Illinoisan, October 6

Ted Slowik, Daily Southtown, Chicago and suburbs, October 7

Friday, November 4, 2016

Journal emphasizes safety, security

Anticipating the School Safety and Security Seminar at the 2016 Joint Annual Conference, the November/December issue of The Illinois School Board Journal emphasizes three important themes in keeping schools safe. Noted expert and author Paul Timm looks at the keys to facility security. Attorney Brandon K. Wright reviews the practical and legal aspects of preparing for drills. And Rosario C. Pesce looks at school climate and culture and how they relate to the safety and well-being of students, faculty, and staff.

The Journal also examines adult bullying issues, from teacher, administrator, and school board perspectives, and offers a suggestion for transportation cost savings.

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.




Thursday, November 3, 2016

School board election reminders


Candidates for the April 4, 2017 school board election need to turn in signed nominating petitions to the county clerk’s office or the county board of election commissioners between Dec. 12 and Dec. 19, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Nominating petitions (either form P-7 or P-7a) must be signed by at least 50 registered voters who live in the district, or 10 percent of the registered voters who reside in the district, whichever is less.

A candidate’s petition must include a statement of candidacy, the name of the school district, the name and street address of the candidate, whether the office is a full or partial term, the date of the election, the number of voter signatures required, the notarized signature of the petition circulator, and a receipt indicating that a statement of economic interests is on file with the county clerk.

Other dates regarding school board elections include last date to file objections to nominating petitions (Dec. 27); last date to file a withdrawal of candidacy form (Jan. 26), last date to file a declaration of intent as a write-in candidate (Feb. 2). 

IASB offers further election information and candidate guidance on its public website.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

IASB and IASA executives preview Annual Conference on radio program

Ben Schwarm, at center, shared a Conference overview.
Executives from the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) and the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA) recently joined St. Louis radio station KTRS 550 AM to preview the upcoming 2016 Joint Annual Conference and discuss a host of education issues currently on the minds of school leaders.

“Issues in Education” is a forum aired live on KTRS 550 in partnership with Ittner Architects. The roundtable was created to allow “a voice for educational and business leaders to share their vision and expertise on the issues that impact 21st century learning.”

Joining Thursday’s broadcast from the Old State Capitol in Springfield were IASA’s Executive Director Brent Clark and Associate Director and Legal Counsel Sara Boucek, and IASB’s Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm and Associate Executive Director Dean Langdon. Also featured on the program was Mahomet-Seymour Superintendent Rick Johnston.

Billed as a Conference preview, the program’s guests discussed a number of workshops and presentations that will be of benefit to Illinois education officials attending the Nov. 18-20 event in Chicago. Among the topics covered were education funding reform, the Vision 20/20 initiative, and school safety and security.

Clark emphasized the importance of the ongoing conversations about changing the way schools are funded and how revenues are distributed to districts. Citing Illinois’ ranking as near dead last when it comes to state funding for public schools, Clark said the current system is heavily reliant on property wealth, making for an inequitable and inadequate funding distribution system.

“Schools with lower property wealth rely more on the state for funding. They are the ones struggling most severely,” Clark said, while referencing Vision 20/20’s alternative plan for dispersing state funds. “Vision 20/20’s Evidence Based Funding Model incorporates rigorously researched and successful ideas that work in schools. When money is tight, we need to direct funds to the areas that we know work and that show a return on investment as a state.”

Langdon reiterated a similar message, saying the Evidence-Based Model will create a more balanced system for schools across the state. “The Vision 20/20 proposal does a much better job incorporating the diversity of property wealth we have across Illinois. It breaks the state into tiers so that funding is provided from the state to the local level based upon the real cost of programs,” said Langdon.
IASA's Brent Clark and IASB's Dean Langdon were
featured in a broadcast from the former capitol in Springfield.

School finance, Vision 20/20, and education funding reform will all be featured topics at the 2016 Annual Conference. Panels and workshops on these and other issues can be found in the Conference Preview.

Another major issue that will be highlighted at this year’s Conference is school safety and security. A half-day school safety seminar will take place on Friday, Nov. 18 from 8 a.m. to noon. Additionally, eight panel sessions that focus on the importance of school security will be held throughout the three-day event.

IASB’s Ben Schwarm and IASA’s Sara Boucek served on the School Security and Standards Task Force created by the General Assembly. The task force was charged with making recommendations for schools to use, with the goal of creating more secure and safe learning environments. Both stressed that the safety of students and staff has become a top priority for districts.

“This is not something that schools can or should look the other way,” Boucek emphasized. “Schools really need to balance keeping kids safe and providing an educational environment that kids feels safe in.”

Superintendent Johnston echoed a similar sentiment. “Safety has to be the number one priority. Parents understand and appreciate that,” he said. “What is considered safe in one district may be different in other districts. What was safe 20 years ago look different now. We are a product of the world we live in. Each district has to decide internally what ‘safe’ really means to them.”

Schwarm stressed that because safety and security are so important to schools, there are a number of newly accepted practices that can be put to use to create secure learning environments. “You don’t want the school to look like a fortress. There are new techniques to create buffers, landscaping changes, and things such as where playgrounds are located. There are a lot of design effects that can be used to improve school security without making a school look and feel like a prison.”

Schwarm also spoke about the benefit of practice situations. “Drills help to address and calm the fear of students,” said Schwarm. “Our state is so diverse there can’t be one plan that fits every school district across the state. It is important for schools to work with their local responders and create a plan that can be carried out in case of an emergency.”

Boucek concluded by underscoring the importance of district preparation for all types of situations. “Schools need to do three things to be prepared: be proactive, plan, and practice. Those are the best things schools can do to be ready if an incident were to occur.”

The broadcast can be viewed in its entirety on the “Issues in Education” website.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Carousel of Panels offers multiple-panel alternative

The event was well attended at the 2015 Conference.
The 2016 Joint Annual Conference will feature 33 presentations as part of its Carousel of Panels. This alternative to the traditional panel presentation format allows guests to attend multiple panels in one time slot and in one location.

Each of the presentations will be offered three times in a one hour and 45-minute time block, scheduled from 1:30 to 3:15 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 19, at the Sheraton Grand Chicago. This year’s panel topics and presenters include:

  • Multi-School Bus Bids: Save Student Time and District Money — Peru ESD 124/Zukowski Law Offices
  • 1:1 Devices: Zero to 4,000 at Warp Speed — Central CUSD 301
  • Performance Contracting RFPs: An Alternative Approach — Oak Lawn-Hometown SD 123
  • Libraries: 21st Century Hubs for Student Learning — Huntley Community SD 158
  • A Journey Towards Trauma-Informed Schools — Calumet Public SD 132
  • Visibility Matters! Contributing to a Positive Climate — Manteno CUSD 5
  • Thriving with Community Eligibility Program Breakfast — Beach Park SD 3
  • Know Your School Facilities? Conduct Facility Audits — Eastern Illinois University/FGM Architects, Inc.
  • Transform Learning Centers into STEM Learning Hubs— McHenry CCSD 15
  • Integrating Adaptive Life Skills in School/Community — Flanagan-Cornell Unit District 74
  • Building a Gold-Circle Early Childhood Program — Mannheim SD 83
  • Partnering with Purpose: A Pathway to Trust — Oak Lawn-Hometown SD 123
  • Why Data Privacy Matters: Guarding Against Intruders — Dykema Gossett PLLC/THSD 113 (Highland Park)/Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services, Inc.
  • Enhancing Superintendent/Board of Education Relations — Eastern Illinois University
  • External Partnerships to Expand Student Experience — Huntley Community SD 158
  • #FutureReadyLearning — Homer CCSD 33C
  • Innovative Approach to Collaborative Goal Setting — CHSD 230 (Orland Park)
  • Rethinking RtI: Sustaining Implementation for Success — Manteno CUSD 5
  • Research on Redesigning Principal Preparation in Illinois — Illinois Education Research Council, SIU-E/University of Chicago Consortium on School Research
  • Top School Construction Problems and Solutions — Robbins Schwartz
  • Perspectives of Parents of Black Children— Eastern Illinois University
  • Student Success Through Effective Community Relations — McLean Co. Unit District 5/Champaign CUSD 4
  • Building Collaborative Relationships with Your Union — Manteno CUSD 5
  • Boosting Student Growth: GRR and Cooperative Learning — Woodridge SD 68
  • Going Open: Path to Open Educational Resources — Northern Illinois University/DeKalb CUSD 428/Creston CCSD 161
  • Personalized Professional Learning for All Staff — CCSD 93 (Bloomingdale)
  • Activating Young People to Create Inclusive Opportunities — Special Olympics Illinois/Prospect Heights SD 23
  • School Greenhouses/Gardens Add Value to Communities — Waterloo CUSD 5/Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education
  • Empowering Students and Community with Workplace Readiness — Hononegah CHSD 207
  • Unilateral Implementation of a CBA: Retroactive Compensation — Country Club Hills SD 160
  • Collaborative College/Career Readiness Initiatives: IRISE and Beyond — CEC/IRISE/McKendree University
  • Restorative Justice: Apply SB 100 Effectively — Cook County SD 154/Hauser Izzo, LLC
  • Leadership Practices Inventory: The Leadership Challenge — Eastern Illinois University

Note: IASB would like to thank the law firm of Hauser Izzo, LLC for sponsoring the Carousel of Panels at the 2016 Joint Annual Conference.