Friday, May 26, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report (100-20)

ADJOURNMENT DEADLINE APPROACHES,
BUT IS THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ANY CLOSER
TO AN AGREEMENT?
Earlier this week, the Illinois Senate Democrats passed their own spending plan for next fiscal year. The Senate Democrat spending plan would raise revenues and at the same time cut spending. A similar approach was a part of the “Grand Bargain” earlier in the session, but without support from Senate Republicans, the Senate majority took steps to pass a budget that their members would support. For more details on the spending plan passed by the Senate, click here.

The question now becomes whether or not the House of Representatives will take up the budget passed by the Senate. The House has scheduled committee hearings for those budget bills for the beginning of next week. It appears that the House is not putting forward their own spending plan, as procedurally there wouldn’t be time to have any newly adopted provisions acted on in time to meet the May 31 constitutional deadline. As always, at this time in the legislative cycle that is subject to change hour by hour. Any legislation needing an immediate effective date, as budget items would, have to pass both houses prior to midnight on May 31. If they aren’t acted upon by that time, they’d need 71 votes in the House and 36 votes in the Senate making it more difficult to get the requisite votes for passage.

Beyond a budget, there has probably been no bigger issue this session than school funding reform. The conversation on school funding reform is ongoing with the Senate version of the evidence based funding concept, Senate Bill 1, being the main vehicle. On Wednesday of this week, the House Appropriation-Elementary and Secondary Education committee passed SB 1 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill) to the House floor on a 16-3 vote.

With many complicated issues still before the legislature, be sure to keep an eye out for further Alliance legislative updates as issues of importance emerge. Your assistance contacting your lawmakers will be critical for success in last few days of legislative action.

Click here to read the complete Alliance Legislative Report (100-20), including information on bills that passed both chambers, bills passed in the House and in the Senate, committee action from the past week, and committees scheduled for next week. 

Five directors leaving IASB Board

The IASB Board of Directors said goodbye to five of members at the quarterly meeting held May 13 in Springfield.

Not running for re-election in April were: Roger Pfister (Shawnee), David Barton (Two Rivers), Dale Hansen (Three Rivers), Lisa Weitzel (Abe Lincoln), and June Maguire (Lake). They were all given plaques for their service to the IASB Board. Longest-serving among them were Pfister (21 years) and Barton (17 years). Hansen also served for several years as IASB Treasurer.

Directors who choose not to run or who are not re-elected to their local school boards are replaced according to the bylaw provisions adopted by each division. Vacancies that occur within the two-year director’s term are also filled according to bylaw provisions that may vary by division. The timing of the replacement process is also determined by the schedule of division meetings or governing board meetings for each division.

IASB will announce the names of new directors as they are chosen by their respective divisions.


IASB President Phil Pritzker (left) congratulates
outgoingTwo Rivers Division board member
David Barton.
Longtime Shawnee Division representative
Roger Pfister offers a farewell.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

State budget bills sent to the House;
School officials urged to contact legislators about property tax freeze


Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm
IASB Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm breaks down the budget passed by Senate Democrats and urges board members and administrators to contact their legislators about the impacts of a property tax freeze.
 
The Illinois Senate Democrats, on Tuesday, frustrated by the lack of a budget compromise between the governor and the legislative leaders, ventured out alone and approved a comprehensive statewide budget for Fiscal Year 2018. Included in the 650-page omnibus budget proposed in SB 6 are full-year appropriations for K-12 education. The bill passed on a vote of 33-23-2, with no Republicans voting in favor of the measure.

For education, the bill would provide a $286 million increase for General State Aid that is appropriated for “Evidence-Based Funding.” There is no definition in SB 6 of exactly what that means, but it can be assumed it is based on SB 1, which the Senate passed last week. More information on the Senate’s action from last week is posted here.

SB 6 includes a $36 million increase in bilingual education and a $35 million increase in early childhood education. The bill would also appropriate money to Chicago Public Schools for  teacher pension payments.

Accompanying the appropriations bill was SB 9, which would provide additional revenues to the state to cover the costs of the appropriations. SB 9 would increase the individual income tax rate from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent and the corporate income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 7 percent— retroactive to Jan. 1, 2017. The sales tax base would also be broadened to cover certain services, including: storage, laundry, exterminations, security services, tattoos and piercings, cable, satellite, and digital streaming services. Along with a few other changes to the tax codes, the result is estimated to be an increase of $5.4 billion to state coffers.

As it currently stands, Governor Bruce Rauner is not on board with this proposal. In debate yesterday, Senate Republicans indicated that the final two sticking points are agreements on a property tax freeze for school districts and other units of local governments, and Workers’ Compensation Act reform. Last week, the Senate defeated a bill (SB 478) that would have frozen property tax extensions for two years. The governor is calling for a permanent property tax freeze. Alliance members are urged to contact their legislators and inform them of the adverse effects a property tax freeze would have on their school districts.

As for House Speaker Michael Madigan, it is anyone’s guess on how he will deal with the Senate budget plans. Generally, he could ignore or dispose of the Senate bills; approve the Senate bills and send them to the governor; or craft his own budget plan and send it over to the Senate.

The situation is obviously very fluid at this point. The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn for the spring on May 31st. They will be in session most days until then, likely meeting at least a day or two over the holiday weekend.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

ISBE Briefs

Excel Awards
Nominations are being accepted for the Illinois State Board of Education’s (ISBE) annual Those Who Excel/Illinois Teacher of the Year program. Recognition for seven categories of school leaders are being accepted for the 2017-2018 awards, including: school board member/community volunteer, classroom teacher, school administrator/principal, team, licensed student support personnel, educational service personnel (unlicensed), and early career educator. Those Who Excel nominations are due by June 5, with only one nominee per category, per district permitted. The nomination form is available here.

Fiscal Year 2018 Transportation Reimbursement Claims
The Pupil Transportation Claim Reimbursement System is now open to enter data for the 2016-2017 school year. The annual claims must be submitted by Aug. 15. Instructions for submitting the transportation reimbursement have been posted to the ISBE website.

Changes made to ESSA State Plan
The U.S. Department of Education has requested changes in the Illinois ESSA State Plan, due to “incomplete” measurements of interim progress for academic attainment, graduation rate, and English Learner proficiency.

The original plan submitted by ISBE aimed to develop progress measurements based on three-year baseline data, but that data was not yet available. In order to accommodate the Department of Education’s request, ISBE instead used a 15-year timeline for academic attainment based on PARCC data, graduation rates, and English Learner proficiency on ACCESS. The U.S. Department of Education accepted these qualifications. ISBE has stated that these interim progress measurements will be revisited when three-year averages are available.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report 100-19

EVENTFUL WEEK IN CAPITOL

With time beginning to run out and tensions mounting, lawmakers delved into the weightier issues in the Capitol this week. In committee and floor action, legislators discussed moving forward on a comprehensive state budget as well as other reform measures that have been on the front burner. Components of the “grand bargain” that were attempted earlier in the year were resurrected in the Senate.

The Senate approved measures to make appropriations for a state budget (SB 6) and to reform the school funding formula (SB 1). But bills to implement the budget (SB 42) and to freeze property taxes (SB 478) failed on the Senate floor. Legislation to raise revenue through an increase in the state’s income tax rates and to reform worker’s compensation were not called for a vote, though there are reportedly negotiations that are ongoing on these topics.

SCHOOL FUNDING REFORM

The Illinois House of Representatives and Senate both advanced their versions of the Evidence-Based Funding Model (EBM) for school reform this week. The House moved HB 2808 (Davis, D-East Hazel Crest) out of an appropriations committee on Wednesday and sent it to the House floor. The bi-partisan sponsored plan could be voted on next week and sent to the Senate. While in the Senate, SB 1 ( Manar, D-Bunker Hill) – substantially similar to HB 2808 – was approved and sent across the rotunda to the House.

Certainly the EBM approach supported by the Alliance has become the focus of the General Assembly, and now discussions have moved to details of the various evidence-based plans. While details of the basic elements will continue to be worked out by legislators, the Alliance focus is to ensure that equity and adequacy are preserved. More information on the Alliance position can be found here.

Partisan wrangling over the various funding reform bills did reach a fever pitch Thursday over how Chicago Public Schools (CPS) would be treated within the new formula. Various funding proposals treat the CPS block grant and pension payments differently, thus directing school funds in different directions. This will be one of the formula “details” that needs to be worked out.

PROPERTY TAX FREEZE

Governor Bruce Rauner has been calling for a property tax freeze since his first State of the State Address. And with legislators from both parties joining in on this mantra, the push continues. Wednesday, a bill that would have frozen the property tax extensions for school districts and other local governments for two years was defeated on the Senate floor. SB 478 received more than a simple majority of the Senators voting, but since the bill preempted the home rule statute, it needed a 3/5 th majority vote.

The governor’s position has been that if any increase in income tax rates will be permanent, then the freeze in property taxes should be permanent as well. Leadership in the Senate majority, due to the concern of what a freeze could do to local school district budgets, have agreed to no more than a two-year freeze.

MANDATE RELIEF


The issue of providing relief from the overabundance of unfunded and underfunded mandates on local school districts continues to be pushed by the Alliance and responded to in various pieces of legislation. Such provisions have emerged in various versions of pension bills, school funding reform bills, and property tax freeze bills. The Alliance has drafted its own bills to provide flexibility for physical education, drivers’ education, third party contracting, and allowing local boards to waive existing mandates. This language has been provided to legislators.

But in some versions of these “mandate relief” provisions that have appeared, there is much weaker language inserted (such as requiring a school board to hold a referendum at an election to request permission to seek a mandate waiver). The Alliance cannot support such provisions and will continue to fight for true relief and flexibility.

Click here to read the entire Alliance Legislative Report 100-19.

IASB officer nominations sought

The nominating committee of the Illinois Association of School Boards is seeking candidates for the offices of president and vice president. Nominating forms are due in the IASB office in Springfield by 4 p.m., Aug. 4 and candidates will be interviewed that same month.

The following criteria will be used by the committee in considering nominees: leadership experience and general participation in IASB activities; leadership experience on the local board; involvement with other education-related organizations; other leadership experiences.

Candidates for the position of President or Vice-President of the Illinois Association of School Boards should possess, at a minimum, the following qualifications:
  • Demonstrated leadership on a local board of education and at IASB division and state levels.
  • Demonstrated participation in a wide spectrum of IASB activities at all levels.
  • Demonstrated ability to speak for public education in Illinois and to be an advocate for IASB positions.
  • Membership on the IASB Board of Directors for at least two years is preferred.
Officers serve one-year terms and may serve no more than two consecutive such terms, or until their successors are elected and qualified.

Nominations for elective offices shall be made according to the nominating committee procedures that are posted at the IASB Members-Only website. Candidate Data sheets for the office of IASB president or vice president are required and must be received by 4 p.m., Friday, Aug. 4. Please mail to (or, if you wish to email, send to cbolt@iasb.com): IASB, Attn: Chairman, IASB Nominating Committee, 2921 Baker Drive, Springfield, IL 62703-5929.

A candidate slate will be presented to the Delegate Assembly in Chicago on Nov. 18.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Alliance Legislative Alert


UPDATE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS
This message is from the Executive Directors of the organizations that comprise the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance: Roger Eddy (IASB), Brent Clark (IASA), Mike Jacoby (IASBO), and Jason Leahy (IPA).

With the scheduled end of the Spring Session of the General Assembly quickly approaching, there is a flurry of activity related to several issues that are critically important to the School Management Alliance. In the coming days, we will be requesting that you be prepared to contact your representative and senator to express our positions on specific legislation that support position statements of the Alliance. Please watch for “Calls to Action” regarding specific proposals and make those contacts. The purpose of this Alliance Alert is to make our position on certain critical issues clear.

New Funding Formula
Discussions continue as to changes to the current funding formula with most of the focus on implementation of an “Evidence Based Funding Model” (EBM). This type of funding model was an important pillar in Vision 2020. Over the past couple of years, the Alliance has worked with the educational community, various task forces, and members of the General Assembly to craft language that would lead to a change in the current funding model. As the session draws to a close, our efforts will continue toward this goal. To be clear, there are some important positions that we adhere to during the negotiations:

  1. It has consistently been the position of the Alliance that all districts do not receive less funding per pupil than they received the previous year. If a district’s total student population decreases, total funding might decrease. Simply stated, that means NO RED NUMBERS.
  2. An “Adequacy Target” would be calculated for every school district in Illinois that is tied to demographic factors unique to each district. There are 27 factors in the model. Addressing funding for these factors is centered heavily on research and is reliant on employing best practices to support quality education for students.
  3. We support additional new revenue which is necessary in order to achieve the goals of equity and adequacy that this model envisions. The new revenue would be distributed to the neediest districts with a local effort calculation included.
Mandate Relief
It has long been the position of the Management Alliance to oppose new unfunded and under-funded mandates for schools. Local control of our schools is important and we firmly believe that locally-elected officials make the best decisions regarding the use of resources to provide a quality education for their students. When new mandates are enacted, we have worked to ensure that the requirements are implemented with policies that reflect those requirements. We also continue to seek relief from existing mandates. Once again, we believe that relief from existing mandates would allow locally elected officials to make decisions they believe are best for students in their district. We want to make it very clear that the Alliance position has not changed and we strongly support efforts to reduce existing mandates that place control of the decision with locally elected officials. Examples of mandate relief include, but are not limited to, third party contracting, driver’s education, and physical education.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Districts chosen to share success stories at annual conference

More than 65 school districts and related organizations submitted proposals to make panel presentations at the 2017 Joint Annual Conference, Nov. 17-19 in Chicago. Panel proposals were evaluated online by committee of school board members in early March. Notifications were mailed to 29 successful applicants in mid-April.

Click here to see an entire list of 2017 Share the Success panels.

“Share the Success” proposals were evaluated on the following criteria:

Interest or relevance for board members and school officials
Clarity of the proposals
Clarity of the objectives, and if they can be realistically achieved
Whether a program’s claim to “success” is supported by evidence
Whether creativity and innovation are clearly demonstrated
A focus on the work of the board, rather than staff

Districts that submitted proposals but were not chosen to make hour-long panel presentations may be offered an opportunity to present their topic during the Carousel of Panels. This event, to be held on Saturday, Nov. 18, will feature up to 36 participants in three successive half-hour presentations. This format give attendees an opportunity to visit a variety of presenters on a range of subjects in short amount of time.

A full description of these and all other Conference panels and programming will be available in the Conference Preview, to be posted online in mid-September.

Online conference registration and housing is expected to open in early June. This year’s event will be IASB’s 85th Joint Annual Conference with the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA) and Illinois Association of School Business Officials (Illinois ASBO).

Districts and school leaders who are considering the 2017 Conference are invited to view highlights from last year’s event in the video below.


Monday, May 15, 2017

IASB executive director announces retirement

IASB Executive Director
Roger Eddy
Roger Eddy, executive director of the Illinois Association of School Boards since 2012, has informed the Association board of directors of his intention to retire, effective June 30, 2018.

The board accepted his letter of resignation on Saturday, May 13, and formed an ad hoc committee to lead a search for Eddy’s successor. IASB is one of the largest state school board associations in the country, representing 843 member school districts and nearly 6,000 elected school board members.

IASB President Phil Pritzker said the search committee will meet soon to determine the scope for the search process, as well as a timeline, candidate profile, and survey of stakeholders.

Eddy is the sixth fulltime executive director in the Association’s 104-year history.

“Just as those five talented individuals who came before him, Roger will definitely leave his mark on our organization," Pritzker said.

Prior to joining IASB, Eddy spent 31 years in education as a teacher, coach, principal, and superintendent. He also served 10 years in the Illinois General Assembly as a state representative.

"With a long career as teacher and administrator to mesh with his experience as the “go-to” legislative voice on education, Roger was able to hit the ground at full speed when he arrived five years ago," Pritzker continued. "He has been the right person at the right time for this organization."

The president said Eddy has been instrumental in improving everything at the Association, from policy interpretation and financial stability to working with the many stakeholders of the organization. That includes the school management Alliance partners, the state board of education, and other governmental agencies and elected representatives. Eddy was a key partner in the development of the Vision 20/20 initiative, which has become a force in state policy on education, Pritzker added.

“Working to advocate for the mission of IASB has truly been a highlight of my nearly 40-year career in public education," Eddy said. "Excellence in local school governance in support of quality public education has been the vision that defines this work. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with a dedicated board of directors, excellent leadership team, and a gifted staff.”