Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Education funding focus of Summit

The 2017 Alliance Leadership Summit presented Illinois public school leaders with opportunities to discuss educational leadership, hear from politicians and political analysts, and engage in the legislative process. It also, in the words of opening speaker Jim Burgett, “examines the ways we deal with the cards we’ve been dealt for the past 15 years.”
Jim Burgett addresses school leaders at the Summit.

Burgett, an author and educator, noted that education administrators in Illinois have one common mantra, “To provide the best education possible with the resources we have.” The downfall is that “We’ve done our job too well.”

The two-day Alliance Leadership Summit offered school board members in Illinois the opportunity to add their voices to the efforts of educational leaders from around the state to develop strategies for public education. Over 500 education stakeholders attended the event, which took place Feb. 21-22 at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield.

discuss school funding reform effort
Sen. Manar, Sen Barickman, Rep. Pritchard, and Rep.Davis
Governor Bruce Rauner spoke to the assembly on Wednesday, after members of his School Finance Reform Commission held a lively discussion with attendees. Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington), Rep. William Davis (D-Hazel Crest), Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), Rep. Bob Pritchard (R-Hinckley) all stressed the importance of collaboration moving forward from the report of the bicameral, bipartisan commission.

Barickman noted that writing legislation is different from writing bullet points. “How do we incorporate a hold harmless? How do we deal with districts with high concentrations of poverty? And how do we adjust for the cost of living? It’s more expensive in some areas to conduct the business of education.”

Manar concurred on those issues, and stated “The puzzle pieces are on the table. We need to put them together.”

The two disagreed on how education funding would fare in the debate over the “Grand Bargain” to solve Illinois’ budget crisis. Education funding is one the package of 13 bills which are tied together. The discussion also included the property tax freeze.

Exec. Director Roger Eddy greets Governor Bruce Ruaner.
Presented by the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA), Illinois Association of School Business Officials (Illinois ASBO), Illinois Principals Association (IPA), and Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB), the Summit featured a panel of political analysts, Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis and State Superintendent Tony Smith. Burgett and Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability also addressed the Summit. Martire presented a dive into Illinois’ pension debt and revenue numbers in support of public schools.

Additional sessions offered by Alliance advocacy teams provided issue overviews, talking points, and logistical advice to attendees as they prepared to communicate with their legislators. Meetings with legislators and a legislative reception took place on Wednesday.