Thursday, August 31, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report (100-44)

GOVERNOR SIGNS SCHOOL FUNDING BILL 

Today, Governor Bruce Rauner signed SB 1947, enacting a new evidence-based school funding formula into law. With this new law in place, general funds can begin flowing to Illinois’ public school districts. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and Comptroller Susana Mendoza have indicated that school districts should receive their first two aid payments in the next couple of weeks.

After months of negotiating over the finer points of the new formula, legislators from both chambers and both parties finally found common ground. The trick was to find a version of the formula that was an acceptable middle ground between SB 1 as it passed the legislature, the governor’s amendatory changes to that bill, and other requests brought by the governor and Republican caucuses.

The governor held a bill signing ceremony this afternoon (Thursday) at Ebinger Elementary School on the north side of Chicago. On hand with the governor were legislative leaders Cullerton, Brady, and Durkin, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, bill sponsors Manar, Lightford, Barickman, Rezin, Davis, and Pritchard, Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis, State Superintendent of Education Dr. Tony Smith, ISBE Chairman Reverend James Meeks, several other legislators, and a room full of education advocates.

The Alliance legislative staff is working on a comprehensive analysis of SB 1947. It should be available next week.

IASB school calendar posted

IASB has posted its Annual School Calendar of legal dates and deadlines for 2017-2018.

The calendar is published by IASB in order to assist school districts to prepare their local school calendars. Dates contained in this calendar comply with all statutory deadlines contained in the Election Code, School Code, and selected acts of the General Assembly. It does not contain dates imposed by the State Board of Education or its regulations.

The school calendar is not distributed in a printed version; however, it is posted online so that it is available more quickly and allows for revisions to reflect any new legislation enacted or the correction of any errors. It is also important to note that the calendar is published for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice from the school district legal counsel.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Latest Journal is a matter of time

Time is not only of the essence, it is the essence of the September/October issue of The Illinois School Board Journal.

Readers will discover the circadian science of sleep, and how it impacts student performance in school. In a related matter, discover the process Barrington SD 220 used to alter its start times to make “Optimal time for learning.” The Journal also explores how Maine THSD 207 is setting a new schedule with the goals of maximizing personalized learning and enhancing student services. Find out why IASB recommends reviewing and monitoring policy in a timely manner, and about the KIDS tool being employed in kindergarten classrooms.

Watch your mailboxes for the printed edition, or click here or below to read the complete digital edition of the September/October Journal.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Board of directors meets in Pike County

The IASB Board of Directors held its quarterly meeting on Aug. 25-26 in Nebo. Gathering at the
same rural Pike County lodge where IASB staff 20 years ago began discussing what eventually would become known as the Association’s “Foundational Principles of Effective Governance,” the board spent some time reviewing potential owner engagement topics.

Facilitated by consultant Angie Peifer, the board considered two questions relating to Foundational Principle Two (the board connects with its community): how it can engage owners, i.e., member districts, into supporting the Association’s mission, vision, and results, and, how the board can help members to better understand and support the roles and responsibilities of an effective association governing board.

The comments and suggestions from this activity will be reviewed by the board’s executive committee.

The board also reviewed and approved OE policies (operations) for the executive director and the board, and the R1 indicators of compliance (results) for each Association department. The board’s purpose is to assure that the Association achieves the outcomes described in the board’s Results policies and that it operates according to the values expressed in the Board’s Operational Expectations policies.

In other business, Treasurer Tom Neeley presented the financial report and results of the annual audit.
Neeley said the Association will solicit bids for next year’s auditor.

Co-chairs Carla Joiner-Herrod and Mark Christ gave the board an update on the 2017 Joint Annual Conference. The board of directors will meet twice during conference, on Thursday, Nov. 16, and on Sunday, Nov. 19, when it will review how this year’s Conference went.

Co-chairs of the executive search ad hoc committee, Karen Fisher and Sue McCance, gave a brief update on the search to replace retiring Executive Director Roger Eddy. The committee is accepting applications until Sep. 15. Vice president Joanne Osmond gave a resolutions report, which will be compiled and sent to Association membership prior to the Delegate Assembly.

Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm updated the board on the developments in Springfield relating to the state budget and school aid funding formula. Both Schwarm and Eddy indicated that the situation is very fluid, with likely compromises on sensitive issues such as corporate replacement tax and vouchers.

Board leadership gave a report from the recent NSBA summer leadership seminar and Eddy discussed the recent executive directors’ institute. Eddy also updated the board on staffing and membership.

The board also approved two firms for membership in IASB Service Associates: Nels Johnson Tree Service of Evanston, and Meemic of Auburn Hills, Michigan.

Alliance Legislative Report (100-43)

SCHOOL FUNDING BILL APPROVED BY SENATE

Today, the Illinois Senate approved SB 1947, the school funding reform bill. Governor Bruce Rauner has vowed to quickly sign the bill into law, thus ending a long stalemate between the partisan caucuses and the two legislative chambers. The bill, which passed the Senate on a vote of 38-13-4, will be effective immediately upon the governor’s signature. Both the Illinois State Board of Education and the Office of the Illinois Comptroller have pledged to process the necessary paper work as soon as possible so funds can begin flowing to Illinois’ public schools.

General funds for schools have been held up so far this fiscal year because no evidence-based funding program had been put in place in accordance with language in the budget bill that only allows a distribution of most funds under an evidence-based funding program. SB 1947 contains most elements of the evidence-based model supported by Vision 20/20 and the School Management Alliance. More information on the compromise funding language can be found in the last Alliance Legislative Report.

The approval of a new, more equitable school funding formula, however, was not all good news. Yes, funds can now begin flowing to local public school districts. Yes, using an evidence-based model will direct scarce state funds to those school districts in the most need. But the essence of legislative compromise means that not everyone is happy with the result. Unfortunately, after all of the hard work contributed by school business officials, superintendents, principals, and school board members in the funding discussions, the Alliance could not support the final language in SB 1947.

The inclusion of provisions to allow taxpayer-initiated referenda in school districts that are calculated to be at least at 110 percent of their adequacy target was opposed by the Alliance. Currently, there are numerous tools on the books for transparency, taxpayer/citizen input, and participation in the property taxation process. An annual budget hearing by the school board regarding the adoption of a budget, the Truth in Taxation Act, and, ultimately, an election every two years where school board members face the greatest accountability are components of current statute.

Also opposed by the Alliance were the provisions creating a new income tax credit for taxpayers who contribute money for the purpose of covering non-public school tuition. The tax credit, generally a private school voucher program, creates an immediate diversion of public resources for the purpose of funding private education.

The most striking element that became evident over the past few months was the passion, resilience, and dedication of school superintendents, principals, business officials, and board members. Through all of the acrimony, political wrangling, and dire circumstances for local schools, they consistently took action with the best interests of the students of our public schools in mind.

Alliance Legislative Report (100-42)

HOUSE APPROVES NEW FUNDING BILL
EFFORT TO OVERRIDE SB 1 VETO FAILS
A new school funding formula is one vote away from reality, but the road was rocky and the results are mixed. With the legislature caught up between the legislature’s version of SB 1 and the Governor’s version of SB 1, a tweaked evidence-based funding model was added to a new bill – SB 1947

New provisions added to the mix in SB 1947 include an income tax credit for private school tuition and a form of mandate relief for public schools.

When SB 1947 was first called for a vote Monday afternoon on the House floor, it failed miserably on a vote of 46-61-5, far short of the 71 votes needed for passage. After their respective caucus meetings, legislators returned to the floor for a vote on the override motion on the Governor’s amendatory veto of SB 1. This motion also came up well short of the 71 votes needed with only 63 representatives voting for the override. The Speaker of the House then recalled SB 1947 for a vote and it was approved on a bipartisan vote of 73-34-3.

The bill will be taken up in the Senate later today (Tuesday) for final action.





Monday, August 28, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report (100-41)

SCHOOL FUNDING PLAN FILED IN HOUSE
House Amendment #5 to SB 1947, the 550-page school funding compromise language, has been filed in the House of Representatives.

The Alliance is currently reviewing the amendment, though it will be impossible to thoroughly analyze all provisions given the short timeline. It appears that everything agreed to by the legislative leaders is contained in this one piece of legislation – including all evidence-based funding language and a new income tax credit designed to redirect public funds to non-public schools.

The amendment is expected to be called for a vote on the House floor this afternoon (Monday) – there is no committee hearing set to discuss the legislation at this time.

Though the amendment contains many of the desired components from the Vision 20/20 plan for an evidence-based funding model, other provisions generate significant concerns for the Alliance. As highlighted in the last Alliance Legislative Report, the income tax credit for private school tuition would drain hundreds of millions of dollars from public schools over the next four years.

Another provision added to the funding reform plan would allow any taxpayer to place on the ballot a referendum to require the school district to decrease its property tax levy if that school district was calculated to be at 110 percent of its adequacy target. This usurpation of the school board’s responsibilities, based on an arbitrary depiction of a school district’s financial stability, will be debilitating to local schools.

Based on these two egregious provisions, the Alliance opposes SB 1947 as currently drafted. School board members and administrators are urged to contact their legislators as soon as possible and let them know how these provisions would affect their school districts.


Alliance Legislative Report (100-40)

OPPOSITION NEEDED ON VOUCHER PLAN
The School Management Alliance is opposed to the plan for a statewide income tax credit program for the amount paid to a non-public school for tuition. The $75 million proposal is nothing more than a private school voucher program that would divert millions of public dollars to non-public schools. Each of the organizations that comprise the Alliance have had long-standing position statements that call for opposing voucher and tax credit schemes.

School board members and administrators are urged to contact their legislators today and ask that they reject the tax credit/voucher plan.

The Illinois House of Representatives is meeting in session later this morning, but at this time there has been no bill or amendment filed carrying the tax credit language. For that matter, there still has been no legislation filed on the rest of the school funding compromise, though leaders say that there will be a vote today.

Time is running out for taking action on an override motion on the veto of SB 1. It is still unclear on whether the plan is to override the governor’s action on SB 1, then pass trailing legislation to make the other changes the legislative leaders agreed to, or to scrap SB 1 and re-write the evidence-based funding model language into other bills.

Watch for updates throughout the day on the legislative session.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

IASB Briefs

District membership count at 844
IASB added another school district to its membership rolls on Aug. 16, with the addition of Ohio CCSD 17. The district is located in the Starved Rock Division where Laura Martinez is field services director.

Membership totals include 844 member districts. With only six non-member districts, 99.3 percent of Illinois school districts are now members of the Illinois Association of School Boards.

IASB offers online mandated training
IASB’s Online Learning Center continues to offer the state-mandated Open Meetings Act (OMA) training as required for new school board members within 90 days of taking the oath of office. Click here for more information and to register.

All new board members are also required to complete a four-hour mandatory Professional Development Leadership Training (PDLT) within the first year of their current term. Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA) training is required for those board members voting for dismissal within the alternative evaluation process. IASB includes PERA training in all its PDLT training workshops, and the Association offers two opportunities to meet PDLT/PERA school board member training requirements:
  1. Click here for more information and to register for the pertinent online (OLC) course, or
  2. Attend a Pre-Conference Workshop at the 2017 Joint Annual Conference in Chicago on Friday, Nov. 17. Click here for more information, and contact your district office to ask them to register you for Pre-Conference Workshops.
For more information on meeting these state training mandates, click here.

New pocket reference guide published
Patrick Rice, director of field services for IASB, has authored a new book, The Essential Quick Flip Reference Guide for School Board Members. The book is designed to provide fast access to essential information school board members need to know to govern effectively, according to Rice, a former teacher and school administrator.

The book, spiral bound and small enough for convenient portable reference, provides information on a range of topics, including board member expectations and duties, school board governance, parliamentary procedure, school community relations, and more.

The guide, Rice’s second published work, is available from IASB’s online bookstore for $12.99, at: www.iasb.com.

Friday, August 25, 2017

School funding agreement reached

The legislative leaders of the Illinois General Assembly announced yesterday (Thursday) that they have come to an agreement in concept on a compromise to the school funding stalemate. Discussions will continue today and through the weekend, with the House of Representatives coming back to the Capitol on Sunday afternoon for a legislative session. Reportedly, drafting of the new legislation is underway.

Details are sketchy as those in the negotiating room have been tight-lipped and there is no legislation officially filed. But the expectations are an evidence-based funding model with most of the components mirroring SB 1; some modifications in reference to the governor’s amendatory veto revisions; mandate relief for public schools; and some version of an income tax credit for amounts paid to non-public school for tuition.

It is unclear as to the procedural path that this compromise language will take. SB 1 could be allowed to die with all of the new language added to different bills already in a posture for passage. Or, the House could vote to override the governor’s action on SB 1, thus enacting that bill into law, then approve subsequent legislation that would make the changes needed to SB 1 that correspond with the new agreement.

Apparently, the initial action on the funding reform plans will begin in the House. Once the House takes action (possibly Sunday; more likely Monday), any new legislation would need approval from the Senate. The Senate has not indicated when it plans to return to Springfield.

No general funds have flowed to schools this fiscal year because of the lack of agreement on an evidence-based funding model. School districts should have received their second general aid payment by now. Once legislation is approved and enacted into law, the State Board of Education and Office of the Comptroller processes of vouchering and issuing payment should take seven to 10 days.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Fall division dinner meetings scheduled

IASB’s 2017 Fall Division Dinner Meetings are set to begin Sep. 26, with a gathering of the Illini Division taking place in Mahomet. The final meeting of the season is scheduled for Nov. 1, when the South Cook Division will meet in Hickory Hills. In between, the Association’s 19 other divisions will meet in venues across the state.

Each division dinner meeting offers networking opportunities and updates from Association staff and division directors and chairpersons. Attendance at division dinner meetings also earns participants five points in IASB’s Master Board Member Program. Most meetings also offer keynote or breakout panel sessions on a variety of important education topics for school leaders.

Online registration and payment is required; however, district superintendents or secretaries should first update their district roster in the IASB member database so that the names of individuals who are attending can be included in the registration.

Here is the schedule of dates and locations for the 21 division dinner meetings (speakers and topics will be announced later):


2017 Fall Division Dinner Meetings
Date
IASB Division
Location
Sept. 26
Illini
Mahomet-Seymour CUSD 3
Oct. 2
Northwest
CedarStone Banquets, Polo
Oct. 3
Abe Lincoln
Sangamon Valley CUSD 9
Oct. 3
Blackhawk
Galva CUSD 224
Oct. 3
Egyptian
Mt. Vernon SD 80
Oct. 3
West Cook
Mannheim Middle School, Melrose Park
Oct. 4
Southwestern
Columbia CUSD 4
Oct. 5
Kishwaukee
Harlem High School, Harlem SD 122
Oct. 5
Wabash Valley
Knights of Columbus, Jasper Co. CUSD 1, Newton
Oct. 10
Shawnee
Dongola USD 66
Oct. 11
Lake
DoubleTree by Hilton, Libertyville-Mundelein
Oct. 12
Corn Belt
Indian Creek Country Club, Fairbury
Oct. 12
Starved Rock
Ottawa High School
Oct. 18
North Cook
Café La Cave, Des Plaines
Oct. 19
DuPage
Sheraton Lisle Hotel
Oct. 24
Kaskaskia
Brownstown CUSD 201
Oct. 24
Western
LaHarpe Comm SD 347
Oct. 26
Central Illinois Valley
Dunlap CUSD 323
Oct. 26
Two Rivers
Jacksonville SD 117
Oct. 30
Three Rivers
Prairie Bluff Golf Club, Lockport
Nov. 1
South Cook
Camelot, Hickory Hills


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

UPDATE: House session canceled

Deputy Exec. Director Ben Schwarm
IASB Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm discusses the options under consideration by the legislature that will allow the release of state school funding.

UPDATE: Wednesday House session canceled
House Speaker Michael Madigan announced last night that the legislative session scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 23 has been canceled. The Illinois House was preparing to take up an override vote on the governor’s veto of SB 1. The Speaker noted that recent progress toward a compromise on school funding among the legislative leaders led to the decision. The leaders will meet again on Thursday in an attempt to iron out remaining differences on an evidence-based funding model. The House will likely reconvene next week. August 29 is the deadline to take action on the veto of SB 1.

House returns tomorrow for possible vote
The Illinois House of Representatives will return to the Capitol on Wednesday (Aug. 23) to address the governor’s amendatory veto of SB 1, the school funding reform legislation. The Senate has already voted to override the governor and the House has until Aug. 29 to take some type of action on the bill. Though no motion has yet been filed, it is expected that the House sponsor of the bill will file a motion to override the amendatory veto. If such a motion is approved with a 3/5 majority of House members, SB 1 would become law as passed by the legislature in May without the governor’s proposed revisions. If the motion fails, SB 1 would be dead.

The legislative leaders have been meeting over the last few days in an attempt to find a compromise on the concepts of an evidence-based funding model for the distribution of general funds to school districts. Republicans are concerned about provisions of SB 1 that direct additional funds to Chicago Public Schools. They are also pushing for additional provisions, including mandate relief for downstate school districts and a statewide scholarship/voucher program that would help fund non-public schools.

Procedurally, there are a number of ways to implement a compromise. They could let SB 1 die, then replace it with an agreed-to funding plan contained in another bill (or bills). Or, they could override the veto on SB 1, thus enacting it into law, then follow up later this week with another bill (or bills) that contain Republican-friendly provisions.

With no compromise, bill sponsors in the House could muscle through an override of the governor and enact SB 1 as is. But because of the required 3/5 majority vote, this would take several Republicans to vote for the bill and against the governor. With no changes to the bill or a promise of trailing legislation, this seems unlikely as no House Republican have indicated he/she would cast such a vote.

No voucher legislation has yet been filed in the legislature, but preliminary drafts have surfaced. In these drafts, taxpayers would be allowed to receive an income tax credit equal to the amount of tuition paid to a non-public school. In some drafts, the aggregate statewide amount of such tax credits could reach $100 million in the form of “scholarships” to private or religious schools. The scholarship-issuing organizations, depending on which version of the bill it is, could be a not-for-profit organization, the Illinois State Board of Education, or the Illinois State Scholarship Commission. In some cases, the scholarship could be used in another public school district so a student could attend a school in a district he/she does not reside in without paying non-resident tuition. Also, in some versions, the local public school district would have to administer the required standardized assessment to those students who have a voucher in a non-public school.

Obviously, there are many concerns IASB has with these proposals to re-direct state funds to non-public schools. School board members and administrators are urged to contact their legislators and voice their objections to these proposed schemes.

News from ISBE

New tool for kindergarten readiness
The state will report consistent new measures of developmental readiness for all kindergarten students starting this fall. Kindergarten teachers will be getting and using the reports, which are derived from observations of students in their normal daily routines of playing and learning.

The Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS) is designed to deepen the state’s understanding of where children have or do not have access to high-quality early learning opportunities. KIDS also will help communities and service providers understand what children need for success in school, state officials said.

The state requires all districts to use the KIDS tool to observe Kindergarten students against 14 measures of school readiness within the first 40 days of students’ attendance. A state web page offers resources, fact sheets, frequently asked questions, and other information for teachers, administrators, and families at KIDS.

Read more about this program in the September-October issue of The Illinois School Board Journal.

School lunch guidelines released
Eligibility guidelines have been released for free and reduced-price lunch, breakfast, and after-school snacks through the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program for the 2017-2018 school year.

Officials say the federal programs help ensure that children are able to receive nutritious meals and snacks even if their families are unable to pay full price.

Application forms for the programs are being sent to all students’ homes. Parents and guardians need to complete just one application per household for all students in the same school district. More details and a chart depicting the federal guidelines are available here.

Law streamlines teacher licensing
A recently signed law may help address a major teacher shortage with more than 1,000 teaching positions going unfilled last year in Illinois public schools, state officials say. Public Act 100-0013 is designed to streamline the licensing requirements for various subject areas, such as Career and Technical Education (CTE), and special education.

The measure was sponsored by Rep. Fred Crespo (D-Streamwood) and Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Plainfield). It was developed as part of the Vision 20/20 legislative agenda, a grassroots campaign of state school management groups that includes IASB.

Public Act 100-0013, a follow up to Senate Bill 2912 signed into law in 2016, took effect July 1.

Monday, August 21, 2017

IASB officers building on leadership
practices for effective governance

IASB Treasurer Tom Neeley, Vice President Joanne Osmond
Past President Karen Fisher, and President Phil Pritzker
attended, along with IASB Executive Director Roger Eddy
The IASB leadership team joined leaders from over forty other state school board associations Aug. 17-20 for the National School Boards Association (NSBA) Leadership Seminar in Chicago.

IASB Executive Director Roger Eddy attended, along with President Phil Pritzker, Vice President Joanne Osmond, Immediate Past President Karen Fisher, and Treasurer Tom Neeley.

The officers participated in a day-long Strategic Governance Symposium where attendees gathered insight into organizational dynamics, strategies to clarify issues, and practice using tools to resolve complex issues.

In addition, IASB officers heard a panel of state officials discuss legislative attempts nationally to impose tax credits and vouchers upon public education. Other sessions offered skill-building exercises to improve data retention, and leading an equity initiative in your state.

The Central States Caucus featured an update from IASB
President Phil Pritzker on critical issues for state associations
“This seminar provided an opportunity for our officers to build upon a shared understanding and commitment to key components of effective governance, and to hear from other state education leaders about issues they are facing,” said IASB Executive Director Roger Eddy.

The weekend also included two Central Region States meetings regarding current education issues. Central States include Kentucky, Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Illinois

At the Central States Caucus, IASB President Phil Pritzker joined other region presidents in an update of critical issues facing each of the state Associations.

The weekend ended with Kevin Powell, an acclaimed political and cultural voice, speaking about equity and its importance.

This was the third time the seminar has been held in Chicago. Programming for the annual Seminar is designed to focus on association leadership topics and competencies. It also provides opportunities for regional and peer-to-peer networking.

Friday, August 18, 2017

School districts consider eclipse study, safety

Permanent eye damage can result from viewing
the sun with unprotected eyes or unsafe glasses.
School districts in, or even near, the path of totality of the Aug. 21 solar eclipse have made decisions
regarding how they are managing the science and safety of eclipse viewing with their students.

Although some Illinois school districts don’t open until after Aug. 21, many started classes last week.
Monday’s eclipse will be total in a swath of the southern tier of the state, including Carbondale near the center, Cahokia to the northwest, Harrisburg to the east, and Mounds to the south. Areas in and around Anna, Benton, Waterloo, Harrisburg, Marion, Herrin, Metropolis, and Vienna will experience totality.

Permanent eye damage can occur from looking at the sun with unprotected eyes. People’s interest in seeing the eclipse overcomes their instinct to look away from the sun. As reported in The Southern Illinoisan, the effect of the sun (even when partially covered) on human eyes is more powerful than the effect of focusing the sun through a magnifying glass to burn leaves.

Edwardsville SD 7 announced in July that it was cancelling classes for Aug. 21, based partly on dismissal times. Students would normally be released from school during the time of afternoon eclipse. School officials also feared they would not be able to prepare for safe observation, or to obtain safety glasses for all students. Edwardsville will experience 99.5 percent totality at 1:18 p.m.

The district’s announcement said “the solar eclipse presents a hazard to students if they cannot be kept indoors during the entire time of exposure of almost three hours. Since the District cannot safely dismiss all students at any time during the solar eclipse on August 21, the District 7 Board of Education approved an amendment to the 2017-18 school calendar to make August 21 a day of non-attendance…”

Granite City CUSD 9 followed suit, also with safety and dismissal concerns. In St. Claire County, Brooklyn USD 188 has a teacher institute day. In Carbondale, Unity Point SD 140, Carbondale ESD 95, and Carbondale Community High School District 165 will be closed.

School districts that won’t experience totality are taking advantage of the learning opportunity. Around Champaign, school districts began preparing last year for that area’s 90 to 95 percent totality. The Danville Public School Foundation purchased 7,000 pairs of safety glasses for student use. Elgin-based School District U-46 offered training for teachers and required permission from parents for eclipse-related events. The Elgin area will experience approximately 86 percent totality.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report (100-39)

FATE OF SB 1 STILL UNCERTAIN 

The Illinois House of Representatives convened in session today (Wednesday) but took no action on the amendatory veto of SB 1. Governor Bruce Rauner issued his amendatory veto earlier this month and the Senate voted to override the governor’s action Sunday (Aug. 13). When the House first scheduled Wednesday’s session, most observers assumed the intent was to attempt the veto override. But it became evident earlier in the week that such action was not going to be on the agenda for the single day session.

Instead, the House held a committee hearing on House Amendment #4 to SB 1947 which contains language that is identical to the governor’s amendatory veto revisions. The amendment was sponsored by House Democrats, all of whom oppose the governor’s proposals. Republicans cried foul saying that this amendment was not a serious attempt at addressing the school funding impasse, but was political in nature.

Several school superintendents were on hand to testify before the appropriations committee. The often emotional hearing contained heated exchanges between witnesses and legislators. The passionate debate continued onto the House floor when SB 1947 was considered. The amendment was defeated with zero “yes” votes, 60 “no” votes, 33 “present” votes, and with 25 House members not voting.

Negotiations to reach compromise on an evidence-based school funding formula will continue, but instead of the bipartisan group of legislators who have been meeting, the legislative leaders will meet on Friday. The result could be a House override of the governor’s actions, thereby restoring SB 1 to the version that was originally approved by the House and Senate in May – then approving subsequent legislation (a “trailer bill”) that contains education provisions favored by Republicans. One component could be a statewide private school voucher program that the governor has recently pushed. House members must take action on the amendatory veto of SB 1 within 15 days of when it was officially read into the record in the House. It was read into the record on Monday, Aug. 14.

The Alliance is opposed to any voucher, scholarship, or tax credit designed to redirect state funds from public schools to non-public schools.

Both the Senate and the House are now out of session and will return at the call of the president and speaker. House Speaker Michael Madigan indicated that House members will return next Wednesday, Aug. 23rd.