Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report 100-08

PROPERTY TAX FREEZE COULD BE UP FOR VOTE
The Senate budget “grand bargain” compromise attempting to end the state budget stalemate could be called for a vote this week in the Illinois State Senate. When the Senate adjourned two weeks ago, Senate leaders indicated that they would call the wide-ranging budget and reform plan for a vote upon their return. One of the bills in the 13 bill package contains a two-year freeze on property tax extensions for school districts and units of local government.

This is not the first time that the “grand bargain” has been put to the test in the upper chamber of the General Assembly. On Feb. 8, several budget-related bills were approved by the Senate: SB 3 (local government consolidation), SB 8 (procurement reform), and SB 10 (municipal taxes). But when the pension reform bill (SB 11) was called, the bill was defeated as all Republican members and many Democrat members voted against the measure. It was not that they were necessarily against the budget agreement, Republicans said at the time, but that since each of the bills was linked as a package they were not prepared to vote until they saw the final language of all of the proposals. As of today, there is still no language available for SB 1 – the bill that will contain the school funding reform language.

But even after that set back three weeks ago, both Democrats and Republicans have stated that the “grand bargain” is still a viable package. Only time will tell if the compromise legislation will have the votes to pass the Senate. It is anybody’s guess on the fate of the compromise in the House of Representatives.

The “grand bargain” is made up of a series of 13 bills, with some having a potential positive effect on schools and others posing a risk for devastating impacts. The most potentially damaging bill is SB 13, which would impose the property tax freeze. The impact will vary district by district, but the end result will be the same: schools across Illinois operating with less access to resources.

School board members and administrators are urged to voice concerns to their state Senator about the property tax freeze proposal. The biggest impact will be realized by describing the specific negative consequences local school districts will face with such a limitation.

Other bills in the compromise package include: SB 2 (increase in the minimum wage), SB 4 (borrowing authority), SB 5 (appropriation for Chicago teacher pensions), SB 6 (budget appropriations), SB 7 (gaming expansion), SB 9 (revenue enhancements through income and sales taxes), and SB 12 (Workers’ Compensation reform).

More comprehensive analyses on the budget bills can be found in Alliance Legislative Report 100-01.

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.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report 100-07

Alliance Legislative Report 100-07
SENATE TO RETURN TO ACTION NEXT WEEK
With the House adjourning Friday, Feb. 24, the Senate prepares to come back to Springfield to attempt to revive the “Grand Bargain.” As discussed in detail at the Alliance Legislative Summit this week, the Senate “Grand Bargain” is a collection of bills that look to overhaul state government, as reported in Alliance Legislative Report 100-01. Bills in the package include pension changes, new revenue streams, additional borrowing, a property tax freeze, mandate relief, and a school funding formula overhaul. While parts of the “Grand Bargain” are not finalized, most noticeably the funding formula changes, the real question is whether or not the votes will be there to pass all of the components. As it is currently written, all bills in the “Grand Bargain” are linked together and must pass individually or the entire package fails.

ALLIANCE LEGISLATIVE SUMMIT AN OVERWHELMING SUCCESS
Thanks to school leaders from across the state who attended the Alliance Leadership Summit on Tuesday and Wednesday. The response from attendees and members of the General Assembly has been very positive. The objectives discussed during the Summit will continue to be legislative priorities during the spring session. Please continue to look for further updates on Alliance initiatives in subsequent Alliance Legislative Reports.

Click here to read the full Alliance Legislative Report 100-07, including bill action from the past week and bills scheduled for committee next week.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Rauner pledges support for education equity and excellence

Gov. Rauner addressed the Alliance Leadership Summit.
Governor Bruce Rauner told school leaders assembled for the Alliance Leadership Summit on Feb. 22 that nothing is more important than education, assuring attendees his focus is on both equity and excellence and providing “outstanding schooling for every child.”

He pointed to the much-discussed gap in the quality of education for children living in impoverished neighborhoods and said he wants to change that.

“Every child, in every community, in every neighborhood in Illinois, deserves an outstanding education,” he said.

The Alliance Leadership Summit was intended to provide a chance for superintendents, school board members, school business officials, principals, and other stakeholders, to come together to learn, plan, and engage state policy makers on what is at stake for public education in general, and local school districts in particular. Attendees heard the latest news on emerging issues such as: a proposed property tax freeze, pension reform, mandate relief, federal law, and Vision 20/20 initiatives.

“We should be focusing on closing the achievement gap between low-income kids and other kids,” Rauner said, after noting that Massachusetts has begun to pursue that goal when fine tuning its state education plan. The detailed state plans are required this year under the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which takes effect this year.

Rauner revealed he had earlier in the day testified about the state’s ESSA plan draft before the Illinois State Board of Education, urging several changes and a delay from April to September before submitting the Illinois plan. Such a delay is allowed under the federal law, he noted, with “no penalties, no problems.”

The governor said his recommendations concern four topics: high expectations for all students to promote equity and closing the achievement gap, rigorous requirements for growth and proficiency, transparency that would include a reporting of how all dollars are spent at each school, and producing college and career-ready students. He also urged educators and school leaders to submit their own ideas to improve the state’s ESSA plan.

The governor briefly paused for a photo
with IASB leaders before he spoke at the summit.
Rauner stressed that his passion has always been K-12 education. “I just believe there is nothing more important than outstanding public education, available to every child in every community,” he said, noting that he has lived up to that ideal by increasing school funding every year as governor.

“We demanded more money our first year, $700 million more, we demanded more money the second year, and we are going to demand more money every year for K-12 schools from the state. No more is Illinois going to be at the bottom of the fifty states with the lowest amount of percentage of funding from the state government into local schools,” he pledged.

“We overly rely on local property taxes, and that makes our school systems unequal,” the governor said. “That means low-income families have disadvantaged schools that don’t get the proper support. This is wrong, it’s denying the American Dream to too many families. This is a social justice issue, it’s a moral issue…the American Dream is founded on education,” Rauner said.

Finally, he stated that the key to fixing the problem is to get more money for schools from the state, with less reliance upon local property taxes.

Reaction to Rauner’s remarks from those in attendance at the address was generally positive, as was the response from IASB leaders.

“I was pleased that Governor Rauner came to speak to us to underscore the fact that he has a passion for education,” said IASB President Phil Pritzker. “So, from a purely PR stance, it was positive that he, as well as the state superintendent and the Secretary of Education, all came to be with us. It would have been more engaging to have had an actual forum or dialog where we could have had the ability to ask questions like the other two officials afforded the gathering. In general, it was a decided plus for the Governor to address our gathering,” Pritzker added.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

ISBE Briefs

State Board seeks $266.4 million increase

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) finalized its fiscal year 2018 budget recommendations on Jan. 24 for pre-K through 12th grade schools. The total budget recommendations amount to $7.727 billion, an increase of $266.4 million (3.45 percent) over FY 2017 levels.

ISBE held three public hearings in different parts of the state to gather feedback on school spending needs and priorities before formulating its budget recommendations.

The agency recommends funding General State Aid (GSA) in FY 2018 at the Foundation Level of $6,119 per student, and maintaining the current GSA appropriation of $5.078 billion. The Foundation Level represents the mandated minimum level of funding required to meet the basic education needs of one student in public schools.

More information on the ISBE-proposed budget is available via an agency news release.

 For further details, view the agency’s complete FY 2018 budget.

 

Nonpublic/Public School ESSA Conference set

ISBE will host its first Nonpublic/Public ESSA Conference on April 5 in Urbana. State officials said they hope to see this become an annual event where all members of the Illinois K-12 world can gather to discuss common concerns and solutions.

This conference will focus on the new relationship between public school districts and nonpublic schools that will emerge from the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which takes effect July 1. There is no fee to attend, and lunch will be provided.

For questions, please contact the Title Grants Administration Division at (217) 524-4832.

School leaders can get more information or register for the event here.



Monday, February 20, 2017

Exhibitor registration is now open
for the 2017 Joint Annual Conference

IASB has posted information for registration and housing for all exhibitors planning to attend the 2017 Joint Annual Conference.

Click here for instructions and all exhibitor forms.

Registration and housing forms can be downloaded as a fillable PDF; however forms cannot be submitted online. Forms will be accepted by fax or email if payment is made by credit card. If payment is made by check, forms must be submitted by mail (see below).

Now in its 85th year, the Joint Annual Conference has welcomed exhibitors for the past 69 years. The Conference is proud to have vendors that have exhibited annually for 10, 20, and even 30-plus years. The Joint Annual Conference attracts thousands of public education decision-makers, connects exhibitors with them personally, and places products and services in the hands and minds of many potential customers.

This year’s Conference will be held November 17-19 in Chicago. The Exhibit Hall will be open on Friday and Saturday, November 17 and 18, in the Riverside Center of the Hyatt Regency in Chicago.

Completed registrations, and/or questions about exhibitions, forms, or procedures, should be directed to

Shantel Rotherham
Exhibit Manager, Meetings Management
2921 Baker Drive
Springfield, IL 62703
217/528-9688, ext. 1115
Fax: 217/241-2144
srotherham@iasb.com


The Exhibit Hall was lively at the 2016 Joint Annual Conference.




Sunday, February 19, 2017

Education leaders gather this week
for Alliance Leadership Summit

The two-day Alliance Leadership Summit kicks off Tuesday morning and offers 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. The event takes place Feb. 21-22 at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield, with the opening address at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
Alliance Leadership Summit

Governor Bruce Rauner will address the Summit at 12:45 p.m., Wednesday,  Feb. 22. In addition, Summit attendees will hear from Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis and State Superintendent Tony Smith.

Additional keynoters include author, speaker, and educator Jim Burgett and Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.

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 will also feature a panel from the Governor’s School Funding Reform Commission, another panel of political analysts and journalists who cover state government, and legislative meetings and a reception.


PMA Financial Network, Inc./Forecast5, Stifel, and Lifetouch are co-sponsors for the Alliance Leadership Summit.

This will be the second Alliance Leadership Summit. In 2015, more than 600 school board members, school superintendents, principals, school business officials, and other educators heard from guest speakers and panelists on timely public policy issues and prepared for effective advocacy on the issues affecting public schools. Participants received a variety of tools to craft and deliver their messages to lawmakers. Many participants then visited with lawmakers, aides, and other key legislative staff, many working from the new Vision 20/20 initiative.

Registration is open through noon on Monday, February 20. On-site registration also will be accepted.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report 100-06

Alliance Legislative Report 100-06
HOUSE TO RETURN TO ACTION NEXT WEEK
Most of the week was devoted to looking ahead at the Fiscal Year 2018 State budget with Governor Bruce Rauner delivering his annual Budget Address Wednesday (see the last Alliance Legislative Report) and the Democrat leaders giving their rebuttal. Committee action was sparse, though some committees did meet Wednesday and Thursday. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate cancelled the scheduled session day for today (Friday). The House will return next Wednesday, February 22; the Senate will return on February 28.

Click here to read the complete Alliance Legislative Report 100-06, including a preview of next week's Alliance Leadership Summit and the bill action taken this week.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report 100-05

GOVERNOR PROPOSES INCREASE FOR EDUCATION
Governor Bruce Rauner proposed to increase public education spending to fully fund General State Aid (GSA) and to end proration of transportation reimbursements. The governor delivered his constitutionally required state Budget Address today in the Capitol before a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly.

The proposed increase in K-12 education funding for Fiscal Year 2018 would total $213 million over the FY 2017 budget. This includes an additional $30 million to again fully fund the GSA foundation level of $6,119 per pupil and $107 million to – for the first time in years – fully fund the Regular Transportation reimbursement in the mandated categorical (MCAT) grant payments.

The rest of the MCAT grants (for the various special education categories) would be funded at the same level as FY 2017.

Other proposed increases include $38 million more for English language learners and $50 million more for early childhood education programs. The governor also includes in his proposal $5 million to match the federal E-Rate program to access funds for the “technology superhighway” program. This investment in technology, specifically to help with broadband connectivity in places across the state that do not have such infrastructure, is a plank in the Illinois Vision 20/20 agenda being pushed by the Alliance this year.

In Illinois, the governor proposes a budget, but the General Assembly must approve legislation that appropriates the funds. The ball is now in the court of the legislature which is certain to dispute some of the governor’s budget numbers. There may be some agreement on the education portion of the budget, but given the mire that the state is in (without having had a complete budget in place for nearly two years) the discussion on a comprehensive budget for all of state government will continue.

Click here to read the entire Alliance Legislative Report 100-05, including additional budget details from the governor's address. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Deadline fast approaching
to register for Alliance Leadership Summit

Gov. Bruce Rauner will address the summit Feb. 22.
For those members planning to attend the Alliance Leadership Summit, event organizers have two important programmatic updates.

It has now been confirmed that Governor Bruce Rauner will address summit attendees on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 12:45 PM.

In addition, the Senate is not scheduled to be in session during the summit but House members are scheduled to be in Springfield.

The Alliance Leadership Summit provides an opportunity for superintendents, school board members, school business officials, principals, and other stakeholders, to come together to learn, plan, and engage state policy makers on what's at stake for public education in general, and local school districts in particular.

Attendees will hear keynote addresses from the State Superintendent, Tony Smith, and Beth Purvis, the Secretary of Education. This is also where school leaders can find out the latest on emerging issues such as:

  •     Property tax freeze
  •     Pension reform
  •     Mandate relief
  •     ESSA update
  •     Vision 20/20 initiatives
"These issues are important to all school districts," said IASB Executive Director Roger Eddy. "This is your chance to bring your voice to the capitol, to show strength and unity in carrying the common message on behalf of public education. I encourage you and your entire district leadership team to register now," he said.

"Thank you for your support; see you in Springfield!" Eddy added.

Monday, February 13, 2017

IASB, IPA to discuss governor’s Budget Address live on Facebook

The Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) and the Illinois Principals Association (IPA) will host a live Facebook discussion following Governor Bruce Rauner’s budget address on Wednesday, Feb. 15. The Facebook Live event will take place approximately five minutes after the conclusion of the governor’s remarks.

The live video will be streamed on IPA’s Facebook page and shared through IASB’s page. IPA’s Director of Government Relations Allison Maley and IASB’s Assistant Director of Governmental Relations Zach Messersmith will discuss how the governor’s proposal impacts schools and field budget-related questions from viewers.

Illinois school officials and public education advocates are encouraged to submit questions in Facebook comments below the live stream or via Twitter using the hashtag, #AllianceLive.

Governor Rauner is scheduled to begin his budget address at noon on Feb. 15. Visit the Illinois General Assembly website to watch or listen to the speech.

To receive notification of when the live discussion begins, be sure to “like” the IPA and IASB Facebook pages.

Alliance Legislative Report 100-4

BUDGET PACKAGE HITS SNAG IN SENATE
The Illinois State Senate this week began floor consideration of bills in the proposed budget compromise, but Senate Republicans said that they were not ready to vote on the components at that time. Three of the more non-controversial bills were approved with all Democrat votes: SB 3 on the consolidation of townships, SB 8 dealing with procurement reform, and SB 10 regarding municipal taxes. But when it came to the first contentious issue, SB 11 that would reform the pension laws, there were not enough Democrats to carry the vote. SB 11 was defeated on an 18-29-10 vote.

Senate Republicans stated that since all of the budget bills were connected by a clause that says that if one of the bills fail then all of the budget bills fail, they were not ready to offer affirmative votes until all of the legislation was in its final form. Negotiations are still ongoing regarding the Workers’ Compensation Act reform and language has yet to be introduced on school funding reform. With that, the Republican Senate leadership urged its members to place “present” votes on the budget bill package.

Though the defeat of one of the “grand bargain” bills caused a stir in the Capitol on Wednesday, leadership from both Senate caucuses insist that the deal is not dead and that the budget compromise will still be approved by the Senate. There still has been no indication from House leadership on the grand bargain package prospects in that chamber.

Regarding the school funding reform bill, the Senate Education Committee held a “subject matter only” hearing Thursday on the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission report. Secretary of Education Dr. Elizabeth Purvis presented to the committee about the Commission’s findings and recommendations, but was chastised by some panel members because there is no legislation drafted with the Commission’s plan.

Next Wednesday, Governor Bruce Rauner will deliver his annual Budget Address before a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly. This will further set the stage for budget discussions and could affect the status of the Senate budget compromise proposal.

Click here to read the entire Alliance Legislative Report 100-4, including information on other education related bills under consideration by the General Assembly.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Advocacy Institute delegation pushes
for school funding, including Title I, IDEA

The Illinois delegation met with Sen. Tammy Duckworth
(center) and Sen. Dick Durbin, and five Congressmen.

By Theresa Kelly Gegen

 

In the midst of a dynamic political environment, the Illinois delegation at the National School Board Association’s 2017 Advocacy Institute focused on funding issues, including the importance of funding for Title I and IDEA.

 

Twenty-four participants made up the Illinois delegation, led by IASB President Phil Pritzker (President), Vice President Joanne Osmond, immediate Past President Karen Fisher, Treasurer Thomas Neeley, and IASB Executive Director Roger Eddy.


“I was thrilled to lead the Illinois contingent the Advocacy Institute,” said Pritzker, “Again, Illinois had a significant number of public school advocates to bear witness to public policy being made. Having 16 different districts being represented was important as we planned to meet with our elected representatives.”


Susan Hilton, IASB director of governmental relations, rated the Advocacy Institute, formerly called the Federal Relations Network (FRN) Conference, the best of her experience. The Illinois delegation was able to meet with both Illinois senators, including freshman Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who had previously met with the group as a member of the House of Representatives, and veteran Sen. Dick Durbin who was able to meet briefly with the delegation and secured Senate gallery seats for the group.

Illinois attendees also met with Congressmen Brad Schneider, Randy Hultgren, Robin Kelly, Raja Krishnamoorthi, and Darin LaHood; and staff from the offices of Congressmen Adam Kinzinger and Peter Roskam.

“School board members are elected officials, who appreciate the opportunity to meet with their own elected officials in Washington,” Hilton said. “The stars aligned for this Institute, and the Illinois delegation was perfect – on point and on message.”

The group attended two days of informational sessions on a wide variety of national education issues, and then had a long and productive day lobbying on Capitol Hill.

In addition to funding Title I and IDEA, the attendees also stressed the importance of ensuring that any “choice” options that may be considered would not be detrimental to Title I and IDEA.

Many districts in Illinois currently offering successful choice options and more could be added under the current framework with additional flexibility. In regards to the issue of local control, attendees discussed the difficulties districts are having with the Child Nutrition Act and the need for flexibility from several onerous mandates. Attendees asked for relief from mandates from the previous administration requiring duplicative reporting to the U.S. Department of Education and Office of Civil Rights.

“We also asked our federal representatives for assistance in removing the provision in Illinois law that penalizes districts for paying teachers from Title 1 funds because a 45 percent fee is assigned to all teachers paid for with those Title 1 funds,” said Pritzker.

A portion of the visit including presentations by NSBA lobbyists on federal education funding, education choice, the Child Nutrition Act, and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. Attendees also heard from several members in leadership on education in Congress: House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), ranking member Bobby Scott (D-Va.), and member Tim Walberg (R-Mich.); Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and ranking member Patty Murray (D-Was.); and Senate Appropriations Committee member John Tester (D-Mont.).

The Institute also included remarks by NSBA President Miranda Beard and Executive Director Thomas Gentzel, a conversation on year-round advocacy featuring IASB’s Eddy, and a keynote speech by presidential historian and commentator Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Attending from Illinois:

IASB Board of Directors: President Phil Pritzker, Vice President Joanne Osmond, Immediate Past President Karen Fisher, and Treasurer Thomas Neeley.

IASB Staff: Executive Director Roger Eddy, Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm, and Director of Governmental Relations Susan Hilton

Local school districts: Kathleen Burley (Carpentersville CUSD 300), Lori Casey (Assistant Superintendent, Woodland CCSD 50), Mable Chapman (West Harvey-Dixmoor SD 147), Quinton Foreman (Lincoln Elementary SD 156), Vanessa Hatcher (Lincoln Elementary SD 156), Rosalyn Hathorn (Lincoln Elementary SD 156), Elliot Johnson (Matteson Elementary SD 159), Andrea Kidd (Lincoln Elementary SD 156), Diana Kreiling (Lake Forest CHSD 115), Carla Little (Woodland CCSD 50), Kisha McCaskill (Harvey SD 152), Ted Moorman (Lake Forest CHSD 115), Courtney Orzel (Superintendent, Lemont-Bromberek SD 113A), Suzanne Sands (Lake Forest SD 67), Kurt Schneider (Superintendent, NSSED), Bhavna Sharma-Lewis (Superintendent, Diamond Lake SD 76), Mike Simeck (Superintendent, Lake Forest SD 67 and CHSD 115), Donna Simpson Leak (Superintendent, Sauk Village CCSD 168), Frank Tanniehill (Lincoln Elementary SD 156), and Sonya Whitaker (Superintendent, Harvey SD 152).


ESSA statewide conference

A statewide conference for school leaders on the 2017 Every Student Succeeds Act, exploring the theme “Turning point: from NCLB to ESSA,” is being held Feb. 13-15 to the Sheraton Grand Hotel Chicago.

State officials who organized the event explain this year marks a “Turning Point” under federal law from NCLB to ESSA. The final state plan for ESSA will emphasize “the singular purpose of supporting the whole child, from early learning through post-secondary success,” according to ISBE Superintendent Tony Smith. Smith says the plan will engage public, private, and philanthropic resources to “design supports for students” to fit their backgrounds and needs.

Highlights of this conference, sponsored by the Illinois State Board of Education, include:

•    Detailed sessions illuminating the Illinois ESSA state plan
•    Five keynote speakers
•    More than 170 concurrent sessions and workshops in such topical strands as engagement with parents, families, and communities; innovative approaches to education; education for the homeless; and more
•    A strong focus on early childhood education on Feb. 14
•    State and federal updates and grant support
•    ISBE technical assistance

For further information about the program, visit here.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Six online courses now
available for board members

IASB’s Online Learning Center has rolled out three new professional development opportunities for school leaders, as well as continuing to provide training mandated by state law.

The new courses include “Senate Bill 100: School Discipline Reform,” “Searching for the Next Key Administrator,” and “Bullying Prevention: The Board’s Role.”

The course on new student discipline rules provides information on the role of boards of education regarding student discipline procedures. Topics covered include discipline foundations prior to the implementation of SB 100, changes to suspension and expulsion procedures, disciplinary removals to alternative schools, behavioral, and disciplinary interventions, and other mandates contained within the statute. The course is $30 for members and receives a ¼ LeaderShop credit.

The course on executive searches is an overview of the superintendent search process, including considerations before embarking on a search, the role of a search consultant, and the IASB executive searches service. Registration is required for this brief course but it is free to members.

The newest addition is “Bullying Prevention: The Board’s Role.”  This topic details the requirements of the board’s bullying policy, the many forms of school bullying, and the board’s role in supporting a culture free of student harassment. The course is $30 for members and receives ¼ LeaderShop credit.

Three other courses are offered to fulfill mandatory board member training. Those courses are:
  • Open Meetings Act (OMA) Training
  • Professional Development Leadership Training (PDLT) and Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA) Training (as a combined course)
  • Performance Evaluation Reform Act Training (as a stand-alone course)
“IASB’s Online Learning Center offers an anywhere, anytime, low-cost method to meet the state requirements. We are continuing to develop content of interest to school board members so there will be much more to come.” said Dean Langdon, IASB associate executive director.

OMA training, which is required to be completed 90 days after taking the oath of office, focuses on the act as it applies to school board meetings and members.

PDLT covers a variety of topics to assist with board responsibilities and functions, including education and labor law, financial oversight, and judiciary responsibilities. Per state law, all board members must take PDLT within the first year of their first term on a board of education. PERA training is required for school board members who participate in a vote on a tenured teacher dismissal based upon the “optional alternative evaluation dismissal process for PERA evaluations.”

PDLT and PERA are offered as a combined four-hour course; however, PERA can be taken as a stand-alone training option for those board members who need to meet only this requirement.

IASB’s online courses are offered in an easy-to-use online format containing targeted information on a featured topic with short question-and-answer knowledge checks. Courses earning LeaderShop credit include a course certificate upon completion. Course certificates for the state-mandated training should be submitted to the school district office.

Langdon noted that courses taken online are also integrated with IASB’s member database, which will track all applicable LeaderShop credits and archive successful completion of courses for Association members.

The Online Learning Center is accessible from the “quick links” drop-down menu at www.iasb.com, or by clicking the “MY ACCOUNT” button (also at iasb.com) and selecting the “Online Learning” tab at the top of the page after logging-in.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Share the Success proposals due Feb. 10

School districts and related education organizations have until Friday, Feb. 10 to submit proposals for “Share the Success” panel presentations at the 2017 Joint Annual Conference.

Success stories from local districts are always a strong drawing card at Conference for school officials who want to learn and benefit from the practical solutions these panels provide. 

Districts can submit proposals online or download a PDF version of the Request for Proposals form and return it to IASB by fax.

Those with questions should contact Peggy Goone at pgoone@iasb.com or call 217/528-9688, ext. 1103.
 

A summary of the 2016 Joint Annual Conference and related articles can be found online.

Staffing changes at IASB

Rotherham
Changes involving two departments at IASB were announced this week.

Shantel Rotherham stepped in as the assistant manager of meetings management on Feb. 1. She previously served as administrative assistant for the Association’s communications and production services departments, a position she had held since April 2015. Prior to joining IASB, Rotherham worked at the residence care facility St. Joseph’s Home of Springfield.

Rotherham, who will report to Meetings Management Director Carla Bolt, will be primarily responsible for the exhibit hall at the Joint Annual Conference. She replaces Dana Heckrodt, who left the Association after 13 years in the same two departments.

Beck
Britni Beck assumed the duties of administrative assistant for IASB communications and production services on Feb. 8. Beck previously worked for the healthcare distributor H.D. Smith Co. in Springfield as administrative assistant to the corporate vice president of information technology development.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

IASB updates, distributes
Constitution & Position Statements

The 2017 Illinois Association of School Boards Constitution and Position Statements has been updated and is now being mailed to all Association member districts. The revised document reflects priorities adopted by the IASB Delegate Assembly at the 2016 Joint Annual Conference.

IASB operates within the framework of its Constitution to fulfill its goal, “to aid and assist boards of education in performing their lawful functions and to promote, support, and advance the interest of public education in Illinois.” The Position Statements represent the nature and substance of that work.

Changes to the IASB Constitution replaced outdated language and terminology (for example, replacing references to No Child Left Behind with the Every Student Succeeds Act).

Additions to the IASB Position Statements include using minutes instead of days to account for instruction lost due to weather or other events beyond the school district’s control (clock hours vs. minutes); and to allow a school district to publish electronically, instead of in print, any required notices or other information (4.05 Statement of Affairs).

Affirmations of existing positions include the topics of early childhood education programs, charter schools funding, property tax access and classifications, TIF districts, school district budget stability, prevailing wage requirements, and local control of local school districts.

The new Constitution and Position Statements can be viewed at the IASB website online.

The review process begins anew in April, when a letter will be sent to member districts to solicit resolutions for consideration at the 2017 Delegate Assembly in November.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Barclay succeeds Bradshaw on state board

Jason Barclay was sworn in as the newest member of the Illinois State Board of Education at the board’s meeting on Jan. 24. Gov. Bruce Rauner named Barclay to the ISBE board on Jan. 13, following the retirement of Curt Bradshaw. Barclay was formerly a lawyer on Rauner’s staff.

Jason Barclay
Barclay’s experience in state government, coupled with his time working with an Indianapolis charter school, made him “uniquely qualified” for the position, according to Rauner.

Barclay has most recently been employed as general counsel of Athletico Physical Therapy. He previously worked as a law partner at Barnes and Thornburg, LLP, and as an attorney for former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels before joining Rauner’s office as general counsel.

In addition to his work as an attorney, Barclay helped found a technology-focused charter school in Indianapolis and served on its board.

He succeeds retired ISBE board member Curt Bradshaw, whose term on the state board expired in January. Bradshaw, a managing director for Efficient Capital Management, was a school board member at Indian Prairie CUSD 204 (Naperville) from 2005 to 2012, including a three-year term as president. He was appointed to the state board at ISBE in 2012, reappointed in 2013, and also served as chairman of the board’s finance and audit committee until the expiration of his term in January.
Curt Bradshaw

Bradshaw is credited with helping the state agency reach several milestones, such as improving teacher quality, obtaining more rigorous student learning standards, using data to inform more decisions, creating the so-called Illinois Report Card, pushing for increased K-12 school funding, and navigating the hiring of a new state superintendent.

The other members of the state board of education include James T. Meeks, the chairman, along with Lula Ford, Collin Hitt, Melinda LaBarre (board secretary), Craig Lindvahl, Eligio Pimentel, and Cesilie Price. Ruth Cross will soon be joining the board, according to the ISBE website's board member page, although she hasn’t been sworn in yet.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report 100-03

LEGISLATURE RETURNS TO THE CAPITOL
The Illinois General Assembly is scheduled to return to work next week with the Senate slated to be in session Tuesday through Thursday and the House of Representatives set for session on Wednesday and Thursday. Committees have been scheduled to consider bills in both chambers, but all eyes will be on the Senate floor as leaders stated that they plan to vote on components of the budget compromise package.

The Senate budget package, contained in Senate Bills 1 through 13, was highlighted in Alliance Legislative Report 100-01. Testimony has already been taken on the bills in committees and now the bills are postured for votes on the Senate floor. Most are on “Third Reading,” the final passage stage on the chamber floor. A few, which still need revisions, are on “Second Reading,” the amendment stage.

The comprehensive and controversial bill package includes provisions to increase the state income tax rates, expand the sales tax base, impose a property tax freeze, reform pension plans, increase the minimum wage, expand gaming, reform the Workers’ Compensation Act, and more. Lawmakers will proceed slowly with this load of weighty issues and the proposed budget deal’s fate is not clear. Even with approval in the Senate, no one knows exactly what is in store in the House of Representatives.

SB 1 is generally considered to be the place holder for the school funding reform language. The bill currently contains no substantive language, but it can be amended with a new plan on the Senate floor. Now that the governor’s Illinois School Funding Reform Commission has issued its report, there could be legislation drafted this week for SB 1.

Click here to read the entire Alliance Legislative Report 100-03, including information on a number of education related bills assigned to committees. 

Opinions on Education

The following are editorials, commentaries, and opinions from various sources regarding public education, collected in December 2016 and January 2017. Comments and opinions of websites linked from this page do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Illinois Association of School Boards.

Click on each headline to read more.

Editorial: Your chance to play a lead role in improving the community
Editorial Board, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, December 9

Editorial: Real fight at CPS is for cleaner government everywhere
Editorial Board, Chicago Sun-Times, December 11

Driver education not necessary for high school graduation
Editorial Board, Naperville Sun, December 16

It's time for some new math in East Aurora
Editorial Board, Aurora Beacon-News, December 16

No play in kindergarten? No way
Vikki Ortiz Healy, Chicago Tribune, December 21

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Many topics on tap
at Division Dinner Meetings

School leaders will find a wide range of topics to explore at IASB’s 2017 spring division dinner meetings.

The meetings begin Thursday, March 2, and conclude Thursday, March 30.

A briefing for school board candidates, to be presented as a panel session or pre-dinner session, will be held at each of IASB’s 21 divisions. This will include an overview of the roles and responsibilities of an elected school board member.

School safety will be a topic at six division meetings. Brad Ware, community outreach specialist from the Federal Bureau of Investigation field office in Springfield, will share information about the FBI’s resources for schools and school security. Mia Ray Langheim, school intelligence officer for the Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center Office, will discuss improving school safety through lessons learned.

Student performance topics will highlight nine other divisions: Student assessments for all learners (Donna McCaw), How to win staff and influence school system success (Patrick Muhammad), Online learning: a successful alternative for meeting student course needs (Cindy Hamblin), The Illinois assessment and accountability picture (Jennifer Garrison), Redefining ready (David R. Schuler), and Meeting the needs of high ability and gifted students (Amanda Davey).

Other topics include collective bargaining, student discipline, school funding, and school referenda campaigns. 
   
Each division dinner meeting also offers networking opportunities and updates from Association staff and division directors and chairpersons. Attendance at division dinner meetings earns participants five points in IASB’s Master Board Member Program.

While the candidates’ briefing is free, online registration and payment is required for any candidates attending the dinner. District superintendents or secretaries should update their district roster in the IASB member database to include candidates prior to registration.

Event Profiles are available
on the Events Calendar.
Brochures detailing the agenda, presenters, dates, times, and locations are being mailed to districts and are now posted at the IASB online Events Calendar. All registrations must be completed online. Payment may be made by credit card or billed if the district provides its P.O. number. Registration fees will be refunded only for cancellations received two days prior to the meeting.

Questions can be directed to the IASB field services support staff assigned to each division.
Presentations on school safety, student performance, and information for school board candidates are among the highlights.