Friday, March 16, 2018

Alliance Legislative Report 100-60


The Illinois Senate was in session this week and continued consideration of bills in both committees and on the Senate floor. The House of Representatives was off this week and both chambers will be out of session for the next three weeks for the General Primary election and Spring Break. The House returns to the Capitol on April 9, while the Senate reconvenes on April 10. Lawmakers are then scheduled to work steadily throughout April and May.

The legislative spring break is a great time for school board members and administrators to reach out to local legislators to advocate on behalf of local schools. During the next three weeks, legislators will be in district seeking input from constituents on a variety of issues. Now is the time for school management to be heard on the pressing issues facing school districts during this important advocacy time.


The following bill was approved by the Senate and was sent to the House of Representatives for further consideration:

SB 2516 (Morrison, D-Deerfield) requires an employer, or the employer's representative, to inform an employee of available mandated reporter training prior to the employee signing a statement that the employee has knowledge and understanding of certain reporting requirements under the Act.

The following bill was approved by the Senate and will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

HB 5812 (Davis, D-East Hazel Crest) contains the legislative fixes requested by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) in order to properly calculate disbursements for the Evidence Based Funding Formula, including the following:

  • For Property Tax Relief Pool Grants requires the ISBE to set a threshold for relief not greater than 1% of the EAV for a unit district, .69% for an elementary district, or .31% for a high school district, and relief will be calculated based upon the total amount of reduction in the school district's aggregate extension; 
  • For Special Education Cooperative Withdrawal, provides that under the Evidence-Based Funding Model (EBF), the portion of the base funding minimum be reapportioned to the school district and may be distributed under the conditions in the withdrawal agreement; 
  • Provides for funding for Pre-K English language learners; 
  • Changes the term "normal curve equivalent" to a "cumulative distribution" allowing ISBE to determine how much a school district is able to contribute locally as compared to all other districts; 
  • Designates alternative schools as Specially Funded Units; 
  • Removes Specially Funded Units from Tier 4; 
  • For FY18, provides a modified calculation for enrollment numbers that they be taken by October 1. For FY19 and subsequent years, enrollment numbers will be collected in October and March; 
  • Allows Special Ed Pre-K students to be counted in enrollment regardless of how many service hours are provided to them; 
  • Provides protections for school districts that receive a dramatic drop in their calculated EAV; and
  • Removes the RFP requirement for additional technology grants and includes these grants in a district's BFM.

Illinois district receives top NSBA award

Leyden High School District 212 is featured on the April
2018 issue of the American School Board Journal for its
Magna Award-winning efforts to advance student equity.
Leyden High School District 212, Franklin Park, is a grand prize winner in the 24th annual Magna Awards program presented by NSBA’s American School Board Journal, and is also featured on the cover of that national magazine.

The Magna Awards recognize boards of education for taking bold and innovative steps to advance public education. This year’s awards, announced on March 12, honor school districts across the country for programs that advance equity and remove barriers to achievement for vulnerable and under-served students. An independent panel of school board member and administrators was selected to judge the 2018 awards, representing large, small, rural, and urban districts.

This year’s three grand prize winners, along with numerous first place, and honorable mention winners, were selected from three enrollment categories: under 5,000 students, 5,000 to 20,000 students, and more than 20,000 students. The district was chosen a grand-prize winner in the under-5,000-students category.

Educators at the Leyden District noticed that their Latino students were not participating in the theater program. To encourage more students to take part, they created the Teatro Leyden program. The theater department staged a Spanish-language production as well as a school play in English, casting Spanish and English-speaking students for this spring’s production and plays in each of the past three school years.

The project is designed to include more Latino students in school stage productions, and to make parents and other community members feel more welcome in the schools and more encouraged to attend school activities.

“By opening the Spanish language version of the shows, we’re giving a whole new group of kids a chance to perform on stage, to find their voice, to be involved in their school,” said Superintendent Nick Polyak.

“We were looking for a way to expand our program. We have a large Hispanic population that weren’t really trying out for the shows,” says Victor Pilolla, Leyden’s theatrical productions manager and technical director. “So, we were looking for a way for them to get into our program. We came across a show [in 2015] called ‘La Gringa’ which is written in both Spanish and English, and thought, you know, it couldn’t hurt to try.”

The success of “La Gringa” convinced Pilolla and others that they should produce a Spanish language play each year. This year's production is a trio of children's stories titled “Es La Vida Un Sueno/Is Life a Dream?”

The 2018 winners are being highlighted in NSBA’s April Journal and will be formally recognized at NSBA’s 78th Annual Conference in San Antonio next month.

Winning entries are posted on the Magna Awards website, which can be found here.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Security policy expert joins IASB staff

Ken Carter
Ken Carter has joined the Illinois Association of School Boards as a policy consultant. Carter brings a background of security and risk management, and was previously a member of the Kaneland CUSD 302 Board of Education, Maple Park. 

IASB policy consultants work with school districts to develop and update their local school board policy manuals. Carter started on February 1, based in IASB’s Lombard office.

“I will be providing assistance and services to school boards throughout Illinois with regards to their school board policies so that they may be in accordance with laws and regulations,” Carter said of his new role. “While these policies are based on state and federal laws and regulations, it is important to take into account and possibly include the wishes of the individual community when establishing policy.”

Carter served as vice president of operations for Pinkerton Security Agency and was responsible for strategic planning, sales, operations, and quality control. After that, he was the founder and consultant for Integrity Consulting.

“In my leadership roles, I focused on process improvements and directing teams in the delivery of operational excellence,” Carter says. “On the client-facing side, my focus was helping clients minimize risk to their organization through the adoption and implementation of policies and procedures based on industry standards and regulations.”

A school board policy manual requires constant review and revision in response to changing state and federal laws, regulations, and court cases, as well as changes in society and the community.

“The bulk of my career has been helping teams in the delivery of operational excellence, so being able to help school boards in the delivery of education excellence by way of policies will prove to be rewarding on many levels,” Carter said.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Board Governance Recognition applications available

School boards that strive for excellence and exhibit effective governance behaviors have the opportunity to apply for IASB’s School Board Governance Recognition. The program recognizes boards of education that have actively modeled their local governance activities as outlined in the Association’s six Foundational Principles of Effective Governance.

The Governance Recognition program acknowledges full board development and participation rather than individual board member accomplishments. The program covers a two-year period, from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2018, allowing boards that have received the recognition to apply for renewal every two years.

To qualify for the recognition, boards must demonstrate how they are meeting the Foundational Principles of Effective Governance in the following areas:

  • Adopting and communicating the districts’ mission, vision, and goals, and monitoring progress towards district ends utilizing available data;
  • Explaining the board’s two-way communication efforts and activities with the community;
  • Implementing a superintendent evaluation process that culminates in an annual superintendent evaluation;
  • Conducting regular policy reviews and maintaining an updated policy manual;
  • Having an agreed upon, written, and adopted code of conduct;
  • Implementing an orientation process for new board members; and
  • Practicing effective governance behaviors by participating in IASB programs and events.

Applications for School Board Governance Recognition and the qualifications necessary to receive the honor are posted on the IASB website. Applications must be completed, signed by the board president, and received by August 1, 2018.

School boards that earn governance recognition will be presented with plaques at IASB’s fall division meetings and recognized at the Joint Annual Conference in November.

Questions about the award program should be directed to Peggy Goone, ext. 1103, or by emailing her at:

Monday, March 12, 2018

Public Schools Week
a time to share district successes

March 12-16 provides an opportunity to share the success stories taking place in Illinois schools as local districts participate in Public Schools Week. School leaders can take part in various ways, but one of the most effective may be to share the positive anecdotes generated both inside and outside the classroom every day.

Organizers say this is the time to celebrate through stories and fact sharing the diversity and positive outcomes provided by public school systems throughout Illinois and the nation.

Participants can post their anecdotes,
views, reflections, and messages on social media.
Beginning March 12, parents, school officials, teachers, and other community members are being urged to share on social media how their school community is doing its job educating kids, using the hashtags #PublicSchoolsWeek and #LovePublicEducation. Participants can post to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or any other social network about the activities at public schools in preparing the next generation to thrive beyond the classroom.

To assist this outreach effort, The School Superintendents Association (AASA) has made available a digital toolkit that includes sample social media posts, press releases, email messages, talking points, and fact sheets. Tag IASB on Facebook or simply include @ILschoolboards in tweets and staff will share them with Association followers.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Alliance Legislative Report 100-59

The Illinois House of Representatives was in session this week. The chambers have been convening in alternate weeks giving anxious members time to be home in their districts preparing for the March 20 Primary Election. House members will not return to the Capitol until April 9. The Senate is in session next week.

Discussions continue, both in public and behind closed doors, on the hot topics of school safety, teacher shortages, and the Fiscal Year 2019 State budget. But despite those most pressing topics facing public education today, lawmakers continue with the onslaught of proposals that would place new, burdensome mandates on local school districts. More on the mandate barrage can be found here.

As has been publicized, there is a call for a national student walkout set for Wednesday, March 14, at 10:00 a.m. for 17 minutes. The goal is to commemorate the 17 victims of the Parkland, Florida school shooting on its one month anniversary. Local school districts should be prepared.

More information can be found on the IASB Blog, from the National School Boards Association, and on the Illinois State Board of Education website.

The Alliance has been working closely for years with the Illinois State Police on school safety issues. For local school districts to keep up to date on school safety and school threats, administrators can receive this information directly through the School Safety Information Sharing program from the Statewide Terrorism & Intelligence Center (STIC). You can learn more about STIC here.

Click here to read the complete Alliance Legislative Report 100-59, including bill action from this week.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Illinois Vision 20/20 names director

Illinois Vision 20/20 announced that Ralph Grimm of Canton has been named as the part-time director of the project. Grimm is a recently retired public school superintendent, serving 21 years in four Western Illinois districts. He has been a member of the Illinois Vision 20/20 initiative since its inception in November of 2012.

About Vision 20/20
Illinois Vision 20/20 began in November 2012 as an initiative of the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA) and then partnered with the Illinois Principals association (IPA), the Illinois Association of School Business Officials (Illinois ASBO), the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB), the Superintendents’ Commission for the Study of Demographics and Diversity (SCSDD), and the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools (IARSS) to unite the education community and develop a long-range blueprint for improving public education in Illinois.

Vision 20/20’s policy platform reflects input from educators and school board members from across the state and is representative of opinions from the southern tip of Illinois through the northern Chicago suburbs. This vision is the result of input from over 3,000 key stakeholders, discussions with field experts, and a review of current best practices.

Unfunded mandates compound financial uncertainty for school districts

Deputy Executive Director
Ben Schwarm
IASB Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm highlights the financial uncertainties facing public schools throughout the state and how the proliferation of unfunded mandates adds to their fiscal challenges.

School districts continue to face significant uncertainty regarding school funding. There are threats of losing access to local funding through property tax freezes, a proposed pension cost shift that would eliminate the proposed increase in state funding, pressure to find resources for school safety improvements, and the need to create incentives for classroom and substitute teachers during an unprecedented teacher shortage. At the same time there is an increased demand on teachers and administrators regarding student achievement.

One would think that the state legislature would be cognizant of these facts, but that does not seem to be the case in the Capitol. Lawmakers continue to introduce bills by the dozens, adding new requirements to public schools – without funding – that add costs, time constraints, and logistical problems for local districts.

A new school funding formula has highlighted the evidence-based research on what components lead to improved student achievement, such as: earlier intervention for struggling students, attention to the needs of our bilingual and at-risk students, additional learning time before and after school, smaller class sizes, and reading specialists. Not on the list of evidence-based improvements is instruction on walking and biking safely or mandatory spelling bees. Yet there are bills filed to require these.

Generally, few question the new initiatives on their merit. The concepts are usually sound. But even if the stream comes in drips, it eventually fills up the bucket and overflows. The constant addition of general mandates, curriculum requirements, new policies, and additional staff training requirements are creating a breaking point for many school districts. And, for all of these initiatives, no funding is included, no time is added to the school day, and no days are added to the school year.

New units of instruction are proposed for
  • emotional intelligence
  • civics
  • historical contributions of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people
  • safe walking and biking
  • computer science (prerequisite for graduation)
  • Black History (prerequisite for graduation)
  • Parenting education (prerequisite for graduation)
New requirements for staff training are proposed for
  • suicide prevention
  • mental health
  • students with special needs
  • homelessness awareness
  • open water safety training (P.E. teachers only)
New school policy requirements would be necessary for
  • mental health services
  • trauma protocols
  • trauma response plans
Implementing all of these items in one year would not only be burdensome for local school districts, it would be nearly impossible. Local school board members and administrators need to talk with their legislators and urge them to stop the proliferation of new mandates. Local voters elect citizens from their area to a school board to make these policy decisions. School boards hire professional educators and administrators to implement those policies. There is no need for the legislature to assume the role of a super school board to set policy and curriculum on a school-district-by-school-district basis.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

IASB Board of Directors approves policies, names executive director-select

The IASB Board of Directors held its quarterly meeting on March 2-3 in Chicago to review and approve governance policies, and to select a new executive director to lead the Association beginning later this year.

The board annually reviews its policies that govern the Association and set standards for management and operations — a process the board has been committed to for the past six years. This meeting focused on board and board-member development. IASB Executive Director Roger Eddy presented evidence to support indicators of compliance. The board thanked consultant Angie Peifer for her work helping board members communicate and interpret board policy.

The board voted to approve three new IASB Service Associates recommended by the Service Associates Executive Committee: Nicholas & Associates, Inc. of Mount Prospect; Russell Construction Company, Inc. of Davenport, Iowa; and Computer Information Concepts, Inc. of Greeley, Colorado.

The board also heard reports from Treasurer Linda Eades, 2018 IASB/IASA/IASBO Joint Annual Conference Co-chairs Sheila Nelson and Dennis Inboden, and Illinois High School Association representative Mark Harms. IASB Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm also provided a legislative update.

Upon recommendation by the Executive Search Committee, the board voted to authorize the Executive Committee to develop and approve a tentative contract with the new Executive Director-select, Thomas E. Bertrand.

“Dr. Bertrand emerged from a pool of highly qualified candidates. We are excited to have him as our next executive director,” said IASB President Joanne Osmond.

Bertrand thanked the Executive Search Committee for a thorough search process and said he is looking forward to working with the IASB staff and board to further the Association’s commitment to public education.

The Executive Search Committee was co-chaired by IASB Past-President Karen Fisher and Director Sue McCance. Committee members included the following directors: Linda Eades, Carla Joiner-Herrod, Tom Neeley, Joanne Osmond, Phil Pritzker, Michelle Skinlo, and Mary Stith.

The next quarterly meeting of the IASB Board of Directors will be held June 15-16 in Springfield.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Numerous school finance referenda
on March 20 ballot

At least 22 school finance referendum questions are set to appear on the March 20 primary election ballot, including no fewer than 14 local bond issues, and four proposals to increase property taxes. Dozens more school districts would benefit from four countywide sales tax propositions earmarked for school facility purposes.

Counties marked in orange on the map will vote on sales
tax propositions earmarked for school facilities in March.
According to the Illinois State Board of Elections, the following proposed school district property tax increase proposals will go before voters in March:

  • Limestone CHSD 310, Bartonville, a 73 cent increase on $100 of equalized assessed valuation
  • Mount Prospect School District 57, an increase in the limiting rate under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) of 0.85 percent above the previous limiting rate for school purposes
  • West Carroll CUSD 314, a 50-cent increase on every $100 of equalized assessed valuation
  • West Lincoln-Broadwell Elementary School District 92, an increase in the limiting rate under PTELL for the district of 0.40 percent above the previous limiting rate for school purposes, for the levy years 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021

The 14 bond issues on the March 20 ballot all are building bond propositions. Bond proposals are aimed at providing funds for school building construction or repairs in:

  • Amboy CUSD District 272, $15.8 million
  • Athens CUSD 213, $11 million 
  • Bureau Valley CUSD 340, Manlius, $12 million
  • Central SD 51, Washington, $12 million
  • CUSD 99, Downers Grove, $136.6 million
  • Lake Zurich CUSD 95, $77.6 million
  • Maercker SD 60, Westmont, $28 million
  • Minooka CCSD 201, $90 million
  • Monticello CUSD 25, $29.8 million
  • Mt. Pulaski CUSD 23, $15.7 million
  • Sandwich CUSD 430, $700,000
  • Pennoyer School District 79, $25 million
  • Tri-Valley CUSD 3, $15 million
  • Winnebago CUSD 323, $7.5 million 

The largest of these bond propositions is at Downers Grove, where an additional $136.6 million in bond revenue could be obtained if voters approve the proposal. The smallest of these bond issues is the $700,000 proposal in Sandwich CUSD 430.

In addition to at least 18 school district finance referendums, countywide sales tax propositions for schools are scheduled in the following four counties: Madison, Richland, Vermillion, and Woodford. A sales tax of up to 1 percent earmarked for school facilities is sought under the authorizing state law that took effect in January 2008. To date 49 counties have adopted such a sales tax to benefit schools.

Revenue from countywide sales taxes for school facilities benefits all school districts in a county where such questions win voter approval.

Such a sales tax, when adopted, does not impose any tax on goods or services that are not already subject to sales taxes. Goods and services that are not subject to the additional tax include cars, trucks, ATVs, boats and RVs; mobile homes, unprepared food, drugs, and farm equipment and parts.

IASB will report on results of all the March 20 school referenda. Results of school finance referenda since 1989 are available online by clicking here.

Monday, March 5, 2018

NSBA student protest checklist,
CCSSO guide to student walkouts released

NSBA has just released “Navigating Student Walkouts and Mass Protests,” a new checklist on student protests that is a separate appendix to NSBA’s guide Coercion, Conscience, and the First Amendment:  A Legal Guide for Public Schools on the Regulation of Student and Employee Speech. The checklist is designed to help public schools identify issues they need to consider as they prepare for planned student protests, including mass walkouts.

“In this new resource, we urge school leaders to consult with their school attorneys and their state association of school boards as they develop protocols for student expressive activities,” said NSBA staff attorney Sonja Trainor.

As mentioned, the new checklist is an addendum to the NSBA First Amendment guide discussed at the end of a previous IASB Blog post about preparing for student protests.

In addition, the Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) has compiled a step-by-step guide to support school districts to handle student walkouts in a positive way and use these efforts as teachable moments for the students, staff and surrounding community. It includes recommendations for guidance to school administrators and sample messaging guidance for school leaders.

Finally, there is also valuable insight contained in a March 1 Illinois State Board of Education letter from State Superintendent Tony Smith.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

IASB names new executive director

Dr. Thomas Bertrand
The Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB), a primary provider of professional development for school board members and a leading advocate for local control of public schools, will have a new executive director later this year.

Thomas E. Bertrand of Rochester was chosen by the Association board of directors at its quarterly meeting March 3. Bertrand, 54, will assume the position July 1, replacing Roger Eddy, who will retire after six years leading the Association.

“Dr. Bertrand emerged from a pool of highly qualified candidates. We are excited to have him as our next executive director,” said IASB President Joanne Osmond. “Our Association officers and staff will have adequate time to prepare for the transition over the course of several months.”

Bertrand is currently Superintendent of Rochester CUSD 3A and will retire at the end of the 2017-18 school year. He has been an educator for 33 years, serving as a teacher, coach, principal, and assistant principal before becoming superintendent at Rochester in 2002.

He serves as president of the Illinois Association of School Administrators and was named its Superintendent of the Year in 2015. He is an adjunct professor at Eastern Illinois University and Illinois State University.

“I’m thrilled at the opportunity to support an outstanding organization and to continue to work on behalf of the 2.3 million public school children in Illinois,” Bertrand said.

Bertrand is a native of Quincy. He graduated from Quincy College in 1985 and earned a Master’s degree at Western Illinois University and Ph.D. at Illinois State University.

He is married to Michelle and is the father of three children, Nathan, Erica, and Connor.

As executive director, Bertrand will lead a staff of 67 full- and part-time staff members in the Association’s Springfield and Lombard offices. He will be responsible for all Association operations and represent its positions in state and national public school policy management on behalf of 846 member districts and nearly 6,000 elected Illinois school board members.

On July 1, Bertrand will assume leadership, as the seventh full-time executive director since 1943, of an organization in a sound financial position while providing exceptional services for local school boards, according to Osmond.

Osmond added, “During his six years leading IASB, Roger has been committed to transparency and excellence in improving the Association’s operations and services. His dedication representing the Association’s positions in state and national public school policy is remarkable; as well as his work with many stakeholders including local school boards, the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance, the state board of education, other state agencies, and elected representatives. He is a champion for public education.”

Eddy, who plans to spend time with family and enjoy his grandchildren, said IASB has been the highlight of his nearly 40-year career in public education.

“Dr. Bertrand’s experience, background, and commitment to public education will allow him to hit the ground running,” he said. “Along with his proven leadership abilities, he has an excellent staff that will assist him in fulfilling the critical mission of IASB.”

IASB, which was founded in 1913, is a voluntary organization of local boards of education dedicated to strengthening the public schools through local citizen control. More than 98 percent of the school boards in Illinois hold active membership and support the Association through annual dues.

The vision of the Illinois Association of School Boards is excellence in local school governance supporting quality public education.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Webinar to focus on PRESS Issue 97 and new online system

Coming on March 6 is the fifth in a series of lunch and learn webinars, “PRESS Issue 97 and PRESS Plus Goes Digital,” which will focus on two significant topics: sexual harassment and bond issuance obligations. These two policy issues are front and center in the recently released PRESS Issue 97.

IASB staff representing the Office of General Counsel and Policy Services department will discuss board policy related to those issues, followed by a walk-through of the Association’s new PRESS Plus online system with a new two-way digital communication option.

The hour-long webinar will begin at noon on Tuesday, March 6. Registration is available through IASB's Online Learning Center. Visit the IASB website, and select the yellow "My Account" button to log in, then choose the red Online Learning tab at the top of the page.

IASB will be hosting additional webinar learning opportunities in the coming months.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Alliance Legislative Report 100-58


The Illinois General Assembly convened this week to continue consideration of bills in committee. Though dozens of bills were approved and sent to their respective chamber’s floor, high profile bills concerning safety and gun control took center stage. Several different bills were moving in both chambers, including bills to ban bump stocks, raise the minimum age to purchase certain firearms, and to license firearm dealers. The licensure bill, SB 1657, was approved by both chambers and will be sent to the governor for action. Multiple votes are still pending for the other measures.

The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) and the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) both presented their Fiscal Year 2019 revenue estimates to the House Revenue and Finance Committee. Both predicted revenue growth for the upcoming fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2018. GOMB is predicting state revenues of $31.8 billion while COGFA is predicting a slightly lower amount at $31.7 billion. The adoption of a revenue estimate by the General Assembly is usually the first step in the budget making process. Disagreement regarding revenues often occurs, further escalating contentious fiscal battles and making the appropriations (spending) process that much more difficult. 2018 being an election year provides additional challenges to finding compromise.

The House of Representatives will return to the Capitol next Tuesday-Thursday. The Senate will return on March 13. Both will then take a break during the weeks of the primary election (March 20) and Easter/Passover.

Registration still open for 2018 NSBA Conference

Registration remains open for the NSBA Annual Conference and Exposition in San Antonio, Texas, April 7-9, 2018.

Organizers say the event is “the one national event that brings together education leaders at a time when domestic policies and global trends are combining to shape the future of students.” This year the NSBA convention includes over 250 educational programs, including three well-known general session speakers.

Keynote speakers for 2018 are television co-host and FOX NFL Sunday analyst Terry Bradshaw, veteran ABC News’ White House Correspondent (1973-2014) Ann Compton, and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (2014-2017) Juli├ín Castro.

This year’s conference theme, Be Extraordinary, highlights how inspirational individuals from all walks of life have made extraordinary contributions to society.

More than 200 workshop sessions will provide ideas and tools designed to help drive school districts forward. Sessions are organized into the following focus areas:

  • Advocacy
  • Governance and Executive Leadership
  • Innovations in District Management
  • Master Class(room) Approaches
  • New School Board Member Workshops
  • School Board/Superintendent Partnerships
  • Student Achievement and Accountability
  • Study Halls
  • Technology + Learning Solutions
  • Equity

Leading the association presence at the NSBA conference will be Executive Director Roger Eddy, along with IASB President Joanne Osmond, Vice President Thomas Neeley, Immediate Past President Phil Pritzker, Director Carla Joiner-Herrod (West Cook Division), Director David Rockwell (Blackhawk Division), and Director Mary Stith (Kishwaukee Division).

Additional 2018 NSBA Annual Conference and Exposition information is available. Registration is still available online for this 2018 NSBA Annual Conference.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

March/April Journal examines equity

The March/April issue of The Illinois School Board Journal asks, “What is equity?” and “Why should we talk about it now?” Discover with us that every school district and every institution has its own equity story, and addressing equity in public education starts with the deep roots of the many cultures of Illinois and the effects of those cultures.

The Journal aims to identify equity work and explain the need for a social justice framework for districts’ equity efforts. We also offer how and why board members must get “on board” with the implementation of those efforts. This issue profiles Reverend Courtney Carson of Decatur, who now serves on the board in the same district that once expelled him. The Journal also regards equity from a national perspective, as well as dig into the data on minority teachers in the Illinois workforce.

Watch your mailbox, or click below to read the digital edition of The Illinois School Board Journal.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Spring division meetings underway

IASB’s 2018 spring division dinner meetings are now underway. School leaders from the Wabash Valley, Illini, Kishwaukee, and Western divisions met this week, and eight other divisions will gather next week.

In total, all 21 divisions will host spring meetings, which began Feb. 27 and run through April 11. In addition to conducting division business the meetings offer keynote or breakout sessions on a variety of education topics.

David Schuler will speak
at three division meetings.
High School District 214 superintendent and National Superintendent of the Year, David Schuler, will present “Redefining Ready: Indicators for College, Career, and Life Readiness” at three division meetings (Lake, Northwest, Starved Rock). Schuler received the national honor from the American Association of School Administrators in February. He was named Illinois Superintendent of the Year by the Illinois Association of School Administrators in November of last year.

In four other divisions (Abe Lincoln, Two Rivers, Kaskaskia, Southwestern) IASB Executive Director Roger Eddy will reflect on his 40-year career in public education and offer perspective on the current state of public education in Illinois and how to successfully meet future challenges.

Major topics in school law, including transgender issues, First Amendment, and student discipline, will comprise six other divisions. Other topics include school safety and security, technology, collective bargaining, board/superintendent relations, and evidence-based funding.

Each division dinner meeting also offers peer recognition and networking opportunities for board members and superintendents alike. Attendance earns school board members five points in IASB’s Master Board Member Program.

Brochures detailing agenda, presenters, dates, times, and locations were mailed to districts and are posted with events at the IASB Events Calendar. Registrations must be completed online.

Several sponsors help make these meetings possible. IASB thanks the following for their support:

Premier Sponsor and Service Associate: Workers' Compensation Self-Insurance Trust and Illinois School District Agency

Premier Sponsor: NaviGate Prepared

Legacy Sponsor and Illinois Council of School Attorneys:  Guin Mundorf, LLC

Legacy Sponsor and Service Associate: Kings Financial Consulting, Inc.

Legacy Sponsor: edEdge

Millennium Sponsor: NextEra Energy Services

Century Sponsors and Service Associates:
      First Midstate Inc.
Division Meetings Sponsor and Illinois Council of School Attorneys:  Tueth, Keeney, Cooper, Mohan & Jackstadt, P.C.

Division Meetings Sponsors and Service Associates:
      ENGIE Services U.S.  

GCA Education Services, Inc.
      Larson and Darby Group
      Legat Architects, Inc.
      Wight & Company

Monday, February 26, 2018

Stay informed with Leading News
Leading News, a collection of public education-related headlines from across the state and nation, helps readers see what the media is covering, and allows school board members understand the issues that may arise in their leadership roles.

Everyone can access this resource by clicking on the Leading News icon anywhere you see it, including in the right column of the IASB News Blog. You'll find a summary of the day's news, and links to the complete articles in their respective publications.

Leading News is updated most weekdays -- and some weekends -- throughout the year. Stop by daily to stay on top of the news, or visit our complete archives to catch up with what's happening in education.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Alliance Legislative Report 100-57


With only the Senate convening in Springfield this week, substantive bill action was limited, but a new bumper crop of bills was introduced by the Illinois General Assembly. The Alliance is tracking bills that impact all issues affecting our schools. Bills have been introduced on a wide variety of topics. Those posted to committee are being tracked by the Alliance and appear later in this report.

Alliance advocacy for safe schools and safe learning environments is now, as always, in the forefront of legislative action. While no new legislation has emerged as of yet in the wake of the Florida school shooting, bills are expected to be introduced to amend current school safety policies and procedures. To assist school districts with the current law and to help districts be proactive, the IASB has created this document that provides guidance. The document addresses what school districts are currently required to do under the School Safety Drill Act and some best practices for securing facilities.

Being in communication with law enforcement is one of the most important actions for local school districts to take to ensure a safe school environment. School districts are encouraged to keep an open channel of communication with local police and first responders. The Alliance is working on a statewide basis with law enforcement agencies to make sure that districts are provided the most updated information on school safety threats and resources to help respond to any threats.

Click here to read the entire Alliance Legislative Report 100-57, including a number of other education-related bills currently under consideration by the General Assembly.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

School safety plans in the spotlight

Since the horrific mass shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida on February 14, questions about local school districts’ readiness in the event of an emergency have been flooding in to school administrators and board members across the nation. Media, parents, and community members are asking school district representatives what they are doing to plan and prepare for the safety of the students and staff in case such a gut-wrenching scene develops in one of their schools.

In all likelihood, a school safety plan is in place in your school district. In Illinois, it is required by law in the School Safety Drill Act. But the plan’s effectiveness depends on whether the emergency plan was simply completed and set upon a shelf, or if it is a living document that is revisited, revised, and drilled on a continual basis.

When the drill act was written more than ten years ago it was considered one of the most comprehensive in the country. Today, the act still withstands the test of time and is a model for the dozens of states that have yet to enact such a safety plan into law. Most every time a legislator or media person suggests a “new” proposal for school safety, it is already covered in our current safety drill act.

The challenge is to ensure that school administrators and first responders are informed of what is contained in the law and what their individual responsibilities are under the law. The most important aspect of the school safety plan is for local school district personnel to work with their local first responders in the formulation, training, and evaluation of the school safety procedures. Secondly, school officials should communicate with parents and community members to assure them that proper security measures are in force.

The School Safety Drill Act requires that certain school evacuation drills be performed at specified intervals. It also requires that school officials meet with local responders at least annually to review and evaluate crisis response plans, protocols, and procedures.

Time should be taken now to review your emergency operations plans. Make sure that they are comprehensive, meet the requirements of the drill act, are known to staff, and drilled with students. A quick guide on school safety measures can be found here – including access to the “Guide for Developing High Quality School Emergency Operations Plans.”

No one cares more about the safety and security of students within the school building than the school board members, teachers, and administrators that are charged with their wellbeing each day. Be proactive in improving your security measures and in reassuring your community that these are in place.

Schools prepare for school walkouts

In response to the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018, students and educators are preparing for the school walkouts designed to protest gun violence in schools. Some school attorneys report their local boards, too, are weighing if and how they are going to accommodate student and employee participation (or non-participation) while minimizing school disruption from such planned events as

Additionally, some Illinois school districts were already working with walkouts this past week. School lawyers say districts must balance competing interests and various factors when determining how to respond to requests from students and educators to participate in such events, including student and employee free speech rights, the age and maturity of the students involved, maintaining order within schools, and providing a safe environment.

“If a significant number of students and educators are planning to participate in these walkouts, the district may determine that it is best to accommodate them by, for example, providing a safe environment for the walkouts (indoors or outdoors), not penalizing students and educators who participate, and providing supervision for students who choose not to participate,” said IASB Assistant General Counsel Maryam Brotine.

IASB recommends that districts consult with their board attorneys when planning appropriate responses.

For an in-depth discussion of student and employee First Amendment rights, see the NSBA’s new guide Coercion, Conscience, and the First Amendment:  A Legal Guide for Public Schools on the Regulation of Student and Employee Speech.

Note: This Blog post is solely for information purposes, not legal advice; IASB recommends that school boards consult their board attorneys on this topic.