Thursday, November 15, 2018

School Board Members Day:
Sharing the vision of educational leadership

To recognize the efforts of the nearly 6,000 school board members throughout the state, November 15 of each year is designated as School Board Members Day in Illinois. This is an opportunity for the district and community to build awareness of the role board of education members play in the decisions of local school systems.

Quality leadership requires dedication and a commitment to continuous improvement. School board members work tirelessly to ensure all students are provided with the opportunity for a successful future. They volunteer their time to ensure growth and progress not only for students, but for entire communities.

Thank you, Illinois school board members.

Monday, November 12, 2018

2018 school design winners announced

All entries in this year’s competition will be displayed
at the Conference in Columbus Hall, Hyatt East Tower
Three school projects have been named 2018 Award of Distinction winners in the annual Invitational Exhibition of Educational Environments, sponsored by IASB Service Associates. Awards go to projects displaying innovative solutions to challenges both in new school construction and facility renovations.

Wight & Company earned Awards of Distinction for work on New Trier High School and Sunset Ridge School. ARCON Associates Inc. was honored for their design of Stratford Middle School.

The awards will be presented at the First General Session of the Joint Annual Conference on Friday, November 16 in Chicago. Winning projects were selected by a jury pool of architects and superintendents in September. In addition to the Award of Distinction winners, the jury chose three projects for Awards of Merit and five Honorable Mention recipients.

All 27 entries in this year’s exhibit will be on display throughout the Conference in Columbus Hall, Hyatt East Tower. This year’s winning entries are listed by school, district, and firm:

Award of Distinction
New Trier High School
New Trier THSD 203
Wight & Company

Stratford Middle School
CCSD 93 (Bloomingdale)
ARCON Associates, Inc.

Sunset Ridge School
Sunset Ridge SD 29
Wight & Company

Award of Merit
Early Learning Center
CCSD 59 (Mount Prospect)
Legat Architects

Center for Innovation
Yorkville CUSD 115
DLR Group

Jacksonville Middle School
Jacksonville SD 117
BLDD Architects, Inc.

Honorable Mention

Bensenville Early Learning Center
Bensenville SD 2
STR Partners LLC

Geneseo High School
Geneseo CUSD 228
BLDD Architects, Inc.

John Schroder Early Childhood Center
Lombard SD 44
ARCON Associates, Inc.

River Trails Middle School STEAM Lab Renovation
River Trails SD 26
FGM Architects

Science Addition at Lockport High School
Lockport THSD 205
DLA Architects, Ltd.

Projects selected for awards were chosen through a “blind” evaluation process. The judges considered criteria that included suitability for stated program requirements, functional relationships, aesthetics, grade level or departmental organization, compatibility with external environments, uses of new technology, and security and building orientation, among others. To be eligible, the construction had to be completed in time for occupancy with the start of the 2018-2019 school year.

All of this year’s entries will be added to IASB’s School Design Database. The searchable online database contains data, illustrations, and commentary for more than 500 design entries in the annual Exhibit of Educational Environments over the past 25 years.

Friday, November 9, 2018

In Memoriam: Jerry Glaub

Jerry Glaub
Gerald R. Glaub, a nationally recognized leader in school board communications, who worked for 38 years at the Illinois Association of School Boards, died Thursday, November 9, 2018. He was 81. 

Glaub began his IASB career in 1969 as the communications department director, coming over from a communications position at the University of Illinois. He served as the head of the department throughout his long career, but also headed up the member services department for several years. Glaub served for a short time as interim executive director. He retired in May 2007 but continued as a part-time consultant. 

Prior to his years at IASB, Glaub  worked in corporate communications in Chicago, and spent several years affiliated with higher education institutions, including time at Purdue University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, working in university communications. He was a graduate of the University of Illinois.

Known throughout the state as a school public relations expert, Glaub received communications awards for his work as an editor of both The Illinois School Board Journal and Illinois School Board Newsbulletin. He also reflected on his career and service to school boards in the IASB centennial book, “1913-2013 Lighting the Way for 100 Years.”

A memorial gathering will be held from noon until the time of a funeral service at 1 p.m. on Sunday, November 11, 2018 at Vancil-Murphy Funeral Home; in lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to: Inner City Mission of Central Illinois Foodbank.

Winnetka District 36 administrative professional wins Holly Jack award

Linda Wehrheim
Linda Wehrheim, the executive assistant to the superintendent and board secretary of Winnetka Public School District 36, has been chosen the winner of the tenth annual award for school district secretaries.

Wehrheim was chosen to receive the 2018 service award by a selection committee of previous Holly Jack winners, and Illinois Association of School Administrators and Illinois Association of School Business Officials past presidents, and retired administrative professionals. She will be honored Friday, November 16, at the Joint Annual Conference in Chicago as part of the Administrative Professionals Program.

Nominations were made by district superintendents and school board presidents. The judges considered the following criteria: performance, initiative, innovation, staff development, self-improvement, passion for public education, and dedication to the district and community. Letters of support were also accepted.

The award honors the memory of Holly Jack, a long-time employee of the Illinois Association of School Boards, who served as an IASB field services administrative assistant and was instrumental in promoting and developing professional development programs for board secretaries. The award not only honors Holly Jack’s contribution and memory, it also recognizes the dedication and extraordinary work contributions of secretaries administrative professionals who serve and assist their local boards of education.

Wehrheim has served as Executive executive Assistant assistant to thefor Winnetka SD 36 superintendent and board since 2009, winning praise for her enthusiasm, dedication, and competence: “In all of my years in education, Ms. Wehrheim stands out as one of the most hard-working, professional, and conscientious co-workers I have ever met,” said Assistant Superintendent Daniel P. Ryan.

“While her work is exemplary, it is Wehrheim’s generous spirit and deep commitment to what is best for children that makes her stand out even more,” Ryan added. “Our administrative team constantly engages in discourse around curriculum and other areas to best serve our students…. [and] Ms. Wehrheim is a full participant…her perspectives help the administrative team with our decision-making process,” Ryan wrote.

Trish Kocanda, superintendent of Winnetka 36, called Wehrheim “a life-long learner.” Kocanda added: “She is continually trying to improve her skill set and is an effective systems thinker. She is immersed in coursework in human relations at a local university…and generously shares her knowledge and resources to enhance district outcomes.”

Praising her dedication, Kocanda also praised Wehrheim’s passion for the district, evident in her strong advocacy: “The district’s mission and vision drive her remarkable work ethic,” Kocanda said. “She knows the power of each interaction with families, staff, and board members. She has helped families who were in the midst of tumultuous situations … [and] above all else, Linda knows that every decision that is made by the superintendent and board needs to be grounded in what is best for the students served in the district’s schools.”

Alliance Legislative Report 100-78


The Illinois Senate and House of Representatives will begin reviewing gubernatorial action on bills next week. The Veto Session is set for November 13th-15th and November 27th-29th and expected is a strong push to override the governor’s veto of two important bills. SB 2892 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill) would provide a mandatory increase in teacher salaries across the state by setting a statewide minimum teacher salary of $40,000. SB 2572 (Holmes, D-Aurora) would mandate 150 minutes of physical education per week for all students kindergarten through 12th grade.

Administrators and school board members are urged to contact their legislators and advocate for them to vote “NO“ on overriding the governor’s vetoes. Below is information on both bills that may be helpful for conversations with lawmakers.

SB 2892 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill) would take effect in the 2019-2020 school year by requiring beginning teacher salaries to be at least $32,000 per year, then increasing salaries incrementally over four school years until the $40,000 minimum is reached by the 2022-2023 school year. Each year thereafter, the minimum teacher salary would increase yearly by the rate of the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

It is estimated that nearly 2/3 of the school districts in the state would be affected by such a new salary requirement. Any gains in funding due to the new Evidence-Based Funding Formula would be totally consumed by the new salary mandate in many school districts. Under such a law, the net result could actually be a detriment to classroom teachers as school districts could be forced to reduce the teaching force in order to pay the higher salaries.

Additional talking points:
  • Illinois has a collective bargaining law that empowers local school boards, together with their teachers and support staff, to set salaries in consideration of the revenues available to run their schools. School leaders and staff must take into consideration all aspects of its budget and make very difficult decisions to provide an effective education program that meets the needs of all students, while considering the will and ability of their local taxpayers to pay for these mandated increases. Often, bargaining sessions include items other than salary, such as health insurance costs and pension contributions.
  • Coupled with the recently enacted law requiring school boards to contribute the normal pension costs for any salary increase above 3 percent (PA 100-0587), enactment of this proposal could require local school districts to increase pay above 3 percent, then require the school districts to pay the normal pension cost because of the increase.
  • Over 80 percent of school expenditures are for personnel costs. Parents, community members, and taxpayers should know that a mandated increase in teacher salaries without specific state funding to pay for those increases will result in cuts to other areas of the school district budget and fewer needed services to students.
  • Of the 1,400 unfilled positions in Illinois schools last year, 90 percent were in school districts funded below the statutory adequacy level. These districts will be disproportionately affected by this mandate.
  • “One size fits all” mandates do not work well given the diversity of our state.
SB 2572 (Holmes, D-Aurora) would dismantle the physical education (PE) mandate flexibility that school districts were granted August 2017, under the Evidence-Based Funding reform measures enacted in SB 1947 (PA 100-0465). The new law only requires students to engage in physical education three out of five days per week, which allows schools and students/families flexibility while recognizing that PE is an important part of student learning. SB 2572 would remove the three days a week requirement and mandates a 150 minute per week minimum.
  • The time minimum requirement is not flexible for students or school district scheduling and does not account for weeks with fewer than five days of attendance. The impact this would have on local school districts and a student’s ability to prioritize additional required course work is unworkable.
  • School districts would be forced to prioritize physical education over other courses. Schools would also have to change schedules often to accommodate physical education when weekly schedules do not provide five days of student attendance.  
  • Schools have not even had the chance to utilize the flexibility provided in Public Act 100-0465 given that schools began the 2017-2018 school year before the bill became law. Sustaining the veto will allow schools to utilize this flexibility and study its effects before new mandates are enacted without data to support proposed changes.
  • Sustaining the Governor’s veto protects local decision-making and student/family directed class scheduling.
Click here to read the entire Alliance Legislative Report 100-78, including details of November 6 election results and upcoming governmental relations panels at the 2018 Joint Annual Conference.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Voters adopted most school
finance referenda on November 6

A preliminary look at the results of the November 6 elections shows good results for bond and tax proposals, with 11 of 16 bond issues on the ballot winning voter approval, and one of two tax increase plans getting a green light. A tax increase was adopted in Glen Ellyn SD 89, calling for a $133 increase in taxes per $100,000 of home value. It is the first tax hike in 32 years in District 89.  Voters meanwhile said no to a $1.3 million increase in taxes in Hawthorne SD 73.

Countywide sales tax increases to benefit school facilities were passed in three of the five counties that voted on such proposals, with voters saying yes in: Jasper, Menard, and Sangamon Counties. Voters rejected such additional taxes in Kendall and Tazewell Counties.

The bond issues that won approval range in size from a $195 million proposal in Maine Township High School District 207 (Park Ridge) to a $225,000 working cash proposition in Farrington CUSD 99.   Voters also approved the following bond proposals:

•    Calumet City SD 155, a $23 million finance proposal to pay claims against the district
•    Elmhurst CUSD 205, a $168.5 million bond proposition to build and equip two elementary schools, replacing existing ones, and add classrooms for full-day kindergarten
•    Gavin SD 37 (Ingleside), a $6 million bond proposition to repair and replace roofs on buildings, among other upgrade projects
•    Hawthorne SD 73, a $48.7 million proposal to renovate six district schools and build an 18-classroom kindergarten center
•    McHenry CHSD 156, a $44 million bond issue to construct school additions and make building repairs at two high school campuses
•    Mt. Pulaski CUSD 23, a $10 million bond proposition to improve the local high school and make repairs
•    Saratoga CCSD 60C, a $10.3 million plan to upgrade the Saratoga school building, including construction of auditorium and cafeteria space, with a STEM facility, kitchen, and learning resource center
•    Tolono SD 7, a proposition to pay $175,591 in principal and interest on existing bonds
•    Wheeling Township SD 21, a $69 million bond proposition for building improvements, and security upgrades

However bond issues were defeated in:

•    Fieldcrest CUSD 6, a $29 million bond issue to construct new school buildings in Minonk and Wenona, and to demolish Fieldcrest High School, as well as part of a middle school
•    Hinsdale THSD 86, a $166 million bond proposition to upgrade two high school campuses and renovate all learning spaces there
•    Minooka CCSD 201, a $50 million bond proposition to build and equip a school
•    Princeton Elementary School District 115, a $35 million bond proposal to construct a new, 109,900-square-foot building for grades 3 through 8. The plans also call for demolition of two schools and $500,000 in upgrades at another school
•    Smithton CCSD 130, a $5 million proposal to build and equip an addition to Smithton Elementary School

In other voting, at-large election of school board members was a winning idea everywhere it was proposed, namely in Chester East Lincoln SD 61, Polo CUSD 222, Oakland CUSD 5, and Villa Grove CUSD 302. The lone school district reorganization known to be on the ballot was approved. It calls for deactivating the high school in Paw Paw CUSD 271 and to send pupils from the school to Indian Creek CUSD 425.

Passing rates of school finance referenda since 1989 are available online.

New Essentials of Illinois School Finance
includes updates on Evidence-Based Funding

The Illinois Association of School Boards has published an updated edition of its top-selling book, Essentials of Illinois School Finance: A Guide to Techniques, Issues, and Resources, authored by James B. Fritts.

The new Eighth Edition offers important updates, including a chapter on the state’s Evidence-Based Funding formula and the prospects it brings for improvement in the equity and adequacy of Illinois school funding.

Additionally in the Eighth Edition is a new Part 3, which describes the school board’s financial responsibilities and how the board can fulfill its leadership responsibilities for the school district’s financial health.
The indispensable Essentials of Illinois School Finance includes information on the basic principles and operations of Illinois school financial management. Part 1 deals with the budgeting and management of revenue, including where schools get it, how they maximize it, protect it, manage it and plan for it. Part 2 addresses expenditures and describes ways to assess a district’s overall financial health, including how schools budget for expenditures, reduce them, and make plans to deal with them. The new Part 3, as mentioned, focuses on the role of school board.

Since the first edition in 2002, Essentials of Illinois School Finance has provided a solid base for financial management and long-range planning for school districts. The Eighth Edition is now available at the IASB Online Bookstore (sign in using the My Account button at, or by calling 217/528-9688, extension 1145. It will also be available for purchase onsite from the IASB Bookstore at the Joint Annual Conference in Chicago, November 16 and 17.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Federal Legislative Report 115-12


Both the House and Senate have been adjourned for the past few weeks for the election. They will reconvene on November 13.

Prior to the election, it was predicted that the Republicans would maintain control in the Senate and the House could potentially switch from Republican to Democrat control. After voting yesterday, the Republicans did maintain control of the Senate. Prior to the election there were 51 Republicans, 47 Democrats, and two Independents. Now there are 51 Republicans, 45 Democrats, and two Independents (a few races are still undecided).

In the House, the Democrats are now in control as they were able to flip 27 seats. Prior to the election there were 238 Republicans, 193 Democrats, and four vacancies. There are now 220 Democrats and 193 Republicans.

Since 1934, the party of a newly elected president has suffered an average loss of 23 seats in the House in the following midterm. With a split government, and two years until the nation will vote again for the presidency, it is unlikely much policy work will be accomplished.


For the first time since the 1990s, a budget was signed into law before the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1. The president signed H.R. 6157 on September 28. The bill includes a combined $299 million increase for K-12 education. Overall, this budget provides $71.5 billion for the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) - a $1 billion increase compared to FY18.

Education Funding Priorities
Current FY18 Funding
President’s FY19 Proposal
Approved FY19
Title I
$16.444 billion
$15.927 billion
$16.544 billion
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
$12.278 billion
$12.003 billion
$12.364 billion
ESSA -Title II
$2.056 billion
$2.056 billion
ESSA -Title IV
$1.1 billion
$1.17 billion
Perkins Career and Technical (CTE)
$1.193 billion
$1.118 billion
$1.263 billion
ESSA - Title III
$737 million
$737 million
$737 million

The House-Senate conference committee agreement for this bill also includes two non-funding provisions regarding school safety and infrastructure.
  • Within existing School Safety National Activities funding provided in the bill, the agreement specifies that not more than $10 million may be used for a demonstration program to test and evaluate innovative partnerships between higher education institutions and states – or high need school districts – to train school counselors, social workers, psychologists, or other mental health professionals qualified to provide school-based mental health services. The goal is to expand the pipeline of these workers into low-income public elementary schools and secondary schools in order to address the shortages of mental health service professionals in such schools.
  • Direction to the Comptroller General to conduct a study on the condition of the public-school facilities (including charter schools) of the United States and their adequacy to support a 21st century education.


On October 4, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) released an ESSA Flexibilities Guide to aid in implementation. It is intended to highlight the key flexibilities afforded to states and districts in ESSA, including fiscal and programmatic options across the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).


The USDOE released guidance on the McKinney-Vento Act under ESSA. ESSA made changes to the Title I reservation requirements for homeless students. On July 30, the USDOE responded to questions about these changes, including the following:
  • Does ESSA require a Local Education Agency (LEA) to reserve Title I funds under section 1113(c)(3) if all schools in the LEA are Title I schools?
  • Does ESEA require an LEA to reserve a specific amount of Title I funds to serve homeless students under section 1113(c)(3)?
The new guidance is posted here.

Additional resources on federal supports for homeless children and youth are available on the USDOE Office of Safe and Healthy Students webpage.


The president signed the newest version into law on July 31. More information about the law can be found in Federal Legislative Report 115-11.

IASB’s Educational Equity work
supports the Association’s mission and vision

School board members are responsible for the “equitable and quality education of every student in the school district” and must act accordingly in their collective work as a board of education to foster excellence for every student.

The Illinois Association of School Boards recognizes that everyone benefits when all students have access to the educational resources and rigor they need, in all times and circumstances.

IASB’s definition of Educational Equity, adapted from the work of the Council of Chief State School Officers and Kedda Williams/Opportunity Institute, is as follows:

“Educational equity means that every student has access to the educational resources and rigor they need at the right moment
in their education 
regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, sexual orientation, family background, and/or family income.”

Under the direction of Executive Director Thomas Bertrand, the IASB equity committee was formed in Summer 2018, including Equity Director Patrick Rice. The committee aims to provide members with the resources necessary to develop competence and confidence in supporting educational equity within their school district.

One of the committee’s first projects was “The Equity Lens,” a webinar presented on October 16 and now available in the Association’s Online Learning Center. Interested members can access the webinar through IASB’s new Educational Equity web page, Also on the new page are policy materials, reviews of the Equity Event from 2018, and a list of external resources. The website will be updated as the committee’s work proceeds.

In addition to Bertrand and Rice, members of the committee include Dean Langdon, Associate Executive Director, Member Services; Sandra Kwasa, Director, Board Development; Dee Molinare, Director, Field Services; Theresa Kelly Gegen, Director, Editorial Services/Communications; Maryam Brotine, Assistant General Counsel; and Ronald Madlock, Assistant Director, Advocacy/Governmental Relations.

School board members wishing to seek more information, or willing to share their districts’ equity journeys, are encouraged to contact Patrick Rice at

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Teacher of the Year extols
power of believing in students

Susan Converse
One of 214 educators honored at the 44th annual Those Who Excel/Illinois Teacher of the Year banquet in Normal recently was the 2019 Teacher of the Year, Susan Converse, a special education teacher in grades 9-12 at Edwardsville CUSD 7.

Converse says “teachers that stay with us for our entire lives are the ones who see what we can be before we do. They are the ones who care for us and help us reach beyond our own expectations to meet theirs.”

Converse started a student-run coffee and pastry shop at Edwardsville High School called the Tiger Den. Students with disabilities carry out all aspects of Tiger Den's operations under Converse's guidance. Her students develop skills they later use to lead more independent lives after high school.

“She sees bigger things for her students and spends each day reminding her students to see the same,” said parent Denise Olson Byrd, whose son looks forward to school each day because of Converse.

Converse began her professional life as a journalist, but a chance assignment to fill in for a local education reporter one day changed her career path. After spending an “unforgettable afternoon talking with one excited student after another,” she decided to change careers and become a teacher. She said she never looked back.

“I share the belief that teachers have a critical role in preparing students to become responsible and positive contributors to our community as citizens, consumers, employees, and employers,” said Converse. “All students need encouragement, some pushing, and teachers who believe in them. I believe in my students and I let them know it.”

Converse’s dedication to her students’ success extends beyond her classroom. She has helped students build their resumes and prepare for job interviews.

“Mrs. Converse has always believed in me even when I did not believe in myself,” said Edwardsville High School student Caleb Carnes, who submitted a letter in support of Converse's nomination for Teacher of the Year. “Mrs. Converse is truly the reason I am the person I am today.”

Monday, November 5, 2018

Journal offers insights
into trauma-informed practices

The November/December issue of The Illinois School Board Journal looks at trauma-informed practices in Illinois. These stories are illustrated with the concept of Kintsugi, “golden joinery,” or Kintsukuroi, “golden repair.” This centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with gold lacquer gives each piece a unique appearance and, and the tradition indicates, creates an even more beautiful work of art.

In “No lost causes: Trauma-informed philosophy seeks to serve the whole child,” writer Dan Naumovich explores the work underway in several Illinois districts. A conversation with Courtney and Chris Daikos shares their work and philosophy, including classroom practices that can help mitigate the adverse childhood experiences that affect a child’s lifelong health, education, and social well-being. Sparta CUSD 140 offers a look at the development of its trauma informed practices.

The Journal also includes a peek into the new Eighth Edition of Essentials of Illinois School Finance by James B. Fritts.

Watch your mailbox for the November/December issue, or click the image below to read the complete digital version.

Friday, November 2, 2018

School Board Members Day:
time to #ThankABoardMember

The School Board Members Day logo may be used
in honoring members via websites and newsletters.
November 15 of each year is officially designated as School Board Members Day in Illinois. The honorary day offers an opportunity to recognize the nearly 6,000 school board members across the state and thank them for the leadership they provide to school districts and the community.

This year's School Board Members Day theme is "Sharing the Vision." IASB is encouraging district personnel to contact their community leaders, business partners, local civic and parent organizations, and other area leaders to join in recognition efforts. Share the honorary
A poster is also available to share.
activities on social media using the hashtag, #ThankABoardMember.

To assist in recognition efforts IASB has created tip sheets for administrators, students and parents, and community groups and businesses. A sample article for adaptation as a newsletter, or to run as an editorial or letter to the editor in local media, has also been written. Additionally, an honorary certificate that can be personalized and presented to board members is available. 

To recognize local board members on social media, six images featuring leadership and visionary quotes that can be posted across various social platforms are available. Other graphics that can be used on websites and newsletters include the 2018 School Board Members Day logo, a poster, and an email header

School districts and other groups are welcome to use any of the School Board Members Day resources without additional permission. All the materials are accessible on the IASB website.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Sixteen Illinois public schools honored with Blue Ribbon designation

Sixteen public schools in Illinois were recently recognized by the U.S. Department of Education with awards through the National Blue Ribbon Schools program.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools program annually gives these awards to elementary, middle schools, and high schools for academic excellence and improvement in closing the gap between privileged and underprivileged students. Schools can qualify as Blue Ribbon Schools by being rated as “high performing” or “achievement gap closing.”
Since 1982, the National Blue Ribbon Schools program has celebrated
excellence. The award is for effective teaching and learning at all grade levels

All 16 winning schools qualified by scoring in the top 15 percent of schools in the state in reading and math. Every demographic group examined within the school — including lower-income students — also had to collectively score in the top 40 percent.

Eight private schools, which faced similar requirements, were awarded the Blue Ribbon this time, bringing the number of Illinois school winners to 25, the same number as last year.

Here’s the list of the public schools that earned the designation, their category, and the school district where they reside:
  • Central Intermediate School, small city or town in a rural area, Aviston SD 21
  • Butterfield Elementary School, suburban, Lombard SD 44
  • Edison Regional Gifted Center, urban or large central city, Chicago SD 299
  • Evergreen Elementary School, suburban, Benjamin SD 25
  • George Washington Elementary School, suburban, Park Ridge CCSD 64
  • Giant City School, small city or town in a rural area, Giant City CCSD 130
  • Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy, urban or large central city, Chicago SD 299
  • Hickory Creek Middle School, suburban, Frankfort CCSD 157-C
  • Hynes Elementary School, suburban, Golf SD 67
  • Libertyville High School, suburban, Community High School District 128 (Vernon Hills)
  • Meridian School, suburban, Aptakisic-Tripp CCSD 102 (Buffalo Grove)
  • Naperville North High School, suburban, Naperville CUSD 203
  • Parkview Elementary School, small city or town in a rural area, Columbia CUSD 4
  • Proviso Math And Science Academy, suburban, Proviso Township High Schools District 209
  • South Park Elementary School, suburban, Deerfield SD 109
  • Tremont Elementary School, suburban, Tremont CUSD 702
Federal education officials will honor these schools among the 300 public and 49 non-public school award winners nationwide at a ceremony November 7 in Washington, D.C. Each school receives an award plaque and a flag as symbols of their accomplishments. In its 36-year history, nearly 9,000 schools in the United States have received the Blue Ribbon Schools award.

More information about the program and the award winners can be found on the program’s official website.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

State touts favorable School Report Cards,
new school support, accountability system

ISBE released a new school accountability
and support system for school improvement.
The release of Illinois School Report Card data on October 31 reveals that the percentage of high school students enrolling in college 12 months after graduation has increased to 73 percent of all graduates – up from 69 percent four years ago.

In addition to report card numbers, the state released its official designations for every school in Illinois, which officials claim will provide a public benchmark of school progress toward the goal of preparing all students for success in college and career.  These designations are based on 10 measures of school performance.

According the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), the new school designations invite community input, reflection, and engagement in the progress and success of all students. ISBE says schools it designates as Lowest-Performing or Underperforming will receive additional federal funding and participate in a collaborative, school-led improvement process called the IL-EMPOWER school improvement process. 
IL-EMPOWER is the process schools
are to use to access multiple resources,
including new federal funding, for areas
of greatest need to help improve schools.

The designation for each school is intended to provide transparency for families and communities. The designations are facts, not judgments, state officials say.

An Exemplary designation goes to the highest-performing 10 percent of schools. The Lowest-Performing designation identifies the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools. Schools that are otherwise well-performing but have one or more student groups seen as significantly underperforming receive the Underperforming designation, which goes to approximately 15 percent of schools. All other schools will receive the Commendable designation, which goes to 70 percent of schools.

As mentioned, schools with the Underperforming or Lowest-Performing designation are required to participate in the IL-EMPOWER improvement process, which begins with a school-led needs assessment. Besides federal funding, the process includes ISBE school support managers, and the school’s choice of professional learning partners to work with on local improvement needs.

ISBE has prepared a series of infographics on the new support and accountability system, all of which can be viewed at

The 2018 Illinois Report Card also shows each school district’s Evidence-Based Funding amount and state funding gap. The state overhauled its primary funding formula in 2017 to send more state funding to the districts in the greatest financial need.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Labor issues drag on across the state

Although no strikes have occurred thus far, teachers have adopted intent-to strike notices in several districts in Illinois this school year. Districts currently faced with such notices are Champaign CUSD 4, and Geneva School District 304.

The Champaign Federation of Teachers rejected a contract offer from the Champaign CUSD 4 Board of Education on October 11, and approved an intent-to-strike notice with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. The earliest possible strike would be in early December. The union represents 850 certified teachers. The district’s last teacher contract expired on June 30 and the union requested a federal mediator be assigned to the negotiations on August 24.

Geneva Unit District 304 teachers voted on September 31 to authorize their union leaders to call a strike. The earliest a walkout could happen is November 13. Contract talks began on February 15 of this year with the union, which represents 459 teachers and other certified personnel.

Potential strikes were averted recently in East Aurora School District 131, and Murphysboro CUSD 186, where school boards reached agreement with teachers in early October following intent-to-strike notices.

East Aurora SD 131 and its 1,500-member local school employee organization reached a tentative agreement on October 4. A potential strike could have begun as early as October 5. Details of the contract are not yet available.

Murphysboro CUSD 186 reached a tentative agreement with teachers on October 9, with the school board voting to approve a contract that includes a modest pay hike and improvements to teacher health coverage. A strike could have begun as early as October 1. The union represents 148 teachers in Murphysboro CUSD 186.

More information should be available soon from the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board (IELRB), which collects for public posting education-related final offers. Current IELRB postings can be accessed here.