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.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Talbert announces retirement

Cathy Talbert
A key member of the IASB staff has announced her retirement from the Association and a move to California.

Cathy Talbert, associate executive director for field services and policy services, has announced she is retiring effective June 30, 2018. Talbert has been a dedicated member of the staff for 28 years.

Since joining the Association staff, she has worked directly with hundreds of school boards and thousands of school board members through trainings, presentations, and workshops in Illinois and across the country. She offered particular expertise in governance, policy, school law, and association management.

Before bringing her dynamic approach to leadership to the IASB staff, Talbert worked as an attorney in private practice and on the legal staff of the Illinois State Board of Education. She joined IASB in February 1990, assumed responsibility for policy services in 1995, added responsibility for the Targeting Achievement Through Governance (TAG) grant-funded program in 2004-2007, and became an associate executive director for both field services and policy services departments in 2007 through the present.

Talbert served under three IASB executive directors: Wayne Sampson, Michael D. Johnson, and Roger Eddy. Talbert notes that she will miss the people and work at IASB: “It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with and serve the IASB leadership, members, and staff in pursuit of our vision, excellence in local school board governance supporting quality public education.” she said.

“We thank Cathy Talbert for her loyal dedication to the Association and wish her well in her future endeavors. Her skill and knowledge in her respective departments will be missed,” said Ben Schwarm, deputy executive director of IASB.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Newest member district welcomed

IASB has added another board of education to active membership. Edwardsville CUSD 7 is located in the Association’s Southwestern Division. The district joined the Association on February 6 and is being served by Field Services Director Larry Dirks.

That brings the active membership count to 846 public school districts in Illinois. With only four non-member districts in the state, the 99.6 percent membership ratio is the highest level in IASB’s 105-year history.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Alliance Legislative Report 100-56


The Illinois General Assembly took a brief timeout to listen to the governor’s budget plans this week, then went back to considering new legislation in committees. After Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his Budget Address on Wednesday, lawmakers took to their partisan corners and opined about the fiscal message. Democrat leaders quickly denounced the budget plan as unbalanced, unfair to school districts and state workers, and generally unworkable. Republicans mostly lauded the calls for a leaner budget, income tax rate reductions, and pension reform. However, even some Republican legislators joined the vast majority of Democrats in casting a wary eye at the idea of shifting the state’s pension obligation onto local school districts.

The Senate returns to the Capitol next Tuesday; the House of Representatives will not reconvene until Feb. 27.

As reported in the last Alliance Legislative Report, the governor proposed to shift the normal costs of active teacher pensions from the state and onto local school district budgets over a four year period. The first year cost of the new unfunded mandate on local school districts is estimated at $490 million. This would certainly eat up most, if not all, of any increase school districts would get through the new funding formula. A press statement on the cost shift can be found here and an earlier blog article on the issue is also available.

For Fiscal Year 2019, the governor proposed an increase of $350 million for the new Evidence-Based Funding Formula – an amount equal to the increase in the current fiscal year. Also in his plan is a $10.5 million increase for Early Childhood Education, and a $2.4 million decrease in the line item for student assessments. With the exception of the special education orphanage tuition budget line, he would fund the mandated categorical grants at the same levels as the current fiscal year, including transportation reimbursements. Funding for the budget line items for After School Programs, Advance Placement, After School Matters, District Intervention, Parent Mentoring, National Board Certified Teachers, School Support Services (lowest performing schools), and Teach for America would be eliminated, allowing $28.9 million to be redirected toward the other education budget items

Click here to read the entire Alliance Legislative Report 100-56, including information on a number of other education related bills.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Illinois delegation tackles ambitious agenda
at NSBA Advocacy Institute

Illinois school board leaders meet with Congressman
Randy Hultgren in his Washington, D.C. office.
The largest-ever Illinois delegation undertook an ambitious agenda at the National School Boards Association’s 2018 Advocacy Institute, an annual event in Washington D.C. designed to help school leaders advocate with federal officials for students and communities and make an impact on education policymaking.

Attendees participated in workshops covering a wide range of educational topics, in preparation for the final day of the Institute. School board members and administrators met with representatives in the U.S. House and Senate on that final day, and “had a long and productive day lobbying on Capitol Hill,” according to IASB Director of Governmental Relations Susan Hilton.

“We had a terrific group of strong leaders from Illinois attend this years’ DC Advocacy Institute,” said IASB Executive Director Roger Eddy. “The trip to Capitol Hill was especially important as our members were able to discuss key issues critical to public education with members of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.”

Illinois Superintendent of the Year Schuler earns national honor

David Schuler
High School District 214 superintendent and Illinois Superintendent of the Year, David Schuler, was recognized as the 2018 National Superintendent of the Year on Thursday, Feb. 15. Schuler bested three other highly qualified finalists from California, Indiana, and Tennessee to earn the honor from the American Association of School Administrators (AASA).

A six-person committee chose Schuler based on criteria that focused on leadership for learning, communication, professionalism, and community involvement. He is the 31st administrator to receive the honor, and the first superintendent from Illinois to win the award.

In November of last year, Schuler was named Illinois Superintendent of the Year by the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA) at the Joint Annual Conference. He previously served as president of AASA during the 2015-2016 school year, where he championed the Redefining Ready! campaign that utilized various metrics to establish whether students are college and career ready.

Schuler began his career as a social studies teacher in Wisconsin, and went on to serve as student activities and athletics director and as a principal before becoming a superintendent. He was superintendent for districts in Marshall and Stevens Point, Wisconsin, before accepting the position with District 214 in 2005.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Pension cost shift
nothing more than a fallacy

Deputy Executive Director
Ben Schwarm
IASB Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm highlights the misconceptions behind the governor's effort to shift pension costs to local schools.

Pension Cost Shift Fallacy
When the governor, on Wednesday, proposed that all normal pension costs for active teachers should be shifted from the state and onto local school districts, the immediate – and accurate – response was “where will this money come from?” Promising $450 to $550 million of new funding for schools while demanding nearly $500 million in new pension payments is a dangerous shell game that only moves Illinois further away from adequately funding our schools. Hundreds of school districts, and perhaps the majority of school districts, would be net losers in such a scheme. For districts to cover this new unfunded mandate, educational programs would have to be cut and/or local property taxes would have to be increased.

But the real fallacy in the logic of the cost shift is found when one reads deeper into the news reports. Inevitably, someone will reference “by paying the employer contribution of teachers’ pensions on behalf of school districts, the state is essentially paying for spending decisions over which it has little control.” Or as the governor stated in his Budget Address, “if you separate the payment from accountability ... there is no accountability.”

Here is where those comments are wrong. Proponents of pension cost shift proposals claim that local school boards establish rich pension benefits for teachers because they know that they are not liable for the pension liability that goes with them. In fact, local school boards have no say at all regarding the pension benefits that teachers receive. All benefits are set by the state legislature through the approval and enactment of legislation that enhances pension benefits in the Teachers’ Retirement System! Legislators did so with no regard to the increased unfunded pension liability that those enhancements would incur. Now those costs are revealing themselves in the form of unsustainably higher annual pension payments.

The solution cannot be as easy as simply washing one's hands of the mess they created and sending the bills on to some other entity.

Each time a bill was introduced to enhance pension benefits without covering the costs of the new pension liability, the Illinois Association of School Boards opposed it. In 1993, when legislation was approved containing the 5 + 5 Early Retirement Option, IASB opposed it. In 1997, when legislation was approved containing provisions to allow TRS members to purchase pension credit for time off to care for an adopted infant, IASB opposed it. In 1998, when legislation was approved containing provisions for the 2.2 Enhanced Pension Benefit (that resulted in earlier retirements), IASB opposed it. In 1999, when legislation was approved containing the new Early Retirement Option (ERO), IASB opposed it. In 2003, when legislation was approved containing provisions to allow for TRS members to purchase pension credit for up to two years of teaching in private schools and to use two years of unused sick time for pension credit, IASB opposed it.

In most cases, IASB was the only organization that opposed the legislation. And, yet, the fingers are pointing at school board members for ballooning the pension liability.

Registration is open
for The Equity Event

The Illinois Association of School Boards has announced a new initiative to address the “what, why, and how” of equity issues in education.

The Equity Event, to take place on April 28 at the Hyatt Regency in Lisle, will present the opportunity to

  • Understand the various equity issues present in public education (including race, socio-economic, and gender);
  • Learn critical steps for developing and implementing an equity approach in school board work;
  • Gain insight and practical applications from Illinois school districts actively working on equity issues; and
  • Be inspired by one man’s personal journey of resilience, determination, and vision.

Speakers at The Equity Event will include Dr. Heather Hackman, speaking on “The Urgency of Now: Developing and Utilizing an Equity Lens for 21st Century Education.” Consultant Corrie Wallace will address the question “It’s 2018...Why are We Still Talking about Race?” and Steve Pemberton will bring “One America: The Micro Cultural Changes to Bring the ‘United’ Back into U.S.A.”

School districts presenting will include Berwyn North SD 98, Joliet PSD 86, River Forest SD 90, Evanston THSD 202, and Evanston/Skokie SD 65.

This new event is offered exclusively to school board members and superintendents from IASB member districts. There is no charge to attend. Attendees will earn one credit in the LeaderShop Academy program.

The Equity Event will take place at the Hyatt Regency in Lisle, 1400 Corporetum Drive, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 28, 2018. Online registration is required and now open at  For more information, contact Peggy Goone,, 217/528-9866 ext. 1103.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Alliance Legislative Report 100-55


A major component in Governor Bruce Rauner’s Budget Address today was a proposal to shift all normal costs of the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) from the state onto local school districts. His plan would be to phase in the shift with 25 percent of the costs moved to school district budgets in each of the next four years. It is estimated that the first year cost could be over $490 million statewide.

As the governor stated that he would commit an additional $350 million to the evidence-based funding formula, he would then ask school districts for $490 million to be returned to the state. This, obviously, would result in a net loss of funding for hundreds of school districts across the state.

Governor Rauner did state that he would “give schools and local governments the tools they need to more than offset the costs” of the pension shift. However, the vague statement had few details and the “tools” included “increased education funding, the power to dissolve or consolidate units of local government, and more flexibility in contracting, bidding, and sharing services.” The idea of saving nearly a half of billion dollars annually for four years through bidding changes hardly seems feasible.

There is one notable fallacy to the logic of the cost shift. When rationalizing the shift, proponents often cite the rich benefits that school districts have bestowed on their employees with the state picking up the tab for the pension liability. When, in fact, only the legislature has created and enhanced pension benefits for TRS members over the years, many times with school management being the only opposition to the bills that increased retirement benefits.

A press statement on the pension cost shift from IASB can be found here.

Governor Rauner bases his budget balancing on the “savings” from shifting pension costs onto school districts and institutions of higher education, cutting back contributions to state employee health insurance packages, selling the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago, and increased revenues resulting from changes in the Worker’s Compensation Act. With the savings, he would pay down the budget deficit, invest in education spending, and, eventually, roll back state income tax rates. There was no mention today of a freeze on property tax extensions.

More specifics of the governor’s education budget proposal will be reported in the next Alliance Legislative Report.

IASB to continue online, social outreach

After more than three years using online platforms, the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) continues to expand its social media profile and to seek new communication opportunities with members and share major points of interest to public education leaders.

“IASB has seen continual growth in its online presence since expanding into social media in 2014,” according to IASB Associate Executive Director of Communications Kara Kienzler. “With Twitter being advantageous for dispersing quick updates, and Facebook allowing the Association to expand upon stories and utilize live video, both networks satisfy objectives,” Kienzler said.

IASB’s Twitter profile saw a jump in follower involvement last year, with engagements increasing by nearly 7,500. The IASB Facebook page increased engagements by more than 1,000.

The Annual Conference, School Board Member’s Day, and legislative updates were among the most engaging social stories of 2017.

More than 16,000 Twitter posts
used the 2017 Annual Conference
hashtag and got 1.2 million reaches.
The 2017 Annual Conference hashtag, #ILjac17, saw more than 1,600 Twitter posts that registered 1.2 million unique reaches over the course of the three-day event. 

Posts for the annual School Board Member’s Day racked up more than 5,000 impressions, with even greater numbers for school districts that shared photos and videos honoring their own local board of education members. On Facebook, a “thank you school board members” video message reached 1,000 followers.

Government relations posts, particularly involving the budget stalemate and school funding formula, propelled a rise in followers, with one shared column garnering more than 11,000 reaches on Facebook. Live video broadcasts reviewing the governor’s budget address and updates from the House and Senate chambers also proved popular.

Spearheaded by the governmental relations department, the Association will add more weekly legislative updates through Facebook Live video broadcasts.

The Blog hit new highs for page views, users, and posts in 2017.
In addition to the two social platforms, the Illinois School Board News Blog has seen extensive growth since its launch in 2015. Offering more in-depth outreach, articles on public education and governance topics can be shared on social media. It offers an email subscriber feature and sharing links to allow users to be fully engaged.

The online and social platforms have given IASB a reliable communication network to reach out to Association members and others interested in the intersection of public education and local governance. They have also created a quick and cost-effective method to provide real-time updates and announcements that can easily be shared.

“What this amounts to is better communication between IASB members and their Association,” said Kienzler.

For continual updates and Association news, follow IASB on Twitter @ILschoolboards, like Illinois Association of School Boards’ on Facebook, and subscribe to receive News Blog email updates.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

IASB, IPA to review budget address on Facebook Live following speech

The Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) will join the Illinois Principals Association (IPA) to host a live Facebook discussion following Governor Bruce Rauner’s budget address on Wednesday, Feb. 14. The Facebook Live event will take place at 1 p.m.

The broadcast will be streamed live on IPA’s Facebook page and shared through IASB’s page. IPA’s Director of Government Relations Allison Maley and IASB’s Director of Governmental Relations Zach Messersmith will discuss the governor’s Fiscal Year 2019 proposal and take 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 direct message IASB on Twitter (@ILschoolboards).

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

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

Monday, February 12, 2018

Information on 2018 new school laws available

IASB’s Governmental Relations Department has compiled and distributed the annual New School Laws publication. The 25-page booklet, released recently in coordination with the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance, informs school leaders about new statutes and changes to existing laws enacted in 2017 that will take effect this year.

The document highlights 88 new laws that impact school districts, including the much-publicized Evidence-Based Funding formula. Notable changes this year include a cursive writing requirement, sexual harassment policies, and the Teachers’ Retirement System federal fund rate.

Additional initiatives touch on the topics of educator licensure and recruitment, safety and security concerns, attendance and absenteeism tracking, and several property tax related public acts.

Also included is IASB policy service information regarding new legislation. If a new law requires action by the school board, the publication lists the corresponding policy or procedure reference number from IASB’s Policy Reference Educational Subscription Service (PRESS).

This publication has been mailed to district superintendents, school business officials, and principals, along with each school board’s president, and its legislative liaison.

The New School Laws 2018 document is also available on the IASB website. 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Alliance Legislative Report 100-54


Governor Bruce Rauner will deliver his annual Budget Address Wednesday before a joint session of the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives. In the State of the State address two weeks ago, the governor outlined broad proposals with few details. Usually, these initiatives are fleshed out in the Budget Address. Rauner has pledged to present a balanced budget to the legislature, while at the same time vowing to roll back the increase in income tax rates that took effect this year.

Most expect to hear similar themes from the governor’s past legislative agendas and campaign platforms. These may include proposals for a freeze on property tax extensions, business law reforms, and pension reform. Generally, pension reform proposals have included incentives for active members of the state’s various pension systems to opt out of the pension system and shifting the pension liability in the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) from the state and to local school districts. There has also been chatter about a possible “capital bill” to fund public works and infrastructure needs across the state, including school buildings.


An issue that has been talked about for the last couple of years by school principals, superintendents, board members, and regional superintendents has been getting new attention in the Capitol. The shortage of regular classroom teachers and substitute teachers is now the focus of all four legislative caucuses, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), The Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools (IARSS), the Illinois Council of Professors of Education Administration (ICPEA), and others.

A House education committee has convened a subcommittee devoted to the issue and will be holding informational hearings in the coming weeks. This week, two bills were discussed in the subcommittee, though no votes were taken. HB 4167 (Parkhurst, R-Kankakee) allows a student who is enrolled in an educator preparation program at a regionally accredited institution of higher education and has earned at least 90 credit hours at that institution to apply for a Substitute Teaching License. HB 4280 (Pritchard, R-Sycamore) requires ISBE to establish and maintain the Growing Future Educators Program to train high school graduates who at one time have been identified as English learners and who are enrolled in an approved educator preparation program, among other qualifications, to become secondary language educators.

The Alliance has been working closely on the teacher shortage issue with guidance from the Illinois Vision 20-20 platform. Vision 20-20 teacher shortage legislation has been part of the Alliance legislative agenda for the past few years.

The IARSS recently conducted a survey and reported that over ninety percent of school districts say they have either a serious or minor problem with finding substitute teachers. Every part of the state indicated that there is also a shortage of classroom teachers available for new teaching openings in districts. In the survey, superintendents stated that bilingual teachers, Spanish teachers, special education teachers, nurses, and school psychologists were the most difficult positions to fill.

The survey results can be found here.

Click here to read the entire Alliance Legislative Report 100-54, including information on the distribution of new school funding, an upcoming school safety conference, and other education-related bills under consideration.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Plan to connect rural schools to high-speed internet streams forward

For many educators, it’s hard to imagine not being able to access the internet quickly from one of many electronic devices, and immediately play a video or load a news article instantaneously. The reality is that technology will continue to be a necessary learning component in classrooms. To effectively use that technology and provide quality educational outcomes for students, however, proper infrastructure is required.

A measure recently introduced by a bipartisan group of Illinois senators seeks to fund that infrastructure for the approximately 100 school districts without high-speed internet access. Senators Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), Sam McCann (R-Plainview), and Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) have proposed legislation to set aside $16.3 million from the School Infrastructure Fund to pay for the cost of installing fiber optic cable to deliver high-speed internet to rural schools. The state money would be matched nearly three to one with federal dollars to cover installation costs that range from $75,000 to $420,000 per district.

Without access to quality, high-speed internet connections, common activities of modern classrooms are unavailable, such as streaming education videos or online testing and remote learning. These mainstays of urban schools are unknown to nearly 90,000 students in underserved areas, the bill sponsors say, and installation of fiber optic lines would fill this void and remain cost effective into the future.

They say their high-speed internet proposal directly aligns with the Illinois Vision 20/20 priority of providing 21st Century Learning. The Vision 20/20 policy goal is to provide high speed internet connectivity to every school and community that meets the State Educational Technology Directors Association’s internet connection recommendations to ensure adequacy and equity for every student.

Monday, February 5, 2018

ISBE Briefs

Budget Recommendation
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) officially released a budget recommendation for the 2018-2019 school year during their January meeting. ISBE outlined $15.7 billion in state general funding, saying this ensures every district can meet at least 90 percent of its Adequacy Target under the new Evidence-Based Funding model.

The Fiscal Year 2018 appropriation for state education funding increased by $714.6 million over the previous year. School districts across the state, however, have yet to see any of those new dollars. The eight years from FY 2010 to FY2018 saw a cumulative loss of $2.92 billion in education funding.

ISBE’s FY 2019 recommendation would be a $7.2 billion increase over last year, which they say is needed to erase past losses and ensure a quality education for all students.

“The Illinois Constitution is clear that the state is primarily responsible for funding schools,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith. Smith said the new funding formula is grounded in equity and recognizes that children and families across the state are situated differently. “We now have to fund the formula to create the conditions for every child to thrive,” he said.

The full ISBE budget recommendation can be found here

Mandated Categorical prorations
Payments and associated prorations for 2016-2017 school year categorical programs have been calculated. The listed programs and the formula for figuring the payments are available from the Illinois State Board of Education here

The percentage and related programs to be reimbursed in Fiscal Year 2018 are as follows:

  • Regular/Vocational Transportation—84 percent
  • Special Education Private Facility—90 percent
  • Special Education Transportation—91 percent

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Alliance Legislative Report 100-53


The Illinois General Assembly will return to the Capitol next week to continue considering bills in committees. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate will be in session next Tuesday-Thursday. No legislation has surfaced as yet regarding another fix to the new evidence-based funding formula. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) last week stated that an additional technical change must be made to the formula before any of the new school funds can be distributed.


HB 1262 (Currie, D-Chicago) provides that a School Code mandate waiver request regarding tax rates, funds, or transfers shall not be reviewed by the panel of General Assembly members, but shall be submitted to the full General Assembly for consideration. The bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee and will be sent to the Senate for further consideration.

HB 3792 (Lilly, D-Chicago) provides that students, beginning in 6th grade, should be introduced to developing and applying work ethic in a variety of contexts. The bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee and will be sent to the Senate for further consideration.

HB 4242 (McSweeney, R-Cary) requires schools to report employee and contractor severance agreements on the school website no more than 72 hours from payment, and to report in the newspaper for seven days when the employee or contractor has been accused of sexual harassment. The report must contain the name, amount of payment, and state that the person has been accused of sexual harassment. The bill was approved by the House Cities and Villages Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

SB 444 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill) makes technical corrections to the evidence-based funding legislation. The Amendatory Veto was overridden by both chambers and the bill is now Public Act 100-0578, effective immediately.

SB 863 (Bertino-Tarrant, D-Plainfield) allows for the issuance of a Professional Educator License endorsed in a teaching field or school support personnel area to an applicant who has not been entitled by an Illinois-approved educator preparation program at an Illinois institution of higher education if he or she provides evidence of completing a comparable state-approved educator preparation program, as defined by the State Superintendent of Education. The Senate concurred in the House amendment and the bill will be sent to the governor for his consideration.

SB 2236 (Bertino-Tarrant) amends the Invest in Kids Act to provide that no income tax credits for private school tuition may be awarded for any taxable year for which the minimum statutory funding level is not met for public schools. The bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee and will be sent to the Senate for further consideration.

SB 2260 (Tracy, R-Quincy) provides that, in Fiscal Year 2018, each school district having Personal Property Tax Replacement Fund (CPPRT) receipts totaling 13 percent or more of its total revenues in Fiscal Year 2016 shall receive an additional amount equal to 11 percent of the total amount distributed to the school district from the CPPRT fund. The bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee and will be sent to the Senate for further consideration.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Division leadership series closes
with lively discussions

The 2017-2018 series of Division Leaders’ Workshops wrapped up in Naperville on January 27, with 42 division leaders gathering for motivation, networking, skill building, and recognition.

Previous events were held in September in Mt. Vernon and Springfield. All three of this year’s workshops welcomed Patrick S. Muhammad, an educator and speaker who brought light to leadership in an engaging, personal, and powerful way.

Speaker Patrick Muhammad
Opening the morning’s events, and quoting educator and civil rights activist Benjamin E. Mays, Muhammad introduced the poem that begins:

“I’ve only just a minute, 
Only sixty seconds in it.
Forced upon me, can’t refuse it,
Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it,
But it’s up to me to use it.”

He used that to speak to several practical points on leadership, including “think five times before you speak,” and the value of smiling. To the delight of the participants, Muhammad presented an inspiring reflection on the theme of being a “lighthouse,” in and for the communities to which we belong.

In the afternoon activities, participants engaged in lively discussions about their titles, roles, and responsibilities within the IASB divisions. Each group -- chairs and vice chairs, resolutions chairs, directors, and directors-at-large -- worked together to be able to explain the position, what it means within the Association, and why it is important to the work of the division.

Lively conversations.
The second afternoon activity was designed to share ideas and best practices for the planning of Division Dinner Meetings, understanding that each division is unique but all can learn from the work of the others.

The Association has 21 geographic divisions. Serving in division leadership is ideal for school board members who wish to play a larger role in the Association. The Division Leadership Workshop was designed to inspire, to network, and to assist these leaders carrying out the responsibilities of their positions.

The 2018 Division Leaders' Workshop participants from Naperville.