Friday, February 9, 2018

Alliance Legislative Report 100-54

 BUDGET ADDRESS SET FOR WEDNESDAY

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.

TEACHER SHORTAGE CRISIS MOVES TO FRONT BURNER

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.