Saturday, March 31, 2018

Board members eligible for Excel
awards; applications available online

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has a program to recognize outstanding school board members, administrators, staff members, and teachers, and application forms are now available online. Those Who Excel is a statewide program that annually recognizes contributions to all Illinois schools.

Applications may be completed electronically and emailed to amuraro@isbe.net or printed and mailed to ISBE, Office of Communications, 100 N. First St., Springfield, IL 62777-0001. Mailed forms need to be postmarked by Monday, June 4, 2018. Emailed applications must be received by ISBE by the close of business on June 7.

This year’s Those Who Excel banquet will be held Saturday, October 20, at the Marriott Bloomington-Normal Conference Center and Hotel.

Call ISBE’s Office of Communications for more information at 217/782-4648.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Be inspired by a journey of resilience, determination, and vision

“This little boy doesn’t have a chance in the world.”

A diary entry of a babysitter, was the prediction for Steve Pemberton’s future. But for him, that defeatist notion would have the exact opposite effect; it would inspire him to move forward through life and triumph over extreme adversity to become the chance, and the success, he believed he deserved in the world.

The movie "A Chance in the World" is based on Pemberton's book, "A Chance in the World: An Orphan Boy, A Mysterious Past, and How He Found a Place Called Home."




Pemberton is a featured speaker at IASB’s upcoming Equity Event, a unique opportunity to learn to work to help all students to achieve their full potential.

There is no cost to attend the Equity Event. Advance registration required. Click here for event information, then login to iasb.com My Account to register.


The Equity Event
The What, Why, and How
of Equity Issues in Education
For school board members and superintendents
April 28, 2018
9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Hyatt Regency Lisle
1400 Corporetum Drive, Lisle

Monday, March 26, 2018

Bicentennial STEM Fusion campaign to launch in underserved schools

State officials have announced the launch of an Illinois Bicentennial STEM Fusion campaign, a three-year program that will be offered to students at 25 elementary and middle schools in underserved communities.

The Illinois Math and Science Academy’s IMSA Fusion program presents a new curriculum for middle school teachers to inspire 4th through 8th graders to study math and science and pursue careers in technology, medicine, education, and business.

Abbott and Wintrust are the presenting sponsors of the Bicentennial STEM Fusion campaign. All Bicentennial Office programs are privately financed. Additional funding for this campaign is provided by Boeing, Ingredion, and Motorola.

“The Bicentennial STEM Fusion campaign will inspire hundreds of young students across the state at an important time in their educational development,” said Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti. “This program is another great example of the emphasis we have put on early education.”

“IMSA Fusion is a unique and proven approach to providing teachers with stimulating curriculums in math and science,” commented Illinois Math and Science President Jose Torres. He said he is excited to partner with state officials to reach 25 additional schools in Illinois.

IMSA Fusion is a teacher professional development and student STEM enrichment program for Illinois students who are talented, interested, and motivated in mathematics and science. IMSA Fusion places a special emphasis on students who are historically underrepresented in those areas. Fusion works with teachers and students in grades 4-8.

A STEM Fusion school committee will award the program to 25 schools, each receiving a three-year teacher training program. A five-person school selection committee will review the applications. The committee includes: Emily Bastedo, Senior Advisor to the Governor; Dr.Kevin Pitts, Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education- University of Illinois; Ross Hemphill, Board Member- IMSA Fund for Advancement of Education; and Jenna Daugherty, Divisional Vice President of Global Social Responsibility- Abbott; and Susana Meza, Vice President, Marketing-Wintrust Financial.

The schools will be chosen based on serving predominately under-represented populations, their commitment to embedding IMSA Fusion into the regular school day as an elective/encore/CTE course, and requiring teachers to undertake five full days of professional development and a sustainability plan to continue the IMSA Fusion after the three-year award expires.

Applications are due by April 13. Announcement of selected schools will be no later than May 17.

Applications can be submitted through http://bit.ly/FusionBicentennial.

About the Illinois Bicentennial
On Dec. 3, 1818, Illinois became the 21st state in the union. The Illinois Bicentennial is a year-long celebration of what has been born, built, and grown in the state, and a reminder of why so many people are #IllinoisProud.

Citizens are encouraged to participate in the celebration by visiting www.illinois200.com and using the hashtag #IllinoisProud. Partners and event and project managers planning activities between Dec. 3, 2017, and Dec. 3, 2018, can apply for endorsement to become an official part of Illinois' Bicentennial by visiting the PARTICIPATE page at www.illinois200.com.



Friday, March 23, 2018

Alliance Legislative Report 100-61

2018 PRIMARY ELECTION WRAP-UP

While the vast majority of incumbents were not challenged in Tuesday’s Primary Election, most of those that were challenged emerged victorious. Last year’s difficult votes on the state budget, revenue enhancements, and education funding reform resulted in many House Republican lawmakers drawing primary opponents heavily funded by outside interest groups. In all but one case (109th House District-David Reis, Olney), those Republican incumbents that decided to run for another term, won. On the Democratic side of the primary ballot, only two incumbents were unsuccessful in being nominated by their party for another term (8th Senate District-Ira Silverstein, Chicago and 1st House District-Daniel Burke, Chicago).

Democrats and Republicans also selected their respective party’s candidates for the five constitutional offices. For governor, J.B. Pritzker emerged victorious on the Democratic side after defeating State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Skokie) and Chris Kennedy in what was seen as largely a three-way race. Pritzker will face-off in November against incumbent Governor Bruce Rauner after he won the Republican primary by defeating State Representative Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton). The main reasons Rauner drew a primary opponent was his signing of abortion legislation and immigration legislation that upset many in his party. With two of Illinois’ wealthiest citizens competing for the right to be governor, the 2018 election is predicted to be the most expensive political race in Illinois history.

With the 2018 Primary Election in the books, the Illinois General Assembly will now turn their focus toward the May 31st adjournment deadline. The number of “lame duck” legislators and legislators that are running for a higher office in November will make for an interesting dynamic. Even before the November election cycle, it is known that approximately 1/5 of all General Assembly seats will be occupied by someone new in the 101st General Assembly in 2019. This often presents itself in less predictable voting patterns as individual lawmakers are more prone to take hard votes and make decisions more based on a proposal’s merits than political expediency.

The Illinois General Assembly will continue a spring break for the next two weeks with both chambers returning the week of April 9th.

LeaderShop Academy Symposium coming in June

IASB will host the eighth biennial LeaderShop Academy Symposium presenting key leadership topics on June 9 in Naperville. This invitation-only event is for members of IASB’s LeaderShop Academy, which promotes and recognizes board members’ efforts toward continuous learning and professional development.

LeaderShop programs, including the biennial symposium, address principles of effective school district governance as well as board-level leadership topics.

All IASB LeaderShop Academy members and their superintendents are invited to attend the event. Invitations will be mailed to the district’s address. The last such symposium drew more than 100 participants, including 83 board members, as well as educators, superintendents, and IASB staff.

For more information, contact Peggy Goone, at pgoone@iasb.com or 217/528-9688, ext. 1103.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

ISBE briefs

Evidence-Based Funding update
The Evidence-Based Funding Formula verification process is now officially complete, state officials say, with baseline-year enrollment numbers collected for purposes of funding distribution. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is using the data to calculate an adequacy target for each district and determine the amount of tier funding to be dispersed. ISBE reports it is on track to send vouchers to the state comptroller in early April for distribution of the new school money.

School boards should be aware that the Evidence-Based Funding model formula for calculating district adequacy targets assigns a value of 0.5 for students who attend half day kindergarten, and 1.0 for full-day kindergarteners. Districts have until April 1 to notify ISBE if they plan to switch from half-day to full-day kindergarten for the 2018-2019 school year. Those voting to make the change will see their kindergarten attendance figures converted to the full-day value for Evidence-Based Funding. Boards that switch to full-day kindergarten must provide ISBE with a copy of the resolution adopted for that purpose and the minutes from the meeting in which decision was approved.

Electronic Grants Management System enhancements
Improvements have been made to aid users of ISBE’s electronic Grants Management System (eGMS). A time-stamp will be added to the applicant’s history page, for example, to allow enhanced tracking and troubleshooting should problems arise in submitting or locating an application. Several new “save” buttons under Title I Targeting are intended to help those districts with multiple attendance centers. Meanwhile, locking and unlocking options on eGMS have been color coded to more readily show when the correct pages are unlocked during data entry. Also, amounts in Facilities Acquisition and Construction Services (Function 2530) have been removed from the indirect cost rate calculations, according to state officials.

Starting next fiscal year, districts also will be able to upload comma-delimited files on an application in the Budget Detail Page. Instructions about this time-saving feature are posted on the ISBE website

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Breakfast After the Bell program grants available

Student consumption of healthy breakfasts has soared in Wheeling Township Elementary District 21 under a new program providing the first meal of the day in classrooms.

Previously 10 percent to 15 percent of eligible students partook of school breakfast offerings, according to District 21 officials, but with the Breakfast After the Bell program about 70 percent of qualifying students are participating. The Wheeling students have eaten hundreds of thousands of additional breakfasts this year thanks to the program, officials said.

Principal Rita Janus says it has been exciting to see the kids embrace Breakfast After the Bell. She points to research showing students who eat breakfast have improved memory and attention in the classroom.

School officials say a key benefit of the breakfast in the classroom service model is that children receiving the free breakfast no longer are eating before school in a separate location where everyone can see them.

Kids tend to label and stigmatize others who participate in programs that make them easily identifiable, school officials explain. But there is no stigma associated with getting your day off to a good start when you are part of an overwhelming majority of students.

The initiative springs from a state law requiring school districts to provide breakfast to students if 70 percent or more are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, are classified as low-income, or can be claimed for free or reduced-price meals. Districts may determine the service model that best suits their students, and are exempt if 70 percent or more of free or reduced-price eligible students are being served through existing breakfast programs or if the expense reimbursement would not cover the costs of implementation.

Illinois school districts can still make the March 30 Breakfast After the Bell grant application deadline for this school year. Grants support schools with the purchase of equipment, materials, and initiatives facilitating delivery models. Illinois schools are eligible for an estimated $51.7 million in added Breakfast After the Bell grant funding this year, which is the additional amount Illinois schools could claim if 70 low-income students were served school breakfast for every 100 who are served school lunch, according to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). FRAC has designated that as an attainable goal for Illinois schools.

Schools can apply online at http://riseandshineillinois.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Breakfast-Illinois-final.pdf.  

Schools that have already received a grant for Breakfast After the Bell and are seeking additional funds may email Nital Patel, senior manager of child nutrition policy, at npatel@gcfd.org.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Illinois schools rank high at boosting AP participation

The number of high school students participating in Advance Placement classes is rising in Illinois at the highest rate in the nation.

State officials said the increase resulted from a move by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) last year to cover a portion of the AP exam fee for all students who qualified as low-income in 2017. This led to an 11 percent increase over 2016 levels in the number of low-income students taking AP exams over 2016 levels – well above the 7 percent national increase and three times greater than the 3.6 percent average increase in states that did not provide funding, according to ISBE.

“We have tremendous human capital in Illinois,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith. “Closing gaps in opportunity and support for our students drives economic and social growth for our communities. The success of our AP program shows what happens when we invest in equity.”

The Chicago Public School system was also named the national AP District of the Year among all large-sized school districts in the United States and Canada. AP administrators honor one such district in each size category (small-, medium-, and large-sized schools) based on an analysis of three academic years of AP data. With the award to Chicago District 299, Illinois school districts have won AP District of the Year awards in five of the past eight years.

ISBE has requested a $2 million appropriation in fiscal year 2019 to continue providing the fee reduction for low-income students and making AP participation possible for all students. The agency also has requested $1 million to expand the AP program to additional schools through teacher professional development and assistance in order for students to enroll and succeed in AP courses. Part of this funding would support the Lead Higher Initiative, whose partnership with Illinois aims to enroll 100,000 low-income students and students of color in AP and International Baccalaureate courses.

Additional highlights from Illinois' AP program include: 38.9 percent of Illinois students in the class of 2017 took an AP exam during high school – up from 21.2 percent in 2007; and 63.9 percent of AP exams taken by Illinois students in the class of 2017 resulted in a score of 3 or higher – compared to 56.2 percent nationally.

Research consistently shows that when compared to their matched peers, students who score a 3 or higher on an AP Exam typically:


  • Earn higher GPAs in college
  • Perform as well as or better in subsequent college courses in the exam discipline than non-AP students who took the corresponding introductory college course.
  • Take more college coursework in the discipline
  • Are more likely to graduate college in 4 years
  • Have higher graduation rates

What is more, as the graph below shows, the state is rapidly improving in terms of raising the percentage of its public high school graduates scoring a 3 or higher on AP exams.

Illinois ranks fifth-best among states in the ten-year AP performance trend.
Source: College Board.


Friday, March 16, 2018

Alliance Legislative Report 100-60

LEGISLATURE MOVES TOWARD BREAK

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.

BILL ACTION FROM THIS WEEK 

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 cover
of the April 2018 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: pgoone@iasb.com.

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

LEGISLATORS EYING PRIMARY ELECTION
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.

STUDENT WALKOUT SET FOR NEXT WEEK
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

LAWMAKERS CONSIDER GUN SAFETY BILLS/RECEIVE BUDGET NUMBERS

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.