Friday, July 20, 2018

School Board Governance Recognition
program applications deadline is August 1
Click here to view a video tutorial
on the School Board Governance Recognition program.
IASB's School Board Governance Recognition program acknowledges school boards that learn and practice effective governance behaviors as identified by IASB's Foundation Principles of Effective Governance.

The focus of Governance Recognition is on full board development and participation, rather than the efforts of individual board members. Boards that meet the requirements and criteria listed in the application will be recognized for the two-year distinction. Additional information and details about the program can be found in an online tutorial video.

Submission deadline is August 1, 2018. 

The Board Governance Recognition Award Committee will review all applications shortly after submission and notify award recipients. Boards that meet the requirements will be honored at Fall Division Meetings and acknowledged at the Joint Annual Conference in November. Boards may apply for the recognition every two years.

Contact Peggy Goone at or 217/528-9688, ext. 1103, with additional questions.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Webinar explaining ins and outs of Illinois School Law Survey scheduled

IASB will host an upcoming webinar with Brian A. Braun, author of the Illinois School Law Survey, to explain how school officials can best utilize the reference book to answer new and common legal questions.

Braun, an attorney with Miller, Tracy, Braun, Funk & Miller, Ltd., will walk through the ins and outs of the Law Survey, which contains answers to over 1,600 questions based on legislation, court decisions, and administrative rules and regulations. He will discuss some of the notable changes that were included in the current edition and go over how the publication has evolved since it was first published nearly 30 years ago.

One reason board members and administrators often refer to the Law Survey as an essential resource is the book’s ability to explain difficult and complicated issues in layman’s terms. During the webinar, Braun will pull examples of the tough issues districts are currently faced with, such as how court decisions have impacted exclusive bargaining and union contract provisions, what accommodations must be made for transgender students, and recent legal changes that impact school discipline rules. Using these examples from the new Fifteenth Edition he will explain what information is contained in a question-and-answer entry and how it changes over time as laws change.

Braun will present the hour-long Lunch and Learn webinar beginning at noon on Tuesday, July 24. Registration is available by visiting the IASB website, and selecting the blue Online Learning tab at the top of the page.

The Illinois School Law Survey may be purchased online at the IASB bookstore.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Cyber security resources shared

IASB is sharing guidance from a new national cyber security initiative by highlighting key resources for schools and school districts.

Developed by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) for its Cyber Secure Schools initiative, the highlighted items are designed to enhance the security of Illinois school networks and data systems, and reduce cyber-threat vulnerabilities. NSBA’s initiative was launched July 3 in response to concerns about rapid changes in technology leading to significant new cyber-threat developments.

School districts often use a variety of technology tools, including “free” file-sharing or cloud storage websites, or personal email accounts; all of which can make them vulnerable to cyber-attacks, according to NSBA. Potential risks are further increased when an individual uses personal or multiple devices to access school networks or online forums where student data and other confidential or sensitive information may be housed or posted.

Breaches in the education sector have increased since 2015, according to Verizon. The company’s 2017 Data Breach Investigations report notes that hackers and cyber-attackers are constantly developing new tactics to access systems and data. And while a system can be compromised in minutes, the majority of breaches can take months or longer to discover.

The fragility of district and school-based information and data systems is a growing concern, NSBA states. With the increased number of instances, and the rising complexity of cyber threats, the policies and practices that may have helped a school district avoid potential network and system threats in the past cannot be relied upon to be as effective tomorrow.

NSBA Executive Director and CEO Thomas J. Gentzel explains that “Today’s school leaders must be able to familiarize themselves with the ever-evolving cyber-threat landscape and take proactive steps to secure sensitive student and staff data, and district operations.”

Among the resources available at Cyber Secure Schools are toolkits to assist with procedural reviews, a K-12 Cyber Incident Map, and a Cyber Risk Report regarding school communications.

NSBA is hosting a webinar with BoardDocs to discuss the initiative on July 18. 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

IASB accepting nominations for 2018 secretary award

The late Holly Jack
inspired the award
for board secretaries.
School districts are encouraged to nominate those who perform the work of the board secretary for the Holly Jack Outstanding Service Award. Application forms are available on the IASB website.

Nominees must be local district employees (superintendent’s secretary, superintendent’s administrative assistant, or school board recording secretary) who have performed the duties of a board secretary for a minimum of five years. Qualifications include a passion for work in the field of public education, dedication toward improving the quality of life for others and education in the community, independent problem-solving abilities, constant desire for self-improvement, and innovation and imagination within the work environment.

Application forms must be signed by the board president and superintendent and submitted by Sept. 30. Additional letters of support from individuals may be included with the application, but should be limited to five pages or less. An impartial panel of judges will select the winner who will be honored at the 2018 Joint Annual Conference in November.

Last year’s winner was Clare Bourne of Crystal Lake Elementary District 47, who accepted the award during the opening session of the Administrative Professionals’ Program at the 2017 Joint Annual Conference. Bourne was the ninth recipient of the annual award.

More information is available by contacting Peggy Goone, ext. 1103; or by email at

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Waiver request deadline for School Code mandates nears

School districts applying for a waiver from Illinois School Code mandates need to have applications postmarked by August 15 to be considered this fall. Application forms mailed to the Illinois State Board of Education by the deadline are reviewed and submitted in a report to the General Assembly by October 1.

Most such waivers or modifications remain in effect for up to five school years and may be renewed if the district reapplies.

For the state to grant a waiver of a School Code mandate, a school district must demonstrate that it can meet the intent of the mandate in a more effective, efficient, or economical manner; or that the waiver is necessary to stimulate innovation or to improve student performance. If school leaders are applying for a modification of School Code mandates (such as for attendance days), or a waiver or a modification of administrative rules, there is no submission deadline. But approval must be granted before the modification can be made. The process of applying for such a modification is exactly the same in applying for a waiver of a School Code mandate.

The applicant school board may only approve the waiver request following a public hearing on the application and plan. Proper notice of that hearing needs to be posted on the district’s website at least 14 days beforehand, and proper newspaper notice publication is required at least seven days before that hearing. The approved waiver request must be submitted to the State Board of Education within 15 days of its approval by the school board.

Any requests that the state board fails to disapprove are granted, and even rejected waiver requests may be appealed to the legislature, which sometimes reverses the agency ruling.

By law, waivers cannot be allowed from laws, rules, and regulations regarding special education, township treasurers, teacher certification, or teacher tenure and seniority, nor can they be granted if they pertain to ESSA requirements, or Section 5-2.1 of the School Code (eligibility of voters in school elections). Certain student performance data requirements also cannot be waived. Waivers are no longer needed for legal school holiday requests, and most parent-teacher conference schedules.

State law (105 LCS 5/2-3.25g) limits terms of physical education waivers. It provides that an approved physical education waiver or modification may remain in effect for up to two school years and may be renewed no more than two times.

IASB led the charge for adoption of the waiver law, and roughly 6,000 waiver requests have been approved since the law went into effect in March 1995, with over 100 new requests approved each year.

ISBE provides a more complete overview for waiver process on its website. Application forms and instructions for waivers and modifications can also be downloaded from the agency website

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Stay well 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 to understand the issues that may arise in their leadership roles.

Everyone can access this resource by clicking on the Leading News icon anywhere it appears, 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.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Opinions on Education

The following are editorials, commentaries, and opinions from various sources regarding public education, collected in June 2018. The views and opinions of authors expressed below do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Illinois Association of School Boards. The appearance of external links does not constitute endorsement by the Illinois Association of School Boards of the linked web sites. All links are provided with the intent of informing readership of issues relating to public education in Illinois.

Editorial Board, Belleville News-Democrat, June 1

Editorial Board, Chicago Tribune, June 1

Lazaro Lopez, associate superintendent of schools, Northwest Suburban High School District 214, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, June 5

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Journal offers 'summer reading list'

Don't miss the “summer reading list” issue of The Illinois School Board Journal, which offers an introductory Q and A with IASB’s new Executive Director, Thomas Bertrand, who officially joined the Association on July 1. IASB also bids farewell to now-retired Associate Executive Director Cathy Talbert, who penned “Reflections” for the issue on her experiences at IASB.

The new Journal features results and reporting from IASB’s 2018 member and superintendent surveys, the new survey of administrative professionals who work for school boards, and other member engagement efforts. Also in this issue, a commentary entitled “The mis-education of African-American students,” offers education as “the cornerstone for the success of African-Americans.”

Check your mailbox for the print edition of the July/August 2018 Journal, or click below to read the digital edition.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Janus v. AFSCME: Potential impact

IASB notified school districts last week via a guidance document about potential implementation issues involving the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Mark Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31, et al. (Janus). The ruling held that public sector agency fee arrangements, also known as "fair share fees," are unconstitutional because they violate the First Amendment free speech rights of nonconsenting public-sector employees by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern.

Implementation issues aside, the Janus ruling may have wide-ranging implications for public school districts in states (including Illinois) that permit unions to automatically deduct what’s known as an “agency fee” from employees’ paychecks if they choose not to join the local labor union. It is imperative that local school districts contact their legal counsel and develop a plan with advice from the board attorney as they go forward.

Here are some ways in which it has been suggested that school districts could be impacted:

  • Union power could wane. This could result in fewer teachers joining local educational association bargaining units. Some observers say the Janus case is not exclusively a labor issue or a free-speech issue — it’s also a big part of the overall battle between the unions and union opponents like the Illinois Policy Institute (Institute) and the National Right To Work Committee (Committee). Plaintiff Mark Janus was represented by groups tied to both the Institute and the Committee. With less money to fund activities such as lobbying, recruitment, and negotiations, experts said some unions could experience a decline in political clout and even find that some school districts feel less pressure to meet their demands. 
  • Teachers might pay more in dues. Because fair share fees helped defray a portion of union costs, teacher unions may feel the need to recover the amount those fee payers had contributed to their coffers. That could potentially mean asking all members to pay higher dues.
  • Unions could step up recruitment and other activities. Some observers have speculated that teacher unions may need to step up their activities to remain relevant to teachers and prevent any major drop in membership totals, such as providing increased bargaining representation and other benefits. What is more, because unions get much of their clout from potential strikes, districts might eventually face greater militancy from unions, with threats of strikes becoming more common.

In other words, regardless of how unions have behaved in the recent past, experts say the Janus decision could cause a change in the relationship between some school districts and their local unions.