Saturday, June 22, 2019

Basics of school board policy covered in new online course

A new 20-minute course provides an
introduction to school board policy.
IASB is offering an online learning course that covers the school board’s connection to policy.  The course is designed to be an introduction to policy, providing a review and breakdown of the policy manual as well as an individual policy.

Participants will gain an understanding of PRESS and the availability of sample policy and procedure material.  The process of adopting a PRESS sample policy is covered along with a discussion regarding policy updates.  The course will wrap up by providing directions on how to access PRESS materials.

The new 20-minute online course, designed with both newly elected and veteran school board members in mind, is free for Association members. Registration is available by logging in through your IASB Member Account and selecting the Online Learning tab toward the top of the page.

For more information email or contact Linda Zulaski at 630/629-3776, ext. 1212.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

New Board Member Workshops continue

IASB's New Board Member Workshops continue this week; each includes state-mandated training and opportunities for instruction on holding effective meetings, working with the superintendent, and learning the work of the board.

Over 280 individuals participated in the first four workshops, held in early and mid-June in Collinsville, Naperville, Peoria, and Tinley Park.

The third round of workshops will take place Friday, June 21 and Saturday, June 22 in Glenview, Marion, and Rockford.  After that, the final 2019 New Board Member Workshops are July 12 and 13 in Springfield and Naperville.

More than 280 people took part in the first four workshops.
Each Friday session includes state-mandated training. Professional Development Leadership Training (PDLT) covers the latest in education and labor law, financial oversight and accountability, and fiduciary responsibilities. A session on Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA) evaluations for school board members is required before they can participate in a vote on a dismissal based in the Optional Alternative Evaluation Dismissal Process. The Open Meetings Act training focuses specifically on the law as it applies to school board meetings and members and such training is mandated by the state.

The Saturday session, “Basics of Governance” is updated for 2019 and offers essential information and resources for effective school board governance, including the role and work of the school board; distinguishing board work from that of the superintendent and staff; and best practices in school board governance.

IASB’s new New Board Member page is an ideal resource for those beginning board service. It includes dates, times, locations, fees, and registration for the New Board Member Workshops, and will offer updated, useful information throughout the year.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Allen joins IASB field services staff, Dirks retires

Patrick Allen
Patrick Allen has joined the staff of the Illinois Association of School Boards as a field services director. He is currently working alongside -- and will be replacing -- Larry Dirks, who is retiring this summer after 14 years as field services director for IASB’s Abe Lincoln, Kaskaskia, Southwestern, and Two Rivers divisions.

Allen comes to IASB from H.D. Smith, a pharmaceutical wholesale distributor in Springfield, where he was director of pricing and commercialization. Prior to that, Allen was a manager and manpower analyst for IIF Data Solutions in Centreville, Virginia, where he completed studies for the Army National Guard. He has also worked for Washington Group Intl in Olmstead and for KBR as a senior operations coordinator for a U.S. Army contract in Baghdad, Iraq.

Larry Dirks
Dirks, field services director for Abe Lincoln, Kaskaskia, Southwestern, and Two Rivers divisions, has announced his retirement effective June 30, 2019.  Dirks has served those four divisions since he came to IASB as field services director in 2005.

Since joining the Association staff, Dirks has worked directly with hundreds of school boards and thousands of school board members through presentations, trainings, and workshops in both a regional and in-district setting.  Along with conducting hundreds of board self-evaluations, he is credited with helping to make district goal-setting and direction workshops and strategic planning, a substantial portion of the in-district work of field service directors.  In addition, he is certified in the Myers-Biggs MBTI® personality type assessment, which has proven valuable to individual board members and whole boards alike as a tool for governance excellence through better communication and appreciation of personality differences.

Regarding the diverse nature of the work of IASB field service directors, Dirks says, “Large group settings, such as regional workshops or Pre-Conference Workshops at Joint Annual Conference, are wonderful because you touch so many people from such diverse settings.  But it is perhaps the work that field service directors do with intact governance teams around the board table, in their districts, that is most powerful and fulfilling.  It is important work, and it is satisfying to know that boards truly appreciate the help.”

Prior to his work with IASB, Dirks spent 25 years in production agriculture in central Illinois.  He credits his background with helping him to understand the culture and the needs of school board members in the four divisions that he has served.  Dirks says every one of his divisions “feels like home” in some way.  Home will remain in central Illinois for Dirks, and in retirement his plans include continued work on his 150-year old house, home to four generations of his family. In addition, Dirks plans to substitute teach and to continue playing music with his acoustic band, as well as his solo singer/songwriter performances.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

IASB Legislative Alert (101-08)


The 2019 spring legislative session was a mixed bag for public school districts. There were some positives, such as the General Assembly approving a balanced budget that contained an increase of $375 million for the evidence-based funding model. A school construction program is in the works that will infuse $1.5 billion of new money for school construction and maintenance across the state. No details are available yet as to exactly how a school district can be approved for the new funding or what the criteria will entail. There could also be a revenue stream for school districts to hire school resource officers and mental health experts.

However, with all of the new mandates that were also approved, the legislature will be dictating to local school districts exactly how much of the funding will be spent. The largest new requirement is the statutory increase in the minimum teacher salary. About one-half of all of Illinois' school districts will be impacted directly by the mandate once it is enacted. There is a real concern that, for many school districts, increasing teacher salaries will consume most or all of any new funding received in the new formula. Along with the increase for teachers, the minimum wage for all workers will be increased to $15 over the next six years.

Lawmakers addressed the teacher shortage by approving bills that end the test of basic skills as a prerequisite for receiving a teaching license and that extends for two more years the flexibility to allow a teacher to return to teaching in subject shortage areas without impairing his or her retirement status. But on the other side of the employment ledger, school districts will be required to implement an appeals process for teachers who received "unsatisfactory" ratings, and will have to provide a laid-off educational support person who is re-employed with the same district, the same rights accrued during the previous service with the school district.

Local school district flexibility will be lost on various fronts. A bill was enacted to revert back to a prescriptive five-clock hour minimum school day for funding purposes. This provision had been deleted with the adoption of the Evidence-Based Funding Formula and allowed the focus to be shifted to a more "outcomes based" philosophy where counting individual minutes of seat time by students was replaced by measuring the academic achievement of a student. School districts used that flexibility to offer new and innovative education programs that did not fit perfectly into a five-hour time frame in a school classroom. Flexibility will also be lost in how schools protect student data privacy and the use of response interventions in special education programs.

New instruction will have to be provided in the curriculum to: teach about the diversity of our society, including the role and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals in society; teach civics in grades 6-8; teach about consent to sexual activity via sex education classes; and specifically teach the history of Illinois in history classes.

Some improvements on school board issues were achieved by the IASB. IASB initiatives were approved to exempt from disclosure a public body's credit card numbers, debit card numbers, bank account numbers, Federal Employer Identification Number, security code numbers, and passwords; and to extend the time for the regional superintendent to fill school board member vacancies from 45 to 60 days. Some positive changes were made regarding charter schools as well. Bills were approved to abolish the State Charter School Commission and transfer all responsibilities to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), and to require that a charter school governing board complete the same training as elected school board members.

Though the list of new requirements and burdens on local school districts may seem extensive, IASB was successful in stopping or improving dozens of onerous bills. Many bills were stopped that contained new curricular mandates, school district reporting requirements, or mandates that would have cost time or resources. Dozens more were amended by the IASB to either remove mandates contained in a bill, lessen stringent new requirements, or make implementation of a new program or policy more easily facilitated by the school district.

A comprehensive list of all education-related bills from the spring legislative session will soon be available in the Digest of Bills Passed. This publication will be printed and distributed to school districts, as well as posted on the IASB website.

Monday, June 10, 2019

New directors join IASB Board

The Illinois Association of School Boards recently welcomed several new members to its Board of Directors. Marc Tepper, Robert Geddeis, Alva Kreutzer, and Travis Cameron joined the board in May; Lanell Gilbert in June.

Marc Tepper was appointed May 1 as director of the Lake Division to complete the term until division elections in October. At the time of his appointment he was serving as chair of the division and is president of the Kildeer-Countryside CCSD 96 Board of Education.

Robert Geddeis was appointed on May 1 to serve as director of the Kishwaukee Division and fill the term until the division governing meeting, at which an election will take place. He is a school board member at Hononegah CHSD 207, Rockton.

Alva Kreutzer was appointed on May 6 as the director of the North Cook Division, to serve until the division elects a director. At the time of her appointment she was serving as vice chair of the division and is a school board member at THSD 214, Arlington Heights.

Travis Cameron was elected May 7 as director of the Egyptian Division. He is a member of the Bluford CUSD 318 Board of Education.

Lanell Gilbert was elected June 6 as director of the South Cook Division. He is president of the South Holland SD 151 Board of Education.

The five school board members attended their first IASB Board of Directors meeting as division directors on June 8. An orientation session provided an overview of the board’s role and helped the new directors understand the constitutional responsibilities of IASB officers.

The IASB Board of Directors is represented by one director for each of the Association’s 21 geographic divisions, a representative from the IASB Service Associates, and three officers: president, vice president, and past president. The board meets quarterly and is responsible for the governing policies of the Association.

Elected division directors serve a two-year term. A complete listing of the IASB officers and directors is on the IASB website.