Thursday, December 31, 2015

Reminder: Share the Success in 2016

The 2015 Joint Annual Conference is a fresh memory, but it is not too early to begin thinking about the 2016 Conference. School districts and related education organizations are being invited now to submit their proposals for “Share the Success” panel presentations.
Districts interested in sharing their success stories at the 2016 Joint Annual Conference are invited to submit proposals online now. Districts can also download a PDF version of the RFP form and submit by mail or fax. All proposals are due by February 12, 2016.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New in 2015:
Learning Labs offered solutions

Select vendors partnered with IASB to sponsor the first-ever IASB “Learning Labs” at the 2015 Joint Annual Conference in Chicago. Located in Aisle 100 of the Conference's exhibit hall in the Hyatt Regency Chicago Riverside Center, many vendors offered their expertise to the audience, plus in-depth presentations and demonstrations of school products and services.

Here is a list of the featured organizations and their presentations:
  • NextEra Energy: Electric Markets — Are You Ready for What Happens Next?
  • The Sandner Group/ISDA/WCSIT: Safe Board/Vendor Relations — Truth vs. Fiction
  • Learning Partners: Lead With 3-D — Bringing Virtual Reality to the Classroom
  • NaviGate Prepared/Lauren Innovations: School Safety: NaviGate Prepared
  • Stifel: Tax Caps — What You Need to Know to Prepare
  • Care Here: Onsite/Near-site Health and Wellness Centers — Reducing Healthcare Costs and Improving Productivity
  • Humana: Get Moving — How Wearable Technology Impacts the Overall Wellness and Culture at Your Schools
  • Universal Technical Institute: How Do We Help Students Find their Future “Fit”?
  • ECRA Group: Governance and Return on Investment — Programs to Keep and Programs to Cut
  • Rival5: Beyond the Phone System — Affordable VoIP Service with an Emphasis on Safety
  • Chalkable: Transforming Education with Technology

Opinions on Education

The following are editorials, commentaries, and opinions from various sources regarding public education, collected in December 2015. Click on each headline to read more.

Opinion: 167 Chicago Public Schools principals, “Save our schools now”
Chicago Sun-Times, December 3

Rex Huppke, Chicago Tribune, December 7

Editorial Board, DeKalb Daily Chronicle, December 8

How schools will be different without No Child Left Behind
Libby Nelson,, December 11

Editorial Board, Quincy Herald-Whig, December 13

Editorial Board, Chicago Tribune, December 15

Phil Kadner, Daily Southtown, Chicago and suburbs, December 15

Mike Schiffman, Superintendent of Freeport SD 145, Freeport Journal-Standard, December 18

Shaw Media Editorial, Joliet Herald-News, December 19

By The Editorial Board, Belleville News-Democrat, December 22

Darcy Benway, Superintendent of O’Fallon Township High School District 203; John Bute, Superintendent of Central District 104 in O’Fallon; Carrie Hruby, Superintendent of O’Fallon Community Consolidated School District 90; and Dale Sauer, Superintendent of Shiloh District 85
O’Fallon News-Progress, December 22

IASB accepts no liability or responsibility for the contents of any website linked from this page. Comments and opinions of websites linked from this page do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Association. IASB also accepts no responsibility or liability for any data, text, software, music, photographs, images, video, messages, or other materials shared by users and viewable on this page. Information in this publication is as correct as possible at time of posting but is subject to change.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Winners announced for Conference activities

Service Associates Bingo
Twenty-seven winners have been drawn from the entries into the 2015 Service Associates bingo game. Bingo cards were included in the Conference program. Players visited 16 Service Associate booths to have bingo squares stamped by each participating exhibitor. Of the fully stamped entries, 27 winners were drawn at random on Nov. 22. Each won a $75 Visa Gift Card, which was mailed in mid-December. The sponsor, IASB Service Associates, is comprised of businesses that offer school-related products and services. Each has earned a favorable reputation for quality and integrity and been invited to become a Service Associate by the IASB Board of Directors.

Online Learning Center Raffle Winners
Four names were drawn in the raffle for the LeaderShop Online Learning Center. This promotion was held in the IASB Information Room during the 2015 Joint Annual Conference. These board members will receive free registration for one Online Learning Center course and may choose from the following: Open Meetings Act Training, PDLT/PERA, Bullying Prevention, School District Labor Relations, Parliamentary Procedure, Superintendent Evaluation, and Media Relations. The winning entries were drawn randomly from among the more than 800 people who visited the IASB Information Room (Comiskey Room, Hyatt West Tower) on Friday and Saturday of the Conference. Click on these links for more information about the LeaderShop Online Learning Center, course descriptions, and how it works .

Click to see the lists of winners.

New Mini Clinics featured IASB services

Mini Clinics -- presentations featuring IASB staff members explaining and demonstrating a wide variety of Association member services -- were a new feature at the 2015 Joint Annual Conference.  Hosted by IASB on Friday and Saturday in the Comiskey Room, the Mini Clinics featured 20-minute interactive presentations and conversations.

Presenting departments and topics included:

  • Governmental Relations on resolutions process and advocacy
  • Targeting Achievement through Governance on the Illinois School Report Card
  • Board Development on community engagement and the board’s role in student learning
  • Executive Searches
  • Communications on social media, recruiting school board candidates, and wrapping up the conference experience
  • Field Services on superintendent evaluations and setting district goals and direction
  • Policy Services on School Board Policies Online, maintaining the board policy manual, 10 policies for better governance, and BoardBook
  • Office of General Counsel on "Meet the PRESS editors" and the Legislative PRESS issue.  

Monday, December 28, 2015

Video: What is Community Engagement?

By now, many school board members and school leaders know what community engagement means because they have attended workshops or panel sessions, or read about IASB’s research and professional development on this critical governance topic. 

For those who haven’t or who may be new to the school board, IASB has also developed an introductory video. Available on the Association’s YouTube page, this 3:09 message is a brief overview of community engagement work as it relates to IASB’s Foundational Principles of Effective Governance.

If the video is not displaying correctly, click HERE.

We also encourage you to share it with others on the district leadership team. And when you are ready to explore the topic in greater detail, you can read IASB’s full report, “Connecting with the Community: the Purpose and Process of Community Engagement as part of Effective School Board Governance.”

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Conference survey closes December 31

Share your thoughts on the 2015 Joint Annual Conference
2015 Joint Annual Conference attendees have the opportunity to help IASB improve future conference programming by completing an online survey. Click here to access the survey. 

There are two sections and a total of 35 questions on this survey. Section I deals with the overall conference experience, including registration, housing, conference facilities, and the exhibit hall. Section II asks opinions about specific conference sessions and activities.

The survey is available until December 31, 2015.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Conference Photo Gallery now available

Members and guests who attended the 2015 Joint Annual Conference can now access an online gallery where all photographs taken at this year's conference are posted for viewing on a secured third-party website.

Photographs chosen for this gallery are ideal for use in school district newsletters, websites, and news releases to local media. The photos are also intended for personal keepsakes. A select number of event photos will also be published in various IASB materials, newsletters, magazines, or websites.

Members and guests are invited to view the entire photo gallery of the Conference for free. Photographs selected for use may be purchased for a fee. To access the photos visit the 2015 Conference webpage.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Conference handouts available now

Handouts from many of the panels presented at this year's Joint Annual Conference are now available at the IASB Members Only website. Please note that panels are only listed if materials have been submitted. Handouts will be available to all conference attendees through December 31, 2015, and to IASB members through September 1, 2016.

Handouts are listed in the same order as the Conference program and are grouped together by date and time. All submitted handouts from the IASB Mini Clinics are posted near the bottom of the listings. All submitted handouts from the Board Secretaries' Program are grouped together at the bottom of the listings.

All materials may be downloaded as PDF files (Adobe Acrobat Reader Required). To download, just click on the desired document.

Ounce, IASB team up for early learning

The Illinois Association of School Boards and Ounce of Prevention Fund have collaborated on a document designed to provide school board members with the information necessary to guide their districts’ early learning efforts.

The Early Learning User’s Guide for Illinois School Boards includes an executive summary and 30-page booklet focusing on early learning from a local governance perspective. These documents were presented at the 2015 Joint Annual Conference and mailed to member school board presidents and superintendents.

The User’s Guide is also available online in PDF and digital formats.

Both the Ounce and IASB consider community engagement an important part of developing and maintaining early learning best practices.

“We concentrated on community resources, and the engagement that it takes,” said IASB Executive Director Roger Eddy. “The type of engagement in a community related to early childhood education also represents the type of engagement that identifies what needs there are in a community, what its resources are to meet those needs, and then how to fill the gap.”

School boards are responsible for ensuring that all children in their districts succeed. This guide offers methods and resources for early learning best practice, with the goal of improving long-term student achievement, Eddy concluded.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Latest projects added to online database of school designs

Illustrations are included in the files
Did you know that IASB member districts and their architects have online access to more than 500 innovative school design projects?

The School Design Data File is an online repository of all entries in the annual Exhibit of Educational Environments. This is a juried competition sponsored by the IASB Service Associates. All entries are displayed at the Joint Annual Conference in November; however, information about each project is also available in this free online database.

IASB has recently updated the database to provide school officials and their architects with ideas and insights into innovative Illinois school design projects. Information provided by the designing architect for each project can now be searched by an even wider variety of variables in easy to use pull-down menus.

Searches can be conducted using the following categories and criteria:
  • Type of project
  • Primary use of facilities
  • Grade level
  • Student capacity
  • Location by county
  • District by name
After selecting any one category, the database will respond with the total number of projects meeting the selected criteria in that category. After identifying one or more projects that meet the criteria requested, the IASB Resource Center can provide a complete data report for each identified project and copies of a narrative text and/or illustrations that were supplied by the architectural firm relative to the project.

The School Design Data File can be found at: Additional information about the database is available by contacting the IASB Resource Center, ext. 1105, or by emailing Information about the Educational Environments Exhibit is available from IASB Communications, ext. 1131, or by email at:

And visit the 2015 Conference page to see which projects earned special merit in this year’s Exhibition of Educational Environments

Monday, December 21, 2015

Appellate ruling upholds intent of law,
rights of school boards

A case recently decided by the Fourth District Appellate Court involving Springfield School District 186 and the Open Meetings Act (OMA) reaffirmed the kinds of actions boards are allowed to take during a closed session. The ruling also confirmed that final action is only taken when a vote is held at a public meeting.

“This is an important decision for school boards,” said IASB General Counsel Melinda Selbee. “It means that during a validly conducted closed session, board members may continue to express their individual positions without fear they are taking impermissible final action. Activities in closed session like taking a straw poll or signing a document are permissible if the board later takes final action in a properly conducted open session. The critical fact is that the final vote is taken at an open session.”

IASB, the Illinois Association of School Administrators, and the Illinois Association of School Business Officials previously filed an Amici brief on behalf of the Springfield school district during the appeal process. All three organizations cited the direct impact to their membership of the potential outcome of the court’s proceedings.

The appellate case originated after a circuit court in Sangamon County ruled against the Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (PAC) and a reporter who filed the initial OMA grievance. The local reporter originally filed a complaint to the PAC after obtaining an initial draft of a separation agreement between the district and superintendent. That agreement was signed by six board members during a February 2013 closed session.

The reporter’s complaint stated that the signatures on the document rendered an agreement approved and the action constituted a violation of the Open Meetings Act. The board and its legal counsel discussed during closed session, however, that the agreement would be voted upon in public during its next monthly meeting on March 5, 2013.

The scheduled vote was included on the board agenda, which was accessible on the district website one week before the public meeting. The board also posted a complete copy of the draft agreement for the public to review before the meeting.

In upholding the original grievance submitted by the reporter, the PAC determined that the signing of the tentative agreement by six board members in closed session constituted “final action” and thus violated the OMA. In addition, the PAC later ruled that the public was not provided sufficient notice of the action to be taken at the March 5th public meeting and that the board failed to inform the public of the “key” or “pertinent” terms contained in the separation agreement.

The Amici brief and the appellate court’s recent opinion disputed the PAC’s findings, instead noting that the PAC decision defied the intent of the law. When the Illinois General Assembly crafted OMA it created certain exemptions that could be deliberated behind closed doors. Issues pertaining to contract separation agreements fall within that scope.

The PAC, in arguing that the signing of the agreement constitutes final action, belied the facts of the case. The board of education always intended, and indeed stated, that it would take formal action on the agreement at the next publicly scheduled board meeting.  Illinois law has established that the individual actions of a board member cannot bind an entire school board, and instead a board is “contractually bound only where it votes, as a body, at a board meeting.”

The outcome of the case could have created a number of issues that would have hampered normal board business. In addition to altering the definition of what constitutes “final action” and severely limiting the actions that can take place in closed sessions, the ruling could have put an undue burden on school boards to determine what constitutes “key” or “pertinent” terms that they must then inform the public about.

The Open Meetings Act does not use the words “key” or “pertinent” when describing what needs to be made public before a scheduled meeting. Instead, the statute states that “information that will inform the public of the business being conducted” must be posted for public review. The posting of the entire tentative agreement, which the district did, meets the criteria needed to remain in compliance with OMA.

“The Open Meetings Act only requires that the board advise the public about the general nature of the final action to be taken and does not, as the Attorney General claimed, require that the board provide a detailed explanation about the significance or impact of the proposed final action,” Selbee reiterated.

“IASB wishes to thank our lawyers in this case, James Petrungaro and Kevin Gordon, Scariano, Himes and Petrarca, CHTD,” Selbee added. “They wrote the brief without charge for the benefit of our members, and their outstanding work deserves high praise.”

A detailed explanation of the case, the Amici brief, as well as the full appellate court opinion, can be found on the IASB IASB website.

Two districts, three firms
capture top school design awards

Two school projects have been named as the 2015 Award of Distinction winners in the annual Invitational Exhibition of Educational Environments, sponsored by IASB Service Associates. DLA Architects, Ltd. was honored for a new addition and remodel of the Elmwood Park High School. IGW Architecture and Perkins+Will, Inc. were recognized for designing the new Urbana Early Childhood School and for an addition to the Prairie Elementary School in Urbana.

This is the 27th year for the juried competition.

The awards were presented on Friday, Nov. 20, at the 2015 Joint Annual Conference in Chicago. Winning projects were selected by a blind-jury pool of architects and superintendents Sep. 21. In addition to the two Award of Distinction winners, the jury chose three projects for Awards of Merit and three Honorable Mention recipients.

All 23 entries in this year’s exhibit were on display throughout Conference.

Award of Distinction
DLA Architects, Ltd.
Elmwood Park High School
Elmwood Park CUSD 401
Award of Distinction
IGW Architecture and Perkins+Will
Urbana Early Childhood School and Prairie Elementary School addition
Urbana SD 116

Award of Merit
ARCON Associates, Inc.
Higgins Education Center
Township HSD 211, Palatine

Wight & Company
Betsy Ross Elementary School
Forest Park SD 91

Fanning Howey Associates, Inc.
Shepard Middle School next generation science labs
Deerfield SD 109

Honorable Mention
STR Partners
Early Learning Center and administrative additions
Schaumburg CCSD 54

ARCON Associates, Inc.
Elsie C. Johnson Elementary School
CCSD 93, Bloomingdale

BLDD Architects, Inc.
Reinvention of MacArthur High School
Decatur SD 61

Criteria considered by the judges included: program/challenge met; how the facility meets 21st century education environmental needs; design; unique energy efficiency or green features; and safety (including passive security design and traffic patterns). To be eligible, construction projects had to be completed in time for occupancy with the start of the 2015-2016 school year.

All of this year’s entries will be added to IASB’s School Design Database. The searchable online database is available for use by IASB member districts and their architectural firms. The file is updated each year after the competition and currently contains more than 500 Illinois public school design projects.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Annual leadership awards presented
at Joint Annual Conference

Award for board secretaries goes to O’Fallon’s Wilkey-Isselhardt
June Wilkey-Isselhardt, executive administrative assistant to the superintendent and board secretary of O’Fallon Community Consolidated School District 90, is the recipient of the seventh annual Holly Jack Award for school district secretaries. The Holly Jack Award recognizes the demanding work of school district and board secretaries. Nominees must demonstrate performance, initiative, innovation, staff development, self-improvement, passion, and dedication. Click here to read more about Wilkey-Isselhardt and the 2015 Holly Jack Outstanding Service Award.

Strategic planning, executive search, goals
highlight Smith's accomplishments
John Smith, president of the Meridian School District 223 Board of Education, was named the winner of the 2015 Thomas Lay Burroughs Award. The Illinois State Board of Education’s (ISBE) John Sanders presented the award to Smith. The Burroughs Award, created in 1991, is given annually for extraordinary educational leadership at the local level. Specifically, the award honors leadership on behalf of improved student learning and educational excellence; in resolving a crisis or major difficulty; and on behalf of equal education opportunities. Click here to read more about Smith and the 2015 Thomas Lay Burroughs Award.

Hackett named Illinois Superintendent of the Year
Judy Hackett, of the Northwest Suburban Special Education Organization (NSSEO), selected as the 2016 Illinois Superintendent of the Year, was honored at the Joint Annual Conference in Chicago. The honoree is chosen annually by the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA). IASA President Jane Westerhold introduced Hackett by noting her numerous accomplishments and achievements. Westerhold spoke to Hackett’s ability to create partnerships with other districts to collectively focus on student services. Click here to read more about Hackett and the 2016 Superintendent of the Year Award.

Gurnee administrator honored for leadership
Terrie S. Simmons, school business administrator at Gurnee School District 56, was recognized as this year’s Ronald E. Everett Distinguished Service Award honoree. The award, presented annually by the Illinois Association of School Business Officials, “honors diligence, superior performance and service to the school business public.” Simmons, who is immediate past president of the American School Business Officials (ASBO) International, was honored for her many years of service to Illinois schools. Click here to read more about Simmons and the 2015Ronald E. Everett Distinguished Service Award.

The awards were presented at the 2015 Joint Annual Conference in Chicago.

Concussions, civics mandates delayed until next school year

New laws on student-athlete concussions and on civics education, posing difficult deadlines for schools and students alike, will not take effect during the current school year as originally adopted. Both have been delayed, thanks to a strong push by the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance.

Early versions of Public Act 99-0434, which required the completion of a semester of civics education prior to graduation, and Public Act 99-0245, with a number of new requirements regarding student-athlete concussions, were set to take effect during the current year. Both laws were signed in August.

Recent approval of two follow-up bills will delay the effective date of both laws until the 2016-2017 school year.

The postponement of the civics requirement is intended to give students approaching graduation enough time to accommodate the new prerequisite course. Meanwhile the concussion mandate deferral will ensure that districts have the time necessary to meet all the requirements, and have the proper resources, training, and staff to remain compliant with the law.

“We’re happy to see these bills we pushed so hard for signed into law,” said Ben Schwarm, IASB deputy executive director. “The original bills made it impossible for school districts to comply and would have been burdensome to school districts, and more importantly, to students.”

House Bill 800 was signed by Governor Rauner on Nov. 20. The legislation will allow for a gradual phase-in of the civics graduation requirement beginning on July 1, 2016. The law originally called for students graduating during the current 2015-2016 school year to complete the new credit. The expedited deadline penalized current students nearing graduation as they would be forced to adjust existing schedules to accommodate the new mandate, or face the possibility of not graduating on time.

Also signed on Nov. 20 was Senate Bill 219, which postpones the effective date of most provisions within the Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act. The requirements in the Concussion Act will now need to be in place by the start of the next school year.

The concussion safety guidelines are aimed at school districts properly addressing medical concerns that may arise after a student athlete suffers a concussion or head injury. They contain protocols for actions that need to be taken after such an injury, and also before the student is allowed to re-enter the classroom. The provisions require specific action by local boards of education to appoint a concussion oversight team that must meet certain qualifications, as well as training of school district personal involved with interscholastic activities.

IASB has developed a checklist to aid districts in meeting the necessary requirements that schools must adhere to under the Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act. Additional resources, newly posted in December 2015, are available on the IASB website to assist district staff in addressing concussion and head injury precautions.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Thirteen Illinois schools join Blue Ribbon ranks

Thirteen Illinois public schools were recognized recently by the U.S. Department of Education with coveted awards through the federal Blue Ribbon Schools program.

The program bestows awards on elementary, middle schools, and high schools for academic excellence and improvement in closing the gap between privileged and underprivileged students. Schools can qualify as Blue Ribbon Schools by being rated as “high performing” or “achievement gap closing.”

All 13 schools qualified by scoring in the top 15 percent of all schools in the state in reading and math. All groups within the school — including lower-income students — also had to collectively score in the top 40 percent. High schools had to maintain a graduation rate in the top 15 percent in the state.

Private schools had similar requirements, except all groups within the school had to have similar test results and high school graduation rates had to be at least 95 percent or higher. Just three private schools in the state were awarded the Blue Ribbon this year, bringing the total to 16. Illinois had a total of 22 schools in 2014 and 21 in 2013 qualify as Blue Ribbon Schools.

Here’s a list of the public schools that made the cut this year, and the school district in which they reside:
  • Butler Junior High School, Butler SD 53, Oak Brook
  • Emerson Elementary School, Wheaton Warrenville CUSD 200, Wheaton
  • G. Kerkstra Elementary School, Forest Ridge SD 142, Oak Forest
  • Hough Street School, Barrington CUSD 220
  • Lasalle Language Academy, Chicago District 299
  • Lincoln Elementary School, River Forest SD 90
  • Longfellow Elementary School, Wheaton Warrenville CUSD 200, Wheaton
  • May Watts Elementary School, Indian Prairie CUSD 204 - Naperville
  • Meadow Glens Elementary School, Naperville CUSD 203, Naperville
  • Medora Elementary School, Southwestern CUSD 9, Brighton
  • Old Post Elementary School, Oswego CUSD 308
  • Pecatonica Elementary School, Pecatonica CUSD 321
  • Scott Altman Primary School, Pekin PSD 108
Meadow Glens Elementary School, Naperville CUSD 203.
Federal education officials honored these schools, and 285 public and 50 private school award winners nationwide at a ceremony held Nov. 9-10 in Washington. Each school received an award plaque and a flag as symbols of their accomplishments. In its 33-year history, more than 8,000 schools throughout the nation have received the Blue Ribbon Schools award.

More information about the program and the 2015 winners can be found on the U.S. Department of Education award site.