Monday, July 27, 2015

Changes anticipated for Illinois PARCC

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment will undergo changes before returning to Illinois schools during the 2015-2016 academic year.

Notable in the next cycle will be a single 30-day test window, instead of two separate testing periods. PARCC will consolidate its Performance-Based Assessment (PBA) and End-of-Year Assessment (EOY) into one timeframe. In addition, the next PARCC will require less testing time. Depending on grade level, students will take six or seven PARCC units, compared to eight or nine last year. This will reduce testing time for most students by 90 minutes.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Lunch breaks:
NSLP participation declining as costs rise

New U.S. nutrition standards may not be having the desired effect as more schools confront the reality that fewer students are taking part in the federally subsidized National School Lunch Program. Student participation was down 1 percent from March 2014 to March 2015 in Illinois, continuing a five-year, 6 percent decline.

The districts that participate are seeing a larger amount of waste as more fresh food is thrown away, including as much as $1 billion nationwide just last year, according to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health. The study reported that 60 percent of fresh vegetables and 40 percent of fresh fruit are being thrown away.

Sidebar: Illinois districts cope with NSLP

Two schools in Illinois made headlines by withdrawing from the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) in response to rule changes based on the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. For reasons both nutritional and financial, a few districts chose to forego federal funds and provide food service independent of oversight.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Federal Legislative Report 114-6


On Thursday (7/16), the Senate voted 81-17 to pass S. 1177, the Every Child Achieves Act, which is the Senate’s version of a new ESEA. The House passed their version, H.R. 5, the Student Success Act, on July 8, with a vote of 218-213. The next step is for both chambers to appoint members to a Conference Committee. Members of that committee would negotiate the differences between the bills and create legislation agreed to by both chambers to send to the president

Click here to read the full Federal Legislative report 114-6.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Mandates and charter schools top concerns of IASB member districts

On Saturday, November 21, the IASB Delegate Assembly will gather at the Joint Annual Conference to discuss and vote on resolutions submitted by member districts. If approved by the delegates in attendance, the resolutions will be adopted as part of IASB’s official Position Statements.

This year, six resolutions were submitted by local school boards seeking to address such concerns as mandate costs, charter schools, and other important issues. The deadline for districts to submit resolutions was June 24.

The IASB resolutions committee will hear testimony from districts that submitted resolutions, debate each proposal, and then make a recommendation to adopt or not adopt each measure. The committee is comprised of one elected member from each of the Association’s 21 divisions. It will meet Friday, July 31 at the Hilton in Lisle to review proposals.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

NSBA Hails Senate Passage of
Every Child Achieves Act

Alexandria, Va. (July 16, 2015) --  In light of the U.S. Senate’s passage of its fix for No Child Left Behind, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) applauds the bipartisan consensus to restore local governance in public education. NSBA has worked closely with senators on both sides of the aisle to ensure that the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177) includes provisions to underscore the importance of local governance and community ownership so that our nation’s 90,000 school board members can offer all students a world-class public education.

Read more from NSBA:


Proration vs. per-pupil cuts
The discussion among Illinois State Board of Education members on whether funding should be distributed on a proration basis or as per-pupil cuts will continue as the board has decided to forgo issuing a formal opinion at this time. Some members argue that without offering a position soon, proration will remain the default approach for distribution of state education dollars. Others, including Chairman Meeks, feel that withholding an official position at this time will allow ISBE to remain in the discussion regarding how budget funds will be sent to individual districts. The Illinois State Board of Education does not meet in July, so we may not see a resolution of this issue until August.

State-administered ESEA waiver requests
ISBE is requesting a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education for the period of availability of Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013 funds under state-administered Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Mathematics and Science Partnership programs. If granted, ISBE would have extended authority to distribute the funds to proper sub-recipients with the goal of improving the quality of instruction and academic achievement, and continuing to assist the current populations served by such programs. Sub-recipients impacted by this waiver can submit comments to Tara Bell at by July 24.

Deadline for waiver applications
August 14 is the postmark deadline for applications from school districts seeking waivers from state mandates to be considered by the General Assembly this fall. Waiver applications and instructions, as wells as an overview of the waiver process and posting requirements can be found here.

Student Assessment Inventory Pilot
Bensenville SD 2, Urbana SD 116, and Aurora West USD 129 have all been participating in a pilot of the Student Assessment Inventory for School Districts. The intent of the project is to streamline assessment systems to ensure the measuring tools are providing valuable information.

Bensenville staff has gathered and analyzed data and presented recommendations to the school board. Urbana has also completed data collections and is currently reviewing the information for redundancies and possible gaps within the systems. Urbana is also looking at how its systems impact specific student populations within the district. A committee of teachers at Aurora West recently reviewed its data, as well as a survey of teachers and administrators regarding the district’s assessment system.

As the districts work to implement their recommendations, each has also identified important professional development needs in relation to how the assessments are administered and used. More information about the Student Assessment Inventory can be found on this link at ISBE’s website.

Alliance Legislative Report (99-31)

July 15, 2015
The Illinois State Senate concurred in a House amendment Wednesday that will provide for a one-month operating budget for essential State programs and will pay many State workers for their work in July. The House of Representatives approved the measure last week (see the last Alliance Legislative Report) and now SB 2040 will head to Governor Bruce Rauner. The Governor has indicated that he would veto the temporary budget proposal. In both chambers, the vote on SB 2040 was along partisan lines. The State is going into the third week of the new fiscal year without a budget in place as the General Assembly and Governor have not been able to agree on a spending and revenue plan. ...

Read the entire Alliance Legislative Report (99-31) here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Video: Advice for School Board Members

In the below video, Barbara Toney, IASB field services director for the DuPage, Lake and North Cook Divisions, provides ten helpful tips for school board members.

If the video is not displaying in your browser, click here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Federal Legislative Report 114-5

The House passed H.R. 5, the Student Success Act, yesterday (July 8) evening by a vote of 218 to 213. Key provisions of the bill focus specifically on ensuring that the U.S. Department of Education does not encroach on local school board governance. It also provides states and local districts with the flexibility they need to create and implement innovative approaches to improve academic performance. Additionally, it eliminates sanctions and the punitive nature of Adequate Yearly Progress.

Some negative aspects of the bill include allowing portability of Title I funds, which could impact resources between Title I and non-Title I schools including factors such as remediation and tutoring, staffing for effective teachers and specialists, and after-school programming. The legislation also authorizes level funding for Title I for each of the fiscal years 2016-2021, as a result of sequestration.

Click here to read the full Federal Legislative Report 114-5.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Alliance Legislative Report (99-30)


With still no Fiscal Year 2016 budget in place and the prospect of state government workers not getting paid for their work in July, the House of Representatives today approved a bill to put in place a temporary, one-month budget. SB 2040 (Steans, D-Chicago) would allow for the continued operation of state government for basic services through July while legislators work on a final budget compromise. The bill was approved along partisan lines last week in the Senate and the same type of partisan roll call was the result in the House.

Click here to read the rest of the Alliance Legislative Report.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

District Awaits Ruling on Bleacher Case

The Illinois Supreme Court heard oral arguments from parties in late May regarding a case that has pitted municipal zoning laws against school district property use. The decision, expected late this summer, could impact school districts throughout the state.

Neighbors of the Crystal Lake South High School football field began the legal process two years ago, arguing that CHSD 155 (located in the Kishwaukee Division) violated city zoning ordinances when constructing new bleachers. District 155 has in turn said they followed state law and the Illinois School Code throughout the building process of the football stands.

The Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB), Illinois Association of School Business Officials (Illinois ASBO), and the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA) have joined District 155 filing an Amicus brief on behalf of the district. The brief states that “subjecting school district structures to municipal zoning regulations limits the districts’ ability to provide high-quality public education.”

The Amicus brief cited multiple examples of how municipal zoning regulations could frustrate a school district’s ability to achieve high quality education for students as required by the Illinois Constitution and General Assembly.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Governance Recognition program
entry deadline approaching

IASB's School Board Governance Recognition program acknowledges school boards that learn and practice effective governance behaviors as identified in IASB's Foundational Principles of Effective Governance, through participation in and support for board development programs and events. The primary focus of this program is on full board development and participation rather than individual board member efforts. Effective school boards understand that excellence in local school board governance requires full board commitment to obtaining the knowledge, skills, and abilities critical to good governance

The application for School Board Governance Recognition is available on IASB's Members Only website, under IASB involvement tab.

Submission deadline is August 3, 2015. The Board Governance Recognition Award Committee will review applications in August and shortly after will notify the award recipients. Boards that meet the requirements will be awarded at Fall Division Meetings and acknowledged at the Joint Annual Conference in November. Boards may apply for the award every two years.

Questions? Contact Peggy Goone at or 217/528-9688, ext. 1103, or learn more here:

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Alliance Legislative Report (99-29)

Even after the legislature met for two more days this week, there is still no State budget in place as the new fiscal year begins.

With the current stalemate between Governor Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-controlled legislature, there has been no agreement on a spending plan for the new year despite the fact that the legislature has met weekly through the month of June. Without some type of budget (either permanent or temporary) in place soon, at least a partial “government shutdown” is likely.

Wednesday, the Senate approved SB 2040 (Steans, D-Chicago) which contains a one-month temporary State budget that would allow for the continued operation of State government for basic services through July while legislators work on a final budget compromise. The bill was approved along partisan lines on a vote of 37-0-11 and will be sent to the House of Representatives. However, simultaneously the House voted on a substantially similar temporary budget bill (HB 4190) and defeated it on a vote of 67-1-32. 71 votes were required for passage.

Click here to read the rest of the Alliance Legislative Report, including information on IASB's now-available 2015 Digest of Bills Passed.

Budget stalemate persists;
legislative action possible today

Today is the first day of the new State fiscal year, and there is still no budget in place. Despite all of the annual chatter about the legislative session adjournment “deadline” which is usually set for the last day of May, that, generally, is a self-imposed guideline set up by the legislature. The real line in the sand is July 1 when the State fiscal year begins anew and a new budget must be in place in order to run the government.

With the current stalemate between Governor Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-controlled legislature, there has been no agreement on a spending plan for the new year despite the fact that the legislature has met weekly through the month of June. Without something in place soon, some type of “government shutdown” is likely.

Opinions on Education

The following are editorials and opinions regarding Illinois public education, collected in June 2015. Click on each headline to read more.

Our Opinion: Rauner correct to OK school payments
Posted Jun. 30, 2015
State Journal-Register, Springfield
The final day of the state fiscal year came and went Tuesday, with little if any movement toward a budget deal between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic legislative leaders.
If there is good news to be found, it’s that parents and school administrators statewide can rest a little easier knowing schools be able to open as scheduled this fall, even if the budget impasse continues – which is a very real possibility, given the ongoing sniping and political posturing among those in charge of the state. ...

School officers doing their job
Wed, 06/10/2015
Editorial, The News-Gazette, Champaign
Criticism of Champaign's school resource officers isn't borne out by the facts.
School resource officers will remain in five Champaign schools for another school year, thanks to a unanimous vote Monday by Unit 4 board members. Unfortunately, the board's vote did not come without the usual complaints that the SROs are really nothing more than agents of oppression who systematically seek out black youths for intimidation and arrest. ...

The taxpayers penalized again
JUNE 8, 2015
Editorial, Belleville News-Democrat 
Not many workers get 6 percent annual pay bumps in the four years before they retire, but it happens all the time for educators in Illinois, the better to boost their pensions. Hard to believe but this is an improvement. The raises used to be so out of control that 10 years ago the state created a penalty to discourage abuse. The penalties don’t always get the job done. In Southwestern Illinois, generosity with taxpayers’ money resulted in $1.8 million in penalties in the last decade. ...

Quick: Consent must be a part of sexual education
June 5, 2015
By Alee Quick, Opinion Column, The Southern Illinoisan, Carbondale
“It wasn’t rape or anything like that.” That’s what Jim Bob Duggar – the patriarch of the famous Duggar family of TLC’s “19 Kids & Counting” – told Megyn Kelly in an interview on Fox News Wednesday. He was talking about his eldest son, Josh Duggar, who fondled four of his sisters and a babysitter in 2002 and 2003. …  Jim Bob's statement is a perfect example of an attitude that has helped sexual assault become as pervasive as it is – one in five women and one in 17 men report experiencing rape – and has contributed to law enforcement and legislative indifference. ...

Illinois Civics Bill Heads to Governor's Desk
June 4, 2015
By Jessica Brown, Edweek blog
The Illinois Senate has approved legislation requiring that students take a civics course to graduate from high school. The bill, HB 4025, now goes to the governor for a signature. The proposed legislation, which passed with strong bipartisan support May 30, aims to ensure students leave high school knowing how to be informed and engaged citizens, according to a news release from the Illinois Civic Mission Coalition, a consortium of educators, administrators, students, universities, funders, and policymakers. The coalition is part of a national civics advocacy campaign. "The proposed legislation will help fill this civic education gap, and bring civics back to all our schools," states the coalition. ...

Rock Valley, Rockford School District need better Running Start pact
Posted Jun. 15, 2015 at 6:42 PM
By Chuck Sweeny, Rockford Register Star
I read the story in Sunday's newspaper about the Rockford School District's reluctance to send more than 30 students to Rock Valley College's Running Start program.  I was saddened by the defensiveness apparent in the comments of most officials connected with the district. They may no longer live inside the walls at Fort South Madison, but they still act as if they do. Maybe I'll start calling the new HQ Fort Seventh Street. …

Reeder: Ghosts in state payroll not a new phenomenon
June 11, 2015
Scott Reeder in the Northwest Herald
SPRINGFIELD – Way back, in 1973, then-Gov. Dan Walker hired a young Georgetown University graduate and others for his staff, but paid them with money from state agencies rather than from the governor’s office. The practice ruffled some feathers, as well it should. Folks in Springfield started calling them “ghost payrollers.” After all, it appeared Walker was trying to make it look like he was spending less money to run his office than he really was. …

Bourbonnais custodian epitomizes true meaning of role model
Posted: June 9, 2015
Editorial, The Daily Journal, Kankakee
The affirmation real role models are people who have regular contact with those they are making a positive effect on, came about again last week at Alan B. Shepard Elementary School in Bourbonnais. As the final days of the school year wound down, the students received their yearbooks and went about the time-honored tradition of having classmates, teachers and other Shepard personnel sign them. …

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