Monday, September 28, 2015

Board turnover little changed in 20 years

Click to enlarge.
The turnover rate for Illinois school board members in the 2015 election was 22.1 percent, just below the 2013 election turnover rate and slightly below the turnover rate at most biennial elections over the past 20 years. The turnover rate has averaged 22.9 percent over those two decades, based on data from IASB member boards.

IASB membership records also indicate 1,310 new members filled school board seats in 2015, out of a total of 5,922 board seats. This is not much changed from the last school board election in 2013, when 1,383 new board members were seated, out of a total of 5,932 available positions.

Turnover rates among Illinois school board members over the past 20 years has ranged from a low of 21.7 percent in 2011, when just 1,288, new members were elected, to a high turnover rate of 24.6 percent in 1997, when 1,489 new members were elected. Over the past 10 years the turnover rate for school board members has hovered within a range of about 22 percent to 25 percent, the same as the decade before.

A significant source of board turnover typically comes from incumbents who decide not to run again. The school board election this year saw fewer incumbents reelected than last time, with 1,677 returned to office compared to 1,850 returned to office in 2013; the number reelected was also less than at any similar election since 2007, when 1,625 incumbent were reelected.

“This seems to suggest voters are satisfied with most of the incumbents in school board races, just as in recent years, with well over half being re-elected despite many choosing not to run again,” said Ben Schwarm, IASB’s Associate Executive Director for Advocacy and Governmental Relations.

The newly released numbers, showing details for this year and for the past 20 years in biennial elections, are available on the IASB website here.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Pritzker, Osmond slated for IASB offices

The nominating committee for the IASB Board of Directors has slated Phil Pritzker of Wheeling CCSD 21 as president and Joanne Osmond, Lake Villa CCSD 41, as vice president. Association officers will be voted upon during the Delegate Assembly at the Joint Annual Conference in November.

Phil Pritzker
Pritzker is in his 27th year of local board service. He was appointed to the Wheeling Board of Education in July 1989 and elected in November 1989 and six times since. He has served as board president and vice president and has chaired the district finance committee since its inception in 2003. He joined IASB division leadership as a director-at-large in the North Cook Division in 1995. He was division chair for 12 years before becoming director in 2009.

Pritzker has served for nearly two years as vice president of the IASB board and as chair of the Resolutions Committee.

“I have come to understand that regardless of where we come from in terms of public education – rural, semi-rural, urban, or suburban – that we all have important experiences that we have shared with our local communities,” Pritzker said.

“As long as we engage with one another, there is the ability to truly understand positions and reasons why we may sometimes differ on legislative proposals. We are all dedicated to improving the lives of our children. The students need to be our collective focus in order to fulfill the promise of public education.”

Pritzker has worked in real estate and property management for 29 years. He and his wife, Sue, have five daughters and nine grandchildren. He studied secondary education at Bradley University before his business career.

“I have a lifelong interest in public education,” Pritzker said. “With a business background and a variety of experiences in leadership roles, I bring a long-term view to my school board perspective.”

Joanne Osmond
Osmond served on the Antioch Community High school board from 1991 to 1995. Since 1995, she has been a member of the Lake Villa elementary school board. She has served since 2007 on the Special Education District of Lake County Governing and Executive Board. Osmond has been a Lake Division officer for IASB since 1996, serving as chair and director.

Along with serving on the Association’s Executive Committee, she has been Illinois delegate to NSBA, conference co-chair, and a member of the policy subcommittee and the executive director selection subcommittee. She brings “a passion for policy” and expertise in technology to her role.

“The directors look to the needs of all school boards in Illinois,” Osmond said. “While this is similar to the responsibility of the local school board, it takes on a deeper meaning when all children in Illinois enter the equation. A director must be equally versed in the local education issues and the impact of decisions on children across the state.”

Osmond is a small business development advisor and program developer and an entrepreneur. She and her husband Glen “Bud” Osmond have five children and six grandchildren.

The nominating committee, which met in August, is chaired by IASB Immediate Past President Carolyne Brooks and includes directors Roger Pfister (Shawnee division), Sue McCance (Western), Mary Stith (Kishwaukee), Dave Barton (Two Rivers), and alternate John Metzger (Egyptian). The Association leaders elected by school board delegates will assume office at the close of the annual meeting of IASB’s Delegate Assembly on Nov. 21.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Division Leaders Workshop held at IASB

Twenty-seven IASB division leaders recently completed a workshop designed to help attendees strengthen their leadership skills, understand their roles and responsibilities, and network with their peers. Division officers in attendance included division directors, division chairs, vice-chairs, and resolutions chairs.

Each of IASB’s 21 geographic divisions identifies and elects its own officers. All elect a director to serve on the Association’s board and to report regularly back to their division on IASB Board of Directors’ activities.

During the workshop, which was held Sep. 12 at the IASB offices in Springfield, facilitators stressed that everyone has the ability to develop the many leadership skills and competencies that make for a good leader. Attendees were told of two areas of personal growth and development that are essential to leadership success: self-confidence and a positive attitude.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

In Memoriam:
Former IASB President Ray Zimmerman

Raymond W. “Ray” Zimmerman of Flanagan, a former president of the Illinois Association of School Boards, died Sunday, Sep. 20, 2015. He was 68.

Zimmerman was IASB president in 2004-2005. Reflecting on his presidency, in 2013 Zimmerman said IASB addressed the major issues of the day by “lobbying at the state and national levels for adequate funds for mandated programs,” and “educating board members, elected officials, and the general public about school matters and how they affect everyone.”

A former teacher, Zimmerman was elected in 1988 to the school board of Flanagan Unit District 4 in Livingston County, which later became Flanagan-Cornell Unit District 74. He served that board for 24 years. He was a director of the Corn Belt Division starting in 1995. He served on the IASB Executive Committee from 1999 through his terms as president and past president, including two years as vice president and resolutions committee chair.

In 2005, Zimmerman attended the 2005 NSBA annual conference in San Diego, where he met former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who was a keynote speaker at the event.

He offered this advice to board members in IASB’s 2014 Centennial publication: “Understand that the more time and effort that you put in being a board member and use the training offered by IASB to help reach your goals, the better you will serve your local school and your community. It [school board service] is one of the best things you can do for your community and yourself.”

In 2012, Zimmerman noted that the many challenges of school board service remain the same, but that board members can take comfort knowing “kids have done well, and we should be proud of what we have done."

Current IASB President Karen Fisher recalls working with Zimmerman.

“Ray was knowledgeable and a very capable leader,” Fisher said. “His encouragement was heartfelt. He was never too busy to spend some time discussing local issues and wondering if there was anything he could do to help. I will miss seeing him at Conference because I looked forward to an update on what new was happening in his family life. While he was nearing the end of his journey as Past President when I arrived as a director, that time wasn’t too short to have had a positive impact on me. He will be missed.”

Mark Harms, current IASB director of the Corn Belt Division, worked with Zimmerman on the Flanagan-Cornell Unit District 74 Board of Education.

“I will always remember Ray’s passion for education,” Harms said. “He would always remind us as board members to do ‘What’s best for the kids,’ and that kids always came first. He had a strong respect for everyone at our school; it didn’t matter what your role was, it was important to our success. Also, he was a strong advocate for the IASB – he understood the importance of the organization and the impact it has on education. In his eyes, this is the top organization in the country and he was very proud to be part of it.”

Born March 30, 1947, in Pontiac, Zimmerman was the son of Eldon and Irma Crawford Zimmerman. He married Marge E. Finney in 1980 in Arizona. She survives along with two sons, John (Jennifer) Zimmerman of Flanagan and Ben (Sara) Zimmerman of Wisconsin; one brother, Howard Zimmerman of Chenoa; and four grandchildren, Payton, Grace, Annika, and Celia. He was a farmer and independent construction contractor.

A celebration of life will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at St. John’s Lutheran Church Parish Hall in Flanagan. Calvert-Johnson & Froelich Memorial Home in Flanagan is assisting with arrangements. Memorials may be made to the Ray Zimmerman agriculture scholarship fund that will be given to a Flanagan-Cornell High School student.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Burroughs Award nominations sought

There is still time to nominate local school board presidents for the Thomas Lay Burroughs Award, which is given annually to the state’s outstanding school board president. The deadline for the Illinois State Board of Education to receive nominations is Oct. 9, 2015.

Created in 1991 in memory of the late ISBE chairman, the award is presented each November at the Joint Annual Conference of IASB, IASA and IASBO. This year’s conference will be held on Nov. 20-22, and the award will be presented on Sunday, Nov. 22.

The Burroughs Award is intended to recognize extraordinary leadership on behalf of education at the local level. The criteria for the award recognize the following three areas of accomplishment:

•    Leadership on behalf of improved student learning and educational excellence,
•    Leadership on behalf of equal educational opportunities, and
•    Leadership in resolving a crisis or major difficulty.

Leadership is defined by the award criteria as including group skills, such as consensus-building proficiency and teamwork, as well as individual traits such as vision, courage, integrity, etc.

School districts fortunate enough to have a board president who has provided outstanding leadership in one or all of these areas are encouraged to nominate him or her for the 2015 Burroughs Award.  Anyone who has served as president of a local school board in 2015 is eligible for consideration, including those who might have been nominated in prior years.

Nominations should be submitted to Katherine Galloway, via email at: Indicate Burroughs Nomination as the subject. For more information, including award details, and the format for nominations, visit ISBE's Burroughs Award website.

Friday, September 18, 2015

U.S. Ed Secretary's back-to-school bus tour
includes two Illinois stops

Two Illinois communities received visits from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on his sixth annual back-to-school bus tour, dubbed “Ready for Success.” Duncan stopped by Williamsfield CUSD 210 on Tuesday, September 15 and then made his way over to the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana on Wednesday, September 16.

The "Ready for Success!" bus pulls into Williamsfield.

Tuesday’s stop highlighted the small, rural district’s move away from textbooks, focusing capital on technology infrastructure and utilizing high-quality, openly licensed digital education resources.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

First Illinois PARCC results released

The Illinois State Board of Education has released preliminary data from the first implementation of PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) testing. As expected, the results show that collectively, Illinois students were challenged by the tougher PARCC standards.

The preliminary data is state-level only – not district, school or student-level. The one-page of results reflects only students who took the assessment online.

With the results, the state board also approved of and released the five-point performance-level settings recommended by the PARCC consortium of participating states:

  • 5 - Students Exceeded Expectations
  • 4 - Students Met Expectations
  • 3 - Students Approached Expectations
  • 2 - Students Partially Met Expectations
  • 1 - Students Did Not Meet Expectations

“This is a new baseline,” said Illinois Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, cautioning against comparing PARCC test results to previous tests, such as the ISAT.

Conference Preview document now available

A document previewing the 2015 Joint Annual Conference is now available online to help users get “Ready, Set … Lead” (this year’s theme) by getting the most out of everything the event has to offer. Information includes a master schedule of all major Conference events, plus descriptions and time slots for panel sessions and pre-conference workshops.

This year’s event will be the 83rd Joint Annual Conference of the Illinois Association of School Boards, Illinois Association of School Administrators, and Illinois Association of School Business Officials.

Featured are tours of Chicago Public Schools, a Carousel of Panels, professional development activities for board and district secretaries, coffee and conversation sessions, Delegate Assembly, conference bookstore, and three instructive and entertaining general session speakers.

New this year, according to the preview document, are a series of “Learning Labs” on both Friday and Saturday that will feature in-depth presentations about Conference sponsors’ products and services. These are designed to assist districts looking for solutions to: wholesale energy, print/copy services, property casualty and workers’ compensation, data analytics, consulting/ research, and purchasing. Note: the Learning Labs are free; however, seating will be limited. The labs will be located in aisle 100 of the Conference Exhibit Hall.

Also new are the “IASB Mini Clinics.” Each 30-minute session offered by staff will be a live presentation on a variety of Association services and new or current activities. The clinics will be offered Friday and Saturday, Nov. 20-21, at the Comiskey Room in the West Tower of the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

The Conference Preview does not include room locations or the names of presenters for most events. Those additional details will be available in the official Conference Program, which can be picked up Nov. 20-22 at the registration desk at the Hyatt Regency.

Between now and November school boards are encouraged to draft and adopt a resolution confirming their desire to attend the conference and their support for professional development for the board.

The newly released Conference Preview document is online here.

More information about this year’s conference can also be found here.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

SupportCon South Registration
still open for education support staff

Registration for SupportCon South (previously known as the Educational Support Professionals Conference) is still open for school support staff looking to further develop their skills in today’s constantly changing educational environment. The September 21 event will take place at the Bloomington-Normal Marriot Hotel and Conference Center beginning at 8 a.m.

SupportCon South kicks off with General Session speaker Mary Byers' “Unlock the Power of Questionology” presentation that focuses on the influence of asking the right questions. A full day of professional development opportunities for educational support staff will also offer four morning and four afternoon hour-long breakout sessions.

IASB, the Illinois Association of School Business Officials (Illinois ASBO), and the Illinois Association of School Administrators developed the programming to specifically cater to the range of work performed by support professionals. Speakers from all three associations, as well as legal and financial experts, will be on hand to answer questions and guide discussion.

Registration for the event is available at the Illinois ASBO website. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Guide to Illinois Statutes Affecting Schools updated and available

The Illinois Council of School Attorneys (ICSA) has updated the Guide to Illinois Statutes Affecting Schools, which serves as a reference to Illinois statutes that are not listed in the School Code but  affect school districts. Information about the 2015 Guide and access to the PDF are available on the IASB website.

The Guide was prepared by a committee of ICSA and references statutes in force as of January 1, 2015. The booklet is divided by section, based upon whom or what each statute may impact. These categories include board of education, students and parents, property and contracts, litigation, financial affairs, employees, and elections. The document touches on laws ranging from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Open Meetings Act (OMA) to governmental ethics and the Election Code, among others.

The Guide to Illinois Statutes Affecting Schools is not intended to be a list of every state statute that might relate to a school law problem. Instead, it should be viewed is a guidance document intended to act as a “point of beginning” by providing brief descriptions of some state laws important to Illinois schools. The full PDF can be downloaded here.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Meet the new members of the IASB Board of Directors

The Illinois Association of School Boards recently welcomed several new members to its Board of Directors. Thomas Ruggio, Mark Christ, and Dennis Inboden joined the board in the spring, while Carla Joiner-Herrod, David Rockwell, and Denis Ryan attended their first meetings as division directors in August.

David Rockwell
David Rockwell represents the Blackhawk Division. He is currently serving his third term with the Rock Island/Milan SD 41 Board of Education. A resident of Rock Island, he is retired from a family-owned furniture store and works in administration at a law firm in Moline. Saying he prides himself on being “informed and open-minded,” Rockwell is looking forward to the challenge of directing the Blackhawk Division.

Thomas Ruggio
Thomas A. Ruggio represents the DuPage Division of IASB. He has served on the Woodridge School District 68 Board of Education for 11 years and is currently president. He is also a member of the cooperative board for the School Association for Special Education in DuPage County. Ruggio is retired from a career in education, in the classroom and in administration. With a particular interest in special education, he says, “It is important to me to take every opportunity to share the strengths, concerns, and needs of the districts I represent while considering current educational issues.”

New school calendar of legal dates goes online

IASB has just posted the Annual School Calendar of legal dates and deadlines for 2015-2016 on the Association website. The calendar is available here.

Links to other essential election material and information is available on the IASB website.

Dates contained in the new calendar comply with all statutory deadlines contained in the Election Code, School Code, and selected acts of the Illinois General Assembly. The calendar does not contain dates imposed by the state board of education or its regulations.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

School districts can be harmed by a bad TIF

Only the TIF's base AV revenue continues to go to school districts.
If all 1,308 Tax Increment Finance (TIF) districts in Illinois were to expire this year, local public schools would receive a significant windfall in new property tax revenue, although the new money would be partially offset by a reduction in state support under the general state aid formula.

That’s the belief of TIF expert Rachel Weber, an associate professor in the Urban Planning and Policy Department of the University of Illinois at Chicago. She made the observation in a letter published March 25 in Crain’s Chicago Business in response to a series of columns that defended TIFs against the charge that they harm schools and other local government entities.

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is an economic development incentive program that municipalities can enact under provisions of a state law to facilitate the continued development or redevelopment of a specific geographic area. The program works by capturing increases in property tax revenues (called the increment) over existing levels as caused by new development. Revenues from property tax increases that result from new development are placed into a TIF fund, which may be used to pay for public improvements. TIF revenues can be spent only on certain public investments. A TIF district does not, however, add any new tax rates or levies. In most cases, existing baseline tax revenues continue to go to the taxing districts for at least 23 years after a TIF is created.


Heat and weather-related response options for schools
With the start of school during the hot summer months, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is reminding districts that the School Code allows for the use of Interrupted School Days in the case of extreme heat and cold. Four options for schools are sanctioned by ISBE to address such weather-related challenges:

  • Amend the public school calendar to start school at a later date
  • Dismiss after five clock hours of instruction
  • Use an emergency day
  • Use an interrupted day

Emergency and interrupted days must be submitted through ISBE’s online IWAS system to the regional office of education for approval. The submission of interrupted days requires the inclusion of student attendance time and a brief explanation of why the day was interrupted. The state board also has informed school districts that the previous policy prohibiting districts from pre-announcing interrupted or delayed start days has been removed. A guidance document on the various options is available at the ISBE website.

ACT/SAT funding
During ISBE’s August meeting, the agency’s board agreed to enter into a “college entrance exam” contract at a cost of approximately $6.8 million per year to provide the testing for Illinois high school students. It is still not determined; however, what amount of money will be available from the state to spend on the exams as the assessment portion of the budget has not been finalized.

In a recent Daily Herald news article, ISBE spokesman Matt Vanover said the board took action on the contract so it “can award a contract to a successful bidder as soon as we receive money to do so.” This will allow for the tests to be ready in time for spring.

From 2001 to 2014, the ACT exam was included as part of mandatory testing as a way to ensure disadvantaged students could more easily apply for college. With the shift to testing for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), the ACT is no longer included in the annual assessment materials.

Back-to-school webcast
State Superintendent Tony Smith hosted a back-to-school webinar for school administrators on Aug. 5. Superintendent Smith discussed state assessments, supports, and resources available to Illinois districts, and other initiatives, including PARCC, educator evaluations, and the Kindergarten Individual Development survey. The webcast was recorded and is available here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Opinions on Education

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

Editorial: For Generations at Risk,
'iTunes U' offers education equality
Editorial Board, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, August 20

Reeder: Illinois should work to get students to stay in state for college
Scott Reeder, Illinois News Network, Morris Herald-News, August 30

Voice of The Southern: State, not school board, is at fault at Unit 10
Editorial Board, The Southern Illinoisan, August 28

Civics to return to Illinois schools in 2020
Phil Kadner, Chicago Daily Southtown, August 25

Another View: Common Core not based around kids
The DeKalb Chronicle, reprinted from the Kearney Hub, Nebraska, August 25