Saturday, October 31, 2015

Opinions on Education

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

Commentary: Without action in Springfield, CPS students can't succeed
Forrest Claypool, CEO, Chicago Public Schools
Chicago Tribune, October 30

Diane Ravitch, Salon, October 28

Editorial:  Which locker room for transgender students?
Editorial Board, Chicago Tribune, October 21

Editorial: Class in history, economics for strike-idled students 
Editorial Board, Belleville News-Democrat, October 21

Editorial Board, Rockford Register-Star, October 18

Friday, October 30, 2015

2015 Illinois Report Card data now available

The 2015 Illinois Report Card was posted by the State Board of Education on Friday, Oct. 30. This year’s Report Card includes new metrics that are intended to showcase a more thorough description of school climate and student progress. This data does not include PARCC results, which are scheduled to be released later this year.

The updated Report Card includes enrollment figures, financial information, Illinois 5Essentails Survey responses, graduation rates, postsecondary enrollment numbers, student and teacher demographics, and the percentage of freshmen on track.

To assist in navigating the Report Card information ISBE has made available a fact sheet and FAQ document.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Training for board secretaries offered at Conference

District secretaries and administrative assistants are encouraged to join with their peers from school districts around the state to take advantage of the board secretary training at this year’s Joint Annual Conference.

Designed to enhance the professional skills of the board secretary, the training will be offered on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 20 and 21, at the Swissotel, Chicago.

In addition to programming designed specifically for district secretaries and administrative assistants, the benefits of attending will include networking with other board secretaries. Participants will get the opportunity, as well, to attend all Conference general sessions, plus panel sessions, the bookstore, and the exhibit hall.

The secretaries’ program requires only paid conference registration. There is no additional charge, and no additional registration is required.

Award for board secretaries goes to O’Fallon’s Wilkey-Isselhardt

June 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 award for school district secretaries. She will be honored Friday, Nov. 20, at the Joint Annual Conference in Chicago.

Wilkey-Isselhardt was chosen to receive the Holly Jack Outstanding Service Award from among 26 exceptional nominees. She has spent almost 30 years in public education, serving in two different school districts. O’Fallon CCSD 90 is an elementary school district serving 3,600 students in seven schools.

The award was created to honor the memory of Holly Jack, a long-time employee of the Illinois Association of School Boards, who served as an IASB field services administrative assistant and was instrumental in promoting and developing professional development programs for board secretaries. The purpose of the award is to both honor Holly’s contribution and memory and to recognize the extraordinary work and service provided by secretaries who serve and assist their local boards of education.

A selection committee comprised of individuals representing board members, superintendents, school business officials, district administrative assistants, and former IASB administrative assistants reviewed the nominating materials and made the selection.

Nominations were made by district superintendents and school board presidents. The judges considered the following criteria: performance, initiative, innovation, staff development, self-improvement, passion for public education, and dedication. Letters of support were also accepted.

John Wagnon, O’Fallon board president, said that June has a passion for her work in District 90 and for public education in general. “She has an uncanny ability to know what needs to be done, and she does it before I even have a chance to ask,” Wagnon said.

Allen Scharf, former superintendent, former school board member, and now financial consultant, added that June is “a wonderful example of the dedicated support staff in our school districts who keep school districts operating efficiently and effectively during transition periods of superintendent employment and school board elections.”

The award presentation will be made at the opening of the board secretaries’ program at the Joint Annual Conference of school board members, superintendents, and school business officials. The three-day event annually draws nearly 10,000 Illinois education leaders and guests to Chicago. Wilkey-Isselhardt will also be recognized at the conference closing general session on Nov. 22.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

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 will be 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 will be on display throughout the Conference. This year’s winning entries are listed by firm, school, and district:

Award of Distinction

DLA Architects, Ltd.
Elmwood Park High School
Elmwood Park CUSD 401

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.

Crystal Lake bleachers ruling
clarifies zoning demands

In a much-anticipated court case that had a lot riding on the outcome, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled on Sep. 24 that municipal zoning ordinances govern a school district’s construction of football stadium bleachers on school property.

Attorneys for schools in Crystal Lake CHSD 155 had appealed lower court decisions and were asking the high court to rule that school districts are not subject to municipal zoning and land use regulations. But the high court justices, who heard oral arguments in the case in May, ruled to the contrary, noting that no statute currently exempts school property from this requirement.

In the weeks since the ruling, municipal officials have said the decision has clarified the process that is mandated for school district construction projects.

Cary village administrator Chris Clark recently told the Northwest Herald that from his experiences outside McHenry County, working with school districts on capital projects has sometimes been an awkward process.

“This issue has come up, and it has been something of an unclear part of the law,” he said. “Now it’s not,” he said in an article published on Sep. 29.

The website of the Illinois Municipal League hailed the ruling as “good news for municipalities.” Author Julie Tappendorf, an attorney at Ancel, Glink, Diamond, Bush, DiCanni & Krafthefer, P.C. added that “there is no reason to believe” that the statutory power to regulate land use, as clarified in the ruling, does not also extend to non-home rule municipal governments.

Reaction from school officials, however, has reaffirmed their strong opposition to the shift of rights from local school authorities to municipal authorities. In fact, the consequence may spell serious delays and increased costs on future school construction projects.

Glen Eriksson, the CEO of Eriksson Engineering Associates, Ltd., said he has already seen two significant school building projects placed on hold by one of his firm’s biggest clients.

This ruling is going to have a huge effect on the cost of school construction in the state, Eriksson said, and will only lead to more professional fees, “but definitely justified,” for the lawyers, architects, and engineers who will have to participate in activities that were not previously required, as well as higher project construction costs.

Eriksson noted that he was speaking as a former school board member, and “not the engineer who will eventually see a growth in fees.” Eriksson served on the Grayslake CHSD 127 Board of Education for 16 years.

The ruling will also continue to ramp up the case for enacting legislative relief by exempting school districts in certain circumstances from zoning and water-use ordinances, particularly those that may arbitrarily interfere with a district’s educational purposes.

“Where a construction project is planned in response to the need for additional classrooms, for example, or other essential schooling demands, specific statutory exceptions to local zoning requirements should be written into state law,” said Ben Schwarm, deputy executive director of IASB.

Exceptions to zoning authority of municipalities have been written into state law for other purposes, as the high court ruling acknowledged. The court mentioned “express statutory exclusions” exist for “the display of outdoor political campaign signs on residential property” 65 ILCS 5/11-13-1(12), for example, and “antennas or antenna support structures that are used for amateur radio communications.” 65 ILCS 5/11-13-1.5.

The Crystal Lake district replaced the bleachers in 2013 after a failed structural inspection. The district tore down the old bleachers to build a better and larger seating area.

After construction started, the municipality informed school officials that the district needed to comply with the Crystal Lake zoning regulations, as well as a city storm-water management ordinance. The city ordered the district to delay the construction project to meet those city requirements.

District 155 followed the Illinois School Code and obtained all required permits from the Regional County Superintendent in planning and constructing the bleachers at Crystal Lake South High School. The district continued with the construction, arguing that school districts, as co-equal local government entities with boundaries that can overlap several municipalities, are not subject to the zoning and land-use authority of local municipalities. They noted that no statute specifically subjects school districts to municipal zoning and land use requirements.

But both the lower and appellate court, and ultimately the Illinois Supreme Court, rejected the arguments.

In the wake of the ruling, attorneys Nicki B. Bazer and Brian P. Crowley, with Franczek Radelet PC, say any school districts planning construction projects that might require zoning relief would be well advised to consult with their attorney from the outset. At this point, districts have no choice but to participate in the zoning process from the very beginning of a project, and they must work constructively, step-by-step with neighbors, the community, and local municipal officials Bazer and Crowley suggested.

Dismantling begins

Work was started Oct. 21 to begin taking down the Crystal Lake bleachers as part of a design plan approved earlier that week by the Community High School District 155 Board of Education. Under the plan worked out in the community, the controversial bleachers are being cut down in size to just nine rows, with the work expected to take six weeks to complete.

To read the decision issued by the Illinois Supreme Court in this case, click here. For a quick summary, IASB also has a summary on its Recent Court and Agency Decisions.

Monday, October 26, 2015

14 Districts earn IASB Governance Recognition

Geneva CUSD 304 receives Governance Recognition.
Fourteen school boards throughout the state will be honored this year with IASB’s School Board Governance Recognition.  The districts receiving the distinction have shown a commitment to following the Foundational Principles of Effective Governance and attended a number of professional development activities aimed at improving school board member knowledge and abilities.

The focus of the two-year governance recognitionis on full board development, rather than individual board member efforts. In order to be recognized, winners must show they have met specific goals aligned with the Foundational Principles. Such benchmarks include the adoption of a clear mission, vision, and goals, implementing a superintendent evaluation process, connecting with the community on important district issues, conducting regular policy reviews and updates, creating an orientation process for new board members, and adopting an agreed-upon code of conduct.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Alliance Legislative Report 99-34


The Illinois General Assembly met in session this week for the first time in several weeks. Again, no progress was made towards settling the budget stalemate, but there have been indications that Governor Bruce Rauner and the legislative leaders may be ready to begin meetings again to talk about the budget impasse.

There was action taken on two important bills that have been pushed by the Alliance. Bills signed into law this summer regarding a new civics course mandate and new requirements regarding student athlete concussions contained immediate effective dates which made school district compliance virtually impossible. Alliance lobbyists worked for the passage of “trailer bills” for each of these to delay the effective dates. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

ISBE eyes community engagement, budget

The Illinois State Board of Education gathered in Springfield for a one-day meeting on Wednesday, October 21, 2015. After voting to approve various technical changes in state regulations contained in the board’s consent agenda, and briefly tackling routine discussion items, the board heard a presentation on the federal Quality School Options Grant Award recently obtained by the state.

The five-year, $42 million grant is intended to promote efforts to get local districts to consider charter schools. ISBE proposes to work with school districts to see how charters might help the schools pursue options for innovation and best practices.

This is seen as an opportunity, the state board was told by a staff member, to consider charters as a catalyst for improvements unique to the needs of the community. ISBE intends to encourage local community engagement as districts consider what might work for their schools.

State Superintendent Tony Smith suggested this will result in a new coalition of partners that will include the Illinois Association of School Boards. IASB has been a leader in establishing some community engagement tools and parameters for school districts to use in school governance.

Carousel of panels offers topic variety
in one setting

The Carousel of Panels at the 2015 Joint Annual Conference will offer a vast array of educational leadership topics. From STEM to PERA to NOW, and from RtI to RESPECT and more, these 32 panels enable participants to attend three 30-minute sessions, all in one room, to make the most of this knowledge-sharing opportunity.

The 2015 Carousel of Panels will take place from 1:30-3:15 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 21, at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel, Sheraton 4 and 5, Ballroom Level IV.

The schedule for the Carousel of Panels includes the following topics and presenters:
  • Visibility Matters! Contributing to a Positive Climate — Manteno CUSD 5
  • Rethinking RtI: Sustaining Implementation for Success! — Manteno CUSD 5
  • Open-Door Policy: The Impact of Homelessness and Residency — Aurora University
  • The Power and Challenges of Using Students’ Pictures — Wheeling CCSD 21
  • Making the Most of Partnerships for Principal Development — Illinois State University
  • The Moral Imperative Realized: Hamilton Elementary School — Moline SD 40
  • Health Care Reform: Preparing for 2016 and Beyond — American Fidelity Assurance Company, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Proactive Tips for Involving Law Enforcement in Your School — Miller, Tracy, Braun, Funk & Miller, Ltd.
  • The R-E-S-P-E-C-T Project: Preventing Bullying and Suicide — Indian Creek CUSD 425
  • Indoor Air Quality and Student Performance — Energy Systems Group
  • Special Education: Key Legal Issues and Board Updates — Engler Callaway Baasten & Sraga, LLC
  • N.O.W. Academy — Consolidated School District 158
  • Districts Buying Their Own Bonds to Earn Investment Income — Kings Financial Consulting, Inc.
  • A Partnership to Achieve the New Illinois Learning Standards — Eldorado CUSD 4
  • Creative Partnerships – Librarians/ Instructional Coaches — Leyden CHSD 212
  • Superintendent/School Board Relations in Illinois — Bellwood SD 88
  • Mission and Vision: Transforming a School District — Homer CCSD 33C
  • From a Mess to a Miracle — Calumet Public SD 132
  • Place to Call Home – New Teacher Mentoring — Calumet Public SD 132
  • Turn the Tide of Public Opinion: Getting To Yes at the Polls — Jacksonville SD 117
  • Superintendents and Successful Community Engagement for Student Success — Northern Illinois University
  • STEM Outreach: Successfully Engaging the Greater Community — Northern Illinois University
  • Top Ten List for Turning Around a Failing School — Western Illinois University
  • Schools as Learning Organizations — Western Illinois University
  • Curriculum Development and the Common Core State Standards — North Palos SD 117
  • Restructuring Done Right: One District’s Journey of Success — Round Lake CUSD 116
  • Rural Schools Initiative: College Ready and Career Preparedness — McKendree University
  • Boosting School-Home Communication: Proven Tips and Tactics — Fremont SD 79
  • Selecting and Working With Your Architect — Eastern Illinois University and FGM Architects, Inc.
  • STEM Pathway: Critical for Black and Latino Students — Elementary SD 159
  • Strategies for Protecting the Property Tax Base — Hauser Izzo, LLC
  • Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA) and the Role of the Joint Committee — Eastern Illinois University

Thursday, October 22, 2015


PARCC information
ISBE has made available a number of resources to help school districts explain and answer questions about the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC). The board recently approved PARCC performance-level threshold scores and the release of preliminary results of assessments completed online. Districts are sure to receive a great deal of inquiries on this subject as additional findings are released. For that reason ISBE has launched PARCC Place, a website that includes a toolkit of materials to assist districts with PARCC communication. The resources include FAQs, sample letters, fact sheets, and more.

Changes to first goal of strategic plan
During ISBE’s recent strategic planning session, State Superintendent Tony Smith and the board unanimously agreed to make changes to Goal 1 of its strategic plan. The previous version stated that “every student will demonstrate academic achievement and be prepared for success after high school.” Superintendent Smith suggested that the updated vision include more specific goals, and thus he presented the board with what was termed the “90 percent goal.” The new language sets benchmarks, including: 90 percent of all students will meet and exceed standards; 90 percent of all students in third grade will be reading at grade level; 90 percent of all eighth graders will be proficient in math; and 90 percent of all students will graduate from high school ready for college or a career. PARCC assessments were suggested as the measuring tool for these standards. For more information, see the strategic plan item in the most recent board packet.

Budget update
 Districts should expect to receive a 92 percent proration of General State Aid funding this year. Calculations for individual districts have been finalized and can be viewed on the ISBE website. This year an additional $85 million in grant awards will be available to districts that are most impacted by proration of General State Aid. Losses are limited to no more than $228.40 per student with these funds. The added payments will occur twice per month on the same schedule as General State Aid payments are received. To view calculations of these funds view ISBE’s General State Aid page, and click the link titled “FY 16 Loss Limit Calculations.”

State Superintendent on Twitter
For districts that monitor news and updates via social media, State Superintendent Tony Smith now has his own Twitter account, @ISBEsupt. Superintendent Smith provides regular updates from his many visits and speaking engagements throughout the state, as well as links to newly released ISBE material.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Conference Learning Labs will match districts with solutions

IASB is excited to announce a brand new feature in the Exhibit Hall at the 2015 Joint Annual Conference.

Select vendors have partnered with IASB to sponsor the first-ever IASB “Learning Labs.” Located in Aisle 100 of the Hyatt Regency Chicago Riverside Center, these vendors will be offering in-depth presentations and demonstrations of school products and services.

With seating limited to 36 participants, each Lab will have complete AV and Internet setups for feature presentations by vendor representatives. These labs will be held at specific 1-hour time slots during regular exhibit hall hours, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

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

A complete schedule and list of presenters will be available in the Conference Program. Announcements will be made during Conference and a schedule posted at various locations throughout the Hyatt Regency.

To find out more about this year’s event, visit IASB’s online Conference page at: Those attending Conference for the first time should also consider attending the Conference orientation panel, scheduled at 11 a.m. Friday and repeated at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

IASB Offers Informational Mini Clinics

A new offering at Joint Annual Conference this year are the IASB “Mini Clinics.” Located in the Comiskey Room, on the concourse level of the Hyatt Regency West Tower, these presentations will feature IASB staff members who will explain and demonstrate a variety of Association member services.

Theater seating will be limited to 34 participants and each clinic will have complete AV and Internet setups for feature presentations. The clinics will be held at specific 30-minute time slots during regular Comiskey Room hours, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Here is a list of the IASB staff presentations:
  • Governmental Relations (resolutions process and advocacy)
  • Targeting Achievement through Governance (Illinois School Report Card)
  • Board Development (community engagement and the board’s role in student learning)
  • Executive Searches
  • Communications (IASB News Blog, social media, recruiting school board candidates, and wrapping up the conference experience)
  • Field Services (superintendent evaluations and setting district goals and direction)
  • Policy Services (School Board Policies Online, maintaining the board policy manual, 10 policies for better governance, and BoardBook)
  • Office of General Counsel (Meet the PRESS editors and learn about the Legislative PRESS issue).  
A complete schedule and list of presenters will be available in the Conference Program. Announcements will be made during Conference and a schedule posted at various locations throughout the Hyatt Regency.

“For years, this room has operated as an informal hospitality suite,” said IASB Associate Executive Director James Russell. “We are transforming this room from a cookies and coffee lounge to a venue that showcases the services that our members want and use.”

To find out more about this year’s event, visit IASB’s online Conference page. Those attending Conference for the first time should also consider attending the Conference orientation panel, scheduled at 11 a.m. Friday and repeated at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

Monday, October 19, 2015

ISBE honors nine school board members
at annual 'Those Who Excel' banquet

State education officials honored nine of Illinois’ outstanding school board members at the 40th annual Those Who Excel/Teacher of the Year banquet October 17 in Normal. School board members who took home an award, and their district and locale:

Sharon Roberts
Community Consolidated School District 59
Arlington Heights

Mark Johnson
DuPage High School District 88

Tim Campbell
Plano CUSD 88

Robert Gauthier
Kildeer Countryside CCSD 96
Buffalo Grove

June Maguire
Waukegan Community School District 60

Meghan Daily
Granite City School District 9
Granite City

Mary Jo Griffin
Oregon School District 220

Connie McElyea
Moline-Coal Valley School District 40

Jill Huber
Meridian CUSD 22

Among 242 other educators honored at the banquet was the 2016 Teacher of the Year, Kim Thomas, a math teacher from Woodruff Career and Technical Center, in Peoria SD 150.

Kim Thomas
Thomas says she became a teacher so “kids would have an awesome experience going to school,” and she has never lost sight of that goal. Currently in her 23rd year of teaching, Thomas is a math teacher. State education leaders and her peers said it is her dedication and energy that led to her getting the award.

“I am so happy to publicly recognize and thank educators for the great work they do day in and day out to help students succeed,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith. “Their tireless efforts and dedication to Illinois students are greatly appreciated.”

Local school district leaders and members of school communities nominate candidates for this recognition.  A committee of peers, organized through the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), chose the award winners who were honored at a banquet Saturday, Oct. 17, at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Normal. The committee represents statewide education organizations and includes former award winners.

Two-hundred-and-fifty recipients at the Oct. 17 banquet in Normal received recognition on three levels and across multiple categories including classroom teacher, school administrator, and student support personnel.

The Teacher of the Year serves as Illinois’ ambassador for the teaching profession during the 2015-16 school year and represents Illinois in the National Teacher of the Year program sponsored by the ING Foundation. Steve Elza, an automotive technology teacher at Fremd High School in Township High School District 211, served as Illinois ambassador for teaching during the 2014-15 school year.

“As the 2015 Teacher of the Year, I have been afforded many incredible opportunities to learn, share, and support other teachers, and more importantly our students throughout Illinois and across the country,” Elza said.

A complete list of local recipients by county can be accessed at ISBE's Those Who Excel site.

Friday, October 16, 2015

News from IASB

Membership Update
The percentage of IASB member districts remains unchanged, as one district rejoined while another left. IASB membership stands at 843 districts out of 850 total public school districts, or slightly above 99 percent.

In mid-September, Kansas CUSD 3 rejoined as a member in the Illini Division. More recently, Lisbon CCSD 90 of the Three Rivers Division dropped its membership.

Employee Update
IASB has welcomed four new employees to its Springfield and Lombard offices.

Chris Montrey began employment with the Association on June 1 in Springfield as administrative assistant to the executive director. Montrey previously worked for Ball-Chatham CUSD 5 as a substitute teacher and administrative assistant. She was also employed as property manager for the Pacific Management Company.

Rhonda Cass Mackiney joined the board development staff in late July as administrative assistant. Mackiney had been the attendance secretary at the Chatham-Glenwood Middle School.

Joining Montrey and Mackiney in the Springfield office is Karen Johnson, who is assistant business manager for administrative services. Johnson was previously the property control manager, and subsequently served as account technician, for the Illinois Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan (CHIP). She managed accounting, bill payment, bank reconciliations, and data processing during her time at CHIP. Johnson replaces Marge Reavis who retired on Sep. 22 after 15 years with IASB.

In the IASB Lombard office, Debra Muhlena joined the field services department as administrative assistant to Perry Hill IV. She will be working with the South Cook, West Cook, and Three Rivers divisions.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

2015 Conference Planner now available

The online Conference Planner is now available for the 2015 Joint Annual Conference, which will take place November 20-22 in Chicago. By accessing the planner, a user can view all Conference events and choose from the many options to create a personal conference agenda.

The Conference Planner is located in the secure Members Only section of the IASB website and is available to board members, superintendents, and board secretaries with a seven-digit Member ID number. This Member ID appears on the mailing label of all materials sent to IASB members, and begins with the number 2.

To access the Conference Planner:
  1. Click here to reach the Members Only section of the IASB website.
  2. Log in to Members Only with your seven-digit Member ID number.
  3. Select the red “Annual Conference” tab.
  4. Click the link under “2015 Conference Schedule Planner.”
There you will find the Conference Planner with further instructions for completing your personal agenda.

Accessing the Conference Planner will allow the user to view all Conference events and activities by event type or category. Individual events in each category are listed in chronological order by title and description. Listed at the right of each event is the location by hotel, time of event and room name. Multiple events may be chosen for each time slot., time of event and room name. Multiple events may be chosen for each time slot.

Chicago Schools Tour to explore four sites

School leaders are being invited to attend the annual Chicago Schools Tour, sponsored by IASB and Chicago Public Schools.

The event is one of the Pre-Conference activities for the 2015 Joint Annual Conference and will take place on Friday, November 20, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The focus, as it has been for the past 44 years, is on highlighting Chicago Public Schools that provide innovation and opportunity for student success in their education programs. “These four tours provide a range of options, including two elementary schools and two high schools, covering a variety of neighborhoods that contribute in educating children as exemplary leaders,” according to tours coordinator Cynthia Woods, IASB director of advocacy.

Click here to read or download a brochure containing additional details, as well as an official registration form for the Chicago Schools Tour (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).

Tours will explore the following Chicago public schools: 

Chávez Multicultural Language Academy - A strong PK-8 neighborhood school committed to personalized learning and technology integration. Visit this link for more information about the school.

Chávez Multicultural Language Academy

Skinner West Elementary School - A Pre-K-8 with highly structured accelerated programs for strong academic achievement in literature, mathematics, language arts, world language, and the humanities. Visit this link for more information about the school.

Skinner West Elementary School

Alcott College Prep High School, West Campus - Small neighborhood Democracy high school, weaving civic learning practices throughout traditional curriculum, giving students both a technical and practical understanding of the U.S. political system. Visit this link for more information.

Alcott College Prep High School

DeVry University Advantage Academy - A dual enrollment high school providing qualified students with the opportunity to graduate with both a high school diploma and an Associate degree in Network Systems Administration or Web Graphic Design. Visit this link for more information.

DeVry University Advantage Academy

School district leaders can choose what tours they would like to take. The $95 per person fee for this event includes a buffet-style breakfast in the Crystal A Ballroom in the West Tower of the Hyatt Regency Chicago. All tour participants must be paid annual conference registrants or guests of paid annual conference registrants.

Space is limited to 160 reservations. Registration for the school tours can be made by mail or online. Telephone reservations will not be accepted.

Information about the Chicago Schools Tour is available by emailing Cynthia Woods, or by calling 630/629-3776, ext. 1228; or by emailing Bridget Trojan, or by phone at ext. 1236.

Click here to register online for the tour.

Note: participants must be registered for the Joint Annual Conference prior to workshop registration. To register for the conference click here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

SCSBA calls to help flood-impacted schools

Many South Carolina public schools are struggling to make sure students, teachers, and facilities are able to operate smoothly after the recent historic flooding.

A special statewide monetary fund has been established by the South Carolina School Boards Association and SC Future Minds to assist students in school districts displaced by the historic flooding in South Carolina. Schools looking for ways to help schools in the 16 counties declared as disaster areas -- which have suffered significant damage and loss -- can visit for more information, or to donate text “SCSchools” to 71777.

SC Future Minds is the only 501(c)3 non-profit that organizes private support for the state’s K-12 public schools The funds, which will be divided among the school districts, will be used for school-related supplies and programs targeting affected students and could include purchasing school supplies, assisting with after-school programs, providing a program offering food in backpacks to take home, or other needed services.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

New option to expand board candidate field

A recently signed state law, Public Act 99-0091, aims to make it easier for some districts to move away from sub-district elections of school board members that rely on congressional township boundaries and instead use an at-large elections voting system to elect local boards of education.

Some school districts find it hard to field enough candidates in school board elections when faced with the hurdle of residency restrictions that allow only a certain number of seats to be held by persons of a particular congressional township. Congressional townships are square parcels of land that are six miles long on each side, created under federal requirements to determine boundaries for land ownership; they are not the same thing as civil townships, which are created as entities of local government.

Most school board elections are at-large contests, but in a few school districts in our state, specified sub-district residency requirements limit who is eligible to run for a specific school board seat. A number of rural school districts stretch through more than one congressional township, meaning sub-district representation may be mandated for an area that is home to very few citizens and as a result, a small candidate pool.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sponsors providing financial support
to IASB division meetings

IASB division meeting program sponsors recognize and support the value and importance of the Association’s meetings and the professional development provided to school board members and administrators. This year’s round of Illinois Association of School Boards’ fall division dinner meetings are sponsored by the following organizations:

  • NaviGate/Lauren Innovations – Legacy Sponsor   
  • Workers’ Compensation Self-Insurance Trust and Illinois School District Agency – Legacy Sponsor
  • NextEra Energy Services – Millennium Sponsor   
  • First Midstate Inc. – Century Sponsor
  • Stifel – Century Sponsor
  • Kings Financial Consulting, Inc. – Decade Sponsor
  • GCA Education Services, Inc. – Division Meetings Sponsor
  • Larson and Darby Group – Division Meetings Sponsor
  • Legat Architects, Inc. – Division Meetings Sponsor
  • OpTerra Energy Services – Division Meetings Sponsor
  • Wight & Company – Division Meetings Sponsor

The sponsorship program provides opportunities for individuals and organizations to provide financial sponsorship to support and enhance all of these division dinner meeting purposes: board member professional development, networking, peer recognition, association governance and learning about resources available from IASB.

For information about division meeting sponsorship opportunities, contact Cathy Talbert, associate executive director for field services and policy services, at 217/528-9688 or 630/629-3776, ext. 1234 or email

Friday, October 2, 2015

Honor local school board members: November 15 is School Board Members Day

November 15, 2015, will mark the seventh year of School Board Members Day in Illinois. The statewide day of recognition was created in 2008 by legislative action to recognize the public and community service school board members provide.

The theme for School Board Members Day this year is “Everyday Heroes.” The importance of school board members to the success of the public education system is unequivocal. Board members dedicate their personal time to ensure the local community has a voice in their children’s education. They play a critical role in representative democracy and strive to protect two of the community’s most precious resources; the children and tax dollars. 

Leading News Update:
Duncan stepping down

In additional Leading News for October 2, the Associated Press has reported that U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is stepping down in December. John King Jr., a senior official, is expected to lead the U.S. Department of Education for the remainder of President Barack Obama's term.

Click on the headline below to read more.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan stepping down, returning to Chicago
Associated Press, Chicago Tribune, October 2