Saturday, December 31, 2016

Honors bestowed at Annual Conference

Holly Jack Outstanding Service Award
Karen Vota of Coal City CUSD 1 accepted the Holly Jack Outstanding Service Award during the opening session of the Secretaries’ Program at the 2016 Joint Annual Conference on Nov. 22. Vota serves as both the superintendent’s administrative assistant and board of education secretary for Coal City. She is the eighth recipient of the annual award.

Vota was chosen from among 25 nominees. She has spent nearly 30 years working in public education, beginning as a copy clerk in 1987. In 1991, Vota moved on to the clerk position at the middle school and two years later was working as a secretary in the main district office. In 2000, she was promoted to the head secretary position at the new Coal City middle school. After serving four years in that capacity, Vota was named administrative assistant to the superintendent while also assuming the duties of school board secretary.

“This is such a prestigious award and honor,” Vota said when receiving the award. “Each of this year’s nominees has made incredible contributions to their communities.”

The award was created to honor the memory of Holly Jack, a long-time employee of the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB), who served as an IASB field services administrative assistant and was instrumental in creating professional development programs for board and district 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 to the district and community.

In addition to her secretarial duties, Vota has taken on responsibilities that include organizing training opportunities for clerical staff, handling the student registration process, managing the cafeteria program, and streamlining board meetings through the use of technology. She also serves as the district data manager, assists with a number of financial-related reports, and has helped with cost-saving transportation route analysis.

“I was immediately impressed by Karen’s professionalism and work ethic,” said Coal City Superintendent Kent Bugg. “I had never met a secretary who was so productive, yet still managed to find the time to make our faculty, students, and the public her top priority.”

Vota credited Bugg for his constant encouragement to seek new opportunities to learn and improve. “Dr. Bugg has created a culture of excellence. I was always encouraged to broaden my knowledge base,” Vota emphasized. “He consistently expected us to do more for the students and community.”

Shawn Hamilton, board president of CUSD 1, also cited Vota’s work ethic, positive attitude, and continual desire for self-improvement when nominating her for the award. “Karen always brings a passion for the district and community in fulfilling her role as school board secretary,” stressed Hamilton. “She understands that the support she provides the board and superintendent on a day-to-day basis helps us fulfill our [the board’s] key mission of ‘excellence in local school governance.’”

Thomas Lay Burroughs Award
Douglas P. Floski, president of the Byron CUSD 226 Board of Education, was named the winner of the 2016 Thomas Lay Burroughs Award on Nov. 20 at the Third General Session of the IASB/IASA/IASBO Joint Annual Conference.

Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) member Lula Ford presented the award to Floski.

Floski’s accomplishment on behalf of students, taxpayers, and district staff were highly praised by Ford, including: service as board president since 2011; leadership of a board committee structure for quality review, buildings and grounds, and finance and policy that has enhanced achievement of district initiatives; advancement of communications opportunities with members of the district, including presentations to the Rotary Club, the chamber of commerce, financial forums, and strategic planning groups for buildings and grounds and teaching and learning; leadership of a results-oriented model for decision-making, including a five-year financial forecasting model, enrollment-based staffing, and assessment of learning through student achievement information.

He has also been a consistent advocate for a fair assessment of the Byron Nuclear Generating Station and efforts at advancing an equitable salary and benefits schedule for all district employees.

In his work as board president, Floski has led the achievement of the district in a number of ways:

The district recorded its highest ACT scores ever for the graduating classes of 2015 and 2016.
The state’s new PARCC (Partnership for Advancement of Readiness for College and Careers) examinations placed Byron CUSD 226 with the 2nd-highest overall achievement among Illinois Districts for 2015 and 2016.

The 2016 Illinois Report Card placed Byron CUSD 226 with the highest percentage of 8th-grade students who achieved passing scores for Algebra 1, the highest college-readiness score (based on the percent of students who completed the ACT examination with a score of 21 or greater), and the 2nd-lowest percentage of students who enroll in a community college and require the taking of remedial coursework prior to advancing on their courses of study.

Byron received an overall grade of “A,” according to one rating service, ranking the district in the top 7 percent of Illinois school districts overall. Byron was ranked in the top 12 percent for teacher quality, top 9 percent for safety and top 11 percent among schools that are good for athletes. The district received grades of “A-” or better for Academics, Administration, Clubs and Activities, Health and Safety, Resources and Facilities, Sports, and Teachers.

The Byron district is located in the Northwest Division and has a current enrollment of 1,065 students.

“I want to thank all those who serve on school boards, and on our board in particular,” said Floski after accepting the award. “I accept this on behalf of all board presidents, for the role of board president is challenging, as we all know,” he added.

The Burroughs Award, created in 1991, is given annually for extraordinary educational leadership at the local level. Specifically, the award honors the demonstration of extraordinary leadership:

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

Named in memory of the late ISBE chairman who served as school board president at Collinsville CUSD 10, the award honors leadership in the context of a seven-member school board that represents the citizens of a community. The award honors group skills, such as consensus building and teamwork, as well as individual traits such as vision, courage, integrity, etc.

Jason Henry named Illinois Superintendent of the Year
Jason Henry, district superintendent at Sesser-Valier CUSD 196, was honored Sunday at the third general session of the IASB/IASA/IASBO Conference as the 2017 Illinois Superintendent of the Year.

Chosen annually by the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA), the award was presented Nov. 20 in Chicago.

Henry, who has been an educator for 22 years, said: “This award isn’t really about me or my work. It’s about the phenomenal team of people that make up the Sesser-Valier school district and the Egyptian Region of the IASA.”

During his 12 years as a superintendent at Sesser-Valier, he is credited with instituting a co-teaching program the teams a regular education teacher with a special education teacher in classrooms for English, language arts, and math, both at the junior high and high school level.

He also helped to develop a strategic plan for the school district.

Under Henry’s leadership, Sesser-Valier Elementary School recently was designated as a federal Blue Ribbon school.

He has also been very active in his community, serving as a volunteer for the chamber of commerce and the homecoming association. He and his wife also help lead his church’s children’s music and Sunday school ministries.

“Dr. Henry remains highly respected among his peers for his knowledge and expertise,” reads the nominating letter written by Tim O’Leary, superintendent of Pinckneyville District 50. “He is an exemplary school superintendent and most worthy of this nomination.”

Brent Clark, executive director of IASA, said: “I have witnessed Dr. Henry’s servant leadership for his students, his staff, and his community for several years; he is most deserving of this honor.”

Illinois ASBO Lighthouse Awards
The Illinois ASBO Lighthouse Award, which honors those school business officials who shine a light on an area that is unfocused in schools, was presented to John Fuhrer, director of operations, facilities and transportation, North Shore SD 112; and Scott R. Mackall, assistant director of operations and facilities, North Shore SD 112.

The honorees were announced during the second general session of the 84th IASB/IASA/IASBO Joint Annual Conference.

The award, presented by the Illinois Association of School Business Officials (Illinois ASBO), specifically honors outstanding practices and new ideas that result in significant contributions to school entities, the profession of school business management, or Illinois ASBO, and can be replicated by other school business officials. It was originated ten years ago.

Both Mackall and Fuhrer were praised for their diligence, superior performance and service to the public school business world."

"We appreciate getting recognized because it is particularly nice to be recognized by your peers," Mackall said.

The Lighthouse Award can be presented for categories of individual applicant, team applicant, and non-member applicant, with both of this year's winners being chosen in the individual category. Such awards include a cash donation of $1,000 to the employing school district on behalf of the winner, and a plaque. The cash donations are then to be used for student scholarships or given to a charitable organization that provides programs and services for children.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Video highlights from the 2016 Joint Annual Conference

Select panel presentations and interviews with school officials and other education leaders at the 2016 Joint Annual Conference were recorded and produced by the Illinois Channel. Below are five videos recently posted from the November 18 – 20 event.

Political Challenges to Reforming the School Funding Formula

Superintendent Greg Goins on Education and Technology

Issues in Education: School Safety, Teacher Shortages

School Safety in the 21st Century

Struggle to Fund Education, Medicaid, and Pensions 
without a Budget

The Illinois Channel is a 501 c (3) nonprofit corporation, modeled after C-SPAN, which produces video programming on state government, politics, and public policy.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Dorn delivers eye-opening security keynote

At times sobering, alarming, and hopeful, Michael Dorn, one of the nation’s foremost experts on school safety, presented the keynote address at the third General Session of the 2016 Joint Annual Conference.

Combining personal anecdotes, data, and practical illustrations, Dorn championed an “all hazards” approach to safety in a presentation entitled “Active Shooters, Active Killers, and Terrorism in the School Setting – Accurate, Practical, and Actionable Information.” Dorn discussed his work in training school personnel, and in doing so determining what types of approaches work and what do not.

Michael Dorn
Dorn is executive director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit campus safety organization that offers planning and training for a wide range of school crisis situations.

While stating, “we can still improve,” he shared statistics that showed that schools are safer from most dangers now than they were in the 1970s. Dorn noted that the public perception of school safety is “out of whack” from where we really are. Despite increased risks in some areas, school leaders and law enforcement have made enormous progress in keeping students and staff safe.

“School has to be a harmonious balance between the data that we give you, and the heartfelt passion that you bring to your work,” Dorn said.

“It is extremely important that we focus much broader than on catastrophic, frightening, but extraordinarily rare events,” Dorn advised. “Be mindful of events that are more likely to happen on your campus. … If you focus your efforts largely on active shooter … you are more likely to have an active shooter event. And if you have one, your response will probably be worse than if you focus more broadly.”

Dorn illustrated the importance of an all-hazards approach by showing a photograph of children skateboarding on the roof of a school building. “We don’t want to overlook safety measures that would have prevented this because we are only focused on events that are more frightening because of their scale.”

His data also shows that more people are killed in school parking lot accidents than active shooter incidents, and that any safety and security assessment that does not include a traffic assessment was “deep trouble in terms of standard of care.”

Dorn explained that medical emergencies, not criminal or terrorist acts, are responsible for more injuries and deaths on school property. He noted that school districts are making progress in dealing with those emergencies as well.

“The biggest thing to worry about with active shooter, active killer and terrorist events, is not the statistical likelihood that one of your buildings will be hit, but the traumatic impact if a school anywhere is hit. Our emotive reaction to the Sandy Hook incident has done a lot of harm, because we have thrown programs at the situation in desperation. And often these programs are based on false assumptions.”

“We’ve got to get very thoughtful. We’ve got to not get focused on any one type of attack or weapons methodology,” Dorn said, as he showed a graphic video that illustrated how weapons can be hidden under a person’s clothing.

Dorn recommends training that includes behavioral approaches, such as suicide assessment and prevention, student threat evaluation, and pattern matching and recognition and pre-attack indicators.

He also related that many recent approaches to securing schools from the more dangerous events are not working, and offered research-based solutions for successful preparation and spoke of the dangers of fear-based programs. He reviewed common gaps in planning and strategies, and how to overcome them.

“What’s surprising to us is in the field of school safety we are seeing a degradation in the ability of school staff to make life-or-death decisions, since the Sandy Hook shooting,” Dorn said. “This is after we’ve spent billions of dollars trying to make schools safer.

“We’ll tell you what to do about these events, but we also give you context for them, so we can help you deal with the more logically and less emotively. These are frightening events. These are terrifying events. These are very real events, but they don’t represent the bulk of the danger in American schools.”

The Third General Session was opened by Derek Hutchins, president of the Illinois Association of School Administrators and superintendent of Crab Orchard CUSD 3 in Marion. Hutchins presented the Superintendent of the Year award to Jason Henry of Sesser-Valier CUSD 196. Doug Floski, of Byron CUSD 226, received the Thomas Lay Burroughs Award as the state’s outstanding school board president from Lula Ford of the Illinois State Board of Education. Additionally, IASB president Phil Pritzker presented the Holly Jack Outstanding Service Award for school secretaries to Karen Vota of Coal City CUSD 1.

The Third General Session concluded the 84th Joint Annual Conference of the Illinois Association of School Boards, Illinois Association of School Administrators, and Illinois Association of School Business Officials. This year’s Conference drew more than 9,600 registrants and featured panel sessions, pre-conference workshops, general sessions, exhibits, and other leadership development opportunities for public school leaders in Illinois.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Joan Lunden advocates life-long learning

[Joan Lunden]
Joan Lunden
Television journalist Joan Lunden told a large crowd at the Second General Session on Saturday that it is important for adults to let children know about the challenges in today’s world.

“We tend to solve problems for them, rather than let them figure it out for themselves,” she stated. But problem solving is an essential skill, and life-long learning has become a necessity, she said.

Lunden’s mention of her two sets of twins got one of the loudest rounds of applause during her speech, a fact she noted, stating: “covering five presidents never seems to get as much applause as having had seven kids.”

Lunden, known to millions for co-anchoring ABC’s Good Morning America in the ’80s and ’90s, said that as a child in California she pondered becoming a doctor, like her father, Erle Blunden, a cancer surgeon who died in a plane crash when she was 13.

A breast cancer diagnosis in 2014, however, became a “full-circle moment.” She had long since decided she would never be a doctor, but she could inspire others to join the fight against breast cancer. And she announced to the large crowd that she personally is “one hundred percent cured.”

Before Lunden’s keynote address to the 2016 Joint Annual Conference, Jennifer Hermes, Illinois ASBO president, said the school management profession is well served by that organization’s wide range of professional development activities, services, and advocacy.

Hermes, who is a business official with Lake Forest SD 67, also introduced the two recipients of this year’s Lighthouse Award, John Fuhrer, Director of Operations, Facilities and Transportation, North Shore SD 112; and Scott R. Mackall, Assistant Director of Operations and Facilities, North Shore SD 112.

Also at the Saturday general session, IASB President Phil Pritzker introduced IASB past presidents: Joseph Alesandrini, 2010-11; Carolyne D. Brooks, 2012-2013; Christy Coleman, 2002-2003; Jerald Eiffert, 1999-2000; Nancy Elson, 1990-1991; Karen Fisher, 2013-14; Jonathan T. Howe, 1978-1979; Joan Levy, 1984-85; Dennis McConville, 2001-2002; Mark Metzger, 2008-2009; Robert Reich, 1992-1993; Marie Slater, 2006-2007; Jay Tovian, 1996-1998; and Barbara Wheeler, 1988-1989.

Acknowledged with them were IASB Executive Director Roger Eddy, along with Michael D. Johnson, who served as the Association’s executive director from 2000 to 2012.

Lunden began her remarks by sharing vivid stories from behind-the-scenes struggles in making a path in the male-dominated field of TV journalism during the 1970s. She provided insights on the need to persevere, grab opportunities, and continue to learn and work in concert with a team.

Specifically, she shared recollections of starting out in journalism by taking a job as one of San Diego’s first female weather reporters. When offered the job, she admits, she was not even remotely interested in weather, but she knew she would always be interested in opportunities.

“Sometimes we must risk not being great to learn how to really be great,” Lunden said.

One day, after seven months working behind the scenes on the weather desk, her boss called in sick and informed her “you’re on.”

She performed well enough to later get an offer from the station to become its consumer reporter. She says she replied, “Sure, I can do a report every night,” even though at the time, she now admits, she had doubts.

But that opportunity led her to another opportunity, to write, produce, and deliver the noon news. She advises that “whenever anyone asks if you can do something, just say yes.”

“Never underestimate the power of a positive attitude,” she added.

But Lunden eventually left the evening news desk in San Diego to take a job with WABC in New York as a street reporter, covering fires and murders. “There is merit in learning from the ground up,” she explained, admitting she knew she needed more real-world training and experience.

Speaking of today’s challenges while raising twin middle-schoolers, Lundon said protecting non-work time is vital. “Children notice when we are tuned in to our world, and are looking at our cell phones, for example, rather than at them.”

Children have the same problem turning off devices and tuning in to others, as they typically worry about the consequences of how they are viewed by their peers on Snapchat, for example. “Kids need to develop interpersonal skills in face-to-face encounters instead, because this develops business skills,” she suggested.

Children ultimately need to learn to become lifelong learners and risk-takers, she suggested, and it is her hope for everyone to find passion in their own education and experience.

Lunden quoted poet William Butler Yeats’ great aphorism, “Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.”

“Someone once said that our two greatest days are the day we are born and the day we find out why,” she added.

After her remarks, a line of more than 100 people waited to meet Lunden outside the conference bookstore, to take selfies and to get autographs of her latest book, Had I Known: A Memoir of Survival.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

'Ways to Lead' message kicks off Joint Annual Conference

“Leadership Starts Here” was the theme chosen to represent the 2016 Joint Annual Conference. And the First General Session keynote speaker utilized the slogan by adding two goals for members and guests to apply to their daily lives:

Mawi Asgedom
“See all students and staff for who they are.”

“Choose ‘turbo’ action over victim thinking.”

Mawi Asgedom began his life in Ethiopia but has lived most of it in Illinois. Through a refugee relocation project, his family moved to Wheaton, where they had to learn how to assimilate into Midwestern suburban culture. His parents did not read or speak English, a fact that he used to colorfully punctuate the awkward moments of his early family life.

But he overcame their limitations and excelled at academics. Asgedom eventually attended and graduated from Harvard University. A strong family work ethic also led him to start his own education leadership firm, Mawi Learning, which offers online and blended training. A free book and website was offered to those in the audience to explore those options in more detail.

The thrust of his message centered on how to change the focus of the day-to-day challenges in the classroom and board room. By refusing to enter or be distracted by “victim” conversations and excuses, education leaders are free to concentrate on their resources and how to creatively use them, he explained.

“You (already) have the power to change lives. Stay on mission and stay out of the traps,” he said.

Asgedom effectively used several audience participation activities to emphasize his point. This included asking each person to greet the person next to them as if he or she was the person that they had always wanted to meet. He emphasized the need to not overlook anyone, staff or student.

Later, he used a jar of colored gumballs to demonstrate how to use all resources that are available to a school leader. “When you focus on the problems and obstacles, you lose access to your resources,” he said. His answer is to figuratively find and hit the “turbo” button available to everyone.

IASB President Phil Pritzker
Asgedom was welcomed by IASB President Phil Pritzker, who opened the 84th Joint Annual Conference of school boards, superintendents, and school business officials. He noted that the conference theme was chosen because it was short, memorable, “but more importantly, relevant to those who come to this conference to become more effective, responsible, and confident school leaders. Whether you’re just starting your career or are a veteran of this annual event, we believe that you’ll leave here better informed, better equipped, and better prepared to do your job,” he said.

NSBA Executive Director Tom Gentzel also addressed the crowd, thanking Illinois for its reputation as a leader in public education initiatives. “What really matters,” he said, “is that local governance works when local leadership teams work together.”

The first of three general sessions was also used for several award presentations. LaMoille CUSD 303 received the David Binotti Risk Management Award from the chairman of the Workers’ Compensation Self-Insurance Trust. Two other districts, Meridian CUSD 15 and Community HSD 94, were honored with Awards of Distinction in the annual Exhibition of Educational Environments. The honors were shared by their architectural firms, BLDD Architects, Inc., and DLA Architects, Ltd., respectively.

Several student groups also participated in the opening session. It was preceded by several numbers performed by the Monticello Middle School Jazz Ensemble, and followed with posting of the colors by the Phoenix Military Academy, and the National Anthem, performed by honor students from Cooper, Holmes, and London Middle Schools, Wheeling CCSD 21.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Conference panel handouts available

Handouts (PDF Word documents or PowerPoints) from many of the panels presented at the 2016 Joint Annual Conference are available through the Members Only portion of the IASB website.

Panels with links to their materials are listed by the panel title, hotel location, and room name. The panels appear in chronological order of the Conference; by the day and time slot they were presented. The only exception to this order is the board secretaries' panels. Those materials are listed after all the other panels.

Note: panels are only listed if materials have been submitted. Additional panels and their online materials will be posted as they are received.

The links to these panel materials will be available until Sep. 1, 2017. To download the panel handouts, simply click on the link for the desired document.

The handouts are available by logging-in to the IASB member database, choosing the Members Only tab at the top of the page, and selecting Annual Conference from the drop-down menu. Once there, find the section entitled “2016 Conference Handouts” and follow the link.

For detailed instructions on how to login to the IASB member database, click here.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Buikema replaces Andersen on IASB Board

Chris Buikema
Chris Buikema has been appointed to replace Ben Andersen as director of the Association’s Northwest division.

A 12-year board veteran, Buikema was formerly the legislative chair and resolutions chair for the division. He has been a school board member at East Coloma-Nelson SD 20 for the past four years, and is currently serving as vice president. Buikema previously served eight years on the Nelson SD 8 (Rock Falls) school board, which was part of a two-district consolidation in 2013.

Buikema is also on the board of directors for the Illinois Education Association, serving as Region 20 chair for the teachers’ group. A social studies teacher, he has been employed at Rock Falls High School for the past 17 years, where he also is the head coach of the boys’ golf team. “It’s a genuine honor and pleasure to join the IASB board,” Buikema said.

Ben Andersen
His predecessor on the board, Ben Andersen, has been Director of IASB’s Northwest Division for the past
nine years. A member of the East Dubuque CUSD 119 Board of Education since 1986, he has served as president and vice president, and chaired the board’s buildings and ground committee, as well as serving on its finance, policy, business, and budget panels. As an IASB Director, Andersen had served on the Association’s Nominating Committee, 2008 and 2009; on the Audit Committee, 2010; and the Executive Committee, 2011.

Andersen, a small businessman and entrepreneur, also is a Lion’s Club member and has been active with various community organizations, including serving as president of the Community Mental Health Board of Jo Daviess County.

“I will miss all the dedicated fellow board members and staff at IASB, but I thought it was only fair to let my replacement on our board have a chance to get acclimated to the job of director. I am stepping down from my local board in April after 30 years, at age 66, and am preparing to move to Florida in retirement,” he said.

Share the Success presentations sought

While the 2016 Joint Annual Conference is a fresh memory, it is not too early to begin thinking about the 2017 Conference. In fact, school districts and related education organizations are being invited now to submit their proposals (RFPs) for "Share the Success" panel presentations.

Success stories from local school districts and related organizations have long been a strong drawing card at the annual IASB/IASA/IASBO Conference. School board members and administrators from every division come to learn and benefit from the practical experiences "Share the Success" panel presentations provide.

Each year, a select number of districts and organizations are chosen to make presentations. These 60-minute panel sessions – presented by board members, administrators, and other school or community members who were involved in the particular programs to be showcased – are based on actual school system experiences. Presenters give insight and practical information on how to solve common problems. They share discoveries and innovations from programs succeeding in their school districts. They also provide tips on how school leaders can achieve such successes in their own districts.

Proposals for the 2017 Joint Annual Conference are due in the Springfield office by Friday, Feb. 10, 2017.

A committee of Association members will evaluate all proposals received by that date. Invitations will then be issued to the districts and organizations recommended by the evaluators. Acceptance of an invitation to present a "Share the Success" panel represents a joint commitment to create a valuable educational experience for conference attendees. Districts and related organizations are urged to not submit a proposal unless they are fully prepared to make that commitment – and presentation – at the 85th Joint Annual Conference, scheduled for Nov. 17-19, 2017 in Chicago.

Districts and organizations that are not selected may be offered an alternative opportunity to present at Conference. The Carousel of Panels will be held on Saturday, Nov. 18. This venue is designed to allow districts and organizations a chance to make three 30-minute presentations on their topic, allowing attendees an opportunity to obtain a wide variety of information in minimal time.

Panel proposals for the 2017 Joint Annual Conference may be submitted online. Instructions for completing and submitting the form are included and must be followed in order for the panel proposal to be considered.

If you have any questions, please contact Peggy Goone at or call 217/528-9688, ext. 1103.


Download PDF Version (to be submitted by mail or FAX)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Districts face transportation obligations for foster care students

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires school districts receiving Title I funds to develop and implement written procedures for transportation of foster children at their school of origin, provided that it is in each student’s best interests.

The federal law says such transportation should be provided, arranged, and funded for the duration of the student’s time in foster care. Illinois school districts are not free to develop these procedures independently for the 17,000 children in foster care in the state. Instead, ESSA requires that the procedures be crafted in collaboration with the state or local child welfare agency.

Note that ESSA, in similar fashion as its predecessor, NCLB, is an amendatory act under the umbrella of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). Additionally, ESSA amends related federal statutes, such as the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, Protection of Pupil Rights Act, and the Boy Scouts of America Act, among others.

As a result of all these parameters and restrictions, IASB and Illinois districts had to await guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education and the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) regarding the necessary options to remain in compliance with ESEA, ESSA, and Title I funding rules on foster care transportation.

On Dec. 12, ISBE issued Guidelines for Determination of Best Interests and Transportation and Procedures for Dispute Resolution (Bulletin 01-16). The correspondence aims to assist school districts’ compliance with ESSA’s requirements relating to foster care students’ educational stability, including the obligation to develop transportation procedures.

“IASB has received numerous questions from districts with concerns regarding ISBE’s bulletin,” said Maryam Brotine, IASB assistant general counsel. “We are in communication with ISBE regarding our concerns with the proposed guidelines and hope to have clarification soon.”

PRESS Issue 93, released in early November, included an update to policy 4:110, Transportation, addressing district compliance with federal foster care student transportation obligations by adding a sentence to assure districts will meet transportation needs of foster care students in accordance with ESEA. The Association is also considering how best to assist members in developing ESEA-compliant foster care transportation procedures, and whether further PRESS material on this topic will be necessary.

“We [IASB] will issue updates on this topic as more information becomes available. In the meantime, boards are encouraged to review Issue 93 updates to policy 4:110 and consult with their board attorney to determine if the district needs to do anything in response to ISBE’s guidance,” Brotine said.

Additional information on this topic is available on the IASB School Law webpage. Further questions about the issue should be directed to Maryam Brotine, at 630/629-3776, ext. 1219 or by email at

Key dates await board candidates

The next key date is Dec. 27, the last
day to file objections to nominating petitions.
Several key dates remain for school board candidates running in the April 4, 2017 consolidated election.

Tuesday, Dec. 27, is the last day to file objections to nominating petitions. Objections must be filed in the office of the county clerk or county board of election commissioners in which the principal office of the school district is located.

Wednesday, Dec. 28, is the final calendar date for a ballot placement lottery, should one have been necessitated due to a simultaneous filing of nominating papers. As usual, names of qualified candidates are placed on the ballot in the order in which their nominating papers are received. But when required, a lottery is held for the first and last spots on the ballot if multiple candidates’ papers were filed simultaneously in either the first or last hour of the filing period.

Thursday, Jan. 26, is the deadline day to formally withdraw as a candidate. School board candidates must file notarized papers to withdraw their nomination by that day, which means filing with the county clerk or county board of election commissioners in which the principal office of the school district is located.

The last key date is Thursday, Feb. 2, which is the final date to file officially as a write-in candidate. Any such candidate must file a notarized Declaration of Intent to be a write-in candidate with the appropriate county clerk or county board of election commissioners. Write-in votes are not counted for those who have not filed such a declaration.

IASB offers election information and candidate guidance, including links to Illinois State Board of Elections and sample forms, here.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Last day for candidate filing is today

IASB offers election information and candidate guidance online,
including links to the state elections board and sample forms, here.
Today is the last day of the Dec. 12-19 filing period for candidates to run in the April 4, 2017 consolidated election, which includes school board elections in most Illinois public school districts.

School board candidate nomination papers are to be filed with the county clerk (or county board of election commissioners, if applicable). Note that the Cook County Clerk website lists four suburban sites, set out as the first thing on the site. If the school district encompasses more than one county, the correct county is that in which the main office of the school district is located.

To become a candidate for the school board, individuals must file the following:

  • Statement of Candidacy;
  • Receipt for Statement of Economic Interests;
  • Nominating petitions.

Names of qualified candidates will be placed on the ballot in the order in which nominating papers are received. If necessary, a lottery will be held for the first and last spots if multiple candidates’ papers are filed simultaneously in the last hour of the filing period.

IASB offers election information and candidate guidance, including links to Illinois State Board of Elections and sample forms, here.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Referendum deadlines near

A key deadline is nearing to complete requirements for placing a referendum on the ballot in the Feb. 28, 2017, primary election; meanwhile two deadlines are approaching for placing a referendum on the April 4, 2017 election. These upcoming deadlines are:

•    Dec. 22, 2016, the last day for the board secretary to certify public policy questions to the election authority for referendum at the Feb. 28, 2017, Consolidated Primary Election (10 ILCS 5/28-5);

•    Jan. 17, 2017, the last day for the school board to adopt resolutions putting public policy questions on the ballot at the April 4, 2017 Consolidated Election (10 ILCS 5/28-2);

•    Jan. 26, 2017, the last day for the board secretary to certify public policy questions to the election authority for referendum at the April 4, 2017 election. (10 ILCS 5/28-5).

See the 2016-17 School Calendar for more information.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Ounce of Prevention plans summit on
educating kids from birth through 3rd grade

For more information, visit 'The Ounce' website.
The Ounce of Prevention Fund is inviting school leaders to apply for a chance to attend their two-day summit on best practices and strategies for ensuring a strong continuum of high-quality educational experiences for children from birth through 3rd grade.

District leaders and experts must apply and be accepted to attend the event on March 22-23, 2017. The summit will share various approaches and local examples aimed at improving student outcomes in the early years.

The so-called Excellence in the Early Years: District Leadership Summit will also "highlight policies and practices that are creating high-quality classroom experiences, building professional capacity and supporting students and families throughout the early learning and early elementary years," according to event organizers.

Those encouraged to attend include district leaders, such as school board members, superintendents, assistant superintendents, chief academic officers, and early childhood directors. Districts are being encouraged to send a team of three or four people to learn, network, and problem-solve together.

Registration and meals are complimentary. Attendees are responsible for lodging and transportation. Rooms are available for a reduced rate at the Loews Hotel in Chicago for the night of March 22. This national summit will begin at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, March 22 and conclude on Thursday, March 23 at 2 p.m.

Space is limited. Registration will be confirmed on an individual basis using a rolling selection process. Early registration is encouraged for priority consideration, organizers say, with a maximum of four participants per organization.

Those interested may share this information and apply now.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Board candidate filing begins today

Get election information and candidate guidance, including
links to Illinois State Board of Elections and sample forms, here.
Today is the first day of the Dec. 12-19 filing period for candidates to run in the April 4, 2017 consolidated election, which includes school board elections in most Illinois public school districts.

School board candidate nomination papers are to be filed with the county clerk (or county board of election commissioners, if applicable). Note that the Cook County Clerk website lists four suburban sites, set out as the first thing on the site. If the school district encompasses more than one county, the correct county is that in which the main office of the school district is located.

To become a candidate for the school board, individuals must file the following:

  • Statement of Candidacy;
  • Receipt for Statement of Economic Interests;
  • Nominating petitions.

Names of qualified candidates will be placed on the ballot in the order in which nominating papers are received. If necessary, a lottery will be held for the first and last spots if multiple candidates’ papers are filed simultaneously in either the first or last hour of the filing period.

IASB offers election information and candidate guidance, including links to Illinois State Board of Elections and sample forms, here.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Staff changes at IASB

The Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) has recently added three new administrative assistants to its staff in the departments of governmental relations and field services.

Mary Ellen Buch began work with IASB on Oct. 24. She is replacing Connie Crowder in the governmental relations department. Crowder is retiring at the end of the year after starting with IASB on May 1, 1988. She served as the governmental relations administrative assistant throughout her tenure with the Association.

Buch brings a wealth of school governance experience with her to the position, working seven years for the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA) in the legislative and communications departments. Prior to her service with IASA, Buch was the administrative assistant at Athens Junior High School, and an analyst for State Capital Information Service and in the legislative department at Ameren/CIPS. Buch will be working out of the IASB Springfield office.

Crowder has been instrumental in facilitating the IASB Resolutions Committee process, departmental programs and activities of the Governmental Relations Department.

“After 28 years at the Association, Connie will truly be missed”, said Ben Schwarm, Deputy Executive Director. “She is the one who made sure that the legislative team was on track and was instrumental in organizing the IASB Resolutions and Delegate Assembly process.”

Crowder said she would miss IASB, stating: “When you work with co-workers that long they become your family. My years spent working at IASB have been the best of my life. The people at the Association are some of the most caring, kind, and generous people I know.”

Joining the Springfield staff along with Buch is Susan O’Donnell, who began working in the field services department on Sep. 12. She will assist Reatha Owen, field services director for IASB’s Blackhawk, Central Illinois Valley, Corn Belt, and Western divisions. O’Donnell also has experience with Unique Personnel Consultants, SIU School of Medicine, and Pleasant Plains High School.

Joining the field services team in the Association’s Lombard office is Kathryn Larson. She started on Oct. 31 and will assist Perry Hill IV, field services director for the South Cook, West Cook, and Three Rivers divisions. Her previous employment includes 15 years as administrative assistant with the McDonald’s corporate headquarters in Oak Brook.

In addition to the new hires, IASB Governmental Relations Director Susan Hilton transferred from the Springfield office to Lombard in mid-December. Hilton will continue to work closely with Association lobbyists at the state Capitol. The move will expand her federal legislative activities with members of Congress in Chicago and the surrounding suburban areas. Hilton has been at IASB since 2007.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Reminder to Complete Conference Survey

Those who attended the 2016 Joint Annual Conference can help IASB improve future Conference programming by completing an online survey. The survey is available until December 12, 2016.

Click here to take this online survey.

There are just two sections and a total of 35 questions, with Section I of the survey dealing with the overall Conference experience and Section II asking opinions about specific Conference sessions and activities.

Opinions on Education

The following are editorials, commentaries, and opinions from various sources regarding public education, collected in November 2016. Comments and opinions of websites linked from this page do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Illinois Association of School Boards.

Click on each headline to read more.

Editorial: Glenbard Dist. 87's credit-worthy success
in expanding AP participation
Editorial Board, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, November 2

We talk a lot about civic education.
Here’s how to get kids really engaged in it
Valerie Strauss, Answer Sheet, The Washington Post, November 5

Messenger: St. Louis girls team breaks through
the coding gender barrier
Tony Messenger, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 6

Why Evanston superintendent's
post-election morning announcement went viral
Heidi Stevens, Balancing Act, Chicago Tribune, November 14

School board members deserve our thanks
Letter to the Editor, Joy A. Swoboda, Superintendent of Woodland District 50, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, November 15

Yes — by a landslide
Editorial Board, Champaign News-Gazette, November 25

School board elections are coming up.
So what exactly does a school board member do?
John Bute, Superintendent of Central District 104, O’Fallon Progress, November 19

Illinois needs a bipartisan, public budget process
Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, State Journal-register, Springfield, November 19

OUR VIEW: Be skeptical of Chicago legislation
Editorial Board, The Ottawa Times, November 22

Surprise? Many worked together
Letter to the Editor, David B. Sholem,  Champaign News-Gazette, November 25

Our View: It's time for some courageous outrage in Illinois
Editorial Board, State Journal-Register, Springfield, November 28

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Candidate filing period opens Dec. 12

Sample forms promulgated by
the state elections board appear
on the IASB website, plus guidance, here.
The filing period is Dec. 12-19 for the April 4, 2017 consolidated election, which includes school board elections in most Illinois public school districts.

School board candidate nomination papers are to be filed with the county clerk (or county board of election commissioners, if applicable). Note that the Cook County Clerk website lists four suburban sites, set out as the first thing on the site. If the school district encompasses more than one county, the correct county is that in which the main office of the school district is located.

To become a candidate for the school board, individuals must file the following:
  • Statement of Candidacy;
  • Receipt for Statement of Economic Interests;
  • Nominating petitions.
Prospective school board candidates began circulating nominating petitions on Sep. 20. These forms must include signatures from at least 50 qualified voters, or 10 percent of the voters residing within the district, whichever is less.

A candidate for an Illinois school board must be at least 18 years old, must have lived in the school district for at least one year, and must be a registered voter. Some restrictions also apply.

Names of qualified candidates will be placed on the ballot in the order in which nominating papers are received. If necessary, a lottery will be held for the first and last spots if multiple candidates’ papers are filed simultaneously in either the first or final hour of the filing period.

Other key dates for candidates: Dec. 27 is the last day to file objections to nominating petitions; Dec. 28 is the final date for a ballot placement lottery; Jan. 26 is the deadline day to formally withdraw as a candidate; and Feb. 2 is the final calendar day to file officially as a write-in candidate.

IASB offers election information and candidate guidance, including links to Illinois State Board of Elections and sample forms, here.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Stay informed with Leading News
To help readers stay informed, IASB offers news headlines, featuring daily news about issues of importance to school board members, on this News Blog.

Leading News, a collection of public education-related headlines from across the state and nation, helps readers understand what the media is covering, and allows school board members to stay on top of the issues they face, or may face, in their leadership roles.

 Leading News is updated most weekdays, and some weekends, throughout the year. IASB members and the public can access this resource by clicking on the Leading News icon above or in the right column of the News Blog. An archive of Leading News is available there as well.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Alliance Legislative Report 99-58


It looks like no deal on a budget. Though Governor Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders met daily this week, no agreement has been reached on either another stop-gap budget or a more permanent “grand compromise” budget. Although the education budget adopted in June was for the entire fiscal year, the budget for most state services is set to expire on Dec. 31.

House Speaker Michael Madigan continues to insist that an agreement be made on the budget alone; no reforms included. The governor persists that no budget, at least a budget with revenue enhancements, will be signed without some reforms that will help the state grow the economy in future years and help middle class taxpayers. At a minimum, the governor wants to include provisions for term limits on state legislators and a property tax freeze.


Members of the House of Representatives went as far as going on record to say that they do not think a “lame-duck” legislature should be allowed to easily raise income tax rates. Historically, big-ticket items and “hard votes” would be addressed in the few legislative days between a General Election and the day the election winners are sworn into office (second Wednesday of January). With no election accountability for those legislators who lost (or did not run for) their seat, these “lame ducks” would have more latitude to vote yes on the controversial questions, such as an increase in the income tax rate.

Currently, it takes a 3/5 vote for any bill that has an immediate effective date (like a tax increase) from June 1 until the end of the year. Starting January 1, it goes back to a simple majority. That is why the “lame duck” sessions are held in January.

But this week, the House approved HJRCA 62 (Franks, D-Woodstock) to amend the State Constitution to require a 3/5 vote until new legislators are sworn in. The resolution passed Thursday on a vote of 84-18-2, but still requires a vote in the Senate. The Senate vote could occur in January, but any such vote in that chamber is expected to have a more difficult chance of passage.  


When the education appropriations bill was approved in June there may – or may have not – been a deal between Governor Rauner and Chicago Democrats on appropriating funds to help Chicago Public Schools make payments to its teachers’ pension fund. In SB 2822 (Cullerton, D-Chicago), $215 million was appropriated for the CPS teachers’ pension fund. The governor says it was contingent on the legislature approving pension reform legislation before the end of the year; Senate President John Cullerton says there was no such deal.

The bottom line is that the governor vetoed SB 2822 today, firing a giant hole in the CPS budget. The Cullerton-led Senate promptly voted to override the veto. The House had not yet taken up a vote on the veto override motion at the time this report was sent.

Click here to read the entire Alliance Legislative Report 99-58, including other legislation debated during the second week of veto session.