Monday, May 30, 2016

Alliance Legislative Report 99-47


With four days remaining before the scheduled session adjournment deadline, no state budget compromise is imminent. After a roller coaster week with reports of budget progress followed by reports of total breakdowns, the week seemed to end on the total breakdown front. The buzz Friday morning was that at least one side came away from budget meetings declaring that there was not enough time left in the session to create the “grand compromise” needed to end the year-long budget debacle. But in the Capitol, four days at the end of May can seem like an eternity.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate adjourned Friday afternoon and will return to the Capitol on Sunday afternoon.

It was an eventful week, however, regarding budget plans and funding proposals. The House approved an omnibus state budget bill (SB 2048) that would provide $700 million in new funding for K-12 education to be distributed through an “Equity Grant” based on a school district’s poverty student concentration. Currently, this is the only appropriations bill moving for Fiscal Year 2017, including a budget for elementary and secondary education.

Alliance members are encouraged to contact their legislators and urge approval of a Fiscal Year 2017 K-12 budget before adjournment. Senators should be urged to support the K-12 appropriation outlined in SB 2048.

Click here to read the entire Alliance Legislative Report 99-47, including a number of education funding proposals and other legislation under consideration.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Board policy focus of state association conference

Twenty-five state school board associations were represented in Chicago May 17-19 to discuss board policy at the 2016 American Association of State Policy Services (AASPS) Annual Conference. Joining the 50 registered attendees were staff members from the IASB departments of general counsel, meetings management, and policy services.

Panels, including this one on recent federal developments, drew big audiences.
The National School Board Association had a staff member on hand to deliver the latest information regarding the implementation of the new Every Student Succeeds Act (EESA) and provide updates on other federal legal issues.

A variety of panel topics were presented by association representatives from throughout the country. Fifteen panel presentations on subjects ranging from restorative justice trends in student discipline and the use of drones in schools to providing policy services to association membership and community engagement were on the agenda. NSBA Senior Staff Attorney Leza Conliffe provided attendees with the federal update and led a session on implementing ESSA.

The schedule also included blocks of time for the policy experts to collaborate and share best practices that can be developed and adapted for their own regions. The school board association staff representatives shared common trends from their states and discussed how specific issues are impacting education systems and the local governance structure.

“This conference is an opportunity to network with others who do policy work at other state associations,” said Nancy Bohl, IASB policy services consultant and 2016 AASPS president. “We share various perspectives, identify emerging trends, and bring back ideas to our own states for developing sound policy for our school boards.”

For live updates and information about this year’s AASPS conference, follow the IASB Twitter and Facebook accounts, or check the conference hashtag at #aasps16chicago.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Online Learning Center temporarily unavailable as new content is being developed

The IASB Online Learning Center is currently under construction in order to provide members an enhanced online learning experience, complete with new courses, webinars, and webcasts. Registration will re-open in June 2016. The OLC will be temporarily unavailable May 20 through mid-June.

Individuals who have already registered for courses will have until June 4 to complete the course training and receive the credits. Registration for courses ended May 20 but will reopen in June.

The OLC offers internet-based training designed to complement IASB in-district, regional, and statewide workshops. A variety of courses are offered, including Illinois mandatory school board training.

Courses available through the OLC start as low as $30, and participants may earn LeaderShop Academy credit for training opportunities completed.

For questions regarding the OLC contact Sandra Kwasa at, or by phone at 630/629-3776, ext. 1213, or Linda Zulaski at, ext. 1212.

Activity on education funding
taking place in the Capitol

Much has happened in the Illinois State Capitol over the last couple of days regarding K-12 education funding.

The Senate Executive Committee is meeting right now to discuss an amendment to HB 3190 sponsored by Senator Kimberly Lightford which would change how school funding is distributed. For Fiscal Year 2017, state aid would be distributed through the formula contained in Senator Andy Manar’s plan (SB 231). For fiscal years 2018 and beyond education funding would be distributed based on the Evidence-Based Funding Model highlighted in the Vision 20/20 plan.

In the House of Representatives, an amendment sponsored by Representative Will Davis has been filed to HB 828 containing the Evidence-Based Funding Model. An amendment has also been filed to HB 829 containing the Manar proposal. Neither of these amendments have yet been approved by the House Rules Committee so they are stalled for now.

Also in the House, the Democrat majority approved an omnibus state budget bill (SB 2048) that, according to Republicans, proposes to spend billions more than will be available in the coming fiscal year. The bill would provide for $700 million in new funding for K-12 education to be distributed through an “Equity Grant” based on a school district’s poverty student concentration.

Bills must receive approval from both the House and Senate before being sent to the governor so nothing, necessarily, is imminent right now.

See IASB's twitter feed for updates.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

School design entries sought for 2016 Conference exhibit

School districts and design professionals are invited to enter the 2016 Exhibition of Educational Environments, an annual juried awards program sponsored by the IASB Service Associates to recognize outstanding design of public school facilities used for instructional, recreational, administrative, or other purposes.

Entries can be submitted in the following categories:

  • New building
  • Major addition
  • Minor addition (under 10,000 gross square feet)
  • Major renovation or adaptive reuse
  • Special project (historic preservation or sensitive rehab)
  • Special project (small projects under $4 million or single spaces)
The 2015 school design exhibition drew considerable interest.
A jury of school architects and school administrators will review submissions and select entries to be displayed at the 2016 Joint Annual Conference in Chicago. The jury will give prime consideration to solutions to the stated educational program requirements, among other criteria as outlined in the Call for Entries.

Projects chosen for exhibition will be eligible for Award of Distinction, Award of Merit, or Honorable Mention. The awards will be announced at the First General Session on Friday, Nov. 18.

An application form has been mailed to district superintendents, regional superintendents, and school architects; however applications can also be found on the IASB website, along with additional information, including the materials to be submitted and other entry requirements.

Completed entry forms and fees for each project submitted must be received by July 15. Entry fees for projects not chosen will be refunded (less $25 to cover IASB expenses). Submissions must be accompanied with written permission of the author or owner of the project design documents and all projects must be completed by the start of school in the fall of 2016. No more than two entries may be submitted for the design competition by each entrant.

Additional materials required by the exhibition jury will be due by Sep. 12, with the judging to take place on Sep. 15.

More information about the school design exhibition and awards program is available by contacting, or by calling the IASB office at 217/528-9688, ext. 1131. Awards and coverage from the 2015 exhibition can be found here. A searchable database of previously chosen exhibition entries is also accessible through IASB’s School Design Data File.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Board Learning and Association recognition programs to reset

Over the years, IASB has received numerous questions regarding its “Master Board Member” program and our “LeaderShop Academy” program. The questions that recur most often are:
  • Why two programs?
  • What are the criteria for membership?
  • How do I earn points?
  • How do I earn credits?
  • What’s the difference? 
The Association believes that both of these programs are important to school board members for many reasons. So keeping them intact is a high priority. At the same time, we have also realized that both needed clarity and re-alignment. All members should know the purpose of each program, their status within the program, and how to achieve the next level of recognition.

The launch of a new member database system has provided just the opportunity to align each program to a specific purpose, gain organizational efficiencies for improved recordkeeping, and roll both into the new web-based member management system.

For many members, Master Board Member has become the symbol of longevity, IASB engagement, and service. And that exclusive purpose will remain. The LeaderShop Academy membership is associated with member learning and continuous development. That will also continue.

So, what will change? For too long, the programs have overlapped. LeaderShop credits have also garnered Master Board Member points, leading to confusion among members as to what the programs really mean and how to advance. The changes to each program are described below, along with what you can expect

when our new member database goes live this summer. 

Master Board Member Program

LeaderShop Academy Program

  • Purpose: to recognize association engagement and participation in IASB sponsored events.

  • Points are earned by attending division meetings, governing committee meetings, and Joint Annual Conference. In addition, points are earned through participation as officers and attendance at events such as the Delegate Assembly.

  • Beginning July 1, 2016 some workshop activities that previously garnered points are no longer eligible in order to properly align with program purpose.

  • Points earned at IASB events will still apply at the following levels:
o        Level I  - 60 points
o        Level II – 130 points
o        Master Board Member – 200 points

Maintaining your Master Board Member status will now require just 40 points per year beginning July 1. Attending Joint Annual Conference and two division meetings will meet this requirement.

  • The cumulative points earned from previous years will roll over into the new data system and become the baseline for future points earned. All members will retain their currently earned status in the Master Board Member program.

Take the next step:
  • This summer you will receive a Master School Board Member Activities Summary as in previous years. The form includes all the eligible activities for 2015-2016. Complete the form and return it to IASB by July 31st in order to participate. However, this will be the final year we collect Master Board Member points in this manner. Future points will be automatically calculated within our new data management system. As members register and attend IASB events our web-based system will note member activity and award points as assigned.

  • Purpose: to recognize continued learning at IASB LeaderShop-designated workshops.

  • Credits are earned by attending LeaderShop workshops such as Pre-Conference Workshops, New Board Member Workshops, regional workshops and other designated LeaderShop courses.

  •  Beginning July 1, 2016, LeaderShop workshops will only earn credit in the LeaderShop program and will not count toward the Master Board Member program.

  • Credits earned for attending LeaderShop workshops will still apply to the LeaderShop Academy level membership. The Core and Elective categories for courses have been eliminated with the following credit requirements now in place: 

    o        LeaderShop Academy  - 5 credits including the Basics of Governance
    o        LeaderShop Fellow - 12 credits including the Basics of Governance

  • Credits earned from previous workshops will roll over into the new member database system and continue to accrue as you attend future LeaderShop workshops. All members will retain their currently earned status in the LeaderShop program.

Take the next step:

  • This summer, IASB will notify members how to access the new web-based member database. At that time, you will be able to see your past course work and consider what course you may wish to take in the future.


Monday, May 23, 2016

IASB resolutions deadline is June 22

IASB member districts have a little more than a month to prepare and submit resolutions for consideration by the 2016 Delegate Assembly. Resolution forms were mailed to superintendents and board presidents in early April, with a deadline to submit proposals to the Association by June 22.

The Delegate Assembly is held each November at the Joint Annual Conference in Chicago and serves as the policy-setting body of the Association. Active member boards may submit proposals for new IASB resolutions, amendments to existing position statements, reaffirmations of existing position statements, or belief statements.

The Resolutions Committee, consisting of one elected member from each of the 21 IASB divisions, will meet on Aug. 5 to review submissions and recommend either approval or disapproval of the measures. Appeals to Resolutions Committee decisions are accepted if submitted in writing at least eight days prior to the Nov. 19 Delegate Assembly.

A fillable 2016 resolution form can also be downloaded from the IASB website. For additional information, contact Connie Crowder at ext. 1132.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

IASB Board of Directors meets

The IASB Board of Directors met May 13-14 at the Association office in Springfield, where they conducted their annual board self-evaluation and continued their review of governance policies.

The board, which meets quarterly, has been working on its governing policies for the past two years. This meeting focused on 10 governing culture policies and four board/executive director relationship policies. The board also spent time reviewing its role and how directors “connect with ownership.”

A number of minor changes to the Association’s Constitution have been proposed and the board recommended that they proceed to the IASB resolutions committee. The language additions, deletions, or changes were made in large part “to codify what has been past practice,” according to IASB President Phil Pritzker. The proposed changes will be included the annual Report to Membership that is distributed prior to the annual Delegate Assembly.

Executive Director Roger Eddy presented the Association’s FY 2017 budget, which he said reflected a conservative approach to revenue estimates and continued review of operating expenses.

In addition to Eddy’s report, the board also received updates on legislative issues, Service Associates, Illinois High School Association issues, National School Board Association’s annual conference and summer leadership institute, spring division meetings, royalty programs, staffing, plans for the 2016 Joint Annual Conference, and the board’s annual work calendar.
The board also congratulated Past President Karen Fisher for her recognition from the LaSalle ROE, and Melinda Selbee, who is retiring after 26 years as IASB General Counsel.

The next quarterly meeting of the IASB Board of Directors is scheduled for Aug. 13-14 in Chicago.

Alliance Legislative Report 99-46


Another new K-12 education budget proposal may soon be emerging in the Capitol. The plan acknowledges that the current school funding distribution formula is inadequate and would suspend the use of the formula for Fiscal Year 2017. Instead for FY 2017, school districts would receive the same amount of General State Aid funding they received in FY 2016, plus a share of an additional $500 million that would be distributed separately based on student poverty counts. This new funding block would be defined as the “Equity Grant.”

According to architects of the plan, school districts would generally receive no less funding than they are receiving this current year, plus all districts would receive additional funding based upon the proportion dollar amount of funding each district received from the “poverty grant” in FY 16. Mandated categorical grants and other line items would generally be funded at FY 16 levels.

In the proposal, the current funding formula is not repealed, but simply suspended for FY 2017 to allow for time to study potential new funding formulas. Two possible replacement funding formulas being discussed to begin in FY 2018 are the plan embraced in Senator Andy Manar’s SB 231, and the Evidenced-Based Funding Model that was outlined in the funding pillar of the Vision 20-20 plan. Many common themes run throughout these two models. Proponents of SB 231 are still focused on passage of their plan for implementation in FY 2017.

Based on input from school administrators and school board members throughout this year, the first priority of the Alliance is to ensure that a FY 2017 K-12 budget is approved before the adjournment of the legislative session. This is crucial for school districts to plan for school openings in the fall.

The Alliance is also actively involved in discussions in the Capitol regarding a long-term revision to the school funding formula, concentrating on adding key aspects of the Evidenced-Based Funding Model. The Alliance, along with the Vision 20-20 partners, will be hosting a meeting early next week with key education and appropriation leaders in the legislature to discuss long-term funding options, including implementation of components of the evidenced-based plan.

Alliance members are encouraged to continue the dialogue with their legislators explaining why adopting a FY 2017 K-12 budget is imperative before adjournment of the legislative session and that revisions to the current school funding formula are necessary.

Click here to read the complete Alliance Legislative Report 99-46, including bill action from the past week.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Transgender discrimination advisory issued

On May 13, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a joint Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students reminding schools that Title IX’s prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination based on a student’s gender identity and transgender status. The Dear Colleague Letter purportedly does not add legal requirements, but informs schools how the DOE and DOJ will evaluate whether they are complying with legal obligations. The DOE and DOJ state that such obligations include:
  • Treating students consistent with their gender identity,
  • Not requiring a medical diagnosis, medical treatment, or official identification documents as a prerequisite for a student to be treated consistent with their gender identity,
  • Allowing transgender students to access sex-segregated activities (e.g., athletics and single-sex classes) consistent with their gender identity,
  • Allowing transgender students to access sex-segregated facilities (including restrooms, locker rooms and housing/overnight accommodations) consistent with their gender identity, and
  • Protecting transgender students’ privacy (for example, by not designating students’ sex as directory information).
The DOE simultaneously released an accompanying document, Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students, to provide schools with information and examples for complying with these legal obligations.

PRESS model policy 7:10-AP, Accommodating Transgender Students or Gender Non-Conforming Students, will be updated to include these documents in its list of References for school district consideration. Schools are reminded to consult with their Board attorney regarding any further updates to their policies and procedures governing transgender students.  For further discussion of transgender student issues, please click here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Federal Legislative Report 114-9


The Negotiated Rulemaking Committee concluded its work on April 19. The committee’s task was to review rules proposed by the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) on assessments and supplement/not supplant. Committee members reached final consensus on all of the identified issues included in the proposed assessment regulations. The committee was unable to achieve consensus on the supplement/not supplant regulations.

What’s next? The USDOE is bound to the agreement on the assessment regulations and will promulgate formal regulations based on the committee’s negotiations. They will also proceed in issuing supplement/not supplant regulations, but since the committee could not reach consensus they are not bound by the negotiations. The failure to reach consensus triggers a specific congressional oversight provision in ESSA, which allows Congress to weigh-in on whatever supplement/not supplant language the USDOE submits as proposed rules. All of the regulations and transcripts of the negotiated rulemaking meetings will be posted on the USDOE website.

Click here to read the complete Federal Legislative Report 114-9, including an update on school nutrition reauthorization and U.S. Department of Labor overtime requirements.

Monday, May 16, 2016

New edition of popular Law Survey published

The newest edition of the Illinois School Law Survey, authored by school attorney Brian A. Braun, has been published by the Illinois Association of School Boards.

The book, published every other year since 1990, is an easy-to-use legal reference to common school law questions and issues, written in a Q&A format that can be used by school board members, administrators, secretaries, and attorneys.

Answers in each of the 27 chapters are based on state and federal statutes and case law in force and reported as of Jan. 1, 2016, and administrative rules and regulations current as of Dec. 15, 2015. The 14th edition includes new questions and answers that have been updated and/or expanded and others that have been revised in some fashion. That’s in addition to new court decisions that alter the application of existing laws.

In an addition to its extensive Table of Contents, the book offers two other features that enable the reader to find information quickly:

  • A Quick Reference Index provides a detailed listing of subjects arranged alphabetically with links to specific questions and answers in the text
  • Court cases are compiled in a table in alphabetical order by name of plaintiff. Each court decision is listed in the table with full legal citations and a note as to where the decision is referenced in the book.  

In addition, the newest edition puts the entire contents of the book and its resources online. Each book provides a unique user access code that replaces the CD found in older editions of the book. This digital version can be accessed on any computer or mobile device (laptop, tablet, or smart phone) with Internet access.

The Illinois School Law Survey may be obtained from IASB for $60 (IASB members pay $45) plus $7 per order for shipping. Additional work station licenses are available for $7.

To place orders, call IASB at 217/528-9688, extension 1108; mail or fax a printed order form; or visit the IASB bookstore and order online.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Alliance Legislative Report 99-45


May 13, 2016

With 13 days left before the scheduled adjournment of the Illinois General Assembly session, there is still no State budget for the current fiscal year, not to mention Fiscal Year 2017. A group of lawmakers have been discussing ways to solve the current State budget impasse and have reportedly sent what is being labeled a “first step” to the Governor and legislative leaders.

The legislature adjourned for the week on Thursday and return to the Capitol on Tuesday.


Revisions to the school funding formula were the topic of conversation in the Capitol this week. On Tuesday, the Senate approved SB 231 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill) on a vote of 31-21-3 and sent it to the House of Representatives. Thirty votes were necessary for passage. This is the school funding reform bill that revises how General State Aid (GSA) money is distributed to school districts. The fate of SB 231 is unknown in the House as Speaker of the House Michael Madigan has established a task force that is studying various school funding reform plans. The bill is currently still in the House Rules Committee and has not been assigned to a committee for hearing.

The sponsor has been working on this concept for approximately three years and introduced Senate Bill 16 two years ago. The basic premise of the funding formula change is to drive state funding to those school districts in the most need. This would be done, according to proponents, by replacing the current General State Aid formula and collapsing it into a single, simpler formula. It uses weighted measures in the foundation level so certain characteristics and students would generate increased funding. Additional weighting, for instance, would be added for low-income students, English language learners, and special education students.

The estimated amounts each school district would receive under the plan, calculated by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), can be found by clicking here.

Also this week, discussion of the proposed Evidenced-Based Funding Formula, as outlined in the Vision 20/20 plan, took place in two different venues. This funding approach is now being vetted by a much larger coalition of educational organizations than just the original Vision 20/20 associations.

On Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Mike Jacoby, Executive Director of the Illinois Association of School Business Officials, and Brian Battle, a school board member from Barrington CUSD 220, testified before the House Education Task Force regarding the Evidenced-Based Funding model. This hearing was for discussion only and no votes were taken. On Wednesday, Jacoby and Dr. Brent Clark, Executive Director of the Illinois Association of School Administrators, testified before the ISBE. Again, this hearing was for informational purposes only and no substantive action was taken by the Board. Senator Manar also presented testimony on SB 231 to ISBE Wednesday.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Controversy hangs over PARCC tests

PARCC participation has dwindled from 24 states to seven since 2010.
As Illinois schools administer the PARCC standardized test this spring, state officials have been trying to find out why so many students skipped the tests last year, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The state does not have a formal procedure to allow parents to opt out of the test on their children’s behalf, and state law requires schools to offer the test to every eligible child. So for families opposed to the test, the burden falls on children to refuse it themselves.

Last year, 44,000 students did not take the PARCC exam’s English language arts component and 42,000 didn't take the math component — or about four percent of the more than 1 million students tested. Students who did not take the test typically were marked absent or flat-out refused to take the test.

Those totals are plugged in to a state formula that determines whether schools and districts meet a 95 percent participation requirement. If at least 95 percent of eligible students at a school district did not take the PARCC test last year, the district was asked to explain why to state officials by April 30.

State officials look at whether all students meet the 95 percent threshold and whether specific groups of students meet the requirement, based on their race and other factors. More than 400 schools did not meet the 95 percent participation requirement in each of the English and math exams, based upon state counts. That reflects about 12 percent of all the schools taking the exams in third through eighth grade and in high school.

“Given the fact that it’s legally OK for a student to refuse the test, I find it interesting that there’s now an inquiry,” said Lindsey Hall, superintendent of Morton Community Unit School District 709, one of the school districts that did not meet the 95 percent threshold. “I’m sure the state wants to ensure there was no encouragement from schools.” Hall’s comments were quoted in the Peoria Journal Star on April 5.

Federal law requires the Illinois State Board of Education to investigate school districts that don’t meet the legally required testing participation rate.

“The reality is, in my district — and in districts throughout the state — we had an awful lot of parents who didn’t want their kids to take the test,” Hall told the Peoria newspaper, adding that he maintains files of letters and emails from parents opposed to the PARCC testing.

The state’s inquiry is gathering “evidence and testimony” from school staff, community members, parents and “even students if appropriate,” according to a letter that state schools Superintendent Tony Smith sent to districts to announce the inquiry.

The Feb. 18 letter said regional education superintendents in Illinois would gather the facts and report back to ISBE.

The testing window for the spring 2016 administration of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment opened March 7 and continues through June 10. Districts selected their own 30-day testing period within that time frame.

This is the second year that schools in the state have participated in PARCC assessment. Students in grades 3-8 and in select high school courses are taking the assessment in English language arts (ELA) and math. The statewide assessment, which debuted in spring 2015, is aligned to the new Illinois Learning Standards Incorporating the Common Core, and focuses on students’ mastery of key concepts as well as their critical thinking and writing skills.

This year’s results will allow comparisons to show how well a child is developing knowledge and understanding of material covered by the state learning standards, which are focused on college and career readiness.

ISBE expects to receive PARCC assessment scores much sooner for this year’s test than for the 2015 test, enabling teachers to tailor instruction to meet specific student needs and better support improvement efforts. Districts should receive score reports in the fall.

About 85 percent of students are expected to take the assessment online this spring, compared to 75 percent in 2015. The remaining eligible test takers will take a pencil-and-paper exam. The goal is for all schools to eventually administer the assessment online.

But the test remains a subject of controversy here and across the nation. Illinois is one of just seven states, along with the District of Columbia, that still use the PARCC exam. One of those participating states, Massachusetts, will no longer use the test exclusively as its standardized exam next year; the Bay State will be switching to a hybrid test in 2017 that includes material from both the PARCC and its previous statewide exam.

More information about the test is available at ISBE’s PARCC Place and ISBE’s Hot Topics page.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Alliance Legislative Report 99-44

Alliance Legislative Report 99-44SIGNS OF PROGRESS

May 6, 2016

With the scheduled adjournment deadline getting closer and closer, the first week of May in the Illinois General Assembly might be more notable for what didn’t happen than what did. We previously previewed multiple Constitutional Amendments that were put forward that would have a serious impact on Illinois state government. However, none of them moved forward this week, passing a legislative deadline that effectively killed the amendments. For more on those amendments, see our last Alliance Legislative Report.

An expected vote on SB 231 was delayed as the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) released its projections for funding under the plan. The numbers showed the Chicago Public School system to be the main benefactor of the new funding system. However, Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), the bill’s sponsor quickly claimed that the numbers were inaccurate.  Regardless of whether or not ISBE’s numbers or the Senate Democrats yet to be released numbers are more accurate, the conversation on school funding reform is far from over.

Signs of bi-partisan cooperation were evident again as the Senate passed two bills to help further fund higher education. The first piece of legislation, HB 580, forgives a loan that is owed to special funds that were swept previously. Forgiving this loan allows the Illinois General Assembly to access about $450 million in General Revenue Funds. A subsequent bill, SB 2048, Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), would send that “new” money to higher education institutions that have been operating this fiscal year without help from the state of Illinois. Both bills now head to the House of Representatives for approval.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Past president honored by local ROE

With hundreds in attendance, the LaSalle, Marshall, and Putnam Regional Office of Education (ROE) hosted its Excellence in Education awards banquet on May 5, recognizing the outstanding work of local school faculty, staff, and school board members. At this year’s banquet, the ROE presented a special award to IASB Immediate Past President Karen Fisher, honoring her 35-plus years of service on local boards of education.
Karen Fisher receives award from Chris Dvorak, ROE #35

Fisher began her school board work in 1979 with Miller CUSD 210, where she served until 1987. That same year, Fisher was elected to the Ottawa Township High School District 140 Board of Education. She served on the Ottawa school board until 2015, holding the positions of board president, vice president, and secretary.

Fisher, who grew up in Pekin and lives in Marseilles, Illinois, was elected Association president in 2013 and served two, one-year terms. She was very active in Association work throughout her career, serving as vice president in 2012 and 2013, as well as serving on Nominating and Audit Committees, chairing the Resolutions Committee, and serving as a National School Board Association delegate and Central Region Nominating Committee member.

As IASB president, Fisher championed adequate funding for Illinois public schools, meanwhile finding creative means at the local level to “do more with less.” She was a strong defender of public schools and often expressed her opposition to state-created charter schools siphoning funds away from local schools.

Fisher joins other award winners on stage.
“Karen shared her deep passion for public education, her profound sense of fairness for providing a quality education to every child, and her leadership skills with the broader public school community in Illinois,” said IASB Executive Director Roger Eddy. “She consistently conveyed a sense of collaboration in her leadership style while maintaining a sharp focus on IASB’s mission.”

“Karen is truly a leader among her peers. She is certainly deserving of the gratitude that is demonstrated with this very special award,” Eddy emphasized.

Karen Fisher and her husband John have two children, five grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. In addition to her school board service, Fisher is a former prevention specialist at the LaSalle County Council for Alcohol and Drug Abuse.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

VIDEO: IASB Governmental Relations talk property tax freeze, school mandates, and more

IASB Governmental Relations Director Deanna Sullivan and Assistant Director Zach Messersmith sit down for a discussion on the first few months of the 2016 spring legislative session. A property tax freeze, numerous school mandates, and more are reviewed in detail by the Association staff members. 

If the video is not displaying correctly, click here.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

May/June Journal features arts education

The May/June 2016 issue of The Illinois School Board Journal examines fine arts education in Illinois, including new recommendations for fine arts learning standards, and explaining the importance of arts education. The Journal also revisits administrator salaries, with some surprising news about the gender gap, and takes a look at the new federal Every Student Succeeds ACT (ESSA).

Opinions on Education

The following are editorials, commentaries, and opinions from various sources regarding public education, collected in April 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.

Dave Griffel, State Journal Register, Springfield, April 2

Our View: Illinois' inability to pay its bills winds up wasting more money
Editorial Board, Rockford Register Star, April 5

Marlen Garcia, Chicago Sun-Times, April 7

Editorial, The News-Gazette, Champaign, April 11

Editorial, Effingham Daily News, April 13
Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers, Huffington Post Education, April 13

Dave Palzet, superintendent of Pleasantdale School District 107, Shaw Media/, Downers Grove, April 15

Doug Wilson, Herald-Whig, Quincy, April 17

Laura Washington, Chicago Sun-Times, April 17

Editorial Board, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, April 15

Brent Clark, IASA, Rockford Register-Star, April 15

Editorial Board, Chicago Tribune, April 17

Editorial Board, Chicago Tribune, April 20

Michael J. Petrilli, Robert Pondiscio, Fordham Institute, Chicago Tribune, April 20

Dennis Yohnka, Daily Journal, Kankakee, April 21

Editorial Board, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, April 23

Editorial Board, News-Democrat, Belleville, April 23

Ted Slowik, Daily Southtown, Chicago and suburbs, April 26

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Manhattan Institute, Chicago Tribune, April 27

Editorial, The Southern Illinoisan, Carbondale,updated  April 30

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

Monday, May 2, 2016

Planning for April 2017 school board elections

Although it seems a long way off, local school districts should begin thinking about next year’s Consolidated Election, to be held on April 4, 2017.

The season is approaching for petition filing (both candidates and referenda), withdrawals, filling vacancies, objections, ballot certification, and the like. The Illinois State Board of Elections will publish an official calendar of those dates and deadlines this fall, and has already published a Local Election Officials Handbook for the 2017 Consolidated Election, online here.

It lists the petition filing period as Dec. 12-19, 2016, citing the governing state law [10 ILCS 5/10-6(2)], which sets the filing deadline for school board members as being not more than 113 nor less than 106 days prior to the consolidated election. The handbook also notes that petitions may not be circulated prior to Sep. 20, 2016. [10 ILCS 5/10-4] (no more than 90 days preceding the last day for the filing of the petition).

IASB annually publishes its own calendar, as well, and links to essential election material and information online.

Materials and announcements related to the 2017 school board elections will be posted on the IASB website this fall. Meanwhile, it is not too early to be thinking about recruiting interested and qualified candidates to run for the 2017 election.

IASB has developed a package of pamphlets, “Recruiting School Board Candidates,” to help school districts recruit prospective school board candidates. This material is intended to support an ongoing process of identifying, recruiting, and mentoring future school board candidates, whether at the next election or during an appointment process.

Information in the packet includes:
  • School Board Member Job Description
  • Why School Board Members Serve
  • Characteristics of an Effective School Board Member
  • How to and Where to Find Qualified Candidates
  • Talking with Potential Candidates
  • School Board Election Timetable
  • Additional Resources
This extensive packet of information is available free of charge to member districts and can be ordered by calling Tammy Manley at 217/528-9688, ext. 1108, or by email at In addition, IASB field services directors are available to present this information to local boards and/or communities.
Questions about the information contained in this material should be directed to the IASB communications department at