Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report 100-21

Alliance Legislative Report 100-21
Today is the last scheduled day of the spring legislative session and there is still no budget agreement in sight. The Senate has sent a spending plan, along with new revenues through proposed tax increases, to the House. House leadership is mulling their options of whether to entertain the Senate plan or craft their own and send it back across the rotunda to the Senate. The governor has not been actively engaged with either chamber in brokering a budget deal this week and will likely not agree to anything that has been on the table this week.

A House committee last night approved an amendment to SB 1, the school funding reform bill, and sent it out to the House floor. A second amendment is expected today to make more tweaks to the evidenced-based funding formula. With the added amendments, if the bill is approved on the House floor today it will have to be sent back to the Senate for concurrence in the House amendments.

On Tuesday, the Senate approved a bill that would freeze the property tax extensions for school districts for two years. SB 484, which only applies to school districts, would not allow a district’s tax extension to be any more in levy years 2017 and 2018 than it was in levy year 2016 without voter approval. Another bill, SB 482, would add these same limitations to other units of local government. The limitation would not apply to the payment of principal and interest on bonds or contributions to a pension fund.

SB 484 does include a financial hardship exemption for school districts that meet certain criteria. If a school district meets one or more of the following, it can apply to the state superintendent of education for an exemption from the tax freeze:
  • the equalized assessed valuation (EAV) of the district has decreased by 10 percent or more compared to the EAV for the previous school year;
  • the average daily attendance ( ADA) of the district has decreased by 5 percent or more compared to the ADA in the previous year;
  • 50 percent or more of the pupils enrolled qualify for free or reduced lunch;
  • 20 percent or more of the pupils enrolled have an individualized education plan (IEP);
  • the district has been identified as being on financial watch status for Fiscal Year 2016.
The bill has been assigned to the House Executive Committee, but at this time no hearing has been set.

A property tax freeze has been one of the agenda items Governor Bruce Rauner has insisted upon before he approves a budget. However, his position is that if income tax rate increases are to be made permanent, then the property tax freeze should be permanent as well. He has indicated that he would oppose a temporary property tax freeze.


New board member workshops
start June 2-3

IASB’s New Board Member Workshops, to be held on four weekends during June and July, are designed to meet the needs of school board members elected in 2017. Workshop participants will be able to complete their mandatory board training on Friday. The Saturday sessions will provide board members with essential information to understand and fulfill their governance role.

The workshops, starting June 2-3 and ending on July 7-8, will be held at nine locations throughout Illinois. One- and two-day options are available. Note: three of the nine workshops are already full; seating is limited at each site, so early registration is strongly advised.

Advance registration is required and may be done online. Contact your district secretary to register or login to “My Account” and select the desired workshop from the Events Calendar. New Board Member Workshops are a legitimate school board expense; please contact your district office for guidance.

For more information about this professional development opportunity, view or download the workshop brochure.  

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Still no clear picture
of state budget for next year

IASB Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm
IASB Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm looks at all the moving parts of ongoing budget discussions and urges board members and administrators to contact their legislators about three important issues.

The Illinois General Assembly is in session today as it tries to wrap up the spring legislative session by Wednesday night. No agreement has yet been reached on the larger issues of a Fiscal Year 2018 budget, new revenue streams, school funding reform, or property tax relief.

In line with the dysfunctionality of the past two years, there is no clear path to resolution by the set adjournment date. With the lack of any budget agreement among the governor, House Speaker, and Senate President, the Senate majority moved its own budget package earlier this month. The bills crafted an FY ’18 budget (SB 6), would raise income tax rates and broaden the sales tax base (SB 9), and would implement a new school funding formula (SB 1). The bills are now pending in the House of Representatives, but no action has been taken on those to this point.

The House could approve those bills as they are, amend them with new language, or let them languish in a House committee. The funding bill, SB 1, has been approved by a committee and moved to the House floor, but there is a new House amendment pending which would make several changes to the measure. One of the sticking points in the funding bill is how Chicago Public Schools will fare with a new formula.

Without knowing, yet, what the House majority will do with the Senate plan, and with the governor indicating that he is not in support of the package that emerged from the Senate, the picture today is not much clearer than it has been throughout the spring.

It will take new revenue to comprehensively address and stabilize the state budget. And, undoubtedly, it will take new revenues to allow any new school funding formula to achieve the results that are desired. The governor continues to vow that he will not agree to new revenues without property tax relief and changes to business laws, such as the Workers’ Compensation Act. Then throw into the mix bills to expand gaming (SB 7), increase the minimum wage (SB 81), provide authority to borrow (SB 4), and reform pension laws (SB 16), and you have a colossal balancing act for leaders and legislators.

School board members and administrators should continue reaching out to their legislators and stress that before adjournment, they must: 1) adopt an FY 2018 budget; 2) resist any freeze on property tax extensions for school districts; and 3) adopt a more equitable and adequate school funding distribution formula.

Stay updated on the closing hours of the legislative session by checking the IASB Blog and Twitter feed.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Leading News keeps readers informed
of media coverage on education issues
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.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

School Code update now available

The Illinois Association of School Boards has received shipment of the 2017 Illinois School Code Supplement.

Copies of the Supplement will automatically be mailed to school districts and others who previously purchased copies of the 2016-2017 School Code Service. There is no need to place additional orders.

All new sales of the School Code Service include both the 2016 Code and the 2017 Supplement until the 2018 Code becomes available next year.

The Supplement includes print and digital versions of the entire publication. Accessed by a digital code that was attached to the inside cover of the School Code book, the digital version includes an updated version of the complete School Code, current through all of the 2016 legislative session. The online access also includes annotations with case law and other references, all Illinois State Board of Education rules, and text of court cases cited in the annotations.

The 2016-2017 School Code Service carries a large number of additional statutes pertinent to the public schools, including selected election and pension laws, Educational Labor Relations Act, Open Meetings Act, Freedom of Information Act, Economic Disclosure Section of the Governmental Ethics Act, Truth in Taxation Act, Local Records Act, Personnel Record Review Act, Prevailing Wage Act, Emancipation of Mature Minors Act, Local Government and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, Gift Ban Act, pertinent sections from the Juvenile Court Act, School Visitation Rights Act, and a complete index.

The 2016-2017 School Code Service may be obtained from IASB for $55 each ($45 for IASB members) plus a $7 per order shipping fee.

For more information or to place orders, call 217/528-9688, ext.1108, or visit the online bookstore.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report (100-20)

Earlier this week, the Illinois Senate Democrats passed their own spending plan for next fiscal year. The Senate Democrat spending plan would raise revenues and at the same time cut spending. A similar approach was a part of the “Grand Bargain” earlier in the session, but without support from Senate Republicans, the Senate majority took steps to pass a budget that their members would support. For more details on the spending plan passed by the Senate, click here.

The question now becomes whether or not the House of Representatives will take up the budget passed by the Senate. The House has scheduled committee hearings for those budget bills for the beginning of next week. It appears that the House is not putting forward their own spending plan, as procedurally there wouldn’t be time to have any newly adopted provisions acted on in time to meet the May 31 constitutional deadline. As always, at this time in the legislative cycle that is subject to change hour by hour. Any legislation needing an immediate effective date, as budget items would, have to pass both houses prior to midnight on May 31. If they aren’t acted upon by that time, they’d need 71 votes in the House and 36 votes in the Senate making it more difficult to get the requisite votes for passage.

Beyond a budget, there has probably been no bigger issue this session than school funding reform. The conversation on school funding reform is ongoing with the Senate version of the evidence based funding concept, Senate Bill 1, being the main vehicle. On Wednesday of this week, the House Appropriation-Elementary and Secondary Education committee passed SB 1 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill) to the House floor on a 16-3 vote.

With many complicated issues still before the legislature, be sure to keep an eye out for further Alliance legislative updates as issues of importance emerge. Your assistance contacting your lawmakers will be critical for success in last few days of legislative action.

Click here to read the complete Alliance Legislative Report (100-20), including information on bills that passed both chambers, bills passed in the House and in the Senate, committee action from the past week, and committees scheduled for next week. 

Five directors leaving IASB Board

The IASB Board of Directors said goodbye to five of its members at the quarterly meeting held May 13 in Springfield.

Not running for re-election in April were: Roger Pfister (Shawnee), David Barton (Two Rivers), Dale Hansen (Three Rivers), Lisa Weitzel (Abe Lincoln), and June Maguire (Lake). They were all given plaques for their service to the IASB Board. Longest-serving among them were Pfister (21 years) and Barton (17 years). Hansen also served for several years as IASB Treasurer.

Directors who choose not to run or who are not re-elected to their local school boards are replaced according to the bylaw provisions adopted by each division. Vacancies that occur within the two-year director’s term are also filled according to bylaw provisions that may vary by division. The timing of the replacement process is also determined by the schedule of division meetings or governing board meetings for each division.

IASB will announce the names of new directors as they are chosen by their respective divisions.

IASB President Phil Pritzker (left) congratulates
outgoingTwo Rivers Division board member
David Barton.
Longtime Shawnee Division representative
Roger Pfister offers a farewell.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

State budget bills sent to the House;
School officials urged to contact legislators about property tax freeze

Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm
IASB Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm breaks down the budget passed by Senate Democrats and urges board members and administrators to contact their legislators about the impacts of a property tax freeze.
The Illinois Senate Democrats, on Tuesday, frustrated by the lack of a budget compromise between the governor and the legislative leaders, ventured out alone and approved a comprehensive statewide budget for Fiscal Year 2018. Included in the 650-page omnibus budget proposed in SB 6 are full-year appropriations for K-12 education. The bill passed on a vote of 33-23-2, with no Republicans voting in favor of the measure.

For education, the bill would provide a $286 million increase for General State Aid that is appropriated for “Evidence-Based Funding.” There is no definition in SB 6 of exactly what that means, but it can be assumed it is based on SB 1, which the Senate passed last week. More information on the Senate’s action from last week is posted here.

SB 6 includes a $36 million increase in bilingual education and a $35 million increase in early childhood education. The bill would also appropriate money to Chicago Public Schools for  teacher pension payments.

Accompanying the appropriations bill was SB 9, which would provide additional revenues to the state to cover the costs of the appropriations. SB 9 would increase the individual income tax rate from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent and the corporate income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 7 percent— retroactive to Jan. 1, 2017. The sales tax base would also be broadened to cover certain services, including: storage, laundry, exterminations, security services, tattoos and piercings, cable, satellite, and digital streaming services. Along with a few other changes to the tax codes, the result is estimated to be an increase of $5.4 billion to state coffers.

As it currently stands, Governor Bruce Rauner is not on board with this proposal. In debate yesterday, Senate Republicans indicated that the final two sticking points are agreements on a property tax freeze for school districts and other units of local governments, and Workers’ Compensation Act reform. Last week, the Senate defeated a bill (SB 478) that would have frozen property tax extensions for two years. The governor is calling for a permanent property tax freeze. Alliance members are urged to contact their legislators and inform them of the adverse effects a property tax freeze would have on their school districts.

As for House Speaker Michael Madigan, it is anyone’s guess on how he will deal with the Senate budget plans. Generally, he could ignore or dispose of the Senate bills; approve the Senate bills and send them to the governor; or craft his own budget plan and send it over to the Senate.

The situation is obviously very fluid at this point. The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn for the spring on May 31st. They will be in session most days until then, likely meeting at least a day or two over the holiday weekend.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

ISBE Briefs

Excel Awards
Nominations are being accepted for the Illinois State Board of Education’s (ISBE) annual Those Who Excel/Illinois Teacher of the Year program. Recognition for seven categories of school leaders are being accepted for the 2017-2018 awards, including: school board member/community volunteer, classroom teacher, school administrator/principal, team, licensed student support personnel, educational service personnel (unlicensed), and early career educator. Those Who Excel nominations are due by June 5, with only one nominee per category, per district permitted. The nomination form is available here.

Fiscal Year 2018 Transportation Reimbursement Claims
The Pupil Transportation Claim Reimbursement System is now open to enter data for the 2016-2017 school year. The annual claims must be submitted by Aug. 15. Instructions for submitting the transportation reimbursement have been posted to the ISBE website.

Changes made to ESSA State Plan
The U.S. Department of Education has requested changes in the Illinois ESSA State Plan, due to “incomplete” measurements of interim progress for academic attainment, graduation rate, and English Learner proficiency.

The original plan submitted by ISBE aimed to develop progress measurements based on three-year baseline data, but that data was not yet available. In order to accommodate the Department of Education’s request, ISBE instead used a 15-year timeline for academic attainment based on PARCC data, graduation rates, and English Learner proficiency on ACCESS. The U.S. Department of Education accepted these qualifications. ISBE has stated that these interim progress measurements will be revisited when three-year averages are available.

Burroughs Award nominations sought 
There is less than a month left to nominate local school board presidents for the Thomas Lay Burroughs Award, which is given annually to the state’s outstanding school board president. The deadline for the Illinois State Board of Education to receive nominations is Oct. 6, 2017.

Created in 1 991 in memory of the late ISBE chairman, the award is presented each November at the Joint Annual Conference of IASB, IASA and IASBO. This year’s conference will be held on Nov. 17-19, and the award will be presented on Sunday, Nov. 19.

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

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

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

School districts fortunate enough to have a board president who has provided outstanding leadership in one or all of these areas are encouraged to nominate him or her for the 2017 Burroughs Award.  Anyone who has served as president of a local school board in 2017 is eligible for consideration, including those who might have been nominated in prior years.

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

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report 100-19


With time beginning to run out and tensions mounting, lawmakers delved into the weightier issues in the Capitol this week. In committee and floor action, legislators discussed moving forward on a comprehensive state budget as well as other reform measures that have been on the front burner. Components of the “grand bargain” that were attempted earlier in the year were resurrected in the Senate.

The Senate approved measures to make appropriations for a state budget (SB 6) and to reform the school funding formula (SB 1). But bills to implement the budget (SB 42) and to freeze property taxes (SB 478) failed on the Senate floor. Legislation to raise revenue through an increase in the state’s income tax rates and to reform worker’s compensation were not called for a vote, though there are reportedly negotiations that are ongoing on these topics.


The Illinois House of Representatives and Senate both advanced their versions of the Evidence-Based Funding Model (EBM) for school reform this week. The House moved HB 2808 (Davis, D-East Hazel Crest) out of an appropriations committee on Wednesday and sent it to the House floor. The bi-partisan sponsored plan could be voted on next week and sent to the Senate. While in the Senate, SB 1 ( Manar, D-Bunker Hill) – substantially similar to HB 2808 – was approved and sent across the rotunda to the House.

Certainly the EBM approach supported by the Alliance has become the focus of the General Assembly, and now discussions have moved to details of the various evidence-based plans. While details of the basic elements will continue to be worked out by legislators, the Alliance focus is to ensure that equity and adequacy are preserved. More information on the Alliance position can be found here.

Partisan wrangling over the various funding reform bills did reach a fever pitch Thursday over how Chicago Public Schools (CPS) would be treated within the new formula. Various funding proposals treat the CPS block grant and pension payments differently, thus directing school funds in different directions. This will be one of the formula “details” that needs to be worked out.


Governor Bruce Rauner has been calling for a property tax freeze since his first State of the State Address. And with legislators from both parties joining in on this mantra, the push continues. Wednesday, a bill that would have frozen the property tax extensions for school districts and other local governments for two years was defeated on the Senate floor. SB 478 received more than a simple majority of the Senators voting, but since the bill preempted the home rule statute, it needed a 3/5 th majority vote.

The governor’s position has been that if any increase in income tax rates will be permanent, then the freeze in property taxes should be permanent as well. Leadership in the Senate majority, due to the concern of what a freeze could do to local school district budgets, have agreed to no more than a two-year freeze.


The issue of providing relief from the overabundance of unfunded and underfunded mandates on local school districts continues to be pushed by the Alliance and responded to in various pieces of legislation. Such provisions have emerged in various versions of pension bills, school funding reform bills, and property tax freeze bills. The Alliance has drafted its own bills to provide flexibility for physical education, drivers’ education, third party contracting, and allowing local boards to waive existing mandates. This language has been provided to legislators.

But in some versions of these “mandate relief” provisions that have appeared, there is much weaker language inserted (such as requiring a school board to hold a referendum at an election to request permission to seek a mandate waiver). The Alliance cannot support such provisions and will continue to fight for true relief and flexibility.

Click here to read the entire Alliance Legislative Report 100-19.