Friday, June 30, 2017

In Memoriam: James L. Sandner

James L. Sandner, a distinguished voice and leader in the insurance and claims management industry, died Tuesday, June 27, 2017. He was 77.

Sandner was president and CEO of The Sandner Group, a company that provides insurance program management, alternative risk solutions, and claims management. He was a long-time partner with the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB), helping to manage a number of the Association’s sponsored insurance-pool programs.

The Workers Compensation Self-Insurance Trust (WCSIT) was created in 1982 as a means for school boards to effectively contain the cost of workers’ compensation coverage and empower districts to proactively manage safety concerns. The Illinois School District Agency (ISDA) offers property casualty coverage through a pooled risk management program, which has allowed more than 150 Illinois school districts to receive specialized loss control services and low-cost property appraisals. Sandner was instrumental in both, creating ISDA and taking over management duties of WCSIT a few years after it was organized.

“Jim was a pioneer in developing risk-pools for public bodies, schools in particular,” said IASB Executive Director Roger Eddy. “He provided the opportunity for school districts to drive prices down and save millions of dollars.”

Former IASB Executive Director Michael D. Johnson met Sandner in 2000. “I was very impressed with his knowledge of self-insurance pools,” Johnson said. “When working with districts and IASB, he would always ask, ‘what is the school’s point of view.’ Then he would give us his advice, but he would always listen to our recommendation and he would follow what we had asked.”

Sander was highly respected in the world of self-insurance pools, becoming a nationally recognized leader on the subject.

“Following September 11, 2001, Jim and I were asked to go the White House to talk about terrorism insurance pools. That really speaks to how valued his opinions were on the subject,” said Johnson.

Eddy echoed a similar sentiment. “He would advise various states about how to best manage their insurance pools. Not only was he nationally recognized, but he was respected around the world. Lloyd’s of London would consult his services.”

James Sandner grew up on the south side of Chicago. He would go on to graduate from Loyola University Chicago with a B.S. in business administration and management. Sandner served 14 years in the U.S. Army, Army Reserves, and Illinois National Guard, retiring in 1977 as a captain. In addition to his work with The Sandner Group, he also managed a steel mill and was a state regulator for the insurance industry.

Sandner had six children and is survived by his wife, Erica. Further information on memorial services will be posted here when it becomes available.

Journal offers personal, practical insights
to board service, advocacy, electronics

Readers of the July/August issue of The Illinois School Board Journal will discover the many words of wisdom that experienced board members from all over the state share with newcomers to board service. In a related matter, no matter how long you’ve been on the board, attorney Scott F. Uhler, a partner with Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins, Ltd. in Chicago, details what you need to know about using your personal electronic device for public business.

Also in this issue, in "From rigor to reality, revisited," by James Rosborg, the Journal takes another look at the impact of the changes in the state rules and regulations in the number of teacher and administrator candidates in Illinois. Finally, discover the personal and relationship-building aspects of advocacy with Cynthia Woods, who recently retired as IASB's director of advocacy.

Watch for the issue in your postal mail. Click here or below to read the complete digital version.

Two veterans join IASB Board of Directors

The Illinois Association of School Boards recently welcomed two new division directors.

David Barton
Tracie A. Sayre
Tracie A. Sayre, a 10-year member of Triopia CUSD 27 (Concord), will represent the Two Rivers Division on the IASB Board of Directors. A resident of Arenzville, she works in the healthcare industry as a senior systems analyst in human resources. She has previously served the division as resolutions chair.

Sayre replaces 17-year board member David Barton of Pikeland CUSD 10, who did not seek re-election in 2017.

Bob Rodewald
Dale Hansen
Rob Rodewald was elected to represent the Three Rivers Division. He has served on the Bourbonnais SD 53 school board for 14 years. The Bourbonnais resident is a radio announcer and adjunct professor of communication at Olivet Nazarene University. He previously served the division as an at-large member and resolutions chair. Rodewald replaces Dale Hansen, a longtime member of the Grant Park CUSD 6, who also served as the Association’s treasurer.

The Association's constitution places governance in the hands of its elected board of directors. The board of directors, made up of officers and regional directors, employs an executive director and approves annual budgets to carry out the work of the Association. Information about the leadership, including a directory, policies, and minutes of board meetings, can be found HERE.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

2017 Digest of Bills a helpful advocacy tool for local districts

Each year, the IASB Governmental Relations Department prepares the Digest of Bills Passed for the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance. The publication contains a list of education-related bills approved by lawmakers during the spring session. The legislation included in the booklet is categorized by topic and bill number, each containing a brief summary of the proposal. Two indexes are provided to assist users in finding the legislative information they may be seeking.

A section to help determine where the bill stands within the legislative process is also included. A chart indicating what action the governor can take on a bill and a breakdown of how to determine when a bill will take effect is also provided. 

The Digest of Bills Passed is intended to provide local school officials with the necessary facts to advocate for or against initiatives that the governor will be considering in the coming weeks. It is suggested that board members and school leaders contact the governor’s office regarding any bill that may impact or influence local education decisions. 

The Digest is available on the IASB website and will be mailed to member districts in early July. 

Alliance Legislative Report 100-25

The Illinois General Assembly has been convening each day since Governor Bruce Rauner called members back into a special session beginning last Wednesday. There has been no official movement of any budget compromise bill, but discussions between both parties and both chambers have been taking place. If no action is taken by Friday, the state will again be operating without any budget – permanent or temporary – in place.

For the most part, both the House of Representatives and Senate have been in the special session for a matter of minutes each day. Enough to gavel in, take roll call, and gavel out. There has not been much of any other activity in the Senate as leaders there have stated that they completed their work in May by approving bills for a spending plan, new revenues, school reform, and more. Generally, Senators are waiting for bills to come back over from the House.

The House of Representatives has been adjourning the special session, but then convening immediately into a concurrent regular session. Little floor action has taken place, but committee hearings on budget issues have been regularly scheduled throughout most of the day. Generally, each day has highlighted a “Committee of the Whole” hearing on the House floor where all House members participate in questioning witnesses on a variety of subjects. Friday it was on the subject of a property tax freeze; Saturday it was the school funding formula reform; Sunday it was pension reform; and Monday it was local government consolidation. The Alliance testified in Friday’s, Saturday’s, and Monday’s committee hearings.

For the most part, the larger pieces of a budget compromise package remain the same: new revenues, school funding reform, a property tax freeze, pension reform, and workers’ compensation reform.

House Democrats, who to this point have resisted property tax freeze legislation, amended SB 484 to make changes to the latest property tax freeze legislation. SB 484 was approved by the Senate last month and contains a 4-year freeze on local government property tax extensions. The bill was amended and passed by the House Revenue and Finance Committee this morning and sent to the House floor.

The bill now calls for a 4-year freeze on property tax extensions for most, but sets the limit for Chicago Public Schools and other “qualified school districts” at the lesser of 5 percent or the Consumer Price Index (CPI). A “qualified school district” is one that has been granted a hardship exemption from the State Superintendent of Education – generally those districts that are on the “financial watch list.” The bill also increases the homestead exemption for certain veterans and senior citizens. A complete analysis of SB 484 can be found here.


Illinois’s long term pension debt has been no secret. Many previous attempts to make significant changes to the state pension system have failed, but that is not stopping the Illinois General Assembly from making another attempt at finding a constitutional fix to address the current pension liability. While no “compromise” pension bill has yet surfaced, the pension changes will likely center around the consideration model. Under the consideration model, current pension eligible employees would have to make the choice between having future salary increases count towards pensionable salary, and having the current compounded cost of living adjustment applied to pension earnings. While there seems to be plenty of question about whether or not the consideration plan will pass constitutional muster, the Illinois General Assembly seems to have settled on the fact that this is the next pension reform idea to send to the high court.

Another issue that has emerged as a potential piece in a final budget deal is local government consolidation. The Illinois General Assembly has already passed a local government consolidation bill, SB 3, but some legislators feel that the bill is not stringent enough. The current iteration of local government consolidation contains provisions for voter-led consolidation efforts. While many units of local government (townships, counties, municipalities) might not have this type of consolidation currently in statute, there is a robust process for school consolidation currently on the books. One of the main areas of contention with the new consolidation effort are provisions for a county, municipality, or a township to absorb a school district or other forms of local government. From the discussion in the Committee of the Whole, there were many questions about this type of broad consolidation effort.

Tax structure legislation is also likely to be revised. As it came over from the Senate, SB 9 would increase the individual income tax rate from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent and the corporate rate from 5.25 percent to 7 percent. The bill would also broaden the sales tax to cover certain services and increase a rate on utilities such as cable, satellite, and digital streaming services. Those latter provisions are reportedly under review.

The House today also filed an amendment to the appropriations bill, SB 6. Details of the 658 page bill are not yet available, but according to Representative Greg Harris (D-Chicago) the bill will add spending to several education line items over the Senate spending level. Line items with expected increases are the evidence-based funding model, transportation reimbursements, early childhood education, and after school programs.

Lastly, the school funding reform debate continues with the recent heightened partisan chatter. The House amended SB 1 with revisions addressing Chicago Public Schools of which Republicans in both chambers took exception to. The bill has been approved by both houses but the governor has vowed to veto the bill. Discussions have been continuing on how to address the differences.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Second school security seminar scheduled

For the second year, IASB will be hosting a half-day School Safety and Security Seminar at the Joint Annual Conference in Chicago. This educational programming is being added in response to the critical challenges being faced by schools worldwide in the area of providing and maintaining schools as safe and secure places.

The 2017 Seminar, entitled “Preparation for School Safety,” will again take place in conjunction with the Conference. It will be held Friday, Nov. 17 from 8 a.m. to noon at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

School board members and administrators are encouraged to invite their local emergency responders, school resource officers, school security directors, facility directors, and others who help prepare and carry out security procedures on their campuses to attend this important seminar.

Lt. Col. Dave Grossman
“Preparation for School Safety” will include the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Illinois School and Campus Safety Program. School districts will be presenting, as well as featured speaker Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a leading author and trainer on school safety.

In addition to the Friday morning Seminar, IASB will offer eight related panel sessions on safety-related issues, including targeted violence prevention, behavioral threat assessments, using social media to thwart violent attacks, and crisis management.

The inaugural School Safety and Security Seminar in 2016 examined how issues of safety impact school learning environments in relation to drills and procedures, physical plant and school buildings, and school climate and culture. Click here for a full recap of the 2016 seminar

“Mark your calendars now; registration will open at a date to be determined,” said IASB Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm.

Friday, June 23, 2017

IASB's Pritzker, Schwarm pen
property tax column

A column by Ben Schwarm, deputy executive director of the Illinois Association of School Boards, and IASB President Phil Pritzker, was published in the State-Journal Register (Springfield) as part of the newspaper’s Point/Counterpoint series. The topic was the ongoing discussion of a property tax freeze.

Current proposals that apply to school districts would not allow a district’s tax extension to be increased without voter approval. The column begins:

Point: Education of state’s children harmed with property tax freeze

The proposed legislation in the Illinois General Assembly regarding a “property tax freeze” would undoubtedly have an adverse effect on local school districts across the state, while providing a limited benefit for individual taxpayers.

The proposed “freeze” is not a cap on individual taxpayers’ property tax bills. In fact, some property tax bills could still increase, depending on individual circumstances. Decreases in individual bills would be relatively small. The limit in the proposed legislation is a cap on the property tax extension levied by a unit of local government or school district — the aggregate amount of all property tax receipts.

The net effect is that hundreds of millions of dollars would be lost to local school districts because of a property tax freeze. ...

Click here to read the complete letter at the State Journal-Register opinion section.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Federal Legislative Report 115-05


A vote is expected within the next two weeks on the Senate’s version of a health care bill, also discussed as a repeal of the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare. The House passed their version on May 4. The Senate version has mostly been negotiated behind the scenes; however, before any vote is taken in the Senate, an independent analysis must be done of the language by the Congressional Budget Office.

Illinois school districts currently receive $144 million in Medicaid reimbursements to provide medical care and special education services for students. These services include the work of professionals such as speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, school psychologists, school social workers, school nurses, and reimbursement for costly supplies and materials. The House version contained language jeopardizing Medicaid funding in schools (see FLR 115-02 and 115-03), and it is assumed the Senate language will contain the same.

Please contact Senators Durbin and Duckworth and ask them to oppose provisions that place arbitrary caps on how much Medicaid funding a child receives. Also, let them know the services you provide in your district that will be at risk if those funds are not available.

Senator Durbin: 202/224-2152
Senator Duckworth: 202/224-2854

Click here to read the entire Federal Legislative Report 115-05, including information on the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act and Fiscal Year 2018 federal budget appropriations.

VIDEO: Governmental Relations discuss unfunded mandates, Special Session budget components

In a follow-up video to “Why the budget impasse continues,” IASB's Zach Messersmith talks with Governmental Relations Director Deanna Sullivan about school mandates passed by the Illinois General Assembly during the spring legislative session.

Sullivan also previews issues that will likely be covered during the June 21-30 special session, including possible pension reform, school finance changes, a revenue component, and consolidation of local governments and schools.

If this video is not displaying properly, click here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

VIDEO: Why the budget impasse continues and how board members can stay involved

The Illinois Association of School Board's Zach Messersmith sat down with Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm in the Illinois Senate chambers this week to review possible scenarios that could put an end to the budget impasse.

Schwarm outlined budget possibilities, what a final compromise might include, and how the components may impact school districts. He also discussed what school board members can do to stay involved, including contacting their local legislators and communicating with their community about the consequences if an education budget is not enacted.

If this video is not displaying properly, click here

Sunday, June 18, 2017

IASB Briefs

School design deadline draws near
School districts and design professionals are invited to enter the 2017 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. The deadline for entries is July 17. Click here to read more.

Summer office closings
IASB offices in Springfield and Lombard will be closed on four days in July in observance of the Association’s summer schedule and the national holiday. Both offices will be closed Monday, July 3, and Tuesday, July 4, and both will be closed on the following two Fridays: July 7 and 14.

Nomination forms available
Applications for the 2017 Holly Jack Outstanding Service Award are available. School districts are encouraged to nominate individuals who dedicate their time and effort performing the work of the board secretary. Application forms must be signed by the board president and superintendent and submitted by Sep. 30. Click here for the nomination form and additional information on the required qualifying criteria.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Governance Recognition
deadline approaching

The Aug. 1 deadline is approaching for boards of education to file an application in IASB’s School Board Governance Recognition program, which recognizes boards that learn and practice effective governance.

Boards that meet the requirements receive recognition at fall division meetings for practicing the governance behaviors identified in the Association’s Foundational Principles of Effective Governance, and for participating in IASB programs and activities. The program’s main focus is on full board development and participation rather than individual board member efforts.

An application form and checklist on completing it are now available for download here. Additional information and details can also be found in an online tutorial video.
Questions about the School Board Governance Recognition program should be directed to IASB field service directors or to the board development department at 217/528-9688, ext. 1103. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

IASB president, Alliance executives
push for end to budget impasse

The executive directors of the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance have sent letters to the four legislative leaders in the Senate and House and to Gov. Bruce Rauner, seeking an end to the budget impasse that is nearing its third year.

Citing the uncertainty and anxiety the funding crisis is causing among school boards, administrators, communities, parents, and even students, the Alliance is urging the General Assembly and the governor to reach a compromise that will put in place a PK-12 education budget for next fiscal year.

“Our collective desire is for an FY 2018 solution that results in the state’s ability to increase funding to all school districts, equitably distributes funds to the neediest districts, fully funds any mandated categoricals, and ensures timely payments,” the letter states.

The Alliance has also developed a budget toolkit and timeline to assist local school districts with managing the funding crisis,should no spending bill be approved in the near future. The June-August timeline calls for districts to conduct a district financial analysis, reach out to local residents and stakeholders urging them to contact state legislators, and host community discussions about the impact and possible scenarios that include: not opening on time, closing prematurely, or eliminating important educational programs in order to operate.

The four associations – IASB, IASA, IPA, and Illinois ASBO – call for a FY18 solution that results in increased funding to all districts, equitable distribution to the neediest district, full funding for mandated categoricals, and timely payments.

In addition to the Alliance letter,  IASB President Phil Pritzker reached out to the Democrat and Republican legislative leaders on behalf of IASB’s 6,000 school board members. Pritzker said the lack of a state budget puts districts in the difficult position of planning to open schools without knowing what amount, or even when, state revenue will arrive.

As Pritzker noted, “We are asking you to realize the impact that another year without a timely budget agreement will have on individual school districts. This time around, the question may not be ‘Will schools open in the fall?’ The question is, ‘CAN school open in the fall?’”

Legislators will return to the state Capitol next week, with the hope of passing a state budget that will be signed into law before July 1, the beginning of FY 2018. IASB and the Alliance will continue to push for an end to the impasse and for an education budget that provides secure funding for Illinois schools and adequately meets the needs of all Illinois children.

Further budget updates and materials will be posted on the School Board News Blog, IASB website, and provided via our Twitter account and Facebook page.

Alliance Legislative Report (100-24)

Governor calls special session for budget;
property tax freeze is a component

Governor Bruce Rauner Thursday called for a special session of the Illinois General Assembly “for the purpose of considering legislation, new or pending, which addresses a balanced budget and structural reforms.” He noted that this would include, but not be limited to, property tax relief, job creation, worker’s compensation reform, government consolidation, education, term limits, pension reform, and spending limitations. The special session will convene next Wednesday, June 21.

Though the Governor listed no specific legislation by bill number, Republicans in the House of Representatives and Senate this week held a press conference to announce the introduction of a package of bills that addressed these issues. The proposed Republican compromise would, generally, take components of the “grand bargain” budget deal pushed by Senate Democrats earlier this year and re-introduce them with adjustments. The House components of the Republican plan include:
  • Cuts to current State budget spending and future spending caps, but includes a $250 million increase for K-12 schools
  • A four-year property tax freeze with a mechanism for voters to place on the ballot a question on whether the current property tax rates should be reduced (HB 4066)
  • School funding reform which, generally, is SB 1 without the last amendments regarding Chicago
  • Public schools additional funding (HB 4069)
  • Pension reform which includes two bills. One consists of the “consideration model” which is in SB 16 that requires members of the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) to choose between forgoing future salary increases in the calculation of a pension or forgoing the 3 percent compounding cost of living adjustment (COLA) upon retirement (HB 4064). The other establishes a Tier III pension plan; an alternate 401(k) retirement plan; allows for lump sum accelerated retirement payments in lieu of the current pension annuity; and shifts the normal costs of pensions from the State to local school districts for any district employee who receives more than $140,000 per year in salary (HB 4065).
  • Government consolidation, which includes school districts, and allows for citizens to place on the ballot a referendum to “dissolve any unit of local government” (HB 4067). The School Code already has provisions for citizen-driven petitions which include safeguards for children, staff, and communities.
  • Workers’ Compensation Act reform (HB 4068)
  • Calls for a constitutional amendment for legislative term limits

Senate Republicans this week introduced budget companion bills SB 2214-2218.

School board members and administrators should call their legislators before next Wednesday and let them know what the proposed property tax freeze would mean to their districts.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

2017 Conference registration opens
Monday, June 19

Public school leaders are invited to attend the 2017 Joint Annual Conference of the Illinois Association of School Boards, Illinois Association of School Administrators, and Illinois Association of School Business Officials. "Leading by Learning" is the theme for the 2017 Conference, to be held November 17-19 in Chicago.

Conference registration and housing will open at 8 a.m. on Monday, June 19.

An email with complete information was sent to all IASB, IASA, and Illinois ASBO member districts and IASB affiliates on June 15.

Unlike in previous years, registration for the 2017 Conference will be online. Online registration is through members’ “My Account” with IASB. District rosters must be updated and include the names of all district board members and staff who are registering for Conference. Click here for district roster management instructions.

Conference announcements and updates are available at

Leading By Learning

Regional superintendents’ conference
is June 19 in Springfield

The Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools and the Illinois State Board of Education will host a “Lead, Focus, Connect” conference on June 19 at the Wyndam Centre in Springfield.

Presenters from ISBE, ROEs/ISCs, and other state organizations will provide significant information about ESSA, using inquiry in teaching the sciences, family engagement, licensure, digital learning resources, and other topics.

Five “cool schools” will be featured, nominated by ROE and ISC staff, and chosen for their innovative programs. Representatives of the five schools will be present to provide information, discuss opportunities and challenges, and answer questions. All teachers and administrators are encouraged to attend.

Cost of the event is $75 per participant, which includes lunch. A $10 per person discount will apply for groups of five or more. A block of rooms is available at the Wyndham at the conference rate of $99 per room. To register, visit the sponsor's site.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

New Board Member Workshop opportunities still available

New school board members participated in training
in Marion on July 9-10.
IASB’s New Board Member Workshops continue in Collinsville and Tinley Park this Friday and Saturday. Registration is closed for both locations this weekend but openings are still available at sites hosting Workshops next month:

July 7-8 in Springfield
July 7-8 in Naperville

New Board Member Workshops are designed to meet the needs of school board members elected in 2017. 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.

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.

Click here for registration and other information regarding New Board Member Workshops.

School law experts delivered state-mandated training on day one.

Report calls for stronger prep for early childhood educators

A new report from the Illinois Education Research Council (IERC) calls for improving state requirements for the preparation of early childhood education specialists. These instructors have widely ranging credentials, degrees, qualifications, and compensation, according to the new policy brief, Advancing the Illinois Early Childhood Education Workforce: A Model College and Career Pathway.

This report proposes adding a preparation pathway (click on infographic below) to existing early childhood credentialing and postsecondary degree structures to create a seamless system of educator preparation. The proposed model would offer multiple entry and exit paths for educators, according to the authors.

“The pathway model described in this brief builds on existing state work and creates new opportunities for innovation in supporting our state’s early childhood educator workforce, as a whole, to continue to advance their skills and attainment of credentials and degrees,” says Stephanie Bernoteit, senior associate director for academic affairs, Illinois Board of Higher Education, and lead author of the policy brief.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Opinions on Education

The following are editorials, commentaries, and opinions from various sources regarding public education, collected in May 2017.  The views and opinions of authors expressed below do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Illinois Association of School Boards. The appearance of external links does not constitute endorsement by the Illinois Association of School Boards of the linked web sites. All links are provided with the intent of informing readership of issues relating to public education in Illinois.

There’s a bill in the Legislature to mandate the teaching
of cursive handwriting in Illinois public schools. What’s your opinion?
Editorial Board, Sauk Valley Media, May 4

Editorial: Hooky alert: Why do so many Chicago teachers
take so many sick days?
Editorial Board, Chicago Tribune, May 5

Four Education Priorities Democrats and Republicans Can Agree On
David Jacobson, Education Week, May 9

Guest Column: Evidence-based school funding model is a win
for special education students
Kevin Rubenstein, president-elect of the Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education, State Journal-Register, Springfield, May 9

11 ways Chicago is the beating heart
of the disastrous charter school agenda
Steven Rosenfeld, Alternet, May 9

Discipline rules need adjustment
Jeanelle Norman, branch president of the Decatur NAACP and past president of the Decatur School Board, Decatur Herald & Review, May 11

Education burdened by unnecessary administration costs
Ted Dabrowski, vice president of policy at the Illinois Policy Institute, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, May 11

Springfield’s failure to fund schools is a form of child neglect
Phil Kadner, Chicago Sun-Times, May 11

School fixup funds latest victims of state-budget impasse
Editorial Board, Lake County News-Sun, May 19

Opinion: Non-essential programs take hit
while schools wait for state budget
Linda McDaniel-Hale, Elgin Courier-News, May 19

Until schools merge, learning to share is next best thing
Editorial Board, Belleville News-Democrat, May 18

Editorial: Confidence game: There's a long list of officials to blame
for the crisis at CPS
Editorial Board, Chicago Tribune, May 19

Luciano: Beloved school volunteer, 96, shows no sign of slowing down
Phil Luciano, Peoria Journal Star, May 20

Sounding the Alarm: Illinois must overhaul education funding formula
Editorial Board, State Journal-Register, May 19

Unacceptable, yes. Pathetic, too
Editorial Board, Chicago Sun-Times, May 24

Sounding the Alarm: Unacceptable 
Editorial Board, State Journal-Register, May 24

Column: Business leaders to Rauner, Madigan:
Fix this 'unprecedented fiscal crisis'
Robert Reed, Chicago Tribune, May 25

Editorial: Dumbing down high school
Editorial Board, Chicago Tribune, May 25

If Illinois lawmakers don't pass a budget by May 31,
should we "throw the bums out?"
Editorial Board, Sauk Valley Media, May 25

An Illinois student’s school funding reform proposal
Logan Klepzig, Reboot Illinois, May 26

Three public jobs no problem for local Wonder Woman, or are they?
Editorial Board, Belleville News-Democrat, May 29

Column: Is Illinois a big-spending state? Evidence says 'no'
Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune, May 30

Where rising assessments are boosting property tax bills most
Jake Griffin, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, May 31

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.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report 100-23

Illinois School Management Alliance
There was no official action on a state budget this week. The legislature adjourned on May 31 and went home without approving a spending plan for Fiscal Year 2018 and went into what the House Speaker calls “continuous session”. There was no session this week, though the House of Representatives did hold appropriations committee hearings in Chicago to discuss budget items. More House hearings are scheduled for next week as well.

Reportedly, staff from the governor’s office and from the offices of the four legislative leaders have been meeting on the budget. There was no indication that there has been any breakthrough and, generally, the governor and the legislative leaders have been sticking to their initial positions (much like the last two years).

In the meantime, the budget adopted last year for public schools still runs through the end of June. If no budget bill is approved this month, there would be no appropriations for K-12 school districts effective July 1. For school board members and administrators who are beginning to make contingency plans in the event that there is no budget in place for public schools, the Alliance has prepared a toolkit that is available here.


It was a mixed bag this spring for Alliance members regarding the spring legislative session. The good news, the General Assembly approved a new – much more equitable – school funding distribution formula. The bad news, at this time there is no budget to fund it. And though the legislature has approved SB 1, through a parliamentary maneuver, the bill has not been sent to the governor.

The bad news, several bills containing new unfunded mandates were approved by both legislative chambers. HB 3215 that will require school districts to provide feminine hygiene products for free in all restrooms; HB 3869 that will require school staff to receive in-service training on implicit racial bias; and SB 1223 that will require school districts to create a new committee and policies on accelerated placement of students, all were approved.

The good news, dozens of bills that would have created new mandates were stopped, including requirements to: post new nutritional information on all food sold in schools; add new instructional programs on Civics Education in junior high school and work ethics instruction in sixth grade; equip all school buses with seat belts.  Bills were amended on behalf of the Alliance to lessen proposed requirements for instruction on job training programs (HB 243), an entrepreneur curriculum (HB 3368), and new reporting requirements for DCFS (HB 3615).

More positive results emerged when bills were approved to change the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) federal funds rate from the unfunded liability rate to the normal cost rate for school staff paid with federal program dollars (HB 656) and to improve licensure standards for principals (HB 2898), business officials (HB 106), and teachers (HB 3820).

The Alliance’s Digest of Bills Passed publication, which contains all of the bills that affect school districts that were approved this spring, will soon be available.

2017 Cole Awards recognize
school governance coverage

Five newspapers were honored in the 37th annual Robert M. Cole Award competition, including The Daily Herald for its coverage of the Palatine District 15 teacher contract negotiations. The awards, which recognize outstanding coverage of education issues that emphasize the community's connection with its local public school district, were presented during the Illinois Press Association's "Best of the Press" luncheon on June 9 in Springfield.

The Daily Herald won first place in the large newspaper category for comprehensive and explanatory coverage of contract negotiations, supported by editorial opinion pieces. Second place among large newspapers went to Phil Luciano of the Peoria Journal Star.

In the mid-sized daily category, Deborah Gertz Husar of the Quincy Herald-Whig took first place for her enterprising coverage of school boards, school governance, and policy issues at Quincy SD 172. Her writing brought the work of the board and district to its community, award judges stated. Second place went to Nicole Lafond of the Champaign News-Gazette.

In the small daily newspaper category, Owen Lasswell of the Taylorville-based Breeze-Courier won first place for coverage of the state’s school finance reform puzzle as it related to the Taylorville school district. Second place went to Sharon Woods Harris of the Pekin Daily Times.

In the large weekly category, Hillary Dickerson of the Galena Gazette took first place for her coverage of the Galena school district’s facilities challenges and accompanying referendum. Her work included input from both community residents and school board members. Second place was awarded to Katie Devereaux, also of the Galena Gazette.

The first-place award for small weekly newspapers went to Will Brumleve of the Ford County Record for enterprising coverage of school boards, school governance, and policy issues, especially for reporting on community dialogue with the district. Second place went to Ann Gill of the Coal City Courant.

The Robert M. Cole Award for best school board coverage, named for the first full-time executive director of the Illinois Association of School Boards, recognizes outstanding coverage of education issues that emphasize the community’s connection with its local public school district. Judges evaluate entries for contribution to public understanding of local school governance and support for effective dialogue that helps the community and school board define major public policy issues. Judging criteria also includes enterprise, depth of reporting, and clarity of writing.

The 2017 contest included 21 entries. The Cole Award is part of the Illinois Press Association’s annual contest. The IPA was founded in 1865 as an organization for Illinois publishers and represents more than 450 daily and weekly newspapers in the state.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Nominations for 2017 school design competition sought

Winners of the school design competition
will be displayed in November at the Joint Annual Conference.
The annual Exhibition of Educational Environments, sponsored by the IASB Services Associates, is now accepting nominations for outstanding school design projects. The 2017 competition is seeking school facility projects that will be completed in time for the start of school in the fall of this year.

The juried awards program will recognize school designs used for instructional, recreational, administrative, or other purposes. Entries will be accepted for the following categories:

  • New building
  • Major addition
  • Minor additions
  • Major renovation or adaptive reuse
  • Special project (historic preservation or sensitive rehab)
  • Special project (small projects under $4 million or single spaces)

School architects and school officials will be tasked with reviewing all project submissions and selecting entries to be displayed in November at the Joint Annual Conference in Chicago. Three architects chosen by the Service Associates and three school board members or administrators selected by IASB will comprise the jury.

Those reviewing the projects will have complete freedom in selecting entries that best represent a statewide cross section of school building designs that are of interest to exhibition attendees. The jury will give prime consideration to solutions of the stated educational program requirements as detailed in the Call for Entries application form. All entries will be judged on a blind basis, with no more than two entries submitted by each exhibition participant. 

Completed forms and associated fees for each project must be received by July 17. Projects that are not chosen for display will have their entry fees refunded (less $25 to cover IASB expenses). Additional preliminary materials are due by Sep. 18, with judging to take place on Sept. 22.

Applications were mailed to district superintendents, regional superintendents, and school architects in mid-May. A fillable application form is also available on the IASB website

School designs selected for exhibit at the Conference will be eligible for Award of Distinction, Award of Merit, or Honorable Mention honors. The winners will be announced during the First General Session on Friday, Nov. 17.

For more information about the Exhibition of Educational Environments or questions about the contest, contact Britni Beck by email at, or by phone at 217/528-9688, ext. 1131.

Previous exhibits can be viewed and accessed through IASB’s School Design Data File

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

New Board Member Workshops
continue throughout the state

2017 NBM Workshops
Over 150 attendees participated
in the first weekend of New Board Member Workshops,
including these in Peoria.
IASB’s New Board Member Workshops continue this weekend in Glenview and Marion. Registration is closed for the Glenview event, which is at capacity, but spots are still available in Marion this weekend and at sites hosting later Workshops:

June 9-10 in Marion
June 16-17 in Collinsville
June 16-17 in Tinley Park
July 7-8 in Springfield
July 7-8 in Naperville

The first round of Workshops were completed June 2-3 in DeKalb, Effingham, and Peoria. New Board Member Workshops 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.

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 additional registration information, or more on this professional development opportunity, click here to view the workshop brochure.

IASB's 2017 New Board Member Workshops are underway.
IASB's 2017 New Board Member Workshops are underway.

Alexander elected to IASB Board of Directors

William 'Bill' Alexander
William "Bill" Alexander, school board president at New Berlin CUSD 16, has joined the board of directors of the Illinois Association of School Boards, representing the Association’s Abe Lincoln Division.

The resident of rural New Berlin is a retired school administrator, having previously served as an elementary school teacher and principal and an assistant regional superintendent. He has been an adjunct professor in math and science methods and philosophy of education at Benedictine University, math-teaching methods at Blackburn College, and worked in student teaching supervision through Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. Alexander also worked for the Illinois State Board of Education prior to being elected to the New Berlin Board of Education in 2008.

“I’ve been in education for 41 years. It's an amazing experience to see the role education has in our society – as a teacher, administrator, parent, board member, and now a director with IASB,” says Alexander, who has areas of interest in school law and operations.

He previously served the Abe Lincoln Division as vice chair, division chair and substitute director before his election as director. He replaces the outgoing director, Lisa Weitzel of Ball-Chatham CUSD 5, who served on IASB’s Board of Directors since 2013 and did not seek re-election in 2017.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Updating district rosters ensures member participation

IASB has a quick video showing how member
districts can update their local district rosters.
With the recent election, more than 1,200 newly-elected board members have joined local school boards. These new members will be added to IASB’s member database as soon as member districts update their local district rosters.

IASB enables all member districts to create a profile for each elected school board member and administrative staff, including contact information, the end-of-term date, and any additional titles, such as board president, vice president, or secretary. This same database is also the source for each board member’s professional development records, their log-ins to policy subscription services, and their entry to transact with IASB in order to register for events, buy books, and other services.

Last year, IASB switched to a new member database system that streamlines operations, better engages members, and enhances the member experience through improved delivery of services. Once a member is added to the district roster, they will also receive notifications, emails, and mailed publications that they are entitled to. That includes New Board Member Packets, which are mailed to all newly-elected board members who have been added to their district rosters, and The Illinois School Board Journal.

Those making the roster updates can follow the step-by-step instructions and a quick video that walks users through the process. Other member database instructions are also posted to assist board members, superintendents, and PRESS subscribers in using the system to its full potential.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report 100-22

Alliance Legislative Report 100-22
The Illinois General Assembly watched the May 31 session adjournment deadline come and go – again – without taking any action on a state budget. It was evident in mid-afternoon Wednesday that there would be no budget votes. However, both the House of Representatives and the Senate
continued to work for hours moving a plethora of bills that were pending on their respective calendars.

Illinois will be moving into the third consecutive year without a full state budget in place if no accord is reached by the end of June. Click here to read more about the topic including key legislation as part of the budget discussions.

Wednesday evening both the House and Senate approved SB 1, the bill that would replace the current school funding formula with an evidence-based model of school funding distribution. A key component of one of the pillars of the Vision 20/20 education plan unveiled by the Alliance organizations and others, the initiative was the result of years of work by legislators, school administrators, and school reform advocates. Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) shepherded the bill through the Senate while Representative Will Davis (D-Hazel Crest) took the lead in the House of Representatives.

Click here to read the entire Alliance Legislative Report 100-22, including more on SB1 and other legislative action.

Legislators, Governor again fail to find budget consensus

IASB Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm
IASB Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm sums up the dismal end to yet another legislative session without an approved state budget.
Not with a bang, but with a whimper. Again. Lawmakers limped out of the Capitol Wednesday evening without agreeing to, or even voting on, a Fiscal Year 2018 state budget. The utter failure was, unfortunately, predictable. With the governor and legislative leaders saying and doing the same things they have said and done the last two years, was there any chance the outcome would not be the same? What do they say about the definition of insanity?

After it was evident that there would be no budget bill presented on Wednesday, each of the players retired to their separate quarters to hold their respective press conferences, where they all pointed fingers at each other to assign blame. The governor met with reporters in his office, flanked by the Republican leaders from the House and Senate. The House Speaker talked with reporters and the Senate President spoke with the press, each believing that somehow they could put the proper spin on the situation to make themselves look like they were the champion in this fight.

This tired ritual will likely not have the effect they desire. The citizens of the state are fed up with the years of futility as they watch their schools suffer, colleges and universities on the verge of closure, community members being denied social services, and local vendors not being paid for services provided to the state. There are no winners among the legislators or constitutional officers in this fight, and the citizens of the state are far beyond the point of being swayed by a press conference, campaign mailer, or robocall.

The powers that be have let the state’s current fiscal situation become so dire that, no matter when or how they ever come to a budget agreement, there will be no political “winner” among them. There will be no victory lap. The choices will be difficult and the final budget outcome will likely be nothing to be celebrated. But hard choices will be necessary in order for the state to move forward.

The governor and General Assembly must reach a budget agreement before the end of June. The patience of the good citizens of Illinois has reached its collective end.