Monday, July 31, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report (100-34)

SB 1, the bill that contains a new evidence-based funding formula for the distribution of the bulk of State funding for schools, is headed to the Governor for consideration. The bill was approved by the Illinois General Assembly in May, but the Senate did not release the bill to be sent to the executive office until Monday afternoon.

Since its passage, Governor Bruce Rauner has pledged to veto the bill because of late amendments added by the House of Representatives that places pension payments for Chicago teachers into the formula.

The General Assembly convened in Special Session again today. And, again, lawmakers only met for a matter of minutes as there was no legislation to consider. A bipartisan, bicameral team of legislators worked through the weekend and again today in an effort to find common ground on the school funding issue. Without an evidence-based funding formula in place, general aid funds cannot flow to school districts for Fiscal Year 2018 even though appropriations have been made through a budget/revenue package approved last month.

The Governor is expected to act quickly to issue his amendatory veto (AV) once the bill arrives on his desk. He has not revealed the nature or scope of the changes he plans to make. With the negotiation team working for the last few days, many were hopeful that an agreement would be reached and the AV would reflect the compromise. However, there has been no word of an agreement, or of significant progress, toward that today.

The legislature can accept the Governor’s changes to SB 1 and the bill will become law as revised; or it can override the Governor’s veto and the bill will become law as originally passed. Either one of these motions would require a 3/5 majority vote for approval. If a motion would fail, or if no action was taken, SB 1 in its entirety would be dead.

It is unclear that this time when the Governor will act, or when the legislature will reconvene. It could be hours; it could be days; it could be weeks.

Click here to read the compilation of Alliance Legislative Reports, which are published by the Illinois School Management Alliance weekly during the legislative session, and otherwise as circumstances dictate. The Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance is a partnership of The Illinois Association of School Boards, the Illinois Association of School Administrators, Illinois Association of School Business Officials and the Illinois Principals Association.

Opinions on Education

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

Illinois lawmakers set time bomb to get Rauner, hit students instead
Editorial Board, Belleville News-Democrat, July 30

Guest column: Senate Bill 1 is needed to end education inequality
Kathi Griffin, president of the Illinois Education Association, and Dan Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, State Journal-Register, Springfield, July 30

Editorial: ‘It’s the right thing for kids. Doesn’t that count?’
Editorial Board, Peoria Journal-Star, July 28

Saturday, July 29, 2017

ISBE Briefs

School facility flooding issues
If your school district has experienced problems with facilities due to recent flooding in the northern portion of Illinois, the State Board of Education (ISBE) may be able to provide help. Technical assistance is available on a case-by-case basis for districts that have encountered problems. School representatives are urged to contact Dan Johnson, school business services, at 217/785-8779 or email him at

Back-to-school webinar planned
State Superintendent Tony Smith has invited school administrators to participate in a back-to-school webinar on Aug. 9 at 1 p.m. Smith will discuss updates related to the Every Student Succeeds Act, school funding issues, and state assessments. He also will allot time for a question-and-answer segment. Click here to register for the webinar.

GATA grants have four-step process
School districts will need to complete four steps to be qualified to apply for Fiscal Year 2018 GATA grants. The first step is entirely new for this year’s applications. It includes an authentication process in which an email address is requested in creating an account via the state’s authentication portal. Districts seeking grant funds will also need to be marked as pre-qualified. The GATA website includes a number of resources to assist with the application process. A detailed breakdown of the four are available in the July 25 State Superintendent’s Weekly Message.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report (100-33)


Last week, Governor Bruce Rauner called for a special legislative session to address school funding reform. Lawmakers were called back to the Capitol on Wednesday, and then subsequently met again on Thursday and Friday. Each day both the Senate and House of Representatives convened briefly, allowed a few statements from lawmakers on their respective chamber floors, then adjourned without taking any substantive action. The House is scheduled to return on Monday; the Senate did not set any specific date for return but is anticipated to return on Monday as well.

Click here to read the entire Alliance Legislative Report (100-33), which explains the problem, the reasoning, the options, and the impact of the ongoing funding reform issue.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Jacobson accepts assistant general counsel position

Debra Jacobson
IASB has announced that Debra Jacobson has accepted the position of assistant general counsel.

Previously, Jacobson worked as a senior associate with the law firm of Hodges, Loizzi, Eisenhammer, Rodick & Kohn LLP, where she practiced school law. Jacobson started at IASB on July 17. She joins IASB’s Office of Legal Counsel, with General Counsel Kimberly Small and Assistant General Counsel Maryam Brotine to provide legal counsel to the executive director and the Association.

“Debra rounds out the office of general counsel’s experience,” said Small. “Debra has a broad background in school law, including a lot of experience in the corporate areas of school law; she will also learn the work of the IASB Policy Services Department this year, working with Cathy Talbert, IASB Associate Executive Director of Policy Services. This collaboration will take the quality of IASB policy services to an even higher level.”

Jacobson received her bachelor’s degree from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2002 and received her Juris Doctor from Indiana University Mauer School of Law in 2005. She has served with the firm of HLERK since, with a focus on corporate, students, and special education matters. Jacobson counseled and represented school districts with respect to contracts, real estate, tax objections, OMA/FOIA, student residency matters, IEP meetings and due process, and policy decisions.

Jacobson has been an active member of the Illinois Council of School Attorneys and other professional legal organizations, presenting for ICSA as recently as last fall at its 2017 annual seminar.

As assistant general counsel, Jacobson will focus on creating and maintaining the Policy Reference Education Subscription Service (PRESS) materials used by IASB’s Policy Services Department for its work with boards as she assumes her role of assistant PRESS editor. Other key responsibilities will be developing curricula with legal content and their materials for school board development, along with providing in-person training sessions. Her position will also support the Advocacy/Governmental Relations department and provide support for the continuity and success of the policy services department.

"The increasing policy-related trends and anticipating implementation of ESSA-related issues that schools will face prompted a need for additional resources on our legal team,” said IASB Executive Director Roger Eddy. “Also, our members let us know that they value PRESS Policy Services and Debra will be instrumental in maintaining that effort. With the addition of Debra to the existing team of Kimberly and Maryam, IASB will continue to maintain its quality and innovation in the legal services that it provides to IASB members,” Eddy said.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Toney, Russell announce retirements

Two key members of the IASB staff have announced their retirements.

James Russell, associate executive director for Communications and Production Services in the Springfield office, has announced his retirement, effective Dec. 31, 2017. Also retiring at the end of the year, Barbara B. Toney, IASB field services director for the DuPage, Lake, and North Cook divisions, announced her end-of-year retirement last month. She has been a dedicated staff member for 14 years and her service will be missed by school board members and her IASB colleagues alike.

Barbara B. Toney
Since joining the Association staff, Toney has worked directly with hundreds of school boards and thousands of school board members through presentations, trainings, and workshops. She offered particular expertise in supporting school board presidents and developing members’ proficiencies in parliamentary procedure.

Before she brought her dynamic approach to leadership to the IASB staff, Toney was a school board member at West Chicago SD 33 for 16 years – 14 years as president – and a member of the School Finance Authority in Hazel Crest SD 152.5 for 10 years.

Toney joined IASB in 2003 as one of the first consultants in the Targeting Achievement through Governance (TAG) program. After four years with TAG, she became a field services director in the Lake, Kishwaukee, and Northwest Divisions. Kishwaukee and Northwest gave way to DuPage and North Cook in 2010.

Prior to her work with IASB, Toney was a music teacher and later worked as a public information specialist for the Illinois State Board of Education in a project for children with disabilities.

When Toney runs the Chicago Marathon next October, it will be her 15th marathon. Many at IASB see her dedication to her professional craft is similarly unstoppable. She was recognized for her board work by IASB as a Master School Board member and twice was named Outstanding Board Member of the Year by the Illinois Association of School Administrators. She achieved the Burroughs Award in 1994, presented by ISBE to the state’s Outstanding School Board President. In 1991, she received the Those Who Excel Award of Excellence, also from ISBE.

James Russell
Russell is retiring after a 43-year career in communications and publications, including 17 years at IASB and 26 as a newspaper editor in Illinois and his home state of Ohio. He came to IASB in June 2000, hired by then Deputy Executive Director Jerry Glaub for the new position of director of publications.

“Part of our job was to preserve the institutional knowledge of this organization. I hope that we built and added to that repository,” Russell said. “How we preserve and deliver those resources continues to evolve. We are now reaching our members across multiple venues and platforms. I’m sure that will change as the Association adapts to what our members need and want. We have an excellent staff and solid partnerships in place to continue that work. I’m awfully proud to have been a part of it.”

Russell served under three IASB executive directors: Wayne Sampson, Michael D. Johnson, and Roger Eddy. Named an associate executive director in 2010, Russell is responsible for the Association’s communications and production services department, which includes a staff of 10. The work includes information services/library/bookstore, three websites, databases and directories, social media platforms, book publishing, the Illinois School Boards Journal, the Illinois School Board News Blog (formerly the Newsbulletin), media monitoring and queries, design, typesetting, printing, and mailing operations, conference planning, publications, and presentations. He also chaired the Association’s centennial anniversary observation in 2013.

Stepping into Russell’s role on Jan. 1 will be Kara Kienzler, currently director of production services, who has led the Association’s graphic design, typesetting, printing, bindery, and book orders work since 2013.

“A lot has happened over the past 17 years, but the pace of changes in public education and board service will only increase in the years ahead,” Russell says. “IASB has helped to keep members current by always looking ahead and anticipating member needs.”

Monday, July 24, 2017

Waiver request deadline nears

An overview of the waiver process is available
on this Illinois State Board of Education website.
Applications for waivers from Illinois School Code mandates need to be postmarked and mailed to
the state by Aug. 11 in order to be considered this fall. Applications must be sent to the Illinois State Board of Education to be included in the Fall 2017 Waiver Report, which will be submitted to the state legislature by Oct. 1.

For a waiver or modification of administrative rules or a modification of School Code mandates, a school district must hold a public hearing and demonstrate it (1) can meet the rule or School Code’s intent in a “more effective, efficient, or economical manner,” or (2) is necessary to boost student performance. If school leaders are applying for a modification of School Code mandates (such as for attendance days), or a waiver or a modification of administrative rules, there is no submission deadline. But approval must be granted before the modification can be made. The process is the same as applying for a waiver of a School Code mandate.

For a waiver of a School Code mandate, a school district must demonstrate that the waiver is necessary to stimulate innovation or improve student performance.

Any requests the state board fails to disapprove are deemed granted, and even rejected waiver requests may be appealed to the legislature, which sometimes reverses the agency ruling.

By law, waivers cannot be allowed from laws, rules, and regulations regarding special education, township treasurers, or teacher tenure, certification, or seniority, nor can they be granted if they pertain to ESSA requirements. Waivers are no longer needed for legal school holiday requests, and most parent-teacher conference schedules.

State law (105 LCS 5/2-3.25g) limits terms of physical education waivers. It provides that an approved physical education waiver or modification may remain in effect for up to two school years and may be renewed no more than two times.

IASB led the charge for adoption of the waiver law, and nearly 6,000 waiver requests have been approved since the law went into effect in March 1995, with over 100 new requests approved each year.

Before beginning the waiver process, ISBE suggests each applicant carefully review requirements outlined in the “Overview for Waiver Process” found here.

Application forms and instructions for waivers and modifications are provided by the state board and can be downloaded from the agency website

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Many choices await at ‘Carousel’

'Carousel' panels are each presented three times in an hour-and-a-half slot.
School leaders will have the chance to choose from more than 20 different topics in the Carousel of Panels event at the 2017 Joint Annual Conference. The wide assortment of presentations will enable attendees to hear a variety of informative panel discussions in one time slot and location.

From leadership to transgender issues, or from the hiring of substitutes to the development of a school medical program, each choice will be presented three times in a one-hour and 30-minute slot. The Carousel will take place from 1:45 to 3:15 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 18, at the Sheraton Grand Chicago. Panel topics and presenters include:

  • Responding to Requests and Complaints of Transgender Students — Robbins Schwartz
  • Every Day Counts: Hiring and Training Successful Substitutes — Wheeling CCSD 21
  • Authentic, Relevant Engagement of the Greater Community — Northern Illinois University 
  • Our Journey Toward Trauma-Informed Schools — Calumet Public SD 132
  • High School Medical Academy and Youth Residency Program — Huntley Community SD 158
  • Developing a Skills-Based Curriculum and Reporting System — Olympia CUSD 16
  • District Improvement: Deep Implementation with Fidelity — Maywood-Melrose Park-Broadview SD 89
  • Creating a Culture of Innovation — Homer CCSD 33C
  • Improving Your District through Social Capital — Regional Offices of Education 11 and 39
  • Differentiating PTELL Referenda Questions — Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd.
  • Stretching School Budgets Safely with Cost-Efficient Masonry — Waterloo CUSD 5
  • University and Schools Connect for Student Success — Northern Illinois University
  • Enhance Instructional Skills in PLC’s — Calumet Public SD 132
  • Leadership Academy: Grow Your Own — Huntley Community SD 158
  • Co-teaching Student Teachers: Mentoring Addressing Teaching Shortage Areas — Elmhurst College
  • The Dryden Place Project: Serving Marginalized Students and Parents — Arlington Heights SD 25
  • Mirror Check: Confronting Threats to Culturally Competent Leadership — Eastern Illinois University
  • We’re All In: Redefining a Vision for Learning — Community High SD 99, Downers Grove
  • Virtual Coaching for Teachers and Administrators — Consortium for Educational Change and McKendree University
  • Empower Students and Strengthen Community with Workplace Readiness — Hononegah CHSD 207
  • Push Past the Noise: Unique Communication Opportunities — Oak Lawn-Hometown SD 123
  • A Dog’s Purpose: Bonding a Board and Community — Lake Villa CCSD 41
  • Early Investment, Long-Term Gain — Community Unit School District 300, Algonquin

For additional updates check the Joint Annual Conference website, or follow the IASB Twitter account and Facebook page.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

New Board Member Workshops conclude

Training sessions concluded on July 7-8 with a workshop in
Naperville, and another at the Hilton Garden Inn, Springfield.
IASB’s New Board Member Workshops recently concluded over a series of four weekends in June
and July for school board members elected in April. Workshop participants completed their mandatory board training on Friday, and gained vital information to understand and fulfill their governance role on Saturday.

Workshops kicked off on the weekend of June 2-3, and ended July 7-8, at nine locations throughout Illinois. A total of 644 people attended training sessions held in DeKalb, Effingham, Peoria, Glenview, Marion, Collinsville, Tinley Park, Springfield, and Naperville.

“The partnership with school attorneys and business officials across the state, in addition to our own expertise in school board governance, allows IASB to be the premier provider for school board member training. With IASB, school board members receive all the mandated topics as well as the important governance training needed for success,” stated Dean Langdon, Associate Executive Director for Board Development.

Experienced school board attorneys presented on state-mandated topics.
IASB’s new board member training combines mandatory and elective courses in a Friday-Saturday schedule. Friday’s training included presentations from a variety of experienced school board attorneys on the state’s mandated training for Professional Development Leadership Training (PDLT) and Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA). In addition, IASB staff also presented a session on the mandatory Open Meetings Act (OMA) training. Board members who attended these sessions received certificates that they can present to their board secretaries to show their compliance with the state law.

Basics of Governance was covered on Saturday.
Friday’s workshop also included a session with experienced school business officials in an overview
of school finance. Many board members also stayed for Saturday’s elective course, the Basics of Governance, an overview of school board governance and the first course in IASB’s LeaderShop Academy program. IASB staff explained the roles and responsibilities of school board members, and how they can become part of a high-performing board/superintendent team.

The next opportunity for Professional Development Leadership Training (PDLT/PERA) or the Basics of Governance will be in a Pre-Conference workshop at the Joint Annual Conference, scheduled for Nov. 17-19 in Chicago.

Board members can also complete the requirements by taking the PDLT, PERA, or OMA courses at IASB’s Online Learning Center. More information about all of IASB’s professional development opportunities is available online.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Round Lake school district
requests flood assistance

Round Lake CUSD 116 is seeking assistance due to flooding from recent storms in northern Illinois. This area of Lake County received over seven inches of rain last week.

Two schools, Murphy Elementary School and Ellis Elementary School, have been affected by flooding. Murphy’s school library was destroyed in the flood. School officials will determine at a later date if the buildings can be opened for students.

The Round Lake Area Schools Education Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization accepting monetary donations on behalf of the District. Funds donated will be applied directly to flood recovery efforts within the district. Donations can be made online or can be mailed to P.O. Box 1881 Round Lake, IL 60073.

The district is also accepting donations of books at the district administrative office, 884 W. Nippersink Rd., Round Lake, IL 60073.

For district information and updates on the situation, click here to visit the news page on the Round Lake CUSD 116 website. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

NSBA Summer Leadership Seminar returns to Chicago

The 2017 NSBA Summer Leadership Seminar for IASB officers and executives and other state’s school board association leaders will be held Aug. 17-20 in Chicago.

The program will kick off with a day-long “Strategic Governance Symposium” designed to focus on association management issues from a team perspective. Other highlights include: opportunities for regional and peer-to-peer networking, a look at trends in state legislation, as well as an exploration of collaboration, shared vision, innovation, and leadership development, with examples of each.

Attending from IASB will be: Executive Director Roger Eddy, and Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm, as well as Association officers, including: President Phil Pritzker, Vice President Joanne Osmond, Immediate Past President Karen Fisher, and Treasurer Tom Neeley.

“The great value of this seminar is that it provides sessions and exercises to assist participants in understanding their role as change agents, and motivators,” said IASB’s top executive, Roger Eddy.

This is the third time that the seminar has been held in Chicago. The agenda for this year’s event includes a session on sharing state association perspectives on recent legislation, together with strategies to counter or partner in new laws in the interest of member school districts.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Service Associates membership expands

IASB’s Service Associates has added five firms to its membership ranks in 2017.

IASB Service Associates are businesses that offer school-related products and services and which have earned favorable reputations for quality and integrity. Only after screening by the Service Associates executive committee is a business firm invited by the IASB Board of Directors to become a Service Associate.

The firms that have joined IASB in 2017 include the following:

  • Edmentum, Bloomington, Minnesota; web-based learning solutions
  • F.H. Paschen, Chicago; general contractor
  • The Concord Group, Chicago; construction management
  • The Garland Company, Cleveland, Ohio; commercial roofing
  • Sonitrol Great Lakes, Northbrook; integrated security solutions

IASB currently has 72 Service Associates members. A complete database listing of these members can be found here.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Stay on Top of the Headlines with Leading News

To help readers stay informed, IASB offers news headlines, featuring daily news about issues of importance to school board members.

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.

Friday, July 7, 2017

New Board Member Workshops continue this weekend

IASB’s New Board Member Workshops continue in Springfield and Naperville on Friday and Saturday, July 7 and 8.

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.

Click here for additional information regarding New Board Member Workshops.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report 100-32


The Illinois House of Representatives approved motions to override the governor’s vetoes on the three budget bills passed earlier this week. The motion to override SB 9, the bill that would increase income tax rates, passed on a vote of 71-42. The override motion on SB 42, the budget implementation bill (BIMP), passed on a vote of 71-41. The final motion, to override SB 6, the appropriations bill, was successful on a vote of 74-37. 71 votes are necessary to override a veto in the House. The bills become effective immediately.

This will be the first time the state has operated under a full budget in over two years. But, obviously, in the end, it was not an agreement or bipartisan compromise between the governor and legislative leaders. The governor worked hard to convince legislators, specifically Republican House members, to vote against the veto overrides. Ultimately, 10 House Republicans voted for the override motions.

The House adjourned until the call of the Speaker; the Senate adjourned Tuesday until the call of the President. Lawmakers will likely be back in the Capitol before summer is over to discuss the other outlying issues that have been under discussion.

SB 9 will 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. It is expected to generate more than $5 billion in revenue to the state.

SB 6 appropriates $350 million for a new, evidence-based funding formula for K-12 education, includes $65 million for regular transportation reimbursements to school districts which will set the proration level to over 80 percent, and increases Early Childhood Education funding by $50 million and Bilingual Education funding by $29 million. The other mandated categorical grant line items will be funded at least at Fiscal Year 2017 levels.

SB 42 contains the substantive language necessary to implement the budget items. The BIMP bill also includes pension language that would affect school districts. It authorizes state retirement systems, including the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), to offer a Tier III defined contribution plan. In such a plan, the employee would contribute 6.2 percent of his/her creditable earnings while the employer would contribute 2 percent. SB 42 also would shift the normal pension costs from the state to the local school district for the amount of salary for any employee whose creditable earnings are higher than the salary of the governor ($180,000).

U.S. Department of Education
seeks mandate relief input

The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) is seeking opinions from members of the public regarding what federal regulations they would like to see changed or eliminated. The request was published in the Federal Register on June 22. It states that the administration is "particularly interested in regulatory provisions that you find unduly costly or unnecessarily burdensome." These include, but are not limited to, programs under the DOE Offices of Elementary and Secondary Education, English Language Acquisition, Special Education Programs, and Career, Technical, and Adult Education; as well as the DOE’s General Administrative Regulations.

The Illinois Association of School Boards plans to compile a list and submit it to the DOE. To contribute your opinions on any mandates, as described above, which you would like changed or repealed, please send them to Susan Hilton at by August 1.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Still work to be done to finalize state budget

IASB Deputy Director Ben Schwarm
IASB Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm details the final steps needed to enact a state budget for Illinois schools.

The Illinois legislature worked through most of the weekend and the Fourth of July holiday in a bid to bring closure to a state budget. Through flurries of frenetic activity and periods of inactivity, budget bills were approved and sent to the governor. However, there are still several steps to take before a Fiscal Year 2018 budget will be in place for schools and all of state government.

A package of three bills were approved by both chambers: SB 6 containing appropriations for a full FY 2018 budget; SB 9 containing increases in the individual and corporate income tax rates; and SB 42, the Budget Implementation Bill (BIMP). The bills were sent to the governor Tuesday, and he immediately vetoed all three and sent them back to the Senate. The Senate, also on Tuesday, voted to override each of the vetoes and sent the bills over to the House of Representatives.

The House has yet to take up the override motions, but that action is expected to happen on Thursday. SB 9 passed the House by a very slim margin and it will require all House members who originally voted for the bill to be in attendance in order to override the veto of the governor. Since a couple of House members were unavailable Tuesday and today (Wednesday), the override motions were not called for a vote. Once word spread that there would be no votes on those two days, many members returned to their districts. The House did not conduct business Tuesday or Wednesday for lack of a quorum.

Though the bill received the 3/5 vote necessary when it passed the House, there is no guarantee that everyone who voted for it originally will vote to override the veto.

Other issues remain as well. Both the Senate President and the House Speaker continue to state that they are working toward an agreement with Republicans on the governor’s other requests, like property tax relief, workers’ compensation reform, and school funding reform. SB 6 and SB 42 are crafted in a way that if there is not a new evidence-based funding formula signed into law, no formula funding will be available for K-12 schools in FY ’18. SB 1, which contains language for a new formula, has been approved by both chambers but the governor has vowed to veto the bill unless there are further changes.

ISBE website upgrade offers improved navigation for users

Navigation within the ISBE website has been totally changed.
Launched late last year, the Illinois State Board of Education’s (ISBE) updated website offers a number of improvements for users and a noticeably modern look. The navigation within the website has been totally transformed. Materials are now categorized by audience and topic, with content that is easily discernible for administrators, teachers, students, and members of the community.

Technology upgrades are also noticeably present. The News and Media page showcases live social media updates from the board. The Innovation and Ideas tab allows districts and other outlets to share ideas, unique projects, and creative technology uses. And live audio of state board meetings is now available.

The Data and Analysis section can be particularly helpful for boards of education and local districts. Up-to-date state report card statistics, as well as multi-year trends are available in both PDF and spreadsheet form. PARCC results also are broken down via easy-to-read documents that can be beneficial when explaining scores to the community.

Also in the data section are numerous education-related reports. From the teacher salary study to ISBE’s annual report, all provide a breakdown of important information for board members, administrators, and families.

One area that will likely receive an influx of web-viewers in the near future is the ESSA page. It provides details of the revised Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) state plan, as well as state and federal resources regarding implementation.  An ESSA webinar, power point presentation, and one-page brief are also available.

Two videos to assist with navigating the website are provided here

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report 100-31


The Illinois House of Representatives, scheduled for legislative session today at 4:30 p.m. to take up budgetary matters, could not convene for lack of a quorum. Only 54 representatives were in attendance for the roll call. There are 118 members of the House of Representatives. Apparently, when House Speaker Michael Madigan indicated earlier today that there would not be a vote to override the budget bills, lawmakers headed for home.

After the Senate approved the package of budget bills (SB 6, SB 9, and SB 42) earlier today, it immediately sent the bills to the governor for consideration. Likewise, the governor acted immediately, and vetoed all three of the bills. The Senate, then, promptly overrode all three of the bills.

The legislation was sent to the House of Representatives, giving State Representatives the opportunity to override the bills. If motions to override are successful in the House, SB 6, SB 9, and SB 42 will become law and the state will have a budget in place. If the override motions fail, or if no override motion is called for a vote, the bills will be considered dead and the state would limp into another fiscal year without a budget in place.

The House is now scheduled to reconvene Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. The Senate left open a day and time to convene and will do so “at the call of the President.”

Items expected to be considered before lawmakers conclude their “spring” legislative session are: veto override motions on SB 6, SB 9, and SB 42; property tax relief legislation; workers’ compensation law reforms; and school funding reforms.

Alliance Legislative Report 100-30


Today, the Illinois Senate approved the budget package that the House of Representatives sent over on Sunday. SB 9, which contains provisions for a permanent increase in the State’s income tax rates, was approved on a mostly partisan roll call vote of 36-18. 35 of the 37 Democrats in the chamber voted for the measure while Representative Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) was the lone Republican supporter. Here are the roll call vote results.

SB 6, which makes the appropriations necessary for the budget, was approved by the Senate on a vote of 39-14. This time, four Republicans joined the Democrat majority in passing the bill. Here are those roll call vote results.

Alliance members are urged to call and thank those legislators who voted for SB 6 and SB 9 today.

The final bill in the package is SB 42, the budget implementation bill (BIMP). The BIMP, which makes the substantive changes necessary to operate the budget, was approved on a 36-17 vote.

CORRECTION: Please be advised that there was an error in the last Alliance Legislative Report regarding the BIMP bill analysis. The partial pension cost shift for school districts will be effective on salaries above $180,000. The report mistakenly listed the salary at $140,000. Sorry for any inconvenience this error caused.

Governor Bruce Rauner has indicated that he will veto the bills in the budget package because no legislation on reforms has been approved. Generally, the General Assembly has 30 days to send a bill to the governor and the governor has 60 days to take action. However, the process on these bills will likely be expedited. Whether that means it will happen in days – or weeks – remains to be seen.

The Senate has been in recess since the passage of the bills this morning. The House is set to return this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. To this point, no new legislation has surfaced regarding the remaining sticking points: workers’ compensation reform, school funding reform, and a property tax freeze.

The Alliance will continue to provide updates throughout the day via legislative reports, Twitter reports, and blog articles.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report 100-29


There will be no end to the legislative session today (Monday). The House of Representatives, a day after approving a state spending bill and legislation to add revenues to sustain a budget, adjourned early and will reconvene on Tuesday, July 4, at 4:30 p.m. The Senate also adjourned to return Tuesday morning.

Representatives did approve the budget implementation bill (BIMP), SB 42, which contains the substantive language necessary to implement the budget items. Now all of the budgetary items have been sent to the Senate for consideration. However, after hours of leadership meetings and party caucuses Monday, no action was taken up on the floor.

The BIMP bill also includes pension language that would affect school districts. It authorizes state retirement systems, including the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), to offer a Tier III defined contribution plan. In such a plan, the employee would contribute 6.2 percent of his/her creditable earnings while the employer would contribute 2 percent. SB 42 also would shift the normal pension costs from the state to the local school district for the amount of salary for any employee whose creditable earnings is higher than the salary of the governor ($140,000).

Other things are still very fluid in the Capitol. Though the budget bills have been approved by the House, bills that represent the other parts of the “agreement” have yet to be finalized. 15 House Republicans supported SB 6 and SB 9 Sunday with the understanding that reform bills (pensions, workers’ compensation, property tax caps, school funding reform) would follow. The issues are still works in progress and no bills or amendments were filed Monday on these issues.

In the Senate, without these additional issues being addressed, Republican votes for a budget may be more difficult to count on. Though Democrats have enough votes in their caucus to approve the budget and revenue bills without the other party’s support, there may be some reluctance for them to do so. Thus, the slowdown in the Capitol today.

The Alliance will continue updating on these issues through reports, tweets, and blog articles.

State Superintendent highlights LGBTQ resources

State Supt. Tony Smith
Students identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ), and those perceived as LGBTQ, are bullied more often than most students, according to State Superintendent Tony Smith. This means such students are more likely to disengage, skip school, and struggle with mental health issues, he said in his “Weekly Message” newsletter on June 6.

“ISBE believes that quality education nurtures each student as a whole child, recognizing and strengthening their connections between social, emotional, physical, and cognitive health,” he said. To that end, ISBE provides a variety of resources supporting the health and safety of LGBTQ students and all students on the state agency’s Climate and Culture web pages, including resources developed by Illinois districts and schools.

These resources include:

  • Anti-Bias and Anti-Hate 
  • Bullying Prevention
  • School Climate 
  • School Health Issues 
  • Social and Emotional Learning  
  • Student and Family Resources 
  • Homeless Education 

“The work to ensure that all students and staff feel safe, valued, and well cared for is an ongoing process,” he continued. “Making safe and healthy schools a priority is a leadership opportunity for all of us. Empathy and compassion can help us create schools that nurture all students, help all students thrive, strengthen our communities, and maximize the potential of everyone who lives in our state.”

Sunday, July 2, 2017

News Release: School Management Alliance applauds vote to keep schools open

SPRINGFIELD - After 732 days without a state budget, the Illinois House of Representatives took a significant step toward ending the longest impasse of any state in the country by approving a revenue bill Sunday. Amendment 3 to Senate Bill 9, which includes a state income tax hike, passed by a 72-45 vote that included 15 Republican votes. The vote total was one more than the super-majority necessary.

The House then immediately moved to Senate Bill 6, a balanced budget bill, which passed by an 81-34 vote. That bill included $350 million additional education funding for the evidence-based school funding model as well as increased funding for regular transportation for schools.

"It is very difficult for anyone of either party to vote for a tax increase, but it had become clear that the state did not have enough revenue to even cover the schools budget it passed last year, let alone higher education, social services and the many other state services that people all over the state depend on. We want to thank those legislators that took this tough vote," said Roger Eddy, executive director of the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB).

The income tax increase from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent returns that tax almost to the temporary 5 percent income tax that was rolled back two years ago. At the time the income tax increase expired on January 1, 2015, the state's backlog of bills was $4.36 million. Today, according to the State Comptroller's website, that backlog stands at more than $14.7 billion. The lack of revenue resulted in the state making only two of four payments to schools for items such as transportation and special education, resulting in the state owing schools more than $1 billion for last year alone.

"School administrators all over the state have been making tough decisions and cuts because of the lack of state revenue. Providing educational opportunities for our students is the best investment the state can make in its future and we thank those legislators who stepped up for our schools," said Dr. Brent Clark, executive director of the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA).

"We are grateful to legislators from both parties that stepped up and voted vote to save our schools and our state," said Dr. Michael Jacoby, executive director of the Illinois Association of School Business Officials (IASBO).

"We appreciate those state representatives that had the political courage to be a champion for our school children. Thanks to them, our schools will be able to open on time this fall," said Jason Leahy, executive director of the Illinois Principals Association (IPA).

The amended revenue and budget bills now move to the Senate, which is expected to consider the measures when it reconvenes Monday. Other proposals, including a property tax freeze, pension reform and worker's compensation reform, also are expected to be called for a vote in the House and Senate in the next few days.

The Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance includes the IASB, IASA, IASBO and IPA.