Thursday, November 30, 2017

Opinions on Education

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

Editorial Board, The Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, November 1

Editorial Board, Northwest Herald, Chicago suburbs, November 1

Editorial Board, The Freeport Journal-Standard, November 1

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Webinar highlights policy updates

IASB's Board Development and Policy Services departments have teamed up to present a webinar, which will cover recent changes in legislation and how these changes will impact the Policy Reference Manual.

The webinar, titled "PRESS Issue 96 -- 10 Bundles of Legislative Joy" is free and will take place Wednesday, November 29 at noon.

Registration is available through IASB's Online Learning Center. Visit, and select the yellow "My Account" button to log in, then choose the red Online Learning tab.

Online Survey gathers input
from Conference participants

2017 Joint Annual Conference participants have an opportunity to help IASB improve future conference programming by completing an online evaluation survey. The survey is available until Dec. 4, 2017.

There are five sections and a total of 27 questions on this survey. The sections include planning, Conference features, presenters and staff, overall experience, and what can be improved. The survey should take five to seven minutes to complete.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Federal Legislative Report 115-06

On November 16, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve its version of tax reform, H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, along party lines. It is anticipated that the U.S. Senate will vote on its version beginning this Wednesday, November 29. The following are provisions, applicable to education, included in the House version:
  • Limits State and Local Tax Deductibility (SALT) deductions for taxpayers to property tax deductions up to $10,000.
  • Expands Coverdell education savings accounts to allow contributions of up to $10,000 to private schools, thereby providing a tax-advantaged investment account for private school tuition.
  • Terminates advanced refunding that allows districts/communities to refinance bonds at lower interest rates, as well as private activity bonds and tax credit bonds used by school districts (Qualified Zone Academy Bonds, Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds, and Clean Renewable Energy Bonds).
  • Eliminates the $250 tax deduction for teachers who use their own funds to augment instructional materials and classroom supplies for students.
The following are provisions, applicable to education, included in the Senate version:
  • Would repeal SALT deductions altogether.
  • Would terminate advance refunding and does not address tax credit bonds or private activity bonds.
  • Would double the $250 tax deduction, to $500, for teachers who use their own funds to augment instructional materials and classroom supplies for students.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Award for top board president
goes to Franklin Park’s Ignoffo

Gregory Ignoffo, president of Leyden Community High School District 212, was presented with the 2017 Thomas Lay Burroughs Award at the Joint Annual Conference on Sunday as the state’s outstanding school board president.

Ignoffo has been a member of the Board of Education in Franklin Park for 18 years, including 12 years as president.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) presents the board presidency award each November. ISBE created the award in 1991 in memory of the late ISBE chairman, to recognize “extraordinary local leadership, in particular in advancing student learning and educational excellence, expanding equal educational opportunities, and resolving major crises or difficulties.”

According to presenter and ISBE board member Ruth Cross, Ignoffo “led a one-to-one technology initiative that was one of the first in the nation to use Google Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education (now G Suite).”

ISBE also noted that the initiative secured a device for every student, but not all students had web access in their homes. Ignoffo partnered with Sprint’s ConnectEd Initiative to secure free WiFi hotspots for all students in need and worked with the District 212 board to require that all new school buses purchased have WiFi, ensuring equitable access to digital learning for all students.

Ignoffo also helped to develop the plan for a five-year, $80 million renovation project for two high schools, according to Cross, including one that is nearly 100 years old. The renovations will include a new daycare and preschool facility that will provide a local daycare option for families and double as a learning lab for students to earn industry child care credentials.

Cross quoted Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens’ opinion that “Greg is the perfect example of what a leader should be.” In a statement submitted in support of Ignoffo’s nomination, the mayor said “When Greg asks, ‘What's best for our students?’ he truly means it, and will stop at nothing to make sure that is the most important issue when making a decision.”

Leyden CHSD 212’s numerous awards and distinctions demonstrate Ignoffo’s continuous pursuit of improvement and excellence in serving students. Leyden CHSD 212 recently received the AdvancED District Accreditation (2010, 2015), College Board National Advanced Placement District of the Year (2014), Chicago Tribune Top 100 Workplaces (2015, 2016, 2017), National School Board Association Magna Award (2015), Digital Content and Curriculum Award - Center for Digital Education (2014), and District of Distinction - District Administration Magazine (2015).

“Greg Ignoffo leads for the whole child, whole school, and whole community,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith. “He makes sure every student in his district receives what they need to prepare for college and career, whether that’s a computer, academic coaching, or the personal attention of a mentor.”

In receiving the award, Ignoffo told the the 3rd General Session audience, “It is really such an honor to be singled out for something that I have such a passion for, and gives me such joy. On Monday morning I received a call from our Superintendent, Dr. Nick Polyak, stating that I was to receive this honor. Then I realized, ‘how fortunate am I to receive this award in a year when nobody else was nominated,’” he joked, adding:   “Thank you, but we all know this award for me is really for we.”

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Boards vote on polling places,
sales tax resolutions

A proposal that would allow school districts to request reimbursement from the local election authority for expenses relating to the use of school facilities as polling places was approved by the membership of the Illinois Association of School Boards.

Another proposal supporting a statewide County School Facility Occupation Tax did not get membership approval.

Delegates representing 367 school districts participated.
Representatives from 367 school boards considered resolutions on a variety of public education issues at the Association’s annual Delegate Assembly. The assembly was held Nov. 18 in conjunction with the 2017 Joint Annual Conference in Chicago.

In addition to setting legislative priorities, IASB delegates elected a new president and vice president. Joanne Osmond, a member of the Lake Villa CCSD 41 Board of Education, is the Association’s new president. She has represented the Lake Division on the IASB Board of Directors since 1996 and served the last two terms as the Association’s vice president. Osmond replaces Phil Pritzker, a member of the Wheeling CCSD 21 school board.

Thomas Neeley, a member of the Morton CUSD 709 Board of Education, is IASB’s new vice president. He has served as the Association treasurer since November 2015 and has been a member of the IASB Board of Directors for 10 years, representing the Central Illinois Valley division.
Osmond and Neeley will serve one-year terms. The slate was presented by a nominating committee, which was chaired by past president Karen Fisher and included directors Mark Christ, Dennis Inboden, Sue McCance, and Mary Stith. Directors Carla Joiner-Herrod and John Metzger served as alternates.

Delegates also received the Association’s financial report from Neeley and a written annual report from IASB Executive Director Roger Eddy. His report covered IASB’s outlook for public education in Illinois and reviewed the Association’s efforts to manage the challenges of improving that outlook.

A memorable moment took place at the end of the Delegate Assembly, when delegate Don Choate, of Jonesboro CCSD 43, was honored with an ovation for 50 years of service as a school board member.

IASB sets legislative priorities
based on the adopted resolutions.
The resolution process begins at the local district level. Each resolution is originally proposed by a member district, reviewed by a 21-member Resolutions Committee, and then brought before the Delegate Assembly for any discussion and vote. The adopted resolutions set IASB’s policies and establish the legislative direction of the Association and its 843 member districts.

The committee did not approve the one-percent sales tax proposal, submitted by Sangamon Valley CUSD 9, but it was brought for reconsideration by the assembly.

“School districts must look for all sources of revenue, to achieve the elusive goal of equity for all students,” said Sangamon Valley board member Martha Leeper.

“It’s about zip code discrimination, and we have a chance to change it,” said board member Bill Alexander of New Berlin CUSD 16, a co-sponsor of the proposal.

Those opposed to a statewide application of the one-percent tax proposal cited concerns of local control. “The resolution takes the legwork out of it. It is the duty of the board to prove the sales tax to its community. We should allow this to be a local control issue,” said Edmar Schreiber, board member at Bond County CUSD 2 in Greenville.

The Delegate Assembly voted 225-115 against supporting a statewide County School Facility Occupation Tax.

Delegates agreed with the resolution to support legislation amending the School Code to reimburse school districts for costs, including security, associated with providing a polling place for elections. This resolution, proposed by Indian Prairie CUSD 204, Naperville, passed by a vote of 157 to 148.  Some delegates cited the current rancor in politics and the need for safer voting sites. Others said that some districts currently cannot refuse to provide school facilities as polling places, despite the additional burden of attendance issues, staffing, security, and other costs involved in opening schools for elections.

“Public education should embrace the election process,” said board member Tom DeNeal of Harrisburg CUSD 3, who opposed the resolution seeking reimbursement. “We should be teaching young people it is a privilege and a right to vote, not an inconvenience.”

Indian Prairie board member Mark Rising disagreed. “It’s hard for us to protect our students. This does not say we have to stop any current practice. It accomplishes the flexibility needed to satisfy the diversity of districts. It also places the onus on the election commission to look for other, fiscally-sound, polling places.”

Three additional resolutions were approved without discussion. One calls for the Illinois State Board of Education to report discrepancies in state-required test scores, including differences between paper-and-pencil scores and electronic testing, and between electronic testing methods. This resolution was proposed by Altamont CUSD 10.

Another resolution amended a current IASB position regarding the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL). IASB will support legislation that allows a school district to levy an amount less than the PTELL limit, without penalty for raising the levy in the three subsequent years. This would encourage districts to levy only the amount necessary each year.

Delegates also reaffirmed an IASB position on state-authorized charter school funding. IASB will continue to support legislation that creates a new methodology for funding state-authorized charter schools. Two other resolutions that were not recommended were not appealed and therefore did not come up for a vote.

These positions can be found online at

A new IASB Belief Statement, to clarify the School Code to employ competitive bidding practices for technology upgrades and energy savings, was also adopted. This document is also available online at:

Monday, November 20, 2017

IASB Board of Directors
holds annual reorganizational meeting

Joanne Osmond, Lake Villa CCSD 41, is the new president of the Illinois Association of School Boards. The new vice president is Thomas Neeley, Morton CUSD 709. Both were elected at the Association’s Delegate Assembly, held Nov. 18 in Chicago. They will serve one-year terms.

Phil Pritzker, Wheeling CCSD 21, who completed his second term, is now immediate past president. Linda Eades, Northwestern CUSD 2, was named treasurer, replacing Neeley.

The IASB Board of Directors also made committee assignments at its annual reorganizational meeting on Sunday, Nov. 19. Joining Osmond, Neeley, Pritzker, and Eades on the Executive Committee are directors Carla Joiner-Herrod, Lindop SD 92; Simon Kampwerth Jr., Peru ESD 124; Mark Harms, Flanagan-Cornell Unit District 74; and Dennis Inboden, Robinson CUSD 2.

Other committees, to be announced, include the nominating committee, the audit committee, and the policy review ad hoc committee. IASB also annually appoints an IHSA representative; co-chairs for the 2018 Joint Annual Conference, and delegates to the 2018 NSBA Delegate Assembly.

Sunday’s meeting was the final official event for past president Karen Fisher, Ottawa THSD 140. Fisher has been active on the IASB Board of Directors since 2007, serving as Starved Rock Division director, vice president, and president.

“It’s been a great run,” said Fisher. “The support, encouragement, family, and fellowship I have received from the board and staff of IASB has been unbelievably fantastic.”

The Board of Directors has supervision, control, and direction of the affairs of the Association. The Board consists of elective officers and 21 regional directors. The chairman of the IASB Service Associates and the IASB executive director are ex-officio members.

The next meeting of the Board of Directors is scheduled for March 2-3, 2018, in Lisle.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Video says ‘thank you’
to local school board members

To recognize the outstanding efforts of the nearly 6,000 elected school board members throughout the state, Wednesday, Nov. 15, is designated as “School Board Members’ Day” in Illinois. The honorary day offers an opportunity to recognize the leadership provided by local boards of education and to build a stronger relationship between school board members, the community, faculty, and parents.

IASB provides local districts with resources to observe the day in their schools and communities.

Links to these materials are available online.

IASB Executive Director Roger Eddy shared his thanks for the service and leadership provided by Illinois school board members is the video message below.

If the video is not displaying correctly in your browser, click here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Districts face learning curve
with new funding formula

With the implementation of a new method to distribute state money to Illinois schools, a natural learning curve is inevitable for all those involved. To assist districts with understanding the Evidence-Based Funding Model, the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA) recently held three hearings at locations throughout the state.

Among the topics discussed were the evidence-based elements, adequacy targets and local capacity targets, tiered distribution system, and the base funding minimum. Some of the lesser-known parts of the new funding statute include Chicago Public Schools pension changes, the property tax relief fund, the Tax Increment Finance (TIF) task force, mandate relief, and local property tax reduction via petition referendum.

IASA’s Executive Director Brent Clark was joined by several school officials who have been heavily involved in crafting the Evidence-Based Funding Model over the past three years. Speakers included Gary Tipsord, LeRoy CUSD 2 superintendent; Michael Jacoby, Illinois Association of School Business Officials executive director; Ralph Martire, River Forest SD 90 board president and Center for Tax and Budget Accountability executive director; and Ben Boer, Advance Illinois deputy director.

Key to the new formula are the 26 elements that determine how much each district receives based on an assigned calculation for a number of variables. Those variables include types of teachers, certain support staff, and professional development costs. 

Also included are various student related variables-from English Language Learners to special education to computer technology. All are assigned a value, meaning the district gets an allocated amount of money for each student that fits into the various categories.

The adequacy target is factored by enrollment and student population, while also accounting for demographic based resources that are necessary to create high quality education. What this means is dollars will follow the needs of student learners, directing resources to those most in need.

The combination of the elements and the targets contained within the new law will give districts increased flexibility by showing what each school needs to provide and what it doesn’t. This allows funding to be directed to areas of greater need that serve the district's unique student demographics.

“The (funding) model is a mechanism to determine the amount and how to distribute dollars to schools,” Tipsord said at the hearing held Oct. 18 in Bloomington. “This is authentic, genuine funding reform. This is driving dollars specifically for the purpose of classroom instruction.”
The other hearings were held Oct. 11 in Lisle, and Oct. 19 in Ina.

One of the most important aspects of the new law is that no districts will lose money within the formula. The base funding minimum as stipulated within the formula ensures that districts will not go below the dollar amount they currently receive.

Going forward, the new money allocated to formula will be distributed to districts most in need. A total of $350 million allocated for the 2017-2018 school year will be assigned on a four-tier distribution method.

The bottom two tiers will be prioritized in terms of receiving the newly allocated state funds. The intention of each tier is to work toward closing gaps within the expected adequacy target by meeting certain ceilings and then moving up to the next tier. It is estimated that the state will need to put in around $5 billion to get every district to the tier 3 level. This could take from 10 to 15 years for the lowest-tier districts.

Each school district is treated individually, with an Adequacy Target based on the needs of its student body. The greater the student need, the higher the Adequacy Target. New dollars go to the neediest districts first — those furthest from their Adequacy Target. This is designed to close the gaps in funding that existed in the previous school funding system.

The next step in the process for districts will be ensuring accurate data is relayed to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). That data includes detailed enrollment data to account for subsets of student populations, such as: special education pre-Kindergarten students; students from deactivated/non-operating districts; students served at state-authorized charter schools; and students at state-funded residential schools. Data requirements include the collection of two prior years of enrollment in addition to the current one year of enrollment for the calculation of a three-year average. The greater of either the current year or the three-year average for each district’s Average Student Enrollment (ASE) is used in Evidence-Based Funding calculations.

It is imperative that the data is accurate and verified, because it will serve as the basis for the funding level going forward, according to ISBE officials.

ISBE recently posted an instructional guide online for the Evidence-Based Funding Enrollment Verification Tool, as well as a recording of and the PowerPoint presentation from a Nov. 2 webinar, according to an ISBE website on the topic

District superintendents are being asked to complete the first step in the data verification process by Friday, Nov. 17.

The IASA website contains a number of resources.
A number of resources to aid districts in understanding the Evidence-Based Funding Model have been created. PowerPoints at the hearings, a simplified Senate Bill 1947 presentation, and a breakdown of the 26 Evidence-Based elements are posted on the IASA website. Additional videos, webinars, and a fact sheet are available here

Workshops for administrators and other school leaders are also planned for early next year.

Conference reminders

Those who registered for the Joint Annual Conference by the Oct. 6 deadline should have received their name badges and instructions in the mail. Those who did not should visit the Conference registration desk upon arrival.

Those who already have badges do not need to check-in at Conference registration desk; however, that is where lanyards, ribbons, and Conference program books will be available. These materials are also available at the Sheraton Grand Chicago. The Conference information desk is located on Level IV, one level above the Sheraton lobby.

Note: individuals or groups that canceled their Conference registration without substituting a member(s) from within their district automatically lose their hotel reservations. Hotel accommodations booked through Conference housing blocks are intended only for those registered for Conference and their guests.

More information about the Joint Annual Conference is available on the Conference website or by downloading the Conference app

Monday, November 13, 2017

ISBE honors board members
with ‘Those Who Excel’ awards

State education officials recently honored seven Illinois school board members at the 43rd annual Those Who Excel/Teacher of the Year banquet in Bloomington. One board member captured the award of excellence, the highest level. Winning board members, and their school district, follow:

John Puzauskas
McLean County Unit District 5, Normal

Chris Kloeppel
Champaign Unit 4 Community Unit School District

Donna Cain
DuPage High School District 88, Addison

Kim Skaja
Huntley Community School District 158

Margaret (Peggy) Babcock
Palatine CCSD 15

Ralph Edward Test
Jersey CUSD 100, Jerseyville

Jim Ward
Plano Community Unit School District 88

Lindsey Jensen
Among 228 other educators honored at the banquet was the 2018 Teacher of the Year, Lindsey Jensen, an English and literature teacher from Dwight Township High School District 230.

Jensen says she believes “teaching requires becoming part of students’ lives and making connections that no other professional experiences.” She teaches advanced placement English, drama, Shakespeare, literature, and composition to juniors and seniors in high school. State education officials said Jensen’s peers recommended her because of her infectious positivity, as well as the high standards she sets for students.

Jensen began her career in education as a teacher’s aide in 2005; she is now in her ninth year as a high school English instructor.

State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith said Jensen “exemplifies teacher leadership.” Smith added: “It’s a great time to be an educator in Illinois. The Those Who Excel award recipients show us how educators can unite communities and change students’ lives. These educators showcase the dynamic work happening in schools across Illinois –from the high school principal helping students run their own technology business to the middle school teacher harnessing her own story of fortitude to inspire leadership in her students.”

Local school district leaders and members of school communities nominate candidates for this recognition. A committee of peers, organized through the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), chose the award winners who were honored this year. The committee represents statewide education organizations and includes former award winners.

The 235 recipients received recognition on three levels and across multiple categories, including classroom teacher, teams, early career educator, school administrator, school board member, community volunteer, education service personnel, and student support personnel.

A complete list of local recipients by county can be accessed on ISBE’s Those Who Excel winners' list.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Sample news releases available prior to Conference

IASB recommends that school boards document all their professional development experiences and expenses at the Joint Annual Conference.

Sample news releases are available to assist those districts that want to pro-actively share what they will do and/or did at the 2017 Joint Annual Conference. These news releases are designed to allow district leaders to specify who attended, how much was spent, and how it all fits into district budget and professional development goals.

Get access by logging-in to the IASB member database, choosing the Members-Only tab at the top of the page, and selecting Annual Conference from the drop-down menu. There, find the section entitled “Sample News Releases,” and follow the link.

IASB also encourages school boards to adopt a policy in support of professional development for board members that permits and encourages ongoing leadership training, including attendance at the Joint Annual Conference. The Association offers a sample policy (2:120) on this subject through PRESS, IASB’s Policy Reference Education Subscription Service.

More information about the Conference, to be held Nov. 17-19 in Chicago, is available here.

Friday, November 10, 2017

2017 Conference panel handouts posted

Discussion panel handouts and PowerPoints from many of the presentations at this year's Joint Annual Conference are now available on the Members-Only portion of the IASB website. Panels are only listed if materials have been submitted. The handouts will be available for the next several months.

Follow the link from the section called "Conference Handouts"
Handouts are listed in the same order as the Conference program, and they are grouped together by date and time. All submitted handouts from the administrative professionals program are grouped together at the bottom of the listings.

The handouts are available to anyone who is in the IASB member database. This includes board members, superintendents, secretaries, and other individuals associated with IASB member districts.

Get access by logging-in to the IASB member database, choosing the Members-Only tab at the top of the page, and selecting Annual Conference from the drop-down menu. Once there, find the section entitled “2017 Conference Handouts” and follow the link.

The panel materials may be downloaded as PDF files (Adobe Acrobat Reader required) by clicking the link associated with the desired panel title.

For instructions on how to log in to the IASB member database, click here.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report 100-49



Both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly have adjourned for 2017, a year that saw a full year budget passed, new revenues, and a school funding formula overhaul. The House of Representatives and the Senate are scheduled to convene the 2018 spring veto session in late January.

In previous fall veto sessions, Governor Bruce Rauner was very successful in sustaining a vast majority of his vetoes. However, things were different this year as a number of vetoes were overridden by the General Assembly. The growing number of votes against the governor started with the budget and revenue package (SB 6 and SB 9) overrides in July and largely continued into the fall. One major win for the governor was defeating the override of a bill that would have prohibited local “Right-to-Work Zones” (SB 1905).

The most impactful piece of legislation considered for school districts this veto session was SB 851 (Cullerton, D-Chicago) – the latest property tax base reduction idea to be voted on. To read more about SB 851, click here. The House approved the bill Wednesday on a vote of 75-32-1. A late House amendment also added an additional homestead exemption for long-time occupants. Although the Senate had time Thursday to consider the measure, it was not called for a vote before adjournment. The measure could be considered by the Senate upon its return in January. Alliance members are encouraged to continue the advocacy against SB 851.


HB 1252 (Lilly, D-Chicago) requires a semester of instruction on civics in either of the 6th, 7th, or 8th grades in all public schools (currently just high schools). The bill was approved by the House and is pending in the Senate.

HB 1262 (Currie, D-Chicago) provides that a School Code mandate waiver request regarding tax rates, funds, or transfers shall not be reviewed by the panel of General Assembly members, but shall be submitted to the full General Assembly for consideration. The bill was approved by the House and is pending in the Senate.

HB 2462 (Biss, D-Skokie) prohibits an employer from screening an applicant’s wage history before being interviewed for employment. The Senate failed to override the governor’s veto on a vote of 29-17-1 (it required 36 votes) and the bill is dead.

HB 2977 (Welch, D-Westchester) requires elementary schools to offer instruction on cursive writing. The Senate voted to override the governor’s veto and the bill will become law.

HB 3298 (Scherer, D-Decatur) allows, under certain circumstances, the application fee for a substitute teacher license to be refunded. The Senate voted to override the governor’s veto and the bill will become law.

SB 81 (Lightford, D-Maywood) would increase the state minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022. No vote was taken on the veto override motion and the bill is dead.

SB 403 (Bush, D-Grayslake) creates a natural disaster income tax credit of up to $750 per homeowner for property damaged by the July 2017 flood. The bill was approved and will be sent to the governor.

SB 444 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill) makes technical changes to the new evidence-based funding formula regarding English Learners, Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) calculations, and Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) adjustments. The bill was approved and will be sent to the governor for consideration. SB 453 (Lightford) would have clarified procedures for identifying school districts in need of a school discipline improvement plan, school board approval, and submission of improvement plans as prescribed by Public Act 98-1102. The bill also would have created the Safe Schools and Healthy Learning Environments Program to require self-selected school districts to reallocate funding for school-based law enforcement in order to access matching funding for other social-emotional and restorative practices. On a second attempt on the Senate floor, the bill failed to receive the requisite number of votes and the bill is dead.

Board member turnover
rate reaches 20-year low

The turnover rate of Illinois school board members in the April 2017 election was the lowest seen in the past 10 biennial elections.

New members were chosen to occupy 39.6 percent of all school board seats filled on April 4 (see accompanying chart). IASB records show 1,149 new board members were elected and 1,754 incumbents were re-elected for the 2,903 terms that were expiring. That’s a turnover rate of just 19.5 percent of the 2,903 terms that expired.

The turnover rate over the previous 20 years ranged from 21.7 percent in 2009 and 2011, to 24.6 percent in 1997.

IASB currently has a total of 5,882 school board members in 844 member school districts. There are just five districts that do not belong to the Association. Elections are held every other year for the staggered, four-year school board terms.

The April 2017 election saw a higher success rate for incumbents seeking re-election (60.4 percent) than at any board election in a decade, matching the previous low from 2011. Until this year’s uptick, the incumbent success rate had fallen in three successive biennial elections after reaching a 20-year high of 58.3 percent in 2011.

“Although our turnover rate was rather low this time at 19.5 percent, it has been averaging a relatively stable 21 to 24 percent over the past 20 years, so this year’s turnover was a little bit below the norm. This may mean that voters are mostly satisfied with the job their school boards are doing,” said IASB Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm.

Board member turnover data and finance election data is available online here.

Clare Bourne wins 2017 Holly Jack Award

Clare Bourne
Clare Bourne, executive administrative assistant to the superintendent and board secretary of Crystal Lake Elementary District 47, is the recipient of the ninth annual award for school district secretaries.

Bourne was chosen to receive the service award by a selection committee of previous Holly Jack winners, and Illinois Association of School Administrators and Illinois Association of School Business Officials past presidents, and retired administrative professionals. She will be honored Friday, Nov. 17, at the Joint Annual Conference in Chicago as part of the administrative professionals’ program.

Nominations were made by district superintendents and school board presidents. The judges considered the following criteria: performance, initiative, innovation, staff development, self-improvement, passion for public education, and dedication to the district and community. Letters of support were also accepted.

The award was created to honor the memory of Holly Jack, a long-time employee of the Illinois Association of School Boards, who served as an IASB field services administrative assistant and was instrumental in promoting and developing professional development programs for board secretaries. The award not only honors Holly Jack’s contribution and memory, but also recognizes the extraordinary work and dedication provided by secretaries who serve and assist their local boards of education.

Bourne has worked in Crystal Lake ESD 47 since 1998, serving as a classroom aid and substitute coordinator until 2002. In 2002, she was employed by the district as executive administrative assistant and board secretary, a position she has held since. Crystal Lake ESD 47 is an elementary school district serving 7,600 students in 12 schools with a staff of around 1,200.

“For the past 15 years, Clare has unselfishly dedicated her time and talent to efficiently and compassionately assist our district superintendent, and the board of education, in serving our local school community. She allows our school district to operate seamlessly and effortlessly,” according to Rob Fetzner and Betsy Les, district 47 board president and vice president. “Clare builds positive relationships with most everyone she meets in our district. She takes a personal interest in her colleagues and is one of the first to volunteer to provide assistance whenever it is needed,” they wrote.

Kathy Hinz, superintendent of Crystal Lake 47, called Bourne “a knowledgeable, dedicated, passionate face” for families, staff, and the community. Hinz added, “Her attention to detail, consistency in her actions and decisions, and adherence to board policy is an asset to the entire organization. The district is beyond blessed to have someone like Clare Bourne working in the superintendent’s office and supporting our board of education.”

Hinz said Bourne’s passion for the district and its students is evident every day. She often helps to refocus or re-energize fellow staff, Hinz noted, by asking, “What’s best for the students?” as others become frustrated or concerned about a looming decision or challenge. Her passion is also seen in her participation each year in the “Bowl for Kids’ Sake” district team, a fundraiser for the local chapter of Big Brothers/Big Sisters, according to Hinz.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

ISBE briefs

Upcoming budget hearings
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has scheduled public hearings to listen to recommendations for the fiscal year 2019 pre-K through grade 12 budget. Hearings are scheduled for Nov. 8 in Mt. Vernon, and Nov. 17 in Chicago. State board of education officials want to hear from teachers, community and business leaders, parents, board members, and anyone else wishing to comment about the real needs of students. Those who would like to attend the budget meetings have been asked to submit their comments via a budget request form, emailed to

New calendar feature
Earlier this year, ISBE unveiled a redesigned calendar feature for the 2017-2018 school year. The calendar incorporates a number of interactive features giving users options to narrow choices by topic and audience for specified events and activities. The new calendar includes important deadlines and dates, while also showcasing upcoming meetings, professional development opportunities, conferences, and webinars. Each of the topics are color-coded, allowing the calendar to be filtered by event type and suggested audience (teachers, administrators, families and students, community, and partners). The calendar can be viewed on ISBE’s website.

Updated School Code waiver process
ISBE recently implemented a new process created by the General Assembly for handling district waiver requests that pertain to the Illinois School Code. The previous procedure saw waiver reports delivered biannually to the General Assembly for approval. Legislators could approve either the entire report or specific requests.

Under the new law, requests for School Code waivers are reviewed by ISBE and submitted to a review board consisting of a Senate and House member from each caucus. If three or more of the panel members feel that the waiver request needs further scrutiny, the request is then sent to the entire General Assembly for consideration. If fewer than three members of the review panel feel additional consideration is needed, the waiver request can be approved, denied, or modified by ISBE. If no action is taken within 10 days, the waiver is automatically approved. Requests denied by the ISBE are returned to the entire General Assembly for a vote.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Conference registration going offline today

Conference registration will be going offline today, Nov. 7, at 3 p.m., after which registration for the 2017 Joint Annual Conference becomes onsite-only.

From now until the Conference, all new registrations, all cancellations or substitutions, and all changes are to be made onsite. Any hotel changes are to be made directly with the hotels.

More information about the Conference, to be held Nov. 17-19 in Chicago, is available at:

Labor issues heating up across the state

Although teacher strikes have been avoided, ongoing negotiations and short-lived work stoppages have been reported in several districts this school year, mainly among support staff and transportation workers. Here is a summary of the most recent labor issues across the state:

The Quincy Federation of Teachers and Educational Support Personnel rejected a contract offer from Quincy SD 172 on Oct. 18, and filed an intent to strike notice with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. The earliest possible strike date would be Nov. 17. A tentative agreement reached in July was later rejected by union membership, and the district went into mediation in August.

In Rockford, the teachers union and the Rockford SD 205 school board will take up negotiations again this month after a contract offer was rejected by Rockford Education Association members on Oct. 22.

Plainfield CCSD 202 and the Association of Plainfield Teachers reached a tentative agreement on Oct. 26. The Board of Education was expected to finalize and present details of the five-year agreement at its Nov. 6 meeting.

In Palatine CCSD 15, members of the Education Support Personnel Association union went on strike on Oct. 15. The association includes school nurses, special education classroom aides, and school secretaries. Schools remained open, and a federal judge ordered the employees considered “essential” – nurses and some aides – back to work on Oct. 18. The board presented an offer on Oct. 27 that was rejected; however, striking employees returned to work without an agreement on Oct. 30, and negotiations continue.

Negotiations between Ashland-based A-C Central CUSD 262 and its support staff have broken down after three months, according to a State Journal Register report on November 8. At issue are wages for transportation staff, cooks, classroom aides, secretaries, and custodians. Although no dates have been set, A-C Central Superintendent Tim Page says the district is willing to continue negotiations.

In another action pertaining to school district support staff, the board of education for Prairie Grove CSD 46 and Prairie Grove Education Support Personnel (PGESP) tentatively agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement on Nov. 2. The agreement covers 45 district support staff members, including bus drivers, secretaries, office assistants, para-professionals, and custodians. The board is expected to ratify the agreement at its Nov. 14 meeting.

Two other school districts were involved in negotiations with transportation providers that were recently settled. Skokie-based Alltown Bus Service, which contracts with Decatur SD 61, reached a tentative agreement with its bus drivers, attendants, and mechanics on Oct. 18. First Student Bus Company and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 26, also representing bus drivers, monitors, and mechanics, reached an agreement on Oct. 30 to continue service without interruption for students of Danville SD 118.

More current information is available from the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board (IELRB), which collects public postings for education-related final offers. Current IELRB postings can be accessed here.

This post was updated on November 8 with additional information. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report 100-48


The Illinois General Assembly returns to the Capitol this week for the second week of the Veto Session. This will likely complete the session action for the year.

Last week the House Revenue and Finance Committee approved the latest version of a property tax freeze. SB 851, sponsored by Representative Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg) in the House, was amended with the freeze language on an 8-1 Committee vote. Details of the bill can be found in the last Alliance Legislative Report.

SB 851 could be considered on the House floor at any time. Alliance members are urged to contact their State Representatives and ask for a "NO" vote on the bill.

Click here to read the complete Alliance Legislative Report (100-48), including the other action slated for this week.

Online planner available for Conference

An Online Conference Planner is now available for those planning to attend the 2017 Joint Annual Conference, Nov. 17-19, in Chicago. By creating an online planner, participants can view all events and create a personalized agenda to carry with them at Conference on their mobile device

Instructions for creating a personal planner are available on the Conference microsite, listed under the Education & Schedule tab at the top of that page. Clicking on the Schedule at a Glance link opens to a page that lists Conference events by day, time, title, and location.

Note: Visitors need to create an account with the third party website there, called Sched, to use the planner. To create the account, click on the Sign Up link under the gray Schedule box on this Sched website and follow screen prompts to fill in the blanks for sign up. The Online Planner and personal Conference schedule can be printed and synced to mobile devices for instant, offline access to the schedule of events.

Once the account is created, the Online Conference Planner allows the user to view events by date, type or category. Individual events in each category are listed in chronological order by title and description. Listed at the right of each event is the location by hotel, time, and room name. Multiple events may be chosen for each time slot.