Saturday, April 28, 2018

Alliance Legislative Report 100-65


In one of the busiest weeks of the legislative session, hundreds of bills passed out of their original chamber and now await action on the other side of the rotunda. The deadlines set by the leaders in each chamber provide for a flurry of activity as legislators try to keep their legislation moving through the process.

Earlier in the week, the Alliance sent out a call to action on three bills, SB 3418, HB 4789, and HB 5572. Thanks to your efforts on these three important issues, two of the three bills (HB 5572 and HB 4789) were called for a vote and were defeated by wide margins. While SB 3418 was not called for a vote, it is important to keep working the bills as deadlines could be extended to allow for extra time for passage.

With just under five weeks left until the May 31st adjournment deadline, there does not seem to be significant movement on a budget. Adding to the pressure of the pending deadline, the Illinois House of Representatives is not scheduled to be in session next week. The Senate will return to Springfield Tuesday, May 1.

Click here to read the complete Alliance Legislative Report 100-65, including the full bill action this week and bills scheduled for committee next week.

Friday, April 27, 2018

PRESS, PRESS Plus, and School Board Policies Online maintenance notice

On Friday, April 27 from 8 – 9 p.m. PRESS, PRESS Plus, and manuals published with School Board Policies Online will be unavailable while the system undergoes maintenance updates. IASB apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause to members and users of these services. For additional information or questions please contact Brian Zumpf by email at

Lunch and Learn webinars
continue in early May

IASB will continue its free online learning opportunities for Association members with two new webinars scheduled for early May. The first, “Democracy IS Conflict: Is yours Productive or Unproductive,” will take place at noon on Tuesday, May 3.

Larry Dirks, an IASB field services director, will take a unique look at the issue of board conflict. Beginning with the concept that all school boards will at some point experience conflict, Dirks will explain how the values of board members influence discussions and decisions, and how those same values can contribute to productive and unproductive conflict on the school board.

Staying with the democracy theme, the governmental relations department will present “How to Write an Effective IASB Resolution – Take Action to Make Change” at noon on Monday, May 7. The webinar, led by Governmental Relations Directors Deanna Sullivan and Zach Messersmith, will dive into the IASB resolutions process and explain how board members can shape public school policy at the state and national levels.

The IASB Lunch and Learn webinar series has proved successful since its launch, with nearly 800 school officials taking advantage of the professional development opportunities.

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

An archived version of the webinar will become available 24 to 48  hours after the live event.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Alliance Call to Action




There are three initiatives pending before the Illinois House and Senate that need input from school management. Please take a few minutes to respond and share the possible impact on local schools districts if these bills would become law.

HB 5572 (Ives, R-Wheaton) is designed to prohibit a school district from refinancing debt past the repayment period of the original issue, issuing bonds beyond the time period established when the debt was issued, and incurring any kind of debt in excess of 13.8% (units) or 6.9% (duals) of the district's 2017 equalized assessed valuation (EAV) or the district's maximum amount of debt on the effective date of this Act, whichever is greater.

The effects of this bill on local schools will be significant! Please share the impact of this limitation on your schools with your lawmaker. The bill:

  • Includes interest (which is not "borrowed money") and alternate revenue bonds in a school district's debt limit, both of which are currently exempted from the debt limit. No other state in the country considers interest to be part of debt. 
  • Includes interest in a school district's debt limit calculation which would automatically push many districts over their debt limit.
  • Severely restricts a school district's ability to restructure debt to respond to current economic climates and provide debt relief to taxpayers at times when tax rates are too high for communities to sustain.

Remind your representative that safeguards are already provided for in Illinois Statute:
  • The annual debt service levied is for referendum bonds, approved by the voters in referendum; andfor non-referendum bonds, limited to the debt service extension base, a fixed annual amount which can only be adjusted by referendum. Therefore the district's debt burden is already limited by law and voter approval 
  • The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) currently monitors long-term and short-term debt limitations via the Financial Profile Score reporting 
  • Debt issues are currently limited to a 20-year repayment period unless the district secures a legislative exemption due to extenuating circumstances. In these cases, an additional 5 or 10 years added to the repayment period is still significantly less than the useful life of a new building 
  • PA 100-503 just passed in 2017 and effective January 2018 provides for additional statutory requirements 
Please contact your State Representative and urge a NO VOTE on HB 5572.

HB 4789 (Breen, R-Lombard) would be virtually impossible for school districts to comply with. The bill:
  • Reduces the current 5 percent administrator cap to the lesser of 5 percent or CPI
  • Establishes three separate cost limits and broadens the current definition of "administration" to now include support costs and those for principals, deans, and even teacher leaders 
  • Changes the limit from one based on actual costs of administration to one based on the per pupil costs of administration 
  • Establishes 2018-19 baselines for the two new administrative categories based on 2001 census increased by CPI and the 2015 census increased by CPI, respectively.
 This proposal will hurt smaller districts and those with flat or declining enrollment. Even if those districts are able to reduce administrative expenditures, they will find it difficult, if not impossible, to keep per pupil costs below CPI. Holding districts to 2001 and 2015 cost baselines is simply unfair. It's retroactive punishment without any knowledge or ability to comply.

Please contact your State Representative and urge a NO VOTE on HB 4789.

SB 3418 (Rezin, R-Peru) sets limitations for school districts entering into joint agreements to share the services of a superintendent. The bill also creates a referendum process to attempt to force school districts into joint agreements to share administrative services. 
  • SB 3418 is presented as a cost-saving measure, but it takes away local control and the end result could actually cost school districts more
  • Locally elected school boards already have the power to enter into a joint agreement to share administrative services and costs
  • Unnecessarily forcing administrators to spread their duties across multiple school districts will likely result in requiring additional compensation, or the hiring of additional administrative staff
  • With legislation pending to limit school administrative costs (HB 4789), this measure could place school districts in the dangerous position of being required to share administrative services, but limited in their ability to adequately compensate staff for additional duties.
Please contact your State Senator and urge a NO VOTE on SB 3418.

Consider using these links to register your positions. Be sure to make your response reflect facts about your school district. Click on the link, enter your zip code or address and follow the prompts. Our Illinois Principals Association partner provided these links for our use.

National tech award recognizes three districts

School leaders from Lindop School District 92
(Broadview) were joined by district tech coordinators
in accepting the award at NSBA's conference April 7.
Three Illinois school districts are among the 42 district winners of a national award for technology use that recognizes school boards for innovating by investing in tech tools and learning models for the next generation.

The largest Illinois winner in the Center for Digital Education’s and National School Boards Association’s annual technology awards is Township High School District 214 (Arlington Heights). The district was one of just 14 large districts (12,000 students or more) to win the 2018 award.

Two other Illinois districts are among 14 small district winners (3,000 students or less): Lindop School District 92 (Broadview), and Mannheim School District 83 (Franklin Park).

Board members at THSD 214, a high school district with more than 12,000 students in grades 9-12 in the Arlington Heights area, earned praise for demonstrating continuing commitment to promulgating the best use of school technology, using approaches that have won awards in the national competition for nine consecutive years.

The Lindop school board, governing a P-8 district with more than 400 students, was recognized for providing iPads for all students in grades 2 through 5, and providing Chromebooks for all students in grades 6 through 8. The board also won praise for approving a STEM and robotics program where students develop their knowledge and capacity to become next-generation engineers. District 92 is one of just two districts enrolling 3,000 students or less to win the award the past six years in a row.

Mannheim D83 received the small-district award, as well, winning for the first time; the district was honored for its 1 to 1 program that provides digital learning devices to all students. The program has been enthusiastically supported by the school board, which also has provided infrastructure to guide and monitor student use of technology. Students in District 83 have been learning to write digital code on their devices, and sharing their tech savvy with parents at a yearly community learning night at school.

“School boards are embracing technology initiatives that help them govern more effectively and empower their districts to operate more efficiently,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, executive director and chief executive officer for the National School Boards Association.

The Center for Digital Education bestows this annual award to the school boards/districts that most fully implement technology benchmarks in the evolution of digital education, as represented in survey questions. All U.S. public school districts are eligible to participate.

School districts’ use of technologies such as digital literacy training for parents, student-run technology support centers, robotic systems that record classroom teaching and learning, and data analytics earned top rankings in the survey.

View the full list of school districts honored here.  

Monday, April 23, 2018

Effingham shares model for empowering teachers

Effingham CUSD 40 principals Kurt Roberts, left, and Christy
Hild join Mattoon Superintendent Larry Lilly in a learning
exercise during the Teacher Leadership Lab in Effingham.
Photo by Keith Stewart, courtesy Effingham Daily News.
Effingham Community Unit School District 40 believes that teacher leadership and input regarding the learning process can significantly foster student achievement. The district’s model was one of three selected to be shared with other schools as part of a national Teacher Leadership Lab. 

The program consists of five pillars: control, empower, collaboration, application, and celebration. A key cornerstone for the district is the level of collaboration that occurs with teachers and students. Teachers periodically meet to discuss learning outcomes and objectives, and cooperative learning projects are designed to teach students problem-solving skills, teamwork, technological skills, and real-world applications. 

Melody Arabo of the U.S. Department of Education believes the district’s model holds promise regarding curriculum and instruction.

More than 180 educators, administrators, and other stakeholders attended the Leadership Lab on April 12 hosted by the Effingham district. Presentations included teachers showcasing various student team projects, for example, designing a moon colony and what supplies will be needed to survive for a year. Students were also in attendance to discuss how the method has impacted their learning.

George Couros
In a keynote presentation, consultant and author George Couros noted the importance of teaching students to be innovative so they can impact the world in meaningful ways. A key theme of his keynote was based on the concept of being willing to fail in order to properly learn.

Patrick Rice, IASB field services director, attended the event and noted the district’s success with this approach to student learning. “It encompasses higher order thinking skills allowing teachers and students to be creative with respect to how they learn and how they facilitate learning.”

Effingham CUSD 40’s program received national recognition last year at the Teacher Leadership Summit, a multistate regional conference of Teach to Lead where more than 300 schools applied to attend, but just 30 were chosen to present their ideas. The district was then one of three finalists selected to present a day-long leadership lab. 

Teach to Lead is a partnership of the U.S. Department of Education and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Their work is based in a belief that teachers are experts in schools and instruction, and as such, should be supported to lead the key changes and innovations that their students, colleagues, and profession deserve to do their best work every day. 

Friday, April 20, 2018

Alliance Legislative Report 100-64

As the legislature worked steadily this week in the Capitol through the hundreds of superfluous bills and issues that lay before it, attention was being paid to some of the significant matters regarding public education. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate worked through the week, with both chambers returning next week to meet Monday through Friday.

Next Friday, April 27, is the deadline to have substantive bills considered on the floor of their respective chambers.

An Alliance initiative addressing the problem of school districts being penalized for the under levy of property taxes under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL), HB 4958 (McDermed, R-Frankfort), was discussed in a House Revenue subcommittee. Though no vote was taken, it was a step in educating legislators about the issue. Two board members from Naperville CUSD 203 testified on behalf of the Alliance.

To keep up with the latest on legislative issues, please refer to past Alliance Legislative Reports and our library of legislative videos.

Click here to read the complete Alliance Legislative Report 100-64, including more on legislative response to the teacher shortage, school safety, student data privacy, and mandates. Also read the bill and committee action from the past week and look ahead to bills scheduled for committee next week. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

National student walkout scheduled
for April 20

School districts are anticipating a repeat of the March 14 walkouts in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. The next walkout is scheduled for April 20, the anniversary of the 1999 Columbine school shooting.

Although the recent “March for our Lives” walkout was scheduled for 17 minutes, in memory of each of the 17 victims of the Parkland shooting, the “National School Walkout” on April 20 will start at 10 a.m. local time and reportedly will last the entire day. It is unclear how many Illinois school districts will see walkouts on April 20, although the National Student Walkout website offers signups in several areas, including Chicago and suburbs, Champaign-Urbana, Rockford, Bloomington-Normal, and Peoria.

In March, school districts made determinations on handling student protests on the local level. Responses to the March for Our Lives varied in Illinois, including prohibiting walkouts, holding discussion assemblies at the scheduled protest time, and working with students to ensure safe and respectful protests.

More information on managing these events can be found on the IASB Blog, from the National School Boards Association, and on the Illinois State Board of Education website.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Districts weigh referendum decisions for November 2018 ballot

The state elections board has updated its Election and Campaign Finance
Calendar, which indicates that the deadline for placing a school finance
referendum on the November 6, 2018 ballot is August 20, 2018.
It is not too early for districts to look into placing school finance referendums on the ballot for the next regularly scheduled election, to be held on November 6, 2018.

School leaders in Hawthorn Elementary District 73, for example, say they are considering placing a referendum on the November ballot that would increase property taxes to ease growing financial pressures resulting from increasing enrollment.  School leaders of District 73 are currently gauging public support through a series of community engagement meetings scheduled this month to discuss the squeeze from the district’s enrollment boom.

School leaders still have time to study their options on all such questions, as the deadline for school boards to certify a public policy question for the November 2018 election is August 20, 2018.

In the most recent elections, held March 20, 2018, voters approved two of four county school facilities sales tax proposals, 10 of 14 building bond issues, and two of four tax rate proposals. Additional historic data on school finance referenda results is available online.

Monday, April 16, 2018

ESSA webinar scheduled for school board members

IASB will continue its series of lunch and learn webinars on April 19 with, “The Essentials of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA): What School Board Members Need to Know.”

Susan Hilton, IASB governmental relations director and federal advocacy coordinator, will walk board members through the ins-and-outs of ESSA, give an overview of the implementation process, and explain how the law may influence school board work.

The hour-long webinar will begin at noon on Thursday, April 19. Registration is available through IASB's Online Learning Center. Visit the IASB website, and select the yellow "My Account" button to log in, then choose the red Online Learning tab at the top of the page.

This will be the sixth webinar hosted by IASB, with additional online learning opportunities to be featured in early May.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Alliance Legislative Report 100-63

The Illinois General Assembly met its first deadline, as all bills must had to be considered by a committee today (Friday). Inevitably, some bills will have their deadlines extended, but committee volume will reduce drastically in the coming weeks, as legislators will debate bills on the floors of their respective chambers. The House of Representatives and Senate will both be back in session next Tuesday.

Click here to read the entire Alliance Legislative Report 100-63, inlcuding numerous education-related bills under consideration by the Illinois General Assembly.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Finance referendum results encouraging for most participating districts

With two new sales tax plans adopted in March,
half of all Illinois counties have approved such plans.
Most school finance questions fared well in the March 20 primary, as unofficial school referendum results show voters approved two of four local tax increase questions, ten of 14 building bond propositions, and two of four county sales tax plans.

One tax hike won approval in West Carrol CUSD 314, a 5-cent increase per $100 of equalized assessed valuation in their education fund. Another tax increase was approved in Mt. Prospect SD 57, with voters approving Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) ceiling increases that should raise 5.7 million additional dollars for the district’s education fund.

Voters failed, however, to pass a tax referendum in Limestone CHSD SD 310, a proposal that fell just 177 votes short (1,279-1,456). But a tax plan failed by an overwhelming margin (97-469) in West Lincoln-Broadwell Elementary SD 92, where the district had proposed to increase funds under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL).

As mentioned, bond issues were approved in ten school districts:

  • Athens CUSD 213, $11 million
  • Bureau Valley CUSD 340, $12 million
  • Central SD 51, Washington, $12 million
  • CHSD 99, Downers Grove,  $136.6 million 
  • Lake Zurich CUSD 95, $77.6 million
  • Maercker SD 60, Westmont, $28 million
  • Monticello CUSD 25, $29.8 million
  • Sandwich CUSD 430, $700,000
  • Tri-Valley CUSD 3, $15 million
  • Winnebago CUSD 323, $7.5 million 

Bond issues were defeated in four school districts:

  • Amboy CUSD District 272, $15.8 million
  • Minooka CCSD 201, $90 million
  • Mt. Pulaski CUSD 23, $15.7 million
  • Pennoyer School District 79, $25 million

Of the countywide sales tax increase proposals earmarked for school facility purposes, voters approved only two of four, in Richland, and Woodford counties. Two sales tax propositions were decided by narrow margins, with a 274-vote margin of victory (2,266-1,992) in Richland County, and a 639-vote margin of defeat (4,464-5,103) in Vermilion County. Meanwhile voters adopted a countywide sales tax for school facilities in Woodford County (4,523-3,389), but defeated such a sales tax in Madison County (14,966-27,523).  All four proposals called for a one-percent increase in the sales tax, all of it earmarked for school facility purposes.

To date, 51 counties have adopted a sales tax to benefit school facilities, half of the state’s 102 counties.

In other election-day action on school questions, voters rejected the lone school consolidation plan by a vote of 564 to 810. The plan was to combine Palestine CUSD 3 and Hutsonville CUSD 1.  The proposition passed in the Hutsonville district by a vote of 372 to 116, but it failed in Palestine by a vote of 192 to 694.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Panel releases school safety best practices

The Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) has been participating in a select working group of the Illinois Terrorism Task Force on the issue of school safety. Working steadily over the past six weeks, the panel of safety experts from law enforcement (state, regional, local) and education organizations (IASB, Illinois Association of School Administrators, regional superintendents, Illinois State Board of Education, and three district administrators) has released its safety recommendations. You can find the full safety report on the IASB website.

Realizing the diversity of school districts across the state, including fiscal, geographical, and cultural differences, burdensome new requirements that would result in costly updates or impractical implementation were avoided. Rather, a heavily vetted list of recommended best practices and direct services provided to local school districts were included.

Safety issues were generally broken down into three categories: behavioral threat assessments, hardening of facilities, and response protocol in schools. Some of the recommendations highlight what is already required in statute (the School Safety Drill Act and the reciprocal reporting provisions of the School Code), in the IASB Policy Reference Education Subscription Service (PRESS), the Department of Homeland Security Guide for Developing High Quality School Emergency Operations Plans, and the National Crime Prevention Council’s crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) report.

Other provisions are new recommendations intended to assist school districts. Most school districts already have directive in their policy (available through PRESS) to develop procedures for behavioral threat assessment teams. The expertise, implementation, and veracity of these teams vary from school district to school district based on available local resources. One recommendation in this report is the establishment of regional teams made up of experts in mental health, law enforcement, and other disciplines that have been trained in behavioral threat assessment that would assist school districts, as necessary, at the request of the local district (with no cost to the district). Likewise, regional site assessment teams would be formed from local law enforcement, fire service, and emergency management agencies to visit schools and assess the buildings and grounds for potential safety problems. Again, this would be a resource provided only at the request of the local school district with no cost to the district.

Also provided in the report is a priority list for increasing security for school buildings and grounds. The list is broken into five tiers to help school districts determine basic needs, from the more elaborate – starting with doors, locks, and windows and ending with security personnel, access control systems, and metal detectors.

Superintendents, principals, safety personnel, and school board members are encouraged to review this report to assure security in their schools. Continue to review local school safety operations procedures, conduct safety drills (with encouragement to drill more than the minimum required in statute), and include local law enforcement and fire agencies in safety meetings, reviews, and drills.

No one cares more about the safety and health of the students in our schools than the locally elected school board members, staff, and faculty who serve them. This document is intended to provide the assistance necessary to improve safety procedures and facilities even more.

Illinois school boards share and learn at the 2018 National Conference

IASB delegates attend Delegate Assembly
Public education took center stage in San Antonio this past weekend for the National School Board Association’s annual conference, and over 400 Illinois school board members and officials took part April 7-9.

The theme of this year’s event was “Be Extraordinary” with programs and sessions recognizing the extraordinary contributions school boards make to narrow achievement and opportunity gaps, eliminate barriers to students’ success, and expand inclusive and innovative practices so that every student reaches their highest potential.

A number of Illinois districts shared their experiences in governance, student achievement and accountability, technology, and other education-related topics during panel sessions. They include

  • Amboy CUSD 272 – One District’s Journey to 1:1 and Personalized Learning
  • Benjamin School District 25, West Chicago – Ingredients for Successful Referendum: Community, Communication, Collaboration
  • Schaumburg DS 54 – Keeping the District’s Core Beliefs, Mission, Vision and Goals and the Core of the Board’s Work: Especially During a Time of Transition. 
  • Township High School District 211, Palatine – Creating Equity of Opportunity: Recruitment, Support, and Success for Underrepresented Students in AP/IB Programs
  • Yorkville CUSD 115 – Let’s Make It Personal; This Isn’t Where YOU Went To School

Leyden HSD 212 honored with Magna Award
Leyden High School District 212 was recognized for receiving a Magna Award Grand Prize, this year presented to programs that remove barriers to achievement for vulnerable or underserved children. The district shared its bilingual approach to high school theater in an NSBA “Master Class” session. Districts honored by the Center for Digital Education for innovative technology initiatives were Township High School District 214, Edmund F. Lindop School District 92, and Manheim School District 83.

In addition, IASB staff presented panels on topics of diversity and inclusion and effective board governance.

Board development trainers Nesa Brauer and Sandra Kwasa presented a pre-conference session aimed at helping school board members link diversity issues with achieving district goals, broaden the scope of diversity beyond race and gender issues, reveal and assess the impact of subtle biases on district success, and discuss the behaviors required to create an inclusive environment where every man, woman, and child feels included, valued, and respected.

In a new board member “bootcamp” session, Associate Executive Director Dean Langdon and Field Services Director Patrick Rice taught the basics of effectively governing a school district based on foundations and principles.

In addition to over 250 workshop or panel sessions, keynote speakers were Terry Bradshaw, NFL legend and co-host and analyst for FOX NFL Sunday; Ann Compton, legendary ABC News White House correspondent; and Julian Castro, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and former mayor of San Antonio.

“Across the country public schools face similar challenges,” said Roger Eddy, IASB Executive Director. “The national conference provides an opportunity for our school board members to share what’s working in their schools and hear from other school leaders about new ideas they can bring back to their districts.”

Another important component of the national conference is the Delegate Assembly, which determines the national organization’s public policy agenda. Representing IASB at the Delegate Assembly were President Joanne Osmond, Vice President Thomas Neeley, Immediate Past President Phil Pritzker, Treasurer Linda Eades, and directors Carla Joiner-Herrod, David Rockwell, and Mary Stith.

More event coverage is available from the National Association of School Boards newsroom. The 2019 NSBA Annual Conference is scheduled for March 30-April 1 in Philadelphia.

More event coverage is available from the National School Boards Association newsroom. The 2019 NSBA Annual Conference is scheduled for March 30-April 1 in Philadelphia.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

2018 Holly Jack Outstanding Service Award applications available

Last year's Holly Jack winner, Claire Bourne, received
the 2017 award for board secretaries on Friday at the Joint
Annual Conference from IASB Executive Director Roger Eddy.
Does your school have a board or district secretary that goes above and beyond to serve the staff, students, school board, and community? IASB is now seeking nominations for the 2018 Holly Jack Outstanding Service Award.

Eligible nominees must be a district employee (superintendent’s secretary, superintendent’s administrative assistant, school board recording secretary, etc.) that has performed the duties of the board secretary for a minimum of five years.

The recognition was created nine years ago in honor of long-time IASB employee Holly Jack, who worked as a field services administrative assistant and was instrumental in developing training for secretaries and administrative professionals at the Joint Annual Conference.

To be eligible, nominees should demonstrate characteristics similar to those exhibited by Holly Jack in her work with school districts. Qualifications include a constant desire for self-improvement, passion for public education, dedication toward improving the quality of life and quality of education for those in the community, independent problem-solving abilities, innovation within the work environment, and a drive to empower and equip colleagues with knowledge allowing them to reach their full potential.

The nomination form needs to be signed by the superintendent and the board president. Additional resource pages are allowed, including up to five letters of support from individuals, either inside or outside the district. The deadline for submitting all related nomination materials is September 30. Applications and additional information are available on the IASB website.

The 2018 winner will be selected by a panel of impartial judges and be notified immediately after the judges’ decision. The award will be presented during the Administrative Professionals’ Program at the IASB/IASA/IASBO Joint Annual Conference in November.

For more information, contact Peggy Goone at 217/528-9688, ext. 1103; or email her at

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

IASB surveys board members, superintendents, administrative professionals

The Illinois Association of School Boards has launched three stakeholder surveys.

The Association is inviting all school board members in Illinois to participate in the updated member survey. Members are encouraged to share their opinions of the values they hold in their service to public education, topical issues of importance to the governance of Illinois’ public schools, and the services and programming IASB offers its members.

IASB will similarly survey superintendents on their work with their boards of education. IASB last surveyed board members and superintendents in 2013.

This year will also feature a newly developed survey for the administrative professionals who serve their school boards. The purpose of this survey is to better facilitate the working relationship that exists for boards of education, their administrative professionals, and IASB.

Access to all three surveys will be through a link sent via direct email on April 2. The surveys will remain open for two weeks. IASB anticipates 20-30 minutes for thoughtful completion, depending on the survey. Surveys will be anonymous.

The Association will use the survey to “take the pulse” of its membership, to improve current programming, to develop new projects, and to prioritize the issues in education that are of importance to school leaders. A report on IASB’s member engagement efforts will also appear in a future issue of The Illinois School Board Journal.

Questions about the member survey can be directed to the IASB Communications Department, 217/528-9688, ext. 1131 or email

Monday, April 9, 2018

Resolutions for Delegate Assembly due by June 20

Resolutions are voted upon at the Delegate Assembly
that is held each November at the Joint Annual Conference.
Local school boards are invited to submit resolutions for consideration by the 2018 Delegate Assembly. Resolution forms and information were mailed to IASB member districts, board presidents, and superintendents on April 2; and they are also available on the Association’s website at:

IASB’s Delegate Assembly, held each year at the Joint Annual Conference, is designed to determine the direction of the Association by setting policy driven goals.

Proposals can be submitted as new IASB resolutions, amendments to existing position statements, reaffirmations of existing position statements, or as belief statements. The deadline to submit resolutions is June 20.

The IASB Resolutions Committee, consisting of one elected member from each of the Association’s 21 divisions, will meet on August 3. After resolutions are submitted, IASB staff will review the proposals and consult with a representative of the district that crafted the measure to prepare background material for review by the Resolutions Committee. Districts proposing resolutions must have at least one board member present at the committee meeting to speak to the proposal.

The committee meets to review the submitted proposals and recommend either the approval or disapproval of the offered resolutions, and determine which ones will be presented to the entire Delegate Assembly at the Conference in November. This year’s committee will be chaired by IASB Vice President Thomas Neeley.

School leaders interested in submitting a resolution can learn more by joining in the May 7 IASB webinar, “How to Write an Effective IASB Resolution—take action to make change.” Offered free to IASB members, it will start at noon, and registration is now available through IASB's Online Learning Center. Visit the IASB website, select the yellow "My Account" button to log in, then choose the red Online Learning tab at the top.

Resolution forms and additional information about the process is available by contacting Mary Ellen Buch at 217/528-9688, ext. 1132. A fillable 2018 resolution form can also be downloaded from the IASB website

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Alliance Legislative Report 100-62

After an extended spring break, both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly will return to the Capitol next week to continue considering bills in committee. The House of Representatives is scheduled to meet Monday through Friday; the Senate is set for session Tuesday through Friday. Both chambers have set Friday, April 13th as a tentative deadline to move bills out of committees. The deadline is the first hurdle that many bills will cross on their way to becoming law. It also signals the start of a very active legislative schedule. The General Assembly has more session days scheduled leading up to the May 31st adjournment day than they have scheduled the previous three and a half months of the year.

Click here to read the entire Alliance Legislative Report 100-62, including a number of bills schedule for committee hearings next week.

Friday, April 6, 2018

District financial profiles improve in FY 2017

Significantly more school districts were able to survive fiscal year 2017 with less borrowing than the previous year. The reduced long-term borrowing for operations was the top finding from the Illinois State Board of Education’s annual financial profile report.

The ISBE analysis also shows more districts than last year obtained the best designation, “financial recognition,” but more also fell into the worst designation, “financial watch list” status.

“The large number of districts in financial recognition is a testament to the acumen of our superintendents and boards of education,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith. “What the profiles do not show, however, are the hard choices and sacrifices school districts have had to make in terms of academic opportunity in order to maintain fiscal solvency.”

Increased school funding and limited growth in expenses drove the increase in financial recognition of districts. Specifically, rising property values helped boost levy and debt capacity, while state aid was increased by $380 million during fiscal 2017. But spending on district operations was largely held in check, rising just 1.6 percent.

The adoption of the Evidence-Based Funding bill last year – sweeping bipartisan legislation that revised the school funding formula – gave ISBE some optimism that the positive trend can be sustained into next year’s financial profile. The report said the new funding plan provides new money to cover increased funding for some school districts while holding harmless wealthier districts.

With state aid and economic factors turning upward, and with real estate values also perking up, there may be more good news for school finances this year.

But the 2018 profiles show inadequate resources for many school districts, with the majority of districts in financial recognition now having less than 75 percent of the statutory definition of adequate resources, according to preliminary Evidence-Based Funding calculations.

ISBE places school districts into four categories of financial health based on a scoring system that evaluates several key metrics: the district fund balance-to-revenue ratio, expenditure-to-revenue ratio, days’ cash on hand, and the percentage of remaining short-term and long-term borrowing capacity.

In all, 640 districts earned “financial recognition,” the second-highest total in the 15-year history of the financial profiles, up from 632 in fiscal 2016. Meanwhile 147 districts are in the second-tier category of “financial review,” a decrease from 154 counted the previous year. Just 43 districts were designated in the “financial early warning” category, down from 47, while 22 districts landed in the “financial watch” category that can sometimes lead to state intervention, increasing from 19 districts.

The amount of the long-term debt school districts issued for operations declined by $83.5 million, with a total of $369 million, an 18.4 percent decline.

Although the number of Illinois school districts in the most-endangered watch category rose, the report saw big improvement from fiscal 2016 to 2017, with eight of the 19 districts that made the 2016 list moving out of the category in fiscal 2017. Six districts that remained in the watch classification saw some improvement in overall financial scores, although not enough to improve their designation. Typically, school districts on the financial watch list rely heavily on state aid.

The number of districts that relied on deficit spending to get through the school year decreased, dropping to 344 from 382 in last year’s profile. That number is projected to jump in the current fiscal year – and to be reflected in next year’s report – rising to 388, based on estimates submitted by districts.

The state is holding out hope that the number will shrink once the new funding from the overhaul is accounted for.

“It is hoped that the new EBF formula will have a positive impact on district finances and educational programs with more districts realizing improved finances than what the budgets are projecting,” the report stated.

For more information, see the 2018 School District Financial Profiles.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Evidence-Based Funding calculations complete, vouchers issued for payment

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has completed final calculations for the Evidence-Based Funding Model, with vouchers sent to the Illinois Comptroller to begin the payment process.

The Evidence-Based Funding formula outlines an adequate funding target for each school district, established from enrollment numbers of the past three years and 34 evidence-based factors proven to deliver positive impacts for student achievement. The new formula compares current resources for each district to its adequacy target, with funding increases directed to the most under-resourced districts.

In a press release issued today by ISBE, State Superintendent Tony Smith stated, “We have a common understanding of what all of our children deserve. Evidence-Based Funding puts us on the path to deliver on the promise of equity for all Illinois students. Investing in equity is the superior growth strategy for our state.”

The complete list of 2018 Evidence-Based Funding calculations for each district is available on the ISBE website. Approximately $395 million in new funding is expected to be issued under the revised formula, with the final six school aid payments to contain all of the FY 2018 tier funding.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Tips to report school threats

For the past several weeks, since the Florida school shooting, the School Management Alliance has been participating in a select working group of the Illinois Terrorism Task Force to address how school districts can best protect students and staff from violence. The work has been focused on three main categories: behavioral threat assessment, hardening of facilities, and response protocol in schools. Final edits are being made to the dozen or so recommendations for best practices in school safety. That list will be made available in the coming days.

In the aftermath of the February 14th shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, there was a spike in threats to schools warning of imminent violent acts. Nationally, the threats were reported by the hundreds, with Illinois as one of the states with the most reported threats. The immediate question was, “what should school administrators do when such an incident occurs?”

The first document created and vetted by the working group, led by the Illinois State Police, was on how to communicate with law enforcement, parents, board members, staff, and community members if a school district is faced with such an event. That document is available here.

School administrators and board members are encouraged to review this document, as well as current emergency procedures and protocols.

Opinions on Education

The following are editorials, commentaries, and opinions from various sources regarding public education, collected in February and March 2018.  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: Is scrapping PARCC test about helping kids
or making Illinois schools look better?
Editorial Board, Chicago Tribune, February 16

Column: How can I tell my son school is safe?
Alisha Berger Gorder, from the Hartford Courant, as published in the Quad Cities Dispatch-Argus, February 22

Guest Commentary: Charter school needed
to close achievement gap in Unit 4
Nathaniel Banks, co-director of the Banks Bridgewater Lewis Fine Arts Academy, Champaign News-Gazette, February 25

Editorial: Teachers need more training, not guns
Editorial Board, The Pantagraph, Bloomington, March 1

Berg: Your local school district might be asking for more money
Austin Berg, Illinois Policy Institute, Daily Souithtown, Chicago and suburbs, March 9

Editorial: Let's hear more on charter plan
Editorial Board, Champaign News-Gazette, March 11

Column: In a Florida poolside visit,
Chicago teens glimpse Parkland students’ lives,
and find gun violence in common
Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune, March 8

Column: Youth groups seek to change
the way Chicago Public Schools address underage drinking
Dahleen Glanton, Chicago Tribune, March 13

Disabato: Bob Stokas not just marking time
for the Loyola men's basketball team
Pat Disabato, Daily Southtown, Chicago and suburbs, March 13

What referendum means for students and taxpayers
Eric Lawson, Bureau Valley CUSD 340 superintendent, Bureau County Republican, March 13

As It Is: 5 things about government openness
David Giuliani, Ottawa Times, March 16

Editorial: Is hoarding reserves violating spirit of tax cap law?
Editorial Board, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, March 23

Illinois’ next governor will have to deliver the goods
on education funding
MarySue Barrett, president of the Metropolitan Planning Council, Chicago Sun-Times, March 26

Editorial: Polling places at schools can be lesson in civics
Editorial Board, The Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, March 27

Our View: Hononegah fumbled superintendent search
The Editorial Board, Rockford Register-Star, March 28

Accountability for Illinois schools has changed,
hopefully adequate funding will follow
Carrie Hruby, superintendent of O'Fallon District 90, O’Fallon Progress, March 30