Saturday, August 4, 2018

Digest of Bills available
to assist district advocacy efforts

Descriptions of bills passed in the spring legislative session that are now on the governor’s desk are summarized in the 2018 edition of Digest of Bills Passed.

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

The digest also contains a section to help determine where the bill stands in the legislative process, plus a chart indicating what action the governor can take on a bill, and a breakdown of how to determine when a bill will take effect.

Nearly 140 pieces of legislation are covered in the 2018 Digest. Covered are proposals to address school safety, taxes and finances, the teacher shortage, and local control. School leaders also will find bill summaries of the yearly barrage of new mandates.

One notable mandate passed this year reverses a proposal from last year that gave schools additional flexibility. Senate Bill 2572 sets a rigid requirement of 150 minutes of PE for students each week. A change made last year actually moved schools from five days per week of PE to three. SB 2572 will undo that change.

A comprehensive proposal to help alleviate the teacher shortage was sent to the governor in the form of House Bill 5627. That bill includes several provisions that will assist districts with adding teachers to their ranks, including:

  • Allowing a retired teacher to teach in a school district for up to 120 days (currently 100 days). 
  • Establishing a short-term substitute teaching license for applicants who hold an associate’s degree or have completed at least 60 hours of credit from a regionally accredited institution of higher education. 
  • Permitting school boards, in collaboration with the teachers’ union, to jointly develop a short-term substitute teacher training program that provides individuals with license information on curriculum, classroom management techniques, school safety, and district building operations. 
  • Licensure reciprocity for individuals who hold a comparable and valid educator license or certificate from another state.

Provisions designed to bring teachers back to the classroom are contained in House Bill 751. The bill extends the sunset provision for retired teachers wishing to return to the classroom in subject shortage areas until June 30, 2019.

Two goals originally championed by Illinois Vision 20/20 could also be accomplished with the governor’s signature. House Bill 5750 appropriates $16 million for the expansion of broadband internet service for schools that have been approved under the federal Universal Service Program for Schools and Libraries. Additionally, House Bill 4284 would require at least three members of the Illinois State Board of Education to be from the educator community, which is defined as a teacher, principal, superintendent, or school business official. Both of these bill topics fall under the 21st Century Learning and Shared Accountability pillars of Vision 20/20.

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

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