Friday, November 9, 2018

Alliance Legislative Report 100-78


The Illinois Senate and House of Representatives will begin reviewing gubernatorial action on bills next week. The Veto Session is set for November 13th-15th and November 27th-29th and expected is a strong push to override the governor’s veto of two important bills. SB 2892 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill) would provide a mandatory increase in teacher salaries across the state by setting a statewide minimum teacher salary of $40,000. SB 2572 (Holmes, D-Aurora) would mandate 150 minutes of physical education per week for all students kindergarten through 12th grade.

Administrators and school board members are urged to contact their legislators and advocate for them to vote “NO“ on overriding the governor’s vetoes. Below is information on both bills that may be helpful for conversations with lawmakers.

SB 2892 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill) would take effect in the 2019-2020 school year by requiring beginning teacher salaries to be at least $32,000 per year, then increasing salaries incrementally over four school years until the $40,000 minimum is reached by the 2022-2023 school year. Each year thereafter, the minimum teacher salary would increase yearly by the rate of the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

It is estimated that nearly 2/3 of the school districts in the state would be affected by such a new salary requirement. Any gains in funding due to the new Evidence-Based Funding Formula would be totally consumed by the new salary mandate in many school districts. Under such a law, the net result could actually be a detriment to classroom teachers as school districts could be forced to reduce the teaching force in order to pay the higher salaries.

Additional talking points:
  • Illinois has a collective bargaining law that empowers local school boards, together with their teachers and support staff, to set salaries in consideration of the revenues available to run their schools. School leaders and staff must take into consideration all aspects of its budget and make very difficult decisions to provide an effective education program that meets the needs of all students, while considering the will and ability of their local taxpayers to pay for these mandated increases. Often, bargaining sessions include items other than salary, such as health insurance costs and pension contributions.
  • Coupled with the recently enacted law requiring school boards to contribute the normal pension costs for any salary increase above 3 percent (PA 100-0587), enactment of this proposal could require local school districts to increase pay above 3 percent, then require the school districts to pay the normal pension cost because of the increase.
  • Over 80 percent of school expenditures are for personnel costs. Parents, community members, and taxpayers should know that a mandated increase in teacher salaries without specific state funding to pay for those increases will result in cuts to other areas of the school district budget and fewer needed services to students.
  • Of the 1,400 unfilled positions in Illinois schools last year, 90 percent were in school districts funded below the statutory adequacy level. These districts will be disproportionately affected by this mandate.
  • “One size fits all” mandates do not work well given the diversity of our state.
SB 2572 (Holmes, D-Aurora) would dismantle the physical education (PE) mandate flexibility that school districts were granted August 2017, under the Evidence-Based Funding reform measures enacted in SB 1947 (PA 100-0465). The new law only requires students to engage in physical education three out of five days per week, which allows schools and students/families flexibility while recognizing that PE is an important part of student learning. SB 2572 would remove the three days a week requirement and mandates a 150 minute per week minimum.
  • The time minimum requirement is not flexible for students or school district scheduling and does not account for weeks with fewer than five days of attendance. The impact this would have on local school districts and a student’s ability to prioritize additional required course work is unworkable.
  • School districts would be forced to prioritize physical education over other courses. Schools would also have to change schedules often to accommodate physical education when weekly schedules do not provide five days of student attendance.  
  • Schools have not even had the chance to utilize the flexibility provided in Public Act 100-0465 given that schools began the 2017-2018 school year before the bill became law. Sustaining the veto will allow schools to utilize this flexibility and study its effects before new mandates are enacted without data to support proposed changes.
  • Sustaining the Governor’s veto protects local decision-making and student/family directed class scheduling.
Click here to read the entire Alliance Legislative Report 100-78, including details of November 6 election results and upcoming governmental relations panels at the 2018 Joint Annual Conference.