Friday, March 15, 2019

IASB Legislative Alert (101-01)

IASB strongly opposes a number of bills that include costly mandates on school districts and/or usurp a school board's local authority and decrease flexibility for boards to make decisions. As mentioned, all positions taken by the Association come directly from the IASB Position Statements which are proposed and approved by school board members throughout the State through the Resolutions and Delegate Assembly Process

Click here to see the IASB Position Statements.

5 CLOCK HOURS MINIMUM
For many years, school funding was based on school districts providing at least a minimum of a five-clock hour school day. With the adoption of the Evidence-Based Funding Formula, this provision was deleted. Focus has now shifted to a more "outcomes based" philosophy where counting individual minutes of seat time by students is not as high of a priority as measuring the academic achievement of a student. Students learn in many different ways. In the brief time (parts of two school years) that this new flexibility has been available to school districts, many have found they could offer new and innovative education programs that did not fit perfectly into a five-hour time frame in a school classroom.

SB 28 would revert back to a prescriptive five-clock hour minimum school day and would cause school districts to forfeit this new flexibility and opportunity for innovation. IASB opposes the bill. With the adoption of an amendment this week, the other Alliance partner associations are now supporting SB 28. Though the amendment does make some slight improvements to the original bill, it still fails in comparison to the current flexibility now being offered to local school boards. Therefore, IASB still opposes the legislation.

IASB Position Statements 1.01 Educational Programs, 1.12 Funding for Differentiated Instruction, and 2.29 Clock Hours vs. Minutes, direct IASB to oppose SB 28.

The amendment to SB 28 was approved this week by the Senate Education Committee, and is pending on the Senate floor. A vote could take place on the bill at any time.


MINIMUM SALARY FOR TEACHERS
A bill was approved last year by the Illinois General Assembly that would increase the minimum teacher salary to $40,000 per year. However, it did not survive a gubernatorial veto and the measure died. This year, the proposal was resurrected in the form of SB 10 and HB 2078.

Under the bills, the minimum salary increase would be phased in at the following increments:
  • not less than $32,076 for the 2020-2021 school year
  • not less than $34,576 for the 2021-2022 school year
  • not less than $37,076 for the 2022-2023 school year
  • not less than $40,000 for the 2023-2024 school year
Enactment of SB 10 or HB 2078 would bring public schools closer to a standard, statutory salary schedule, as well as consume a significant share of any increase in funding that comes to school districts from the new evidence-based formula. Though the legislative change would require a minimum salary (of which at least half of Illinois' 850 school districts are now below), there would undoubtedly be a ripple effect throughout the entire salary schedule if one of these bills were to be enacted into law. More importantly, it usurps the local authority of local school boards and teachers to negotiate salary and benefits based on the resources, wants, and needs of teachers, the community, and the district.

IASB strongly opposes both bills based on IASB Position Statements 2.03 Funding Mandated Programs, 5.01 Board Rights, 5.02 Teacher Salaries, and 5.03 Collective Bargaining.

SB 10 is pending on the Senate floor; HB 2078 is pending on the House floor. Either could be called for a vote at any time.


PHYSICAL EDUCATION
After decades of requiring physical education for every student, in every grade, in every year of school, a provision in the evidence-based funding bill finally provided some relief for school districts in this area. It reduced the P.E. requirement from instruction five days per week, to only three days per week. This gave both school districts and students increased flexibility in offering and participating in other academic classes like courses for graduation requirements, electives, or the arts.  But even before school boards could plan to use this new flexibility for an entire year, legislation is proposed to increase the requirement and add new restrictions.
SB 1189 and HB 2234 would:
  • require that at least 150 minutes of P.E. be provided weekly for each elementary school pupil
  • require that at least 225 minutes of P.E. be provided weekly for each middle school, junior high school, or high school pupil
  • limit P.E. waivers to remain in effect for no more than two years (currently five years)
  • limits P.E. waivers to renewed no more than two times
IASB opposes the bills based on IASB Position Statements 1.01 Education Programs, 1.02 Curricular Material Determination, 1.03 Physical Education, and 2.03 Funding Mandated Programs.

Both SB 1189 and HB 2234 are still pending in their respective chambers' education committees. Committee votes are likely next week.


SCHOOL DISTRICT CONSOLIDATION
In what is becoming a regular event at the dawn of each new gubernatorial administration in Illinois, discussions are starting regarding the forced consolidation of units of local governments, including school districts.

SB 1838 and HB 3053 would create the School District Efficiency Commission that would identify, before May 1, 2020, no less than 25 percent of school districts in Illinois that will be required to hold a referendum to consolidate in the next general election. The Commission would consist of 20 people, including one each from IASB and the other three Alliance partners.

The Commission is charged with focusing on:
  • reducing the money spent on duplication of services
  • having fewer obstacles between teachers and their students
  • lowering the property tax burden
  • providing recommendations on next cost savings
  • reducing administrative costs
  • reducing the number of school districts by 25 percent
  • recommendations on what the maximum tax rate could be in a reorganized district
IASB is strongly opposed to this usurpation of local authority of a duly elected school board. IASB Position Statements 6.01 Local Control, 7.01 District Reorganization, and 7.02 School District Reorganization Voting Requirements direct IASB in this area.


INVOLVEMENT BY SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS
It is imperative that locally elected school board members engage in the legislative process by contacting their State legislators and weigh in on these important issues. Legislators value input from school board members and want to know exactly how these issues would affect your local school district. The combination of legislators hearing from their constituents at home and IASB government relations staff communicating with them in the Capitol, can truly make a difference in the outcome of legislation.

Another way to engage in the process is to weigh in on specific pieces of legislation by filing a witness slip for bills being considered in committee. This can be done electronically from your home by logging into the Illinois General Assembly website. This allows a person to identify a specific bill and officially declare his/her support or opposition to it. It becomes part of the public record for the legislation. Alliance Legislative Reports will list the bills being considered in specific committees. Directions on how to complete a witness slip can be found here.