Monday, May 20, 2019

‘Coming to Order’ offers insights
into better school board meetings

Experienced board members and newcomers alike who want to make the most of their meetings are encouraged to read Coming to Order — A Guide to Successful School Board Meetings.

The second and most recent edition of Coming to Order explains how to plan and conduct meetings that fit the needs of the individual school board; it takes the board meeting beyond compliance with legal requirements to meetings that serve the interests of both school and community. This edition was updated to conform to changes in both law and practice and, in particular, to accommodate new thinking about the most effective practices of the school board.

Some of the special topics addressed in Coming to Order are: avoiding common time wasters, parliamentary procedure, ways of making decisions, myths and truths, electronic communications, orienting new members, filling vacancies, and how to deal with pressure groups.

There is no named author; rather, this book reflects the contributions of many current and former IASB staff members. They are acknowledged by name in the book.

Coming to Order may be ordered from the IASB Online Bookstore or by calling 217/528-9688, ext. 1108. Discounts are available to IASB member districts.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Alliance Legislative Report 101-17

On Wednesday, the Senate Government Accountability and Pensions Committee unanimously approved HB 3053 (Mayfield, D-Waukegan) which contains procedures to arbitrarily reduce the number of school districts by 25 percent. The bill is now pending on the Senate floor.

Alliance members made an impressive showing in their opposition to the bill. 625 witness slips were filed in opposition to the bill – most of which were filed by school board members and administrators. Continued advocacy is essential, however. Even if you have already filed a witness slip or called your legislators, another call to your state senator is needed. Talking points regarding the legislation can be found here.

Meanwhile, lawmakers continue to work behind closed doors on other major issues still pending. The Fiscal Year 2020 state budget, legalization of recreational cannabis, legalization of sports gaming, and a statewide capital projects bill are still being discussed.

Click here to read about other legislative action that took place in Senate and House committees this week.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Division Governing Meetings
run from now to June

During the next six weeks most IASB divisions will host a summer governing meeting for board members to elect new division officers and discuss programming needs for future division meetings.

 As mentioned, division officers, who serve two-year terms, may also be chosen. Officers elected include: Chair, Director, Vice Chair, and Resolutions Chair, and others as provided by the division in its division by-laws. The selection process gives each active member school board of IASB one vote, cast by a school board member, on a slate provided by a nominating committee and/or on nominations from the floor

The meetings are also a place to get updates on other Association events and activities.

Each such gathering features a discussion of possible topics, dates, and locations of future division meetings. IASB field services directors facilitate conversation at these meetings to identify and prioritize the topics of most interest. All board members and superintendents from a division hosting such meetings are welcome to take part.

Not all divisions will hold governing meetings. In some divisions, the membership will delegate to an executive committee the responsibility to work with the field services director to identify topics of greatest interest to participating districts.

More information on these upcoming meetings is available on the IASB events calendar. Registration is available online.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Alliance Legislative Report 101-16

With the end of session on the horizon, many important pieces of legislation are being discussed in Springfield. One of the bills that could impact schools and their communities the most, HB 3053 (Mayfield, D-Waukegan) is scheduled to be heard Wednesday, May 15. HB 3053 addresses forced school district consolidation. Specifically, the bill requires identification, before May 1, 2020, of 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.

An appointed board will place referendum questions on the ballot to decide school boundaries and local tax levies.

To voice your opposition to this measure, please click here and follow the instructions to file a witness slip in opposition to HB 3053 scheduled to be discussed in the Senate State Government Accountability and Pensions Committee.

Click here to read the complete Alliance Legislative Report, including contact information for members of the committee, as well as revenue proposals under discussion and other legislative action for the week. 

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Book offers overview of what school board members need to know

A revision to a book introducing the work of boards of education in Illinois has been published by the Illinois Association of School Boards.

The Effective School Board Member provides an overview of what school board members need to know, including duties and responsibilities, the structure of school governance, financing the schools, relations with administration and staff, board meeting procedures, a code of conduct, and other information.

The 2019 revisions reflect how state aid is distributed with the Evidence-Based funding formula. The book and revisions reflect contributions from current and former IASB staff.

The chapters include: A member of the board of education; School governance in Illinois; The local board of education; Powers, duties, and effective governance; The school board in action; Financing the Schools; and Collective bargaining and the school board.

Several appendices provide additional reading and resources.

The Effective School Board Member may be ordered from the IASB Online Bookstore. The member price is $2. It is distributed free to all newly-elected board members this year as part of the Association’s welcome packet to new board members.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Cole Award recognizes
outstanding school board coverage

Sponsored by the Illinois Association of School Boards and conducted by the Illinois Press Association, the Robert M. Cole Award recognizes outstanding coverage of education issues that emphasize the community’s connection with its local public school district.

The recipients were announced at the Illinois Press Association's annual convention on May 3 in Springfield. The five first-place winners, in divisions based on circulation, include the following newspapers and journalists.

Ann Gill of the Coal City Courant won first place in Division A for extensive and well-written coverage of the work of the Coal City CUSD 1 Board of Education, including school safety issues and the announcement of a new intervention program. Division A was a competitive field that includes for non-daily newspapers with under 3,000 circulation.

Dan Burke of the Galena Gazette won the top Cole Award prize in Division B/C for larger non-daily newspapers. The work included enterprise reporting of a settlement by the school district and coverage of the East Dubuque Unit SD 119 school improvement plan.

Kimberly Fornek of The Doings of Hinsdale took first place in Division C/D for the depth and breadth of reporting on a referendum proposal that followed the board of education’s decision to make deep cuts.

Noelle McGee of the Champaign News-Gazette received first place in Division E, including mid-sized daily newspapers, for reporting on a variety of timely issues, including a deep dive into the Champaign CUSD 4 teacher contract and the substitute teacher shortage.

Eric Peterson of The Daily Herald won the Division F first-place award for extensive and well-rounded coverage of Township HSD 211 contract negotiations as a strike date approached, notably the “Surreal: 90 hours to a deal” piece.

The 2019 Cole Award runners-up included Janice Hunt of the Oakland Independent, Hillary Dickerson of the Galena Gazette, Owen Lasswell of the Taylorville Breeze-Courier, Lyndsay Jones of the Champaign News-Gazette, and Lauren Fitzpatrick of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Named in memory of the first full-time executive director of IASB, the Robert M. Cole Award recognizes outstanding coverage of education issues and emphasizes newspapers’ contribution to public understanding of local school governance and support for effective dialogue that helps the community and school board define major public policy issues.

The Illinois Press Association is one of the largest state press organizations in the country. IPA provides professional education, government access, and newspaper advertising promotion to members. They also provide assistance for Newspapers in Education and literacy programs.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Alliance Legislative Report 101-15

 As was reported earlier this week in the IASB Legislative Alert and the IASA Capitol Watch, the Illinois State Senate approved a tax reform package Wednesday. SJRCA 1 proposes to amend the Illinois Constitution to allow for graduated income tax rates. SB 687 contains the graduated income tax rates that would be put in place if SJRCA 1 is approved by the voters. SB 689 would repeal the estate tax that is currently imposed in Illinois. SB 690 would, beginning in levy year 2022, place school districts in every county under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL).

While the tax package was attracting all of the attention in the Capitol, other legislative committees were considering bills that have moved over from the opposite chamber.

Both the Senate and House of Representatives will reconvene next Tuesday through Friday.

Click here to read the full Alliance Legislative Report 101-15, including other bill action from the week and bills scheduled for committee next week. 

IASB officer nominations sought

The nominating committee of the Illinois Association of School Boards is seeking candidates for the offices of president and vice president. Nominating forms available here are due, with supportive documents, in the IASB office in Springfield by 4 p.m., August 2, and candidates will be interviewed that same month.

The following criteria will be used by the committee in considering nominees: leadership experience and general participation in IASB activities; leadership experience on the local board; involvement with other education-related organizations; other leadership experiences; and special talents or interests of benefit to IASB as currently constituted.

Candidates for the position of President or Vice-President of the Illinois Association of School Boards should possess, at a minimum, the following qualifications:
  • Demonstrated leadership on a local board of education and at IASB division and state levels. 
  • Demonstrated participation in a wide spectrum of IASB activities at all levels. 
  • Demonstrated ability to speak for public education in Illinois and to be an advocate for IASB positions. 
  • Membership on the IASB Board of Directors for at least two years is preferred
Officers serve one-year terms and may serve no more than two consecutive such terms, or until their successors are elected and qualified.

Nominations for elective offices shall be made according to the nominating committee procedures that are posted at the IASB Members-Only website. Candidate Data sheets for the office of IASB president or vice president are required and must be received by 4 p.m., Friday, August 2. Please mail to: Chair, IASB Nominating Committee, Illinois Association of School Boards, 2921 Baker Drive, Springfield, Illinois 62703-5929. Please contact Chris Montrey at 217/528-9688, ext. 1143, with any questions.

A candidate slate will be presented to the Delegate Assembly in Chicago on November 23.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

IASB offers resources
to help new board members get started

IASB has prepared a number of resources and materials to assist newly elected school board members with their duties and responsibilities to become effective school leaders.

A packet of helpful information is being mailed free of charge to all new board members who are identified by their local school district. The mailings will begin in May as new board members are added to their district rosters in the Association’s membership database.

The welcome packets contains the following materials:
  • Welcome from IASB Executive Director Tom Bertrand
  • A letter to the family of the new board member
  • Chart of state-mandated training requirements
  • Membership Guide booklet
  • The Basics of Governance booklet
  • The Effective School Board Member book
  • A special edition of The Illinois School Board Journal for new board members
In addition to the mailing, a number of resources to assist new school board members are available on a dedicated webpage, Helpful materials and new videos will be added to this page periodically to assist first-term board members with their duties.

Included on the webpage is a “Welcome to School Board Service” video that explains the services, training, and other resources the Association provides to help boards of education become effective school leaders supporting quality public education.

Districts that have questions about the new board member resources may call 217/528-9688, ext. 1131.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

IASB Legislative Alert 101-05

The Illinois State Senate today (Wednesday, May 1) approved a package of tax reform provisions as part of Governor JB Pritzker's legislative platform. The measures will be sent to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

HJRCA 1 proposes to change the Illinois Constitution to allow for a graduated income tax rather than the current flat tax system. The resolution was approved by the Senate on a vote of 40-19. The proposal will need a 3/5 vote of the House of Representatives in order for it to be placed on the General Election ballot next year.

SB 687 contains the graduated income tax rates that would be put in place if HJRCA 1 is approved by the voters. The Senate passed the bill on a 36-22 vote.

Details of these two proposals can be found here.

SB 689 would repeal the estate tax that is currently imposed in Illinois. It was sent out of the Senate on a 33-24 vote.

Probably the most important component of the tax package for school districts is SB 690. The bill would, beginning in levy year 2022, place school districts in every county under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL).  PTELL sets an "extension limitation" at the lesser of 5% or the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Under the proposal, school districts would have their "extension limitation" set at 0% if they are not "qualified school districts".  A "qualified school district" is one that received less than 97% reimbursement for certain mandated categorical grants or "did not receive the minimum funding required for that school district under the evidence-based funding formula" in the previous school fiscal year.