Thursday, June 13, 2019

IASB Legislative Alert (101-08)


The 2019 spring legislative session was a mixed bag for public school districts. There were some positives, such as the General Assembly approving a balanced budget that contained an increase of $375 million for the evidence-based funding model. A school construction program is in the works that will infuse $1.5 billion of new money for school construction and maintenance across the state. No details are available yet as to exactly how a school district can be approved for the new funding or what the criteria will entail. There could also be a revenue stream for school districts to hire school resource officers and mental health experts.

However, with all of the new mandates that were also approved, the legislature will be dictating to local school districts exactly how much of the funding will be spent. The largest new requirement is the statutory increase in the minimum teacher salary. About one-half of all of Illinois' school districts will be impacted directly by the mandate once it is enacted. There is a real concern that, for many school districts, increasing teacher salaries will consume most or all of any new funding received in the new formula. Along with the increase for teachers, the minimum wage for all workers will be increased to $15 over the next six years.

Lawmakers addressed the teacher shortage by approving bills that end the test of basic skills as a prerequisite for receiving a teaching license and that extends for two more years the flexibility to allow a teacher to return to teaching in subject shortage areas without impairing his or her retirement status. But on the other side of the employment ledger, school districts will be required to implement an appeals process for teachers who received "unsatisfactory" ratings, and will have to provide a laid-off educational support person who is re-employed with the same district, the same rights accrued during the previous service with the school district.

Local school district flexibility will be lost on various fronts. A bill was enacted to revert back to a prescriptive five-clock hour minimum school day for funding purposes. This provision had been deleted with the adoption of the Evidence-Based Funding Formula and allowed the focus to be shifted to a more "outcomes based" philosophy where counting individual minutes of seat time by students was replaced by measuring the academic achievement of a student. School districts used that flexibility to offer new and innovative education programs that did not fit perfectly into a five-hour time frame in a school classroom. Flexibility will also be lost in how schools protect student data privacy and the use of response interventions in special education programs.

New instruction will have to be provided in the curriculum to: teach about the diversity of our society, including the role and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals in society; teach civics in grades 6-8; teach about consent to sexual activity via sex education classes; and specifically teach the history of Illinois in history classes.

Some improvements on school board issues were achieved by the IASB. IASB initiatives were approved to exempt from disclosure a public body's credit card numbers, debit card numbers, bank account numbers, Federal Employer Identification Number, security code numbers, and passwords; and to extend the time for the regional superintendent to fill school board member vacancies from 45 to 60 days. Some positive changes were made regarding charter schools as well. Bills were approved to abolish the State Charter School Commission and transfer all responsibilities to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), and to require that a charter school governing board complete the same training as elected school board members.

Though the list of new requirements and burdens on local school districts may seem extensive, IASB was successful in stopping or improving dozens of onerous bills. Many bills were stopped that contained new curricular mandates, school district reporting requirements, or mandates that would have cost time or resources. Dozens more were amended by the IASB to either remove mandates contained in a bill, lessen stringent new requirements, or make implementation of a new program or policy more easily facilitated by the school district.

A comprehensive list of all education-related bills from the spring legislative session will soon be available in the Digest of Bills Passed. This publication will be printed and distributed to school districts, as well as posted on the IASB website.

Monday, June 10, 2019

New directors join IASB Board

The Illinois Association of School Boards recently welcomed several new members to its Board of Directors. Marc Tepper, Robert Geddeis, Alva Kreutzer, and Travis Cameron joined the board in May; Lanell Gilbert in June.

Marc Tepper was appointed May 1 as director of the Lake Division to complete the term until division elections in October. At the time of his appointment he was serving as chair of the division and is president of the Kildeer-Countryside CCSD 96 Board of Education.

Robert Geddeis was appointed on May 1 to serve as director of the Kishwaukee Division and fill the term until the division governing meeting, at which an election will take place. He is a school board member at Hononegah CHSD 207, Rockton.

Alva Kreutzer was appointed on May 6 as the director of the North Cook Division, to serve until the division elects a director. At the time of her appointment she was serving as vice chair of the division and is a school board member at THSD 214, Arlington Heights.

Travis Cameron was elected May 7 as director of the Egyptian Division. He is a member of the Bluford CUSD 318 Board of Education.

Lanell Gilbert was elected June 6 as director of the South Cook Division. He is president of the South Holland SD 151 Board of Education.

The five school board members attended their first IASB Board of Directors meeting as division directors on June 8. An orientation session provided an overview of the board’s role and helped the new directors understand the constitutional responsibilities of IASB officers.

The IASB Board of Directors is represented by one director for each of the Association’s 21 geographic divisions, a representative from the IASB Service Associates, and three officers: president, vice president, and past president. The board meets quarterly and is responsible for the governing policies of the Association.

Elected division directors serve a two-year term. A complete listing of the IASB officers and directors is on the IASB website.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

New Board Member Workshops
launch this Friday and Saturday

Those embarking on school board service for the first time can get off to the best possible start at IASB's New Board Member Workshops, which include state-mandated training and opportunities for instruction on holding effective meetings, working with the superintendent, and learning the work of the board.

The first workshops will take place this week, June 7 and 8 in Peoria and Naperville. These are two of the nine events that will be held on select Fridays and Saturdays in June and July, at locations throughout the state.

Each Friday session includes state-mandated training. Professional Development Leadership Training (PDLT) covers the latest in education and labor law, financial oversight and accountability, and fiduciary responsibilities. A session on Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA) evaluations for school board members is required before they can participate in a vote on a dismissal based in the Optional Alternative Evaluation Dismissal Process. The Open Meetings Act training focuses specifically on the law as it applies to school board meetings and members and such training is mandated by the state.

The Saturday session, “Basics of Governance” is updated for 2019 and includes essential information and resources for effective school board governance, including the role and work of the school board; distinguishing board work from that of the superintendent and staff; and best practices in school board governance.

IASB’s new and frequently-updated page for those beginning board service is the starting point for all new board member information, including dates, times, locations, fees, and registration for the New Board Member Workshops.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Alliance Legislative Report (101-21)

 After missing the scheduled session adjournment date last Friday, the Illinois General Assembly continued working through the weekend and completed its business. The House of Representatives completed its work Saturday evening. The Senate arrived in the Capitol Sunday and worked through the day to finish its agenda. Both chambers have now adjourned until the Veto Session to be held October 28-30 and November 12-14.

It was an eventful end of session as Governor JB Pritzker was very successful in his first legislative session. A balanced Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 State budget was approved with bipartisan support. Likewise members of both parties supported a $44 billion capital infrastructure program – including a myriad of increased taxes and fees to support it. Other initiatives of the Governor were also approved this spring, such as: legalization of recreational cannabis, abortion rights, minimum wage increase, and an increase in the minimum teacher salary.

Click here to read the full Alliance Legislative Report 101-21, including updates on the state budget and the BIMP, and the status of bills on construction and infrastructure, property and income taxes, and other issues related to pubic education. 

Joint Annual Conference registration open

Registration for the 2019 Joint Annual Conference is now open. IASB has prepared a Conference registration checklist to assist districts that will be registering multiple members. Districts are advised to complete the checklist in advance of beginning the registration process in order to make online registration as seamless as possible.

School leaders looking to add additional learning opportunities to their Conference experience will also be able to register for IASB Pre-Conference Workshops and the School Safety and Security Seminar. Both will take place on Friday, November 22.

Eight Pre-Conference Workshops choices will be offered this year, with three full-day options and five half-day choices that will be take place in both the morning and afternoon. A full list of Pre-Conference Workshops can be found on the IASB website.

This year’s School Safety and Security Seminar will feature local, state, and national experts in the fields of school safety and security. IASB members are encouraged to invite their local emergency responders, school resource officers, school security directors, facility directors, and others who help prepare and carry out security procedures on their campuses to attend to the half-day learning session.

Districts will also have the opportunity to register staff members that plan to attend the Administrative Professionals Program. There is no additional cost for Conference registrants to attend the program, however, it is asked that those who plan to participate indicate their attendance during the registration process.

Additional registration details, including associated fees, housing accommodations, and other helpful instructions can be found on the Conference registration page.

This year’s Joint Annual Conference will take place November 22-24 in Chicago. Follow IASB on
Facebook and  Twitter for Conference updates and announcements.