May 12, 2017

Alliance logo

The Senate Executive Committee Thursday, unanimously approved an amendment that  would  move the election of school board members from the Consolidated Election in April of odd-numbered years to the General Election in November of even-numbered years. Senate Amendment #2 to SB 441 (Cullerton, T., D-Villa Park) passed on a vote of 14-0 and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration. SB 441 was introduced as a "shell bill" - a bill that merely made a technical change to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act and contained no substantive language. But Senate Amendment #2, offered this week, gutted the underlying bill and made the changes in the Election Code and the School Code.
The Alliance testified before the committee in opposition to the bill.
The Consolidated Election is not eliminated in the amendment. In fact, township boards, library boards, park board, etc. will still be elected at the non-partisan election. The amendment simply removes school board members from that election and places those elected offices in the General Election in November of the even-numbered years along with the U.S. President, U.S. Senators and Congressmen, Governor, and members of the Illinois General Assembly. The underlying reason given for the change is that school districts are the main consumer of property taxes in the State and more citizens should be voting on these races. Voter turnout in the General Election is much higher than the turnout in the Consolidated Election.
The Alliance strongly believes that school board membership should be a non-partisan office that is elected in a non-partisan election. Under the amendment, even though it is a partisan election, school board candidates would not have to declare a party and would not run as a member of a party. This office would be the only non-partisan position elected in the General Election.
School board members are urged to contact their State Senator and ask for a "No" vote on SB 441.
The date to receive a waiver for testing water sources for lead prior to the signing of the lead testing mandate is quickly approaching. The Illinois Department of Public Health (DPH) has established a deadline of May 17th in accordance with the language of Public Act 99-0922 that stated waiver requests were due 120 days after the effective date (January 17, 2017) of the law. 
It is important to note that, just because the results of testing completed before the effective date of P.A. 99-0922 are received by the May 17th deadline, does not mean that a waiver will be automatically granted. If a school district tested water sources for lead between January 1, 2013 and January 17, 2017 in a container at least 250ml in size and sent the samples to an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency accredited lab, then they should be accepted. To submit test results to DPH, you can email them at

Though discussions continued in the Capitol this week on a State budget, no definitive action was taken. There are less than three full weeks before the scheduled adjournment of the spring legislative session. Certainly, many school administrators and board members have contacted their legislators calling for action on a budget. This drumbeat must continue. Click here to find a sample letter for Alliance members to adapt and send to the Governor, legislative leaders, and their legislators.

HB 1254 (Costello, D-Red Bud), beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, expands the list for which partial days of attendance counts may be used to include the utilization of the school district's facilities by local or county authorities for the purpose of holding a memorial or funeral services in remembrance of a community member. The bill was approved by the Senate and will be sent to the Governor for consideration.
HB 2369 (Harper, D-Chicago) requires public schools to provide reasonable accommodations to a lactating pupil to express breast milk. The bill was approved by the Senate and will be sent to the Governor for consideration.
HB 3012 (Mayfield, D-Waukegan) allows Waukegan CUSD 60 to make a one-time transfer of funds from its bond fund to the Operations and Maintenance Fund with proper resolution following a public hearing. The bill was approved by the Senate and will be sent to the Governor for consideration.

HB 3869 (Wallace, D-Rockford) requires in-service training for school personnel on civil rights and cultural diversity, including racial and ethnic sensitivity and implicit racial bias. The bill was approved by the Senate and will be sent to the Governor for consideration.

SB 1532 (Collins, D-Chicago) adds average daily attendance to the list of items that schools must report on the Illinois School District Report Card. Average daily attendance is defined as the average of the actual number of attendance days during the previous school year for any enrolled student. The bill was approved by the Senate and was sent to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
The following bills were approved by a Senate committee and were sent to the Senate chamber floor for further consideration:

HB 350 (McSweeney, R-Cary) provides that for members of a pension system who are convicted of a felony related to their service, the result is forfeiture of benefit for their surviving spouse. These changes shall not impair any contract or vested right acquired by a survivor before the effective date of this Act.

HB 619 (Walsh, D-Joliet) exempts from Freedom of Information Act inspection and copying of records requested by a person incarcerated that would result in the risk of harm to any person and records containing personal information pertaining to the incarcerated person's victim or victim's family including contact information such as their school address.

HB 656 (Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria) changes the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) federal funds rate from the unfunded liability rate to the normal cost rate for school staff paid with federal program dollars.

HB 826 (Lilly, D-Chicago) codifies in statute licensure requirements for school social workers and prohibits school social workers from providing services outside their employment to any student in the district. It makes a recommendation for a student to social worker ratio of 250 to 1.

HB 2378 (Drury, D-Highwood) removes language requiring a student's transcript to show the scores attained by the student on a state assessment that includes a college and career ready determination.

HB 2462 (Moeller, D-Elgin) prohibits employers from screening job applicants based on wage and salary history and prohibits an employer from seeking the salary and benefits of a job applicant from any current or former employer.

HB 2540 (Willis, D-Addison) provides an appeals process through intermediate service centers for a school district that loses a petition to withdraw from its special education joint agreement program.

HB 2612 (Pritchard, R-Hinkley) provides greater flexibility and efficiency in the detachment and dissolution of school districts, including creation of a local hearing panel and a process for petitioning for boundary changes.

HB 2740 (Welch, D-Westchester), beginning January 1, 2018, requires the community college board to establish alternative methods of credentialing for issuance of high school equivalency certification, based on high school credit, post-secondary credit, foreign diplomas, and completion of a competency-based program.

HB 2794 (Ford, D-Chicago) requires school districts to inform all 11th and 12th grade students of dual enrollment and dual credit opportunities at public community colleges for qualified students.

HB 2993 (Slaughter, D-Chicago) allows schools to serve produce grown by students in school or community gardens if the produce meets the DPH requirements.

HB 3044 (Hoffman, D-Belleville) requires the Department of Labor (DOL) to publish on its website the prevailing wage schedule for each county based upon the rate of wages in June, by August 15 of each year.

HB 3059 (Pritchard) requires school district report cards to include average daily attendance by grade level.

HB 3070 (Martwick, D-Chicago), under Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF), requires participants to notify and provide payment for purchase of certain types of service credit prior to termination of employment.

HB 3215 (Wallace) requires schools to provide feminine hygiene products to students at no cost. It is estimated that this effort would cost $13.5 million statewide.

HB 3394 (Walsh) allows the Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) to recommend removal of a school employee that is subject of an investigation, pending the outcome, but allows all employment decisions to be the sole responsibility of the school district or employer. It prohibits DCFS from requiring a district to remove the employee or limit their duties pending the outcome of an investigation.

HB 3507 (Greenwood, D-E. St. Louis) allows a student to be granted up to five days of excused absence if his/her parent is active duty military and has been called to duty for, on leave from, or has immediately returned from deployment.

HB 3684 (Burke, K. D-Oak Lawn) changes the certification requirements for food handling certified food service sanitation managers and food service sanitation manager instructors beginning January 1, 2018.

HJR 11 (Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora) encourages school districts to consider the benefits of the attendance awareness campaign "Every Student Counts, Every Day Matters" urged by the Illinois Attendance Commission.

The following bill was approved by a House committee and was sent to the House chamber floor for further consideration:
SB 865 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill) requires a school district report card to include the total and per pupil normal cost amount the State contributed to the TRS in the prior fiscal year for the district's employees, which shall be reported to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) by TRS.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 9:00 a.m., Room 212, State Capitol

HB 261 (Mussman, D-Schaumburg) allows school districts to use transportation funds, in certain circumstances, to assist parents of a child at risk of homelessness with rent, mortgage, and assistance to pay unpaid bills.  
HB 2461 (McAsey, D-Lockport) adds new requirements to be included on the school report card regarding gifted education and advanced academic programs. 
HB 2527 (Sosnowski, R-Rockford) authorizes eligible applicants to design a high school diploma program for adult learners.
HB 2545 (Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville) requires all school personnel to undergo training every other year on the warning signs of mental illness and the school district's policy on suicide awareness. 
HB 2898 (Crespo, D-Streamwood) removes the date (of June 30, 2021) until which a principal endorsement may be affixed to the Professional Educator License of a person who has, among other qualifications, at least four total years of experience working in the capacity of school support personnel. 
HB 2950 (Conyears-Ervin, D-Chicago) requires schools to designate personnel and quarterly provide students information about what to do and resources available if the student is being bullied. 
HB 3298 (Scherer, D-Decatur) allows, under certain circumstances, the application fee for a substitute teacher license to be refunded. 
HB 3368 (Sims, D-Chicago) requires the ISBE to post resources regarding the teaching of entrepreneurial skills for used by school districts with high schools.
HB 3820 (Crespo) allows individuals with a valid Career and Technical Education (CTE) endorsement, but that do not hold a bachelor's degree, to substitute teach in CTE classes.
HB 3903 (Stratton, D-Chicago) prohibits student booking stations on school grounds. The bill allows a place operated by law enforcement to perform their duties within schools and use of temporary detention spaces under certain circumstances. 
Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 11:00 a.m., Room 115, State Capitol
SB 193 (Link, D-Vernon Hills) provides that a group or individual policy of accident and health insurance must provide coverage for medically necessary preventative physical therapy for insureds diagnosed with multiple sclerosis without any treatment limitation or calendar year maximum.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 11:00 a.m., Room 118, State Capitol
SB 189 (Bennett, D-Champaign) provides that prosecution for sexual assault or abuse is perpetrated on a child under 18 years may be commenced at any time regardless of whether corroborating physical evidence is available or been reported under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 4:00 p.m., Room 122B, State Capitol
SB 701 (Morrison, D-Deerfield) excludes vehicle allowances from the definition of "earnings" for an IMRF pension.
HB 4027 (Durkin, R-Burr Ridge) amends various pension codes to require participants to choose future raises or future pension benefits, also eliminates the General Assembly Retirement System, provides $215 million to the Chicago Teacher's Pension fund, and creates a Tier 3 pension system.
HB 4045 (Currie, D-Chicago) amends various pension codes to require participants to choose future raises or future pension benefits, also eliminates the General Assembly Retirement System and provides $215 million to the Chicago Teacher's Pension fund.
HR 27 (McSweeney) states opposition to shifting pension costs of teachers from the State to local school districts.
HR 38 (Skillicorn, R-Crystal Lake) recognizes that the normal cost of pensions for State educators is the responsibility of the State and should not use the current budget crisis as a reason to shift the financial responsibility to local taxpayers.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017, 9:00 a.m., Room 115, State Capitol
SB 863 (Bertino-Tarrant, D-Plainfield) provides that for ISBE appointments made after the effective date, three of the members of the State Board must represent the educator community.
HR 89 (Flowers, D-Chicago) urges Chicago to begin repurposing the closed public schools within its system to new-purpose facilities.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017, 10:30 a.m., Room 115, State Capitol
SB 2028 (Cullerton) allows schools to be relieved of the alternative plating and registration requirements when using a school bus for school related activities.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017, 2:00 p.m., Room 115, State Capitol
SB 764 (Morrison) requires the DCFS, in cooperation with school officials, to distribute appropriate materials in school buildings listing the toll-free telephone number established in the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act to be displayed in a clearly visible location in each school building.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017, 3:00 p.m., Room C-1, Stratton Office Building
SB 87 (Link) provides that the property tax exemption for veterans with disabilities carries over to the surviving spouse of a veteran who was killed in the line of duty and who's certified by the Department of Veterans Affairs as being a current recipient of Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.
SB 872 (Rezin, R-Peru) provides that the homestead exemption for veterans with disabilities shall be prorated if the property is first used as a qualified residence by a veteran with a disability after January 1 of a taxable year. 
SB 1385 (Weaver, R-Peoria) provides that abatement for urban decay properties applies to newly remodeled as well as newly constructed dwellings.
SB 1437 (Murphy, D-Elk Grove Village) for the disabled veterans homestead exemption, allows veterans with disabilities to not have to reapply annually when the Department of Veterans' Affairs verifies that they are permanently and totally disabled.
SB 1795 (Stadelman, D-Rockford) provides that a property tax abatement applies to property acquired by a governmental unit under a blight reduction or abandoned property program administered by the Illinois Housing Development Authority.
SB 1887 (Koehler, D-Peoria) for certain homestead exemptions and assessment freezes, provides that if the person receiving the exemption/assessment freeze is a resident of a Supportive Living Program facility the exemption/freeze shall continue so long as the residence is occupied by the qualifying person's spouse remains unoccupied but is owned by the qualifying person.
HR 139 (Ives, R-Wheaton) creates the Fair and Equitable Assessment of Property Task Force.
Thursday, May 18, 2017, 9:00 a.m., Room D-1, Stratton Office Building
SB 1739 (Lightford, D-Westchester) provides that a student who is already licensed to teach and is enrolled in a course of study leading to an additional teaching endorsement or a master's degree in an academic field in which he or she is teaching or plans to teach may participate in the Minority Teachers of Illinois scholarship program (rather than limiting the program to undergraduate students).
This legislative report was written and edited by the lobbyists of the Illinois Association of School Boards to provide information to the members of the organizations that comprise the Statewide School Management Alliance.