May 19, 2017

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With time beginning to run out and tensions mounting, lawmakers delved into the weightier issues in the Capitol this week. In committee and floor action, legislators discussed moving forward on a comprehensive State budget as well as other reform measures that have been on the front burner. Components of the "grand bargain" that were attempted earlier in the year were resurrected in the Senate.
The Senate approved measures to make appropriations for a State budget (SB 6) and to reform the school funding formula (SB 1). But bills to implement the budget (SB 42) and to freeze property taxes (SB 478) failed on the Senate floor. Legislation to raise revenue through an increase in the State's income tax rates and to reform worker's compensation were not called for a vote though there are reportedly negotiations that are ongoing on these topics.
The Illinois House of Representatives and Senate both advanced their versions of the Evidence-Based Funding Model (EBM) for school reform this week. The House moved  HB 2808 (Davis, D-East Hazel Crest) out of an appropriations committee on Wednesday and sent it to the House floor. The bi-partisan sponsored plan could be voted on next week and sent to the Senate. While in the Senate,  SB 1 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill) - substantially similar to HB 2808 - was approved and sent across the rotunda to the House.
Certainly the EBM approach supported by the Alliance has become the focus of the General Assembly, and now discussions have moved to details of the various evidence-based plans. While details of the basic elements will continue to be worked out by legislators, the Alliance focus is to ensure that equity and adequacy are preserved. More information on the Alliance position can be found  here.
Partisan wrangling over the various funding reform bills did reach a fever pitch Thursday over how Chicago Public Schools (CPS) would be treated within the new formula. Various funding proposals treat the CPS block grant and pension payments differently, thus directing school funds in different directions.  This will be one of the formula "details" that needs to be worked out.
Governor Bruce Rauner has been calling for a property tax freeze since his first State of the State Address. And with legislators from both parties joining in on this mantra, the push continues. Wednesday a bill that would have frozen the property tax extensions for school districts and other local governments for two years was defeated on the Senate floor. SB 478 received more than a simple majority of the Senators voting, but since the bill preempted the home rule statute, it needed a 3/5 majority vote.
The Governor's position has been that if any increase in income tax rates will be permanent, then the freeze in property taxes should be permanent as well. Leadership in the Senate majority, due to the concern of what a freeze could do to local school district budgets, have agreed to no more than a two-year freeze.
The issue of providing relief from the overabundance of unfunded and underfunded mandates on local school districts, continues to be pushed by the Alliance and responded to in various pieces of legislation. Such provisions have emerged in various versions of pension bills, school funding reform bills, and property tax freeze bills. The Alliance has drafted its own bills to provide flexibility for physical education, drivers' education, third party contracting, and allowing local boards to waive existing mandates. This language has been provided to legislators.
But in some versions of these "mandate relief" provisions that have appeared, there is much weaker language inserted (such as requiring a school board to hold a referendum at an election to request permission to seek a mandate waiver). The Alliance cannot support such provisions and will continue to fight for true relief and flexibility.

HB 1254 (Costello, D-Red Bud) 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 both chambers and will be sent to the Governor.
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 both chambers and will be sent to the Governor.
SB 4 (Trotter, D-Chicago) provides authorization for $7 billion in borrowing for the use of paying the backlog of State bills. The bonds are to be repaid in seven years.  The bill was approved by the Senate and was sent to the House for further consideration.
SB 449 (Lightford, D-Westchester) requires the State Superintendent of Education to convene a Performance Evaluation Advisory Council to advise the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) on the ongoing implementation of performance evaluations in this State.  The bill was approved by the Senate and was sent to the House for further consideration.
The following bills were approved by committees this week:
HB 768 (Welch, D-Westchester) removes provisions allowing the State Charter School Commission to reverse a school board's decision to deny, revoke, or not renew a charter. 
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-Hoffman Estates) r emoves 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 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 but allows a place operated by law enforcement to perform their duties and use of temporary detention spaces under certain circumstances. 
SB 701 (Morrison, D-Deerfield) excludes vehicle allowances from the definition of "earnings" for an Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) pension.
SB 764 (Morrison) requires the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), in cooperation with school officials, to distribute appropriate materials in school buildings regarding abused and neglected children.
SB 1846 (Hunter, D-Chicago) requires the Department of Public Health (DPH) to include asthma in the standard school health exam and requires DPH to collect and maintain data.
SB 2028 (Cullerton, T., Villa Park) allows schools to be relieved of the alternative plating and registration requirements when using a school bus for school related activities.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017, 10:00 a.m., Room 212, State Capitol
HB 243 (Flowers, D-Chicago) allows school districts with high schools to form a partnership with local police to offer a training academy for students.
HB 370 (Mayfield, D-Waukegan) requires schools to post the telephone number for the DCFS child abuse hotline and 911. 
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 2977 (Welch, D-Hillside) requires schools to include a unit of instruction for writing cursive.
HB 3369 (Sims) requires the ISBE to post resources regarding the teaching of high-skilled manufacturing education programs.
Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 9:00 a.m., Room 115, State Capitol
SB 865 (Manar) requires a school district report card to include the total and per pupil normal cost amount the State contributed to the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) in the prior fiscal year for the district's employees.
SB 447 (Cunningham, D-Chicago) for Chicago schools, provides that a maximum of 80 students may be enrolled in the agricultural science school' modified curriculum for diverse learners (special education cluster program).
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.
SB 1290 (Rezin, R-Peru) extends the bond debt limit for Waltham C.C.S.D. 
SB 1483 (Althoff, R-Crystal Lake) provides that a parent's or student's request to inspect and copy records under the Act must be granted no later than 5 business days (rather than 15 school days).
SB 1486 (Weaver, R-Peoria) makes various changes to clean up and modernize school code.
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.
SB 1692 (Raoul, D-Chicago) expands who can be on the concussion oversight team and evaluate a student who has been removed from practice or competition.
SB 1991 (Bennett, D-Champaign) allows the ISBE to adopt a proficiency test for applicants seeking a professional educator license in the area of career or technical education if they are applying in an identified shortage area.
Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 10:30 a.m., Room D-1 Stratton Office Building
SB 757 (Morrison) provides that college and career ready assessment scores must be removed from the student's transcript if the student's parent or legal guardian requests such removal. 
SB 1223 (Lightford) requires each school district to have a policy that allows for accelerated placement including reporting of certain data to the ISBE.
Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 11:30 a.m., Room C-1, Stratton Office Building
SB 87 (Link, D-Gurnee) 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.
SB 473 (Munoz, D-Chicago), for Cook County only, increases the  senior citizens homestead exemption from $5,000 to $8,000; increases the Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze income qualification from $55,000 to $65,000 and increases the General Homestead Exemption from $6,000 to $10,000.
SB 609 (Morrison) allows taxpayers to appeal a decision of the Property Tax Appeals Board (PTAB) directly to PTAB when the decisions are rendered after the deadline for filing complaints.
SB 872 (Rezin) 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 st 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 1593 (McConnaughay, R-West Dundee) provides that parking areas, owned by religious institutions, when leased or rented to a municipality are exempt from property taxes.

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.