Time for Action: Education
HB 3567: Charter School Limitations
SB195: Pension Code-TRS-Trust Fund Contributions
April 25, 2017

FROM:
         Mary Kubusak, President
         Jean Pierce and Hilary Denk, Co-Chairs Issues Committee
Jean Pierce and Claire McIntyre, Education Issues Specialists
 
ACTION #1: Please contact your Illinois State Representative and ask him/her to support HB 3567, as amended
 
Find contact information for your State Legislators at  http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/
 
What the Charter School Limitations Act would do:  If passed, this legislation would prevent new charters from being granted for a proposed charter school located in a zip code or a contiguous zip code where a public school had been closed within 10 school years prior to the effective date of this legislation.  It would also require that the General Assembly provide transition impact aid for school districts where charters would be located.  It further requires that the board of education in cities with a population exceeding 500,000 designate attendance borders for charters established on or after the effective date of the Act.  Effective immediately.
 
Why this is important: In the recent past, public schools have been closed in Chicago due to "limited enrollment". But some of those same schools were replaced by charters.  This Act would prevent that from happening, not only in Chicago but anywhere in the state.  Adequate and equitable funding is needed for all public schools, including charters. The financial impact on traditional public schools must be evaluated before charters  are  granted. Charters can place financial pressure on districts by draining funds from traditional public schools in the district.
 
ACTION #2: Please ask your Senator to support SB 195, currently on 3rd reading.
Find contact information for your State Legislators at  http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/
 
What this bill does: It amends the Downstate Teacher Article of the Illinois Pension Code. In a provision relating to employer contributions from special trust and federal funds, provides that, beginning July 1, 2017, the rate, expressed as a percentage of salary, shall be equal to the total employer's normal cost, expressed as a percentage of payroll. Effective immediately.
 
Why this is important:   When special trust and federal funds are used to pay salaries, currently 30.5% of the funds are skimmed off by the state to pay pension debt - in addition to the 7.5% which ordinarily goes to pensions.  This bill would ensure that no more than the normal pension contribution would be charged school districts. The remainder would be used in the classroom as intended. For some higher poverty districts, formerly skimmed-off dollars could be used to hire supplemental staff for classrooms where children most need extra assistance.  For example, the Rockford district loses $1 million in Title 1 funds because of the exorbitant pension contributions collected.   For a district with a high percentage of low income students, that money would go a long way to assisting their children to succeed.
 
This bill has bipartisan support and by contacting your senator, it is likely we will be able to nudge it towards passage.
League of Women Voters of Illinois
332 S. Michigan Avenue, Suite 634, Chicago, IL  60604
Phone: (312) 939-5935  | Email:  issues@lwvil.org  | website:  www.lwvil.org
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