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GOVERNMENT RELATIONS


Alliance Legislative Report 97-08

Distributed via Email: March 18, 2011

LEGISLATURE MEETS DEADLINE; TAKES BREAK

The Illinois General Assembly met its first deadline Thursday, the day that bills must have approval from a committee if the bill is to advance. The number of viable bills moving through the legislature now is sharply reduced. Both the Senate and House of Representatives are off next week and return to the Capitol on March 29.

SCHOOL CONSOLIDATION DISCUSSIONS CONTINUE

As was reported in the last Alliance Legislative Report, the issue of school consolidation is still very much alive in the Capitol. School board members and administrators need to continue their dialogue with legislators on the issue, reinforcing opposition to immediate forced consolidation of school districts. Some type of proposal to study consolidation through a task force or commission is still probable – and there are legislators, education groups and others who do not believe that local school districts should have representation on the commission or a local voice on school consolidation.

  • The Alliance will oppose any proposal that does not include school administrators and board members as part of the task force or commission that studies school district consolidation
  • The Alliance will oppose any proposal that would allow a task force or commission to force consolidation of school districts simply by issuing a report
  • The Alliance will oppose any proposal for school consolidation that does not include the passage of legislation and the approval of local voters

Newest Proposal

In the Senate Education Committee this week, another proposal emerged. SB 2134 (Garrett, D-Lake Forest) would eliminate the position of an elected Regional Superintendent of Schools and replace that position with an appointed person serving within the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). The new appointed person would have the authority to rate each school district on its fiscal efficiencies, and could unilaterally require the districts to share services or consolidate with another school district if he/she did not believe that the school district was efficient enough. The authority granted to these newly appointed positions would go as far as letting them dissolve a local school district. All local control and legislative input would be taken away and given solely to the ISBE.

The sponsor pledged to make changes to address the concerns of the Regional Superintendents and the Alliance. The bill eventually was approved by the committee, but not before committee members were assured that the sponsor would not advance the bill in its present form.

COMMITTEES CONTINUE TO CHURN OUT MANDATES

Despite the precarious fiscal condition of the state and local school districts, legislators continue to submit – and committees continue to advance – legislation that places new requirements on school districts. The Alliance has strongly opposed these new proposed unfunded mandates, stressing that this is not the time for new programs or new spending, but many legislators simply ignore these pleas. Even a new moratorium on curricular mandates and a new law allowing school districts to opt out of School Code mandates do not seem to discourage the legislators.

The following bills, all opposed by the Alliance, were approved this week by legislative committees:

HB 1204 (Howard, D-Chicago) , as amended, r equires school districts to provide instruction in violence prevention and conflict resolution education for grades kindergarten through 12 (rather than grades 4 through 12). The amended bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

HB 1415 (Jones, D-Calumet City) , as amended, requires certain schools in Representative Jones’ legislative district to operate on a full-year school plan approved by the ISBE upon expiration of its teachers' current collective bargaining agreement until the expiration of the next collective bargaining agreement. The school board must devise a plan so that a student's required attendance in school shall be for a minimum term of 215 (instead of 180) days of actual attendance. For the complete list of schools affected, please refer to the legislation here.

The amended bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

HB 1571 (Mayfield, D-Waukegan) provides that each school board shall require at least 60 minutes of reading instruction per day for any student whose reading level is one grade level or lower than his or her current grade level according to current learning standards and the school district. The bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration. The bill is to be further amended, upon the request of the Alliance, to replace the mandatory language with a provision to promote 60 minutes of reading opportunity for students in grades K-3.

HB 2842 (Verschoore, D-Rock Island) requires all new school buses put into service on or after January 1, 2014 to be equipped with fire retardant seating which has passed federal standards. It also requires all plastic components in the engine compartment of a school bus to pass national standards. The bill was approved by the House Transportation, Vehicles, and Safety Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration. An amendment is to be added to make the requirement “subject to appropriation” by the legislature.

HB 2889 (Mussman, D-Schaumburg) requires school districts to adopt an internet policy that requires the use of internet filters on all school computers. The bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor.

HB 3040 (McGuire, D-Joliet) requires school districts to submit detailed floor plans and schematics of the schools to both the local fire department and the local law enforcement agency. The bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

OTHER BILL ACTION THIS WEEK

PENSIONS

HB 3375 (McCarthy, D-Orland Park) provides that if a member or participant of a retirement system (including TRS) is currently receiving a retirement annuity or pension, and becomes a member of any other State pension system and is employed on a full-time basis, then the person’s retirement annuity or pension shall be suspended during that employment. The bill was approved by the House Personnel and Pensions Committee and was sent to the House floor for consideration.

SB 2187 (Clayborne, D-E. St. Louis) originally contained language that extended, by 5 years, the period during which certain types of salary increases may be excluded from the 6% salary cap regarding TRS pension calculations. The bill was amended in the Senate Pensions and Investments Committee to delete all of these provisions and was sent to the Senate floor as a “shell bill”.

SB 2279 (Raoul, D-Chicago) extends the expiration date (by 10 years) for which a person who has retired under TRS may work for a TRS employer for 120 days, instead of 100 days. The provision to allow retirees to work for 120 days was due to “sunset” in 2011. The bill moves the date back to 2021. The bill was approved by the Senate Pensions and Investments Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS

HB 190 (Eddy, R-Hutsonville) , as amended, p rovides that of the 70 charter schools that are permitted to operate at any one time in Chicago, not more than 5 charter schools devoted exclusively to students from low-performing or overcrowded schools are allowed. The amended bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor.

HB 2984 (Sosnowski, R-Belvidere) , as amended,creates the Tuition Voucher Program Task Force to study the feasibility of a statewide tuition voucher program. The amendment added two representatives from the Alliance on the task force. The amended bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

HB 3109 (Fortner, R-West Chicago) , as amended, requires new questions to be answered by the Advisory Council on Bilingual Education regarding class size, educator certification, current ISBE rules, and alternative bilingual education programs. The amended bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor.

SB 621 (Holmes, D-Aurora) , as amended, allows two or more school districts to jointly operate, either directly or through an institution of higher education located in a municipality whose geographic boundaries include areas served by each district, an elementary science and mathematics magnet school. The amended bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

SB 1619 (Steans, D-Chicago) , as amended,  provides that if an elementary or secondary public school offers sex education or sexual health education, the education must be medically accurate and developmentally and age appropriate and requires the ISBE to provide resource materials for the curriculum. The amended bill was approved by the Senate Public Health Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.  

PERSONNEL

HB 942 (Madigan, D-Chicago) , in an amendment sponsored by Representative Connie Howard (D-Chicago), provisions would have c reated the Abusive Work Environment Act. It would have provided that it is unlawful to subject an employee to an abusive work environment or to retaliate against an employee who filed an action or participated in any proceeding under the Act, and would have made it an enforceable civil action against the employer. The Alliance led the opposition to the bill and provided testimony in the committee, and the bill failed to receive the requisite number of committee votes for passage.

HB 3222 (Stephens, R-Highland) provides that a chief school business official endorsement shall be affixed to the administrative certificate of any holder who qualifies by having a Master's Degree in Public Administration from a regionally accredited higher education institution. The bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

HB 3464 (Pihos, R-Glen Ellyn) , as amended,changes the date of the teacher supply and demand report to January 1, 2012 (instead of 2011) and changes the date of when superintendent and teachers salaries must be reported to the ISBE (an Alliance amendment). The amended bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for consideration.

HB 3489 (Cavaletto, R-Salem) requires completion of a 15-hour substitute authorization program approved by the ISBE before the issuance of a substitute teacher's certificate. The bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor.

SB 1578 (Holmes) , as amended,provides that of the four yearly teacher institute days, two days may be used as a teacher's and educational support personnel (ESP) workshop. It p rovides that ESPs may be exempt from a workshop if it is not relevant to the work they do and it is not related to the health and safety of students. The amended bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

SB 2250 (Lauzen, R-Aurora) , as amended, would have repealed the provisions of the School Code that provide obstacles for school districts that wish to contract out for non-instructional services. The Alliance testified in support of the bill in committee, but it lacked the support for passage and the bill remains in the Senate Education Committee.

SCHOOL BOARD ACTION

HB 287 (Flowers, D-Chicago) , as amended, provides that a school board may create a committee on the retention of students, consisting of the district superintendent, a district administrator who directs student instruction and curriculum, a principal, and a teacher. If such a committee is created, it requires that the committee review the school's decision to retain with respect to each student and make a final decision regarding whether or not to retain a particular student – allowing the committee to prohibit a school board from retaining a student. The amended bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor.

HB 2870 (Chapa La Via, D-Aurora) provides that school districts shall provide the opportunity for students to voluntarily state on the enrollment form whether the student has a parent or guardian who serves in a branch of the armed forces. It requires each school district to report this enrollment information as aggregate data to the ISBE under the Student Information System. The bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor.

HB 3096 (Tryon, R-Crystal Lake) , as amended, authorizes the board of education of a school district, by resolution, to initiate an advisory question to be placed on the ballot in the territory of the school distric t. The amended bill was approved by the House Elections and Campaign Reform Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

HB 3131 (Pihos) provides that any required agenda under the Open Meetings Act must be sufficiently descriptive to give the public reasonable notice of the items that will be considered or will be the subject of final action at the meeting.   It requires the public body conducting a public meeting to ensure that at least one copy of any requested notice and agenda for the meeting is continuously available for public review during the entire 48-hour period preceding the meeting. The bill was approved by the House State Government Operations Committee and was sent to the House floor.

HB 3137 (Eddy) e xempts the following types of information from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act: the date of birth of public employees, medical and health information of public employees, the names of applicants for public employment, applications for public employment, recommendations and opinions regarding the qualification of public employment applicants, investigative notes of public employees, and outlines or drafts of oral statements, presentations, or remarks. The bill was approved by the House Executive Committee and was sent to the House floor.

HB 3223 (Senger, R-Naperville) requires that a remote educational program include the school term for the program, which may vary from the regular school term of the school district. The bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

REVENUE BILLS

HB 197 (Cross, R-Oswego) creates the Illinois Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Act to establish a committee to make recommendations to assist the State in reducing State spending and to balance the State's budget. The bill was approved by the House Revenue Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

HB 1122 (Mathias, R-Buffalo Grove) creates the Commission on Taxpayer Oversight and Reduction of State Spending Act to establish a commission to conduct investigations, review the budget submitted by the Governor in order to make recommendations for reducing expenditures set forth in the budget, review activities of agencies and grant recipients, and consider State and local budgetary reductions by reduction or elimination of mandated expenditures or the consolidation of agencies and instrumentalities to eliminate waste and inefficiency. The bill was approved by the House Revenue Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

SB 1620 (Steans) , amended to remove the substantive provisions in the bill, will be a “vehicle” for any legislation to reform the laws regarding Tax Increment Financing (TIF). The bill was approved by the Senate Revenue Committee and was sent to the Senate floor to await further amendments.

 

SB 2170 (Clayborne) makes changes to the School Facility Occupation Tax Law which allows counties to impose a sales tax with receipts earmarked for school construction. It r equires the imposition of the sales tax if the voters approve the referendum (instead of allowing the county board to choose to impose the sales tax) and requires the tax rate to be set forth in the question (instead of allowing the county board to choose to impose the tax at a different rate). The bill failed to get the requisite number of votes in the Senate Revenue Committee and was held in committee.

OTHER BILLS

HB 192 (Eddy) , as amended, amends the Stalking No Contact Order Act to provide that the court may order that the respondent accept a change of educational placement or program, as determined by the school district. The bill makes other changes for this procedure and adds protections for the school district. The amended bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

HB 3027 (Crespo, D-Streamwood) makes changes concerning the execution of joint agreements on forms, the certification and filing of state aid claims, and the definition of "dropout". The bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

HB 3281 (Mathias) provides that the gross disobedience or misconduct for which a school board may expel pupils includes that perpetuated by electronic means. The bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor.  

HB 3294 (Nybo, R-Lombard) allows schools to have access to life-saving emergency epinephrine auto-injectors if and when a student has an anaphylaxis reaction and to allow the school to have personnel trained to administer an emergency epinephrine auto-injector. The bill was approved by the House Judiciary I – Civil Law Committee and was sent to the House floor for consideration.

HB 3440 (Chap LaVia) defines “service animal” in the School Code. The bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor.  

HB 3539 (Morrison, R-Palatine) eliminates the “hold harmless” provision of the State aid formula. The bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for consideration.

SB 1795 (Lightford, D-Westchester) makes technical changes and “clean-up” revisions in the School Code. The bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee and was sent to the Senate floor.

SB 2149 (Sullivan, D-Rushville) creates the Financial Oversight Panel (FOP) Law of the School Code to allow a school district to petition the ISBE for the establishment of an FOP. The bill was approved by the Senate Executive Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

This legislative report is 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 Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance.

Bill Text/Status: Illinois General Assembly www.ilga.gov


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