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GOVERNMENT RELATIONS


Alliance Legislative Report 97-27

Distributed via Email: September 20, 2011

GROUPS WORKING ON CONSOLIDATION, PENSIONS

Though the legislature is not in session, lawmakers are still busy working on key education issues. With the enactment of HB 1216, the School District Realignment and Consolidation Commission has been established. The work of the commission will commence later this month.

Likewise, leadership in the Illinois House of Representatives has formed pension “working groups” to further explore the possibility of advancing pension reform legislation in the upcoming fall Veto Session. SB 512, which was not called for a vote in the spring legislative session, seems to be the catalyst for the ongoing discussions. This legislative measure could affect the pensions of school district employees currently participating in the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS).

SCHOOL DISTRICT CONSOLIDATION COMMISSION

The commission is headed up by Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon, who has dubbed the panel the “Classrooms First Commission”. According to the legislation, the panel is charged with making recommendations to the governor and the General Assembly on the number of school districts in the state, the optimal enrollment for each school district, and recommendations as to where consolidation may be beneficial. Lt. Gov. Simon has indicated that she wishes to focus more on recommending ways Illinois school districts can improve student learning opportunities and reduce duplicative administration costs. 

The commission will have its first meeting on Thursday, Sep. 29, at the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) offices in Springfield. The second meeting is scheduled for Oct. 21, also at ISBE. Further details on specific times and locations for these meetings, and the meetings to be scheduled in November and December, will be forthcoming.

The commission is also scheduling public hearings on school district realignment, consolidation and possible efficiencies. The public hearing schedule is as follows:

October 13 Carterville John A. Logan College O’Neal Auditorium 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
October 24 Normal Heartland Comm. College
Astroth Com. Ed. Center

4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
November 2 Moline Blackhawk College
Building 4, Conference
Rooms 1 and 2

11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
November 3 Palatine Harper College
Wojcik Conference Center,
Room W214
3 to 5 p.m.

Please consider attending a public hearing in your area. School board members and administrators are urged to attend, and are encouraged to invite staff, faculty and community members to participate as well.

Members of the commission include:

Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon Dr. Lynne Haeffele (ISU) Rep. Linda Chapa La Via
Rep. Roger Eddy Linda Riley Mitchell (ISBE) Jerry Harrison (IEA)
Dan Montgomery (IFT) Dr. Michael Johnson (IASB) Jason Leahy (IPA)
Dr. Brent Clark (IASA) Dr. Michael Jacoby (IASBO) Ava Harston (CTU)
Robert Runcie (CPS) Jimmy Gunnell (IAASE) Jonathan Goldman
(Parent PAC)
Dr. Paul Swanstrom (HSDO) Michael McCreery (IARSS)

*Four additional members of the commission have yet to be named.

PENSION WORKING GROUPS

House Speaker Michael J. Madigan and House Republican Leader Tom Cross have initiated meetings among stakeholders regarding possible legislation for pension reform in the state. The Alliance has been represented at the meetings by IASA Executive Director Brent Clark. Over the past week, four working groups have been meeting to discuss:

  • Pension benefits and contributions
  • Pension funding
  • Pension structure
  • General discussions on pensions

The discussions, many times, revolve around SB 512 which was pending in the spring legislative session but was never called for a vote. SB 512 would have required employees who became a Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) participant before Jan. 1, 2011 to select, by July 1, 2012, which retirement program they wish to participate in: the “traditional” plan which offers the TRS retirement benefits that were in place before Jan. 1, 2011, but with a higher employee contribution rate; the “revised” plan which offers the “Tier II” TRS retirement benefits that are available to participants that entered the system on Jan. 1, 2011 or after; or the “self-managed” defined contribution plan (similar to a “401(k)” plan).

New legislation on pension reform could be considered in the fall Veto Session, pending on the work of the pension groups and the will of the members of the General Assembly.

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


Alliance Legislative Reports are Cosponsored by IASB and:
[ IPA ] [ IASA ] [ IASBO ]


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