July/August 2015

The Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) is a voluntary organization of local boards of education dedicated to strengthening public schools through local citizen control. Although not a part of state government, IASB is organized by member school boards as a private not-for-profit corporation under authority granted by Article 23 of The Illinois School Code. The Association was launched in 1913 by a group of school board members at a meeting in Quincy. Today, more than 99 percent of the school boards in Illinois hold active membership and support the Association through annual dues.

The vision of the Illinois Association of School Boards is excellence in local school board governance supporting quality public education.

The mission of the Illinois Association of School Boards is to “Light the Way” for its members by developing their competence and confidence through a robust toolkit designed to build excellence in local school board governance, including

  • Premier training experiences;
  • Networking opportunities for mutual support;
  • Valuable benefits, pooled services, information, and expertise;
  • Advocacy on behalf of public education; and
  • A platform for a strong collective voice on common interests and concerns.

Reflecting on that mission and vision, IASB offers its members many resources to achieve excellence in local school board governance:

Premier training experiences

There are many options and materials available to learn how to become an effective school board member. State law was changed in 2011 to require specific training for all elected or appointed school board members. These training requirements are just the beginning. Board members are encouraged to develop an ongoing professional development plan so that they can continue to gain knowledge and skills that can be applied to their school board service. IASB has designed its training programs to accommodate individual interests, while making sure that all board members can access these resources in a variety of settings. Board training activities are held throughout the year. Many workshops are held at regional sites, some can be taken online, and still others are offered at the annual conference.

School Board LeaderShop is a curriculum of workshops aligned with IASB’sFoundational Principles of Effective Governance. These courses, along with many other timely topics, focus on board and board member skills that promote effective school district leadership.

Courses offered through the LeaderShop Online Learning Center are designed to complement those made available at in-district, regional and statewide workshops. Online learning — affordable, anytime, anywhere — is the answer for board members who want to learn more about board work — and when they want to.

For maximum convenience and participation, in-district training, such as board self-evaluations and board governance reviews, can be customized to the unique needs of a local board and district.

Networking opportunities for mutual support

Whether you are a veteran school board member, newly elected or appointed, or someone who is still considering school board service, IASB offers a variety of ways to connect with colleagues and develop and maintain life-long friendships with others who serve. The School Board LeaderShop Academy promotes and recognizes board members’ efforts toward continuous learning and professional development. IASB’s Master Board Member Program recognizes the service and participation of school board members in various IASB and/or National School Boards Association (NSBA) activities within and beyond their local districts. The School Board Governance Recognition program acknowledges school boards that learn and practice effective governance behaviors as identified in IASB’sFoundational Principles of Effective Governance, and through participation in and support for board development programs and events. Other award programs are available to recognize the service of outstanding school board presidents, superintendents, and school board secretaries.

Every year, nearly 10,000 public school leaders and guests attend the Joint Annual Conference in Chicago. This event is open to local school board members, superintendents, secretaries, school administrators, state and regional education officials, school attorneys, university professors, exhibitors, and guests. Professional development is the primary purpose, offered through exhibits, panel sessions, Pre-Conference Workshops, school tours, General Sessions, as well as the IASB Delegate Assembly, bookstore, and other learning and networking opportunities.

Held at 21 regional sites every spring and fall, division dinner meetings are the perfect opportunity to meet new colleagues and renew relationships in a less formal learning environment. Each is tailored to the professional development needs of the districts in those regions. This is also where individual awards are given and achievements are recognized.

In salute and thanks to the nearly 6,000 elected school board members in the state, November 15 is designated annually as “School Board Members Day” in Illinois. This is an opportunity to build community awareness and understanding about the crucial role a locally elected board of education assumes in a representative democracy.

Valuable benefits, pooled services, information, and expertise

Member services are provided in print, in person, and online. Many are direct member services, provided at no additional cost as part of the district’s dues. This includes The Illinois School Board Journal, online databases, legal resources, surveys, and information services. Others, such as policy services, books, and executive searches, are fee-based. Still others are shared services, available through pooling or trust arrangements. Information about all IASB member services can be found on the IASB public website, www.iasb.com.

Policy Services: IASB offers a variety of fee-based services that substantially enhance the ability of a school board to function effectively. Among them are policy manual customization, administrative procedures project, PRESS, PRESS Plus, school board policies online, and BoardBook®.

Service Associates: IASB Service Associates are businesses that offer school-related products and services and have earned favorable reputations for quality and integrity. Only after screening and reference check is a firm invited by the IASB Board of Directors to become a Service Associate.

Sponsored programs: Member districts have access to a number of programs designed to save money or ensure competitive pricing of some essential services. These programs are sponsored by IASB and offered to districts through pooling or trust arrangements, often governed by the districts themselves.

Resource Center: The IASB Resource Center, which contains more than 3,000 books, 500 serial titles and several special collections, provides answers to questions from IASB members and others interested in public education, using timely research, surveys, and databases.

Advocacy on behalf of public education

IASB carries out most of its legislative activities through its partnership in the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance. Other Alliance partners include the Illinois Association of School Administrators, Illinois Association of School Business Officials, and the Illinois Principals Association. The ability of each of these organizations to influence public policy is enhanced through the cooperative efforts of the Alliance, which directs all of their efforts at producing legislation that fosters a favorable educational climate in Illinois and promotes effective school board leadership. Through combined efforts of all four organizations, the Alliance maintains close liaison with the State Board of Education, Senate and House Education Committees, Office of the Governor, governmental offices and agencies, and dozens of organizations and interest groups that influence public policy.

The Delegate Assembly is one of the most important functions held at the Joint Annual Conference. It gives member districts ownership in the Association and the opportunity to establish the direction of the Association and its major policies. Every member district has a delegate, a vote, and a voice. Resolutions adopted by the IASB Delegate Assembly are added to IASB Position Statements.

Compiled regularly during sessions of the General Assembly and as needed during off-session times, Alliance Legislative Reports summarize major legislative activities and bills of interest. The reports give up-to-the-minute information to the district administrative office, for distribution to members of the school board and the management team.

A platform for a strong collective voice on common interests and concerns

IASB believes that it is our responsibility as community leaders to reflect upon the current state of education in Illinois and take action to create an education system that meets the needs of all students. The Association has created multiple platforms for members to unite as one strong collective voice. These include both short- and long-term campaigns and initiatives that encourage school board members to become active participants.

Vision 20/20: IASB, in partnership with five other statewide school management organizations, united the education community and helped develop a long-range blueprint for improving public education in Illinois.

Advocacy: Elected local school board members have multiple opportunities to influence and inform other constituents, including other elected officials, of successes, needs, and issues facing the local school district.

Thank you for your dedicated leadership in public education and continuing service to the children of this community.

The Illinois Association of School Boards is proud of its 100-plus year history. While IASB has achieved many great things in its first 10 decades, none of this would be possible without the continued commitment of local school board members to the improvement of education for the children of their community. It is that local governance the Illinois Association of School Boards strives to protect and preserve, as we understand that those personally invested in their community’s education outcomes often make the best choices. It is our purpose to provide the necessary resources to prepare school board members, to protect local control of education decisions for school districts, and to be proactive in providing solutions to ensure the children of Illinois are educated in the best learning environment possible.