Ben Schwarm, IASB deputy executive director and Deanna Sullivan, director, IASB Governmental Relations, answer this issues question.
Two governmental task forces have released reports lately, both with potential impacts on public education in Illinois.
Task Force on Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates
Governor Bruce Rauner created the Task Force on Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates and charged it with “finding efficiencies and ways to streamline local government functions to save taxpayer dollars.” It was chaired by Illinois Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti. The 406-page task force report, with 27 recommendations, was presented in January. The task force primarily focused on consolidation and unfunded mandates as charged but was driven by the notion that the number of local governments and unfunded mandates are the root of Illinois’ overreliance on property taxes.
IASB participated in task force meetings and evaluated the recommendations as compared to IASB positions. Regarding consolidation, early indicators were not favorable, but the final recommendations included allowing local decision-making and incentivizing consolidation in lieu of a forced consolidation model. Additionally, recommendations calling for protecting the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act and encouraging state agencies to financially incentivize regional sharing of various functions, products, facilities, etc. allows for flexibility and encourages efficiencies across local government entities.
The task force’s recommendations on unfunded mandates have positive correlations with IASB position statements. Recommendations numbered 2-6 and 10 align with IASB’s positions on the following:
- Recommendation 2: IASB Position Statement 5.05 – Prevailing Wage Act
- Recommendation 3: IASB Position Statement 5.14 – Third Party Contracting
- Recommendation 4: IASB Position Statement 1.03 – Physical Education
- Recommendation 5: IASB Position Statement 2.07 – Contracting Driver’s Education
- Recommendation 6: IASB Position Statement 5.03 – Collective Bargaining
- Recommendation 10: IASB Position Statement 6.23 – Mandate Cost and Periodic Review
IASB’s position and position statements can be read in full at www.iasb.com/govrel/constposstatement.pdf.
The full Task Force on Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates report can be accessed here.
School Security and Standards Task Force
In January, the School Security and Standards Task Force released its first report of recommendations to the General Assembly and governor. Created by law in July 2014 and comprised of parents, legislators, law enforcement, first responders, school official representatives, engineers, and security experts, the group was given the responsibility of studying school security in Illinois and making recommendations to “provide a safer learning environment for the children of this state.”
After a series of public hearings, the task force submitted its preliminary findings, including a request to continue its work for another year in order to review new initiatives and issues and continue to offer resources and technical assistance. Also proposed was to make one of the six annual required emergency-preparation drills be unscheduled and at random. The purpose of this proposal is to gauge effectively the readiness of students and staff to react to such a threat.
The first report of the School Security and Standards Task Force also presented a series of best practices for schools to consider. The preliminary report is available at isbe.state.il.us/SSSTF/pdf/reports/ssstf-final-report-ga-010116.pdf . The final report will be submitted to the State Board of Education in July and expected to offer recommendations, not requirements or mandates.
IASB is developing plans to provide education and training on school safety issues at the Joint Annual Conference in November.