Delivered via email: June 18, 2020
GUIDELINES FOR SCHOOL OPENINGS EXPECTEDThe Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) said Wednesday that guidelines will soon be shared with school districts regarding opening school buildings for the fall semester. Indications are that local school districts will be allowed to open schools for students’ return in the fall, but must follow specific health and safety guidelines. State Superintendent Carmen Ayala stated that local school boards must have flexibility within the requirements of how to open schools in their communities. This is a message that many school board members and the IASB has been communicating to the governor and ISBE.
Specifics of the guidance and exactly when the announcement will be made is uncertain. This information could be delivered to school districts as early as today or tomorrow, but likely by the end of next week at the latest.
Governor JB Pritzker has begun taking action on legislation from the special session convened by the Illinois General Assembly in May. The state Fiscal Year 2021 budget has been signed into law.
GOVERNOR TAKES ACTION ON SPECIAL SESSION LEGISLATION
SB 264 (Harmon, D-Oak Park) contains the FY ’21 state budget. For elementary and secondary education, it holds all school districts harmless to FY ’20 distribution levels and adds no new tier money. New funding will be distributed in a manner that even further prioritizes low-wealth school districts. Budget line items are also held flat for Early Childhood Education Grants, Career and Technical Education Grants, and Mandated Categorical Grants. The bill is now Public Act 101-0637, effective June 10, 2020.
HB 357 (Harris, D-Chicago) is the Budget Implementation Bill (BIMP). It grants the governor additional authority to move funds from one budget line item to another throughout the budget. It also contains a provision for a potential sweep of $20 million from the School Infrastructure Fund to the General Revenue Fund. Though the legislature gives the governor this new flexibility, there is also a provision to create a Legislative Oversight Committee to monitor his fiscal maneuvers in this regard. The bill is now Public Act 101-0636, effective June 10, 2020.
The following additional bills have also been signed into law:
HB 2096 (Willis, D-Northlake) is the local government omnibus bill. The legislation contains numerous provisions addressing issues local governments at all levels have faced due to the pandemic. For school districts, the legislation contains a provision that allows bids for contracts over $25,000 for construction purposes to be “communicated, accepted, or opened electronically.” The bill is now Public Act 101-0632, effective June 5, 2020.
HB 2455 (Martwick, D-Chicago) contains language for the omnibus labor/management bill and includes a provision to make educational support personnel in school districts eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits over summer break. Details of the provisions were included in IASB Legislative Report 101-18. The bill is now Public Act 101-0633, effective June 5, 2020.
SB 685 (Harmon) allows the chief county assessment officer to approve certain homestead exemptions without application for the 2020 tax year with certain criteria. It also allows county boards, except Cook, to waive penalties and interest on delinquent property tax payments and extends deadlines for scavenger sales and tax sales during 2020. The bill is now Public Act 101-0635, effective June 5, 2020.
SB 1863 (Link, D-Vernon Hills) makes numerous changes in the Election Code. Among the provisions, it makes Election Day this November only an official state holiday, so schools must be closed. It also allows persons 16-years or older to serve as election judges. The bill was sent to the governor on June 12th. The bill is now Public Act 101-0642, effective June 16, 2020.
SB 2099 (Harmon) creates the CURE (Cornonavirus Urgent Remediation Emergency) Borrowing Act and Fund to provide the State with needed flexibility to borrow with enhanced efficiency in urgent circumstances. It authorizes the governor with approval of the comptroller and treasurer to borrow up to $5 billion in funds from certain sources and limits the borrowing to five areas including providing funds for increased costs of State government resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak. The bill sets aside the Procurement Code requirements for selection of purchaser of bond certificates sold under this authority and allows certificates to be sold on a negotiated basis directed by the governor. The bill is now Public Act 101-0630, effective May 29, 2020.
SB 2135 (Link) codifies the governor’s Executive Order regarding holding meetings of public bodies remotely. In times of emergency declared by the Governor, school boards may conduct meetings without having school board members physically present at the meeting sight. Members of the public who are present at the meeting sight must be able to hear all discussion, testimony and votes. The bill also directs the Broadband Advisory Council to study the provision of free access to broadband service by all residents of the state. Finally, the bill suspends the deadline for filing statements of economic interest until August 1, 2020. The bill is now Public Act 101-0640, effective June 12, 2020.
The following bills are still pending the governor’s action:
SB 1569 (Bertino-Tarrant, D-Plainfield)) codifies many of the provisions previously contained in Executive Orders by the governor, and guidance documents and emergency rules promulgated by the Illinois state Board of Education (ISBE). Details of the original amendment were listed in IASB Legislative Report 101-17. The bill was sent to the governor on June 15th.
SB 1857 (Martinez, D-Chicago) contains a provision to extend the expiration date for the ability of retired teachers who receive Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) benefits to substitute teach in a school for up to 120 days per school year without jeopardizing their pension benefits. Without the enactment of such legislation, the number of days such a retiree could work would be 100 days beginning July 1, 2020. The additional 20 days assists school districts in finding qualified substitute teachers during this teacher shortage. The bill extends the expiration date until June 30, 2021. The bill was sent to the governor on June 15th.
SB 1937 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill) extends the debt limits for the following school districts: Komarek SD 94, Berkeley SD 87, Schiller Park SD 81, Greenview Community Unit School District 200, Williamsville Community Unit School District 15, Elmwood Park Community Unit School District 401, and Maroa-Forsyth Community Unit School District 2. The bill has not yet been sent to the governor.