The Illinois General Assembly was busy acting upon hundreds of bills over the Memorial Day weekend and into the early morning hours on Monday, May 31. The Senate went one day into overtime before adjourning the Spring Legislative Session on Tuesday, June 1. Several controversial issues were debated, including redistricting, an omnibus energy bill, and ethics reform. Despite controversy and the COVID-19 Pandemic, many bills impacting education passed both chambers. Please join us June 23 for an in-depth “Legislative Session Recap” webinar.
General Assembly Wraps Up 2021 Spring Legislative Session
Here are some highlights regarding legislative initiatives that have been sent to the governor for approval.
FY2022 BudgetIn the early morning hours of Tuesday, June 1, the Illinois General Assembly passed a budget deal. Illinois is in a better financial position with federal emergency funding than forecast earlier in the year. The $42.3 billion spending plan includes a $350 million increase in Evidence-Based Funding for K-12 schools. To ensure a balanced budget, the General Assembly closed several corporate tax loopholes that will generate over $600 million in revenue annually. The budget passed the House on a 72-44 vote, just shy of midnight on May 31. As previously reported, Governor J.B. Pritzker had proposed flat funding for the second year in a row. In early May, the governor revised his $41.6 billion budget proposal to include the additional $350 million for education.
PandemicSchools and communities have undoubtedly suffered greatly navigating the 18-months-and-counting pandemic. Many legislative attempts were made to put supports, procedures, and protections in place in the event the COVID-19 pandemic escalates or another pandemic arises. The most comprehensive attempt at addressing pandemic issues for schools, HB 2789 (Mussman, D-Schaumburg) stalled in the final hours on the last session day. Challenges late in the session arose when provisions included revoking school district recognition for non-compliance with a gubernatorial disaster declaration and issues such as labor walk outs for unsafe conditions and educator/administrator sanctions.
Social EquityEfforts around social equity were a theme this spring. Many initiatives from the January 101st Lame Duck session needed fine-tuning and were addressed in SB 820 (Lightford, D-Hillside). This bill also extends early childhood intervention services for Pre-K children having an Individualized Education Program (IEP) reaching their third birthday, until preschool enrollment.
Several new directives for schools were added addressing ethnic and religious accommodations, learning and policy adoptions for school students, including HB 120 (Guzzardi, D-Chicago) requiring team uniform modifications for cultural values, religion, or modesty preferences; HB 160 (Didech, Buffalo Grove) requiring schools to excuse students from P.E. when participating in religious fasting; HB 376 (Gong-Gershowitz) requires a unit of instruction on Asian American history; and SB 817 (Simmons, D-Chicago) prohibiting school districts to have policies that apply to hairstyles associated with race, ethnicity, or hair texture.
In addition to the November 8, 2022 election day school holiday that was referenced in IASB Legislative Report 102-19, three other school holiday bills passed. Two identical bills, HB 3922 (Ford, D-Chicago) and SB 1965 (Lightford, D-Hillside), which establish June 19 of each year as a state and school holiday celebrating Juneteenth National Freedom Day, were approved. SB 564 (Holmes, D-Aurora) adds January 17, Muhammad Ali’s birthday, to the School Code commemorative holidays and adds a curricular mandate to the history curriculum to include contributions made to society by Americans of different faith practices.
Student Mental HealthThere has been much discussion and action on the part of schools and health care advocates about trauma-informed practices, mental health supports, and students with special needs. Several bills have been sent to the governor that address health issues for students and staff. Most notable are SB 2109 (Villa, D-West Chicago) requiring school board members to be trained on trauma-informed practices for students and staff; HB 476 (LaPointe, D-Chicago) and SB 1577 (Martwick, D-Chicago) allowing student excused absences for mental or behavioral health; and HB 212 (Conroy, D-Villa Park) requiring the State’s Children’s Mental Health Plan to recommend that all youth receive mental health education and care in school.
Special Education SupportsThe impact of remote learning and supports for special education students was overwhelming for the 2020-2021 school year. Lawmakers addressed these issues in legislation that provided additional time in-person for students transitioning out of the secondary education setting through the 2021-2022 school year in SB 2748 (Ness, D-Carpentersville), and HB 40 (Hurley, D-Chicago) making permanent and extending special education students aging out of the secondary education setting, finishing the school year past their 22nd birthday.
Since 2019, stakeholders and lawmakers have been working to address the issues uncovered in the an exposé report on physical restraint and seclusion in special education practices. In addition to Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) guidance and rulemaking, HB 219 (Carroll, D-Northbrook) limits time-out and restraint and prohibits use of certain restraints after the 2021-2022 school year. The bill also creates a grant program for schools to implement school-wide behavioral interventions.
New School RequirementsNumerous new mandates were sent to the governor that may overburden our schools if they all become law. Most notable is the initiative addressing school unstructured play. HB 654 (Peters, D-Chicago) would set a specific number of minutes that children must have playtime. Other significant requirements are found in
- SB 818 (Villivalam, D-Chicago) requiring kindergarten through 12th grade comprehensive sex and health education;
- HB 3223 (Moeller, D-Elgin) requiring numerous supports and accommodations for pregnant and parenting students, in addition to students who are victims of violence; and
- HB 156 (Hernandez, D-Aurora) requiring school districts to supply all 4-th through 12th grade bathrooms with menstrual hygiene products.
YOUR Participation is Critical!The Illinois General Assembly Spring legislative session is not the only important policy discussion happening in our state. School boards across Illinois are discussing proposed resolutions for the IASB resolutions process. One of the most important functions of the Illinois Association of School Boards is the resolutions process that sets the policy agenda for IASB and can determine the organizational structure of the Association. We encourage districts to submit a resolution before the June 23 deadline. To learn more about the resolutions process, the resolutions webinar accessible on the members-only section of the IASB website. The IASB resolutions form can be downloaded to make your district’s participation in the resolutions process simple.
Over 150 bills that affect our schools have been sent to the governor for action. We’ll be providing a more comprehensive look at those initiatives in the IASB “Digest of Bills Passed.” Look for the “Digest” link in your email at the end of June. IASB needs your help to contact the governor in support or opposition of bills impacting our schools! This resource is the best way to review and share the impact on your schools.