IASB Legislative Report 103-29

Delivered via email: March 22, 2024

CPS Elected School Board, House Working Group to Address Teacher Vacancies, and Special Education Funding  

This week, history was made when Governor JB Pritzker signed SB15 (Harmon) into law. Public Act 103-0584 outlines the transition to the first fully elected Chicago Public Schools School Board. Initially, 10 members will be elected in 2024 while the remaining 10 members and the board chair will be appointed by the mayor. Starting in 2026, all 20 members will be elected from subdistricts with the board president being selected city wide. The legislation did not pass through the General Assembly without opposition, which mainly consisted of those vying for a completely elected school board in 2024.
Also this week, House Speaker Chris Welch announced the formation of a new House working group that will study the persistent teacher shortage. The Teacher Shortage Working Group will focus on devising strategies to recruit and retain qualified educators to fill vacancies across the state. The urgency to tackle the issue has been reiterated many times throughout the General Assembly this session and IASB looks forward to working with legislators on this vital topic. Given that several bills have been introduced as individual ways to address the teacher shortage, this is an effort to address these bills holistically. Although we do not yet know all issues that the Working Group will take up, we expect the topics to include teacher planning time (SB2721 (Stuart)) and  bills that address the content test as a barrier to obtaining a teaching license (HB5057 (Scherer); HB1745 (Hammond); HB5393 (Mayfield)).
The House and Senate are on break the week of March 25. The House returns April 2 with a deadline of April 5 to move bills out of committee. The Senate will return April 9 to continue the work of the people.  

Hot Bills/Topics Discussed in Committees this Week  


1. Senate Appropriations – Education held subject matter hearings on the following bills:

SB2209 Child Hunger-Breakfast Grant (Belt)  
This bill provides that, subject to appropriation, the State Board of Education shall award grants of up to $7,500 per school site on a competitive basis to eligible school districts, regional superintendents of schools, or entities approved by the State Board of Education for nonrecurring expenses incurred in initiating a school breakfast after the bell program. Districts that apply will opt in to the program for at least three years. The sponsor noted that kids who eat breakfast take fewer trips to the school nurse, focus better in class, and miss fewer days of school, plus test scores increase. Offering all students breakfast also removes negative stigmas and greatly impacts low-income and poverty districts.  

SB2222 School Social Worker Grant (Fine)  
SB2222 provides that, beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, all internships for school social workers must be paid internships. This bill would establish a grant program, subject to appropriation, through the Illinois State Board of Education that would pay social worker interns at least $15 per hour or $15,000 per year. ISBE would be responsible for rulemaking to specify how the program would operate. Social workers are required to have 600 hours of field work and not being paid during that time is a barrier to the profession. The sponsor believes this initiative is highly important to support the mental health and safety of all students and school personnel. Legislators suggested combining this initiative with the bills providing for student teacher stipends. The committee would like to explore this option more.  
SB3247 Healthy Meals for All (Ellman)  
This bill appropriates $209,000,000 from the General Revenue Fund to the State Board of Education to fully fund the Healthy School Meals for All Program. The framework for this program was signed into law last year, but without any appropriation attached to it. The sponsor believes that it is now time to appropriate funding to support the program. Offering meals for all students will remove stigmas for those that do not have access to healthy meals, ensuring all students are ready to learn. This program would cover costs associated with this program.  

2. SB3606 (Loughran-Cappel) Special Education Separate School

This bill aligns with the recommendations from the High-Cost Special Education Committee, which are outlined in the final report. School districts currently have the responsibility, under the federal Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA), to provide special education services to students. The sponsor believes that SB3606 is a more equitable way to fund an important group of students who receive intensive special education services. SB3606 would allow the funding to follow the child who needs a separate day school option instead of funding a private day school program at one level and a public day school at a different level. Advocates noted that because of this funding inequity, there has been a significant increase in school districts sending students with disabilities to private day placements. This bill will help equalize the funding between private special education day placements and public day school options. Concerns from opposition include the possibility of reduced proration, which could affect lower-funded districts. The sponsor noted that she is working separately on an appropriations bill to address this. It would take an additional allocation of $120 million for this line item to fully fund and reimburse these special education placements at 100%. The bill passed out of committee with a 13-1 vote with conversations continuing, which include appropriations.

3. Tier 2 Pensions Subject Matter Hearing

HB4508 and HB5449 were heard in subject matter hearing. The major concerns addressed for Tier 2 employees are the years of service needed prior to retirement as well as competition with federal government retirement offerings which are more lucrative than Illinois’ current Tier 2 system. This disparity in pensions is affecting state employers, as employees are leaving the Illinois pension system in order to secure better retirement benefits.  

Advocacy Ambassador Update

The IASB Governmental Relations team would love you to join the Advocacy Ambassador program. The program is designed to build relationships between school board members and state and federal legislators. Since our initial meeting in February, the group has grown from 35 to over 95, but there is always room for more. No experience is required – all you need is your voice, your passion, and commitment to making a difference. Sign up today!

For current Advocacy Ambassadors, the next regular meeting will be held virtually on  Friday , April 5 at noon. We will provide a current legislative update and discuss our list of Hot Bills being tracked. In addition, on Wednesday, March 27, at noon, we will have a conversation regarding pensions in a 30-minute discussion. Be on the lookout for advocacy opportunities this spring and contact IASB staff with any questions. The Governmental Relations team is honored to serve our members this year and looks forward to a successful session!  

House Bills that Passed out of Committee this Week

House Elementary & Secondary Education: School Curriculum & Policies Committee

HB4219 (Yang Rohr) Fentanyl Education
This bill would add a unit of instruction on the dangers of fentanyl to the state-required health courses for grades 6 through 8. Previous legislation focused only on grades 9-12. This bill expands it to middle school students. The sponsor discussed an amendment that she is working on that would allow school boards flexibility to decide the length of time a unit requires and ensure that the instruction is age-appropriate. The bill passed out of Committee with a vote of 13-0.
HB4896 (Mussman) Sexual Misconduct
This is a trailer bill to Faith’s Law which was passed in 2021 and requires school districts to obtain certain employment information on accusations of sexual misconduct from previous employers. This bill clarifies some of the information that school districts need to obtain and better facilitates school districts obtaining this employment information for substitute teachers who often work with multiple school districts. The bill will be held on 2nd Reading for an additional amendment. With a vote of 15-0, the bill passed out of Committee.  
HB4895 (Yang Rohr) Climate Change Education
This bill would require climate change to be taught in certain science classes. The sponsor will be amending the bill to reflect how this bill aligns with the current science standards which already address the topic of climate change. The amendment will also include, subject to appropriation, a requirement that ISBE prepare materials for school districts on this topic. With a vote of 10-5, the bill passed out of committee but will return with an amendment.  
HB5184 (Davidsmeyer) Bullying Prevention-Age
This bill would make sure that anti-bullying policies are age appropriate. The bill passed out of committee with a vote of 14-0 and will be favorably reported to the House Floor.  
HB5250 (Ammons) Accelerated Placement
This bill is similar to SB3553 previously passed by Senator Lightford in the Senate Education Committee. The bill concerns accelerated placement and provides that a school district's accelerated placement policy shall cover a student who exceeds state standards in specified coursework (instead of meets or exceeds state standards in specified coursework). In addition, school policy shall provide the option for a student to enroll in the next most rigorous level of advanced coursework offered if the student meets Standards in English language arts, mathematics, or science on a state assessment. The bill passed out of committee with a vote of 13-0 and will be favorably reported the House Floor.  
HB5434 (Davis) Enrollment Confirmation
This bill would require a student to remain on attendance rolls of a school district until a cause for disenrollment is given and confirmed with documentation. IASB is working with the sponsor on an amendment to ensure that this bill aligns with current board policies and the sponsor committed to coming back with an amendment. The bill passed out of committee with a vote of 15-0.  
HR599 (Lilly) IHSA – Eliminate Transfer Limits
This resolution urges the elimination of Illinois High School Association’s discretionary power to restrict student athletes from transferring schools and urges the streamlining of the transfer process and reducing unnecessary delays, while giving athletes the support they need during a transfer. The resolution was adopted with a vote of 15-0 and will be favorably reported to the House Floor.  

House Elementary & Secondary Education: Administration, Licensing & Charter Schools Committee

HB1745 (Hammond)
This bill is one of three bills this legislative session that deal with the content test required under the educator licensing provisions. This bill creates a two-year provisional license affording a prospective teacher more time to pass the content area test. The bill passed out of committee with a vote of 9-0 and will be favorably reported to the House Floor.  
HB4672 (Mussman) Speech-Language Pathologist
This bill was brought to Representative Mussman by the Illinois Speech Pathologist Association to address barriers to the profession by reducing testing requirements needed for licensure. This legislation allows an individual applying for a non-teaching speech-language pathologist license to pass the national Praxis test in lieu of passing the content area knowledge test. The sponsor will be bringing the bill back with an amendment. With a vote of 8-0, the bill passed out of Committee.  
HB4955 (Scherer) State Assessments
As written, this bill provides that the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) may not provide funding for any standardized assessment or test any students in grades kindergarten through sixth beyond the requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. The sponsor is working on an amendment that would clarify the sponsor’s intent that using state funds for universal screeners, diagnostic tests and other locally-determined assessments is still allowable. The sponsor will bring the bill back with ISBE’s amendment. With a vote of 9-0, the bill passed out of committee.
HB5057 (Scherer) Primary School Teacher Test
This is another bill that deals with the educator license content test. This bill will separate out from the test the following subjects: advanced math, physical education, and music. The sponsor noted that these are the topics with which teacher applicants often struggle and create barriers to obtaining a teaching license. ISBE, which is currently opposed to the bill, mentioned that it is  discussing the option of making the content area test cumulative, meaning that if a teacher falls short in one of these three areas, the teacher will be able to retake the test and ISBE will take the cumulative score instead of the individual having to pass the entire test all at once. ISBE will convene a larger group meeting to discuss practical solutions to the hindrances of the content area test. The sponsor agreed to come back with an amendment. The bill passed with a vote of 9-0.
HB5364 (Benton) Military Independents
This bill would allow a student who is a child of United States military personnel to be educated through a remote learning program created by a school district during the time they are in temporary housing, prior to living in the school district. In addition, a student shall be allowed to remain enrolled in the school district and be educated through a remote learning program for a period of time after they leave the school and until enrolled in another school district. There were many concerns expressed about how this would be implemented by  school districts given the challenges of creating remote programs on an individual basis. The sponsor agreed to convene a working group of IASB Governmental Relations, Blue Star Families, and other interested parties. The sponsor agreed to come back with an amendment. With a vote of 9-0, the bill passed.

Other House Bills that Passed Out of Committee this Week

HB4196 (Moylan) Electric School Buses  
This bill requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a Fleet Electrification Incentive Program to provide fleet owners and operators in the state grants to promote the use of eligible electric vehicles, which includes school buses. The bill outlines the criteria needed to qualify. The bill passed out of the Energy & Environment Committee with a 15-9 vote.  
HB4441 (Didech) Local & Schools Contracting Goals  
This bill provides that the board of trustees and corporate authorities of the various local governmental entities referenced, which includes school boards, may establish aspirational goals for the awarding of contracts to minority-owned businesses, women-owned businesses, and businesses owned by persons with disabilities. This measure supports IASB Position Statement 4.04 Business Enterprises-Minority Owned. House Committee Amendment 1 passed committee with a 5-3 vote.
HB4562 (Lilly) Cancer Genetic Testing
This bill provides that health insurance that provides coverage for hospital or medical treatment that is amended, delivered, issued, or renewed after January 1, 2025 shall provide coverage, without imposing any cost-sharing requirement, for clinical genetic testing for an inherited gene mutation for individuals with a personal or family history of cancer. The bill passed through Insurance Committee 9-4.
HB5572 (Evans) Employee Freedom of Speech
This bill provides that an employer or the employer's agent, representative, or designee may not discharge, discipline, or otherwise penalize, threaten to discharge, discipline, or otherwise penalize, or take any adverse employment action against an employee for described reasons. The bill passed through Labor & Commerce Committee with an 18-6 vote.

HB5602 (Mason) State Holiday John Lewis Day  
Passing the State Government Administration Committee with a unanimous vote, this bill designates February 21 as John Lewis Day to be observed throughout the state as a day to remember the accomplishments of the civil rights icon to honor his legacy and dedication to public service. This is a commemorative holiday only and will not impact school calendars.

Senate Bills that Passed out of Committee this Week  

Three bills that passed out of Committee previously, SB2824 (McClure) Non-Resident Pupil Waiver, SB3553 (Lightford) Accelerated Placement, and SB3768 (Glowiak-Hilton) Special Education Deafblind, all had minor amendments filed that passed out of the Committee unanimously this week on an agreed bill list.