IASB Legislative Report 103-36

Delivered via email: May 17, 2024

Third Reading Deadline

This week brings us to the last of the pressing deadlines before final adjournment, which is currently scheduled for May 24. However, it is quite possible that session may continue beyond that date. This deadline means that all bills are supposed to be through third reading in the opposite chamber by today, Friday, May 17. In an effort to accomplish this, multiple committee meetings were scheduled this week to get those bills and amendments out of committee and to the floor of the second chamber. Once passed out of the second chamber, they will be sent to the governor for his signature, or if amended, back to the originating chamber for concurrence.

While multiple committees were scheduled, action was light this week with only a handful of bills being heard. However, some of the bills noted in the hot bills section below had substantial discussion and debate among legislators.

Next week both chambers are in on Monday, when we anticipate the release of the budget. The House was scheduled to be in session over the weekend, but has adjourned until Monday at noon.

Hot Bills/Topics Discussed in Committees this Week

1. SB1400 SA3 (Lightford) Student Discipline
SB1400 has been an extensively negotiated bill between school management and the teachers’ unions. The original intent of the bill was to address needed changes to Section 10-22.6 of the School Code which deals with student discipline. Given the significant opposition to earlier versions of SB1400 by a coalition led by Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE), IASB and other advocate groups  agreed to scale back the bill and attempt to first start addressing the student and staff safety concerns around student discipline by requiring ISBE to issue guidance on various topics. Senate Amendment 3 does just that and directs ISBE to create model guidance for the development of reciprocal reporting systems, school bus safety procedures, evidence-based interventions, and re-engagement of students that received exclusionary discipline to provide a more uniform approach to student discipline.

The bill passed out of committee unanimously with much support from committee members.

2. HB299 HA2 (Yang Rohr) Artificial Intelligence Bullying
This bill was filed just this week and added to a shell bill, leaving little time for negotiations. The bill requires, that by the 2025-26 school year, “cyberbullying” must also include “bullying through the distribution by electronic means or the posting of a digital replica of an individual who is engaging in an activity in which the depicted individual did not engage in, including, but not limited to, sexually explicit digitized depictions of the individual." The bill also adds definitions including artificial intelligence, digital replica, and generative artificial intelligence.

The sponsor did note the urgency of addressing this issue given the serious impact of these AI images on other students.

Concerns with the bill included definitions being too descriptive and needing to be broadened, noting that districts may not have the ability to determine where the image originated on social media platforms, school districts needing guidance on this issue, and wanting additional discussion on disciplinary consequences for these actions and the serious impact to the victim. The bill passed out of committee with a unanimous 14-0 vote.

3. SB2568 (Villa) 403(b) Plans
This bill puts new parameters in place for 403(b) plans, both on the types of 403(b) plans that can be offered and that they must be mutually agreed about by the school district and collective bargaining units. While the bill would allow employees to maintain 403(b) plans to which they are currently contributing, any employees not currently contributing to a 403(b) plan would only be able to choose from 403(b) plans that meet these new requirements. The new parameters are intended to narrow down available options to more fiscally prudent ones. However, up to 90% of current 403(b) options would be eliminated under this bill, significantly reducing employee choice. IASB, along with IASA and Illinois ASBO opposed the bill and testified to the significant liability and legal concerns with the legislation. The bill passed out of committee on partisan lines, although some legislators indicated that they were only voting to get it out of committee. IASB will continue to work on this bill given the significant outstanding concerns.

4. HJR71 (West) Native American Mascots
This Joint Resolution is in response to HB5617 which was a bill filed earlier this session by Representative West with the intention of eliminating the use of Native American Mascots in schools. Instead of moving HB5617 this session, Representative West filed HJR71 in an effort to collect more data on this issue. Although nonbinding, HJR71 urges the State Board of Education to conduct a study on the number of schools, school districts, and other public school associations across the state that currently utilize Native American names, logos, and mascots. One question raised through conversations on the topic has been the cost for school districts to change their mascot. The Illinois State Board of Education will send out a short, voluntary survey to school districts asking what their mascots are and what the cost would be to replace the mascots if needed.

Discussion in committee included the concerns over how school districts will decide whether they need to change their mascots and who makes that final determination. Some legislators expressed concern over ensuring all Native American voices throughout Illinois are heard on this issue. The resolution passed committee with a 9-4 vote.

Advocacy Opportunities

Advocacy Ambassadors
The next Advocacy Ambassadors Zoom meeting will take place Friday, June 7 at noon for our regular hour-long monthly meeting with a focus on the state budget. If you wish to attend this meeting, sign up as an Advocacy Ambassador and register for the event through the IASB Events Calendar.

COSSBA Advocacy Conference  
Registration for the Consortium of State School Boards Association (COSSBA) Federal Advocacy Conference is now open. The Conference is scheduled to be held September 8-10, 2024, in Washington, D.C. and the IASB team will be attending and helping to facilitate the event. We hope to see you there. Please note that the number of attendees is capped and the conference did meet capacity last year. Consider registering early if you are interested.

Resolution that Passed out of Committee

HR734 (Weaver) State Color
The Resolution directs the Illinois State Board of Education's Student Advisory Council to update the Illinois State Legislature on the development of a recommendation for a state color, including insights gained from student engagement activities and any lessons they learned as part of the process. The resolution passed committee 8-0.

House and Senate Bills that have passed out of Committee in the Opposite Chamber

HB3446 SFA1 (Davis/Bennett) Evidence-Based Funding Spending Plans
SFA1 requires that instead of school districts having to post their Spending Plan information on the Illinois Report Card, the information will be posted on the State Board of Education website. The website and tool to report the information will be available by December 31, 2025. The bill passed unanimously on an agreed bill list.

SB3349 HA1 (Yang Rohr/Ellman) Global Scholar Certificate
HA1 to the bill directs ISBE to develop rules to allow for school districts to offer an online global scholar certification if the school district does not offer a Global Scholar Certificate before the 2026-2027   school year. There was some debate in committee on this bill surrounding the administration of the online certificate as well as cost. The sponsor emphasized that the impact on districts should be minimal. The bill passed committee 9-4.

SB463 HA2 (Hirschauer/Cappel) Career and Technical Education (CTE) Tenure
This bill reinstates tenure for CTE teachers which was inadvertently removed due to language added to another piece of legislation last year. The bill also extends the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC)   which is a committee charged with studying educator evaluations. The bill passed committee 7-0.

HB5407 (Mussman/Johnson) Education of Homeless Children State Grant
This bill expands the way state funds can be allocated to support schools that serve homeless students. The Education of Homeless Children and Youth State Grant Program will provide grants to school districts who apply, based on the percentage of homelessness in those districts. Grant funds would be expanded for emergency housing, transportation, and other activities. If passed, the line item would need to be funded annually to continue. The bill passed committee with a 10-3-1 vote.

HB305 SA1 (Katz-Muhl/Harris) Cook County Township Treasurer and Trustees  
SA1 to HB305 applies only to Cook County school districts under the jurisdiction and control of a township treasurer. Currently, school districts can only withdraw from a township treasurer by legislative action. This bill provides for local control and would allow school districts in Cook County, by resolution adopted by at least two-thirds of a school board, to withdraw from the jurisdiction and authority of the township treasurer and elect or appoint its own treasurer. Additionally, trustees for township treasurers will no longer be elected. Instead, each school board will appoint a school board member or school employee to serve as trustee. This bill passed unanimously on an agreed bill list.