IASB Legislative Report 103-37

Delivered via email: May 24, 2024

Budget and Adjournment

While adjournment was scheduled for May 24, the General Assembly will be working into the holiday weekend to deliver the budget this year. Your Governmental Relations team has been on watch 24/7 for quick-moving bills, last-minute filings, complete gut- and-replace amendments, and old topics being revived, all of which occurred this final week. There has been late night floor and committee action, and we expect that to continue through the weekend.

This week’s overriding topic of discussion was the release of the state budget, how closely it would mirror the Governor’s proposed budget, and whether funding for individual legislator initiatives would be included (i.e. Healthy School Meals for All, New Arrivals funding, and Student Teacher Stipends), as well as whether the General Assembly would be willing to enact the revenue enhancements needed to provide a balanced budget. We anticipate the budget to be released today (May 24) and, assuming a budget is passed over the weekend, a full report will be provided early next week.

Hot Bills/Topics Discussed in Committees this Week

1. SB457 (Villivalam/Olickal) Religious Meals
SB457 is subject to appropriation and requires the State Board of Education to enter into a master contract to provide religious meals to school districts. This bill passed last session but was then vetoed by the Governor. Over the fall, the Governor’s concerns were addressed and the bill was reintroduced during veto and passed the Senate, but stalled in the House. With little discussion on this issue over the past several months, the topic was suddenly revived when SB457 was assigned to House committee this past Wednesday (May 22) at 9:30 p.m. Members proceeded with an intense debate regarding costs to the state (estimated by ISBE to be between $18-$60 million), the need to prioritize state funding, and potential constitutional implications. It is important to note that the bill provides that a school district may not be charged more than the federal free rate of reimbursement for any meal offered under a statewide contract. The Governor's office and ISBE are now in support of the bill, which passed committee with a 6-2 vote.

2. HB341 SA1 (Yednock/Villa) Retirement Plans
This bill was originally filed by Senator Villa as SB2568 which has not passed out of the Senate at this point. This bill makes substantial changes to the types of 403(b) products that districts offer to their employees and how the determination is made to offer those products. IASB opposed the most recent Amendment 6 to SB2568 given the significant legal and liability concerns. On Thursday (May 23), HB341, a bill that has already passed out of the House and better positioned to move at this late point in session, was gutted and replaced with the SB2568, SA6 language. At the time of this reporting, this bill has not yet been called on the Senate floor and IASB has been working hard to share our concerns with legislators.

3. Subject Matter Hearing: HB4918 (Evans) Transport Transit Fees for Chicago Public Schools (CPS)
This bill addresses transportation issues for students who attend CPS. The sponsor noted that CPS relies heavily on the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) which causes parents to incur fees to send their children to school while all other districts in the state are subject to other transportation laws. The sponsor is looking for parity throughout the state. Currently, the State Board of Education (ISBE) reimburses public school districts 81% of their transportation costs and CPS does not receive that reimbursement. Estimated costs to CPS for HB4918 are $10 to 14 million, which would serve 48,000 to 50,000 students that live at least 1.5 miles from the school they attend. While a vote on this bill was not taken given that it was subject matter only, this conversation will likely continue.

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, please 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. 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.

Resolutions Passed Out of Committees

SJR49 (Lightford/Stuart) School Caseload Review
This resolution is an IEA initiative and directs the Professional Review Panel and ISBE to conduct the analysis and financial modeling required to evaluate the implications of implementing the recommended maximum caseloads for social workers, school psychologists, school counselors, school nurses, and speech-language pathologists working in schools. The resolution was adopted with a unanimous roll call vote.

HJR73 (Mussman) Denial of ROE 4 Waiver Request
The Regional Office of Education 4 (Boone and Winnebago Counties) filed for a waiver to allow it to extend service through alternative school programs for kindergarten to third graders. Currently, statute allows students in grades 4 and 5 to receive services through the Alternative Learning Opportunities Program (ALOP) in their home district (push-in model). The waiver filed would allow students in K-5 to be sent to their ALOP for services (pull-out model). ISBE testified in committee that it is best practice to push-in for students in K-5 versus pull-out. Exclusionary discipline should be deterred when possible and any changes to this should be done through legislation, not through the waiver process.

In committee, members noted how the alternative education programs are incredibly beneficial for students and that student discipline issues are on the rise. Some legislators suggested amending the statute to allow the push-in model for students in K-5 (instead of only 4-5). The resolution was adopted with a 9-3 roll call vote.

Bills Passed on Concurrence

Bills that pass on concurrence were introduced in one chamber and amended in the opposite chamber. The bills are then required to return to their originating chamber on concurrence. Below is a list of bills that have gone through this process.

HB3446 SA1 (Davis/Bennett) Evidence-Based Funding Reporting
The amendment requires ISBE to create an EBF Spending Plan tool to post districts’ spending plans on the ISBE website. ISBE is currently building a dashboard to house this information and other valuable information to increase transparency. The motion to concur passed with a 12-0 vote.

HB4219 SCA1 (Yang Rohr/Ellman) Fentanyl Education
This mandate extends fentanyl education to grades 6-8 (currently only required in grades 9-12) but ensures that the materials are age appropriate. Once in the Senate, the bill was amended to allow a school social worker or law enforcement officer to teach the instruction, study, and discussion on the dangers of fentanyl. The motion to concur passed committee with a unanimous vote.

SB3473 HA2 (Sims/Smith) Diabetes Information
The amendment requires school districts to post Type 1 diabetes information on their website versus making the informational materials available to a parent or guardian when the student is first enrolled. The bill passed on concurrence on an agreed bill list.

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 a school district 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 both chambers unanimously.

SB3768 HA2 (Glowiak Hilton/Costa Howard) Special Education Deaf Blind
The Phillip J. Rock Center (named after a former Senate President who supported this school) has been educating students who are deaf and blind since the 1970s. This bill expands services to those who are hearing impaired or visually impaired. House Amendment 1 ensures that deaf and blind students receive services before those who are deaf or blind. The bill passed on concurrence on an agreed bill list.

Bills Passed Out of Committee

HB299 HA4 (Yang Rohr) Artificial Intelligence Bullying
The bill requires, that by the 2025-2026 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 amendment addresses concerns previously expressed with minor changes. The bill passed committee unanimously.

HB5430 HA1 (Davis) Resident District
The original bill was intended to ensure payment to a specific Illinois facility that provides medical and education services for students with medically complex issues. While the amendment addressed ISBE’s reimbursement concerns, it greatly expanded the legislation to include all special education facilities and created new concerns with how students should be provided services and educated when their parent moves out of state. IASB Governmental Relations staff look forward to continuing the conversation. The bill passed committee with a 9-3 vote.

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

HB5057 (Loughran Cappel) Content Area Test
This legislation makes changes to how ISBE administers the content area test to teacher candidates. Under this amendment, ISBE may create new scoring rules so that teacher candidates can retake sections of the test instead of the entire test. The content area test has been identified as a barrier to teaching and this should help with the teacher vacancy issue. The amendment also allows teacher candidates to student teach before passing the test (currently, they must first pass the content test before student teaching). HB5057 passed out of the Senate Education Committee on an Agreed Bill list.

SB125 HA1 HFA2 (Ventura/Vella) Secretary of State Omnibus Bill
House Amendment 1 to SB125 is a complete gut-and-replace amendment from the Secretary of State and is its annual omnibus bill. This bill is important to our members due to the mandate requiring driver’s education courses to include information pertaining to the best practices for safety sharing the roadway with bicyclists and pedestrians, beginning with the 2024-2025 school year. The bill passed committee with an 8-4 vote.

SB458 (Loughran Cappel) Isolated Time Out, Physical Restraint
This bill attempts to reduce the use of physical restraint and isolated time out within school districts. It would extend the requirement for schools to submit reduction plans and yearly progress reports for the use of physical restraint and isolated time out to the State Board of Education for a period of seven years. SB458 passed out of the Senate Education Committee on an Agreed Bill list.

SB1400 (Lightford/West) 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 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 committee with a unanimous vote.