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ASK THE STAFF

November/December 2011

IASB plans for state-mandated training

The question for this issue is answered by Angie Peifer, IASB associate executive director/board development, and Melinda Selbee IASB general counsel.

Question : Our district has a mix of veteran board members and new board members elected last April, and we will need to fill a vacancy by appointment within the month. Which board members need to have the new mandatory training and by when? What will the training cover and where can they get it?

Answer : Mandatory board member training, now required by Public Act 97-0008, is to cover education and labor law, financial oversight and accountability, and fiduciary responsibilities of a school board member. The training is to be a minimum of four hours, and should not be confused with the new Open Meetings Act training requirement, which will be explained in the next section of this answer.

The mandatory board member training requirement applies to all school board members who are elected after June 13, 2011, or who are appointed after that date to fill a vacancy of at least one year’s duration. Those board members must complete the training “within a year after [June 13, 2011] or the first year of his or her first term.” In other words, board members taking office after June 13, 2011, have one year to complete that training, beginning from the date they take office

Some confusion arises concerning the deadline for board members who take office between January 2 and June 13, 2012. Do they have one year or until June 13, 2012? A reasonable interpretation is that they have one year, but those few individuals need to obtain independent counsel.

Beginning with the April 9, 2013, elections, the mandatory board member training legislation will cover anyone — new or incumbent — elected to the board. They also will have one year from the time they take office to complete the training.

IASB is developing an online course for board members that will meet the requirements of this mandatory training. It will be available in January 2012. More information on this will appear in all future online issues of the Illinois School Board Newsbulletin and in The Illinois School Board Journal .

New OMA requirement

In addition to the mandatory training required by PA 97-0008, a new Open Meetings Act (OMA) training is now required.

Public Act 97-0504 requires all elected local officials, including school board members, to receive training on the OMA. This will apply to any school board member who is in office as of January 1, 2012. They will have one year from that date to receive the training.

Going forward, anyone appointed or elected after January 1, 2012, must complete the OMA training within 90 days of taking the Oath of Office.

Training will be available through several options:

1. The Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor will offer an online course.   Check with the AG’s website at http://foia.ilattorneygeneral.net/pdf/Open%20Meetings%20Act%20Designees.pdf

2. IASB will offer several options for board members to get this training:

a.  2011 Workshops — “The Basics of Law on Board Meetings and Practices” workshops held last summer and this fall around the state examined the legal requirements for board meetings plus other important board member duties. Anyone who participated in the 2011 sessions has already fulfilled the OMA requirement.

b.  Joint Annual Conference Panel — An OMA panel is scheduled for 1:30 to 3 p.m., Saturday, November 19, in the Chicago 7 Ballroom at the Sheraton. No pre-registration is required for this session. It will be first-come/first-served with the room seating 350 people. At the conclusion of the session, those who wish credit will be able to sign a course roster and receive the required Certificate of Completion. The fee for record-keeping will be $15.

c.  April 2012 — IASB will offer “The Basics of Law on Board Meetings and Practices” in Belleville, Normal and Naperville. Again, this will include more than OMA information and the cost will be $125; but for board members wishing to take this more in-depth training, they will be covered on the OMA training requirement.

Other things to know

IASB will maintain a record of all school board members who complete the mandatory board member training and the OMA training with the Association, and will issue a certificate of completion to each board member who finishes either mandated training.

Districts that maintain a website must post the names of board members who have completed the mandatory board member training. Board members who complete the OMA training must “file a copy of the certificate of completion with the public body.” Each board can decide how to manage this. The board secretary, for example, could be given the responsibility for accepting the certificates of completion.

IASB would encourage districts that maintain a website to have a section that shows all training completed by current board members.

While this is an unfunded mandate for school board members to complete this training, IASB plans to offer reasonably priced options for districts to help their board members fulfill these new requirements.

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