2018 Conference Overview

Highlights from the 2018 Conference 

For three days, thousands of Illinois public education leaders passionate about creating the best learning opportunities for children in their communities gathered in Chicago.

It was the 86th meeting of the Illinois Association of School Boards, Illinois Association of School Administrators, and Illinois Association of School Business Officials. Total attendance* was 9,004, which included 2,863 board members, 1,182 administrators, 219 administrative professionals, and 1,171 exhibitors, as well as school attorneys, education officials, state lawmakers, guests, and other representatives.

The Conference featured three keynote speakers. Kicking things off during the Friday General Session was 2018 Superintendent of the Year David Schuler from Township High School District 214. Sharing examples of his own district's success and the nationwide "Redefining Ready!" program, he challenged attendees to create opportunities for student success.

Jon Bartelt@jonbartelt

Leadership is influence. How you use that influence is important. @DSchuler1970 gets it. WOW!


At Saturday's General Session; American civil rights activist Ruby Bridges talked about the battle of good versus evil and how educators can make a difference in the lives of school children.

Charles Cush@Cush203

Attended a POWERFUL keynote address by civil rights icon ⁦@RUBYBRIDGES1960⁩ at the Illinois Association of School Boards conference. Key takeaway—As educators we have the power and the responsibility to shape the future


Closing out the Conference on Sunday was "Rachel's Challenge" founder Darrell Scott, who moved attendees with his powerful message about kindness and acceptance.

Dr. Lynn Glickman@LcglickmanLynn

Wisdom from teenager Rachel Scott before she died a shooting victim at Columbine. Let us learn from her, let us shimmer with kindness, let us spread compassion.


Several awards were also presented during the General Sessions. Representatives from Dixon Unit SD 170 were awarded the David Binotti Award for risk management. School design projects were also recognized. Individual awards were presented to Michael McHugh for Illinois ASBO's Calvin Jackson Career Impact Award, Gary Kelly for IASA's Superintendent of the Year, CCSD 230 (Orland Park) Board President Richard Nogal for the ISBE Thomas Lay Burroughs Award, and Linda Wehrheim for IASB's Holly Jack Outstanding Service Award for school board secretary.

To highlight student participation in the arts, the Illinois Art Education Association and the Illinois High School Art Exhibition once again curated 40 pieces of art by middle and high school students in Illinois to display for Conference attendees. The First General Session on Friday included performances by Morton High School acapella ensemble, "The Bum Bums," student Emma Aleckson singing the national anthem, and the Phoenix Military Academy Color Guard presenting the colors.

School safety was a top priority for many of the attendees. For the third year, IASB hosted a School Safety and Security Seminar on Friday. The sold-out event brought additional school officials and local safety professionals to Chicago on Friday to learn from experts to help prepare their district's school safety plan. An additional nine Panel Sessions were dedicated to topics of school safety, drawing 1,043 attendees.

Panel Sessions are an essential component to the Conference's learning opportunities. Twenty-nine Illinois school districts presented Share the Success panels this year. Altogether, 116 sessions offered insight, best practices, and strategies on a range of topics that included state and federal education laws, school safety, legislation and policies that impact public schools, financial oversight, and student learning achievement.

Terri Bresnahan@TerriBresnahan

Appreciate the opportunity to share perspectives on legislation impacting schools. 3% salary caps, early childhood funding, property tax relief grant, pension cost shifts, teacher shortage, just to name a few. @ISBESupt @BSD87


The panels with the highest attendance were: "School Safety: Active Shooter" (260); "From Insight to Intervention: Putting Student Data to Work" (230); "Transforming School Culture by Connecting with the Community" (210); and "School Safety: Securing School Buildings and Facilities" (207). Panels on collective bargaining, equity, and trauma-informed learning were also popular. A Carousel of Panels on Saturday afternoon had 30 different table presentations with close to 200 attendees.

Panel topics and their attendance included the following: best practices (25 panels; 1,738 attended); community relations and communications (11 panels; 787 attended); current issues (13 panels; 1,195 attended); facilities, transportation, and technology (7 panels; 492 attended); finance and funding (9 panels; 578 attended); governance and leadership (18 panels; 1,044 attended); governmental relations (8 panels; 533 attended), school law (10 panels; 845 attended);and student learning and achievement (6 panels; 357 attended).

The IASB Bookstore offered many resources and reference books to help members build their board library. Nearly 3,000 titles were for sale, from school governance and leadership, to history and a large children's section. Seven authors were scheduled to autograph copies of their book and meet attendees.

Other opportunities for attendees to make connections and learn about products and services available to their district included the Exhibit Hall with vendors showcasing school services and equipment, including transportation, technology, facility design, financial services, and other school services.

Association staff and directors provided information about IASB programs and services designed for school boards in the IASB Homeroom. Guests participated in prize drawings and were encouraged to share lessons learned at this year's Conference. Photos from the day's events were on display, as well as live tweets using the Conference hashtag #ILjac18.

The Conference also featured professional development sessions geared specifically for board members, superintendents, business officials, attorneys, and administrative professionals.

Governance and leadership training for school board members was offered in eight Pre-Conference Workshops, each attended by dozens of participants. Full-day training included basics of governance, PDLT and PERA (mandatory training), the job of the board president, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®. Half-day workshops (each presented twice) focused on collective bargaining, equity, board/superintendent relationships, and improving student achievement through governance.

Mary Kay Prusnick@MKPrusnick

Reflecting on my weekend at : great learning about governance, decision making & leadership. And incredible time to connect with committed colleagues @D54schools & around the state


Other training opportunities included an all-day seminar for school attorneys, workshops for business officials on collective bargaining, school finance, and risk management; and superintendent sessions on women in leadership and social and emotional learning support for students. Two days of specialized training were offered to districts employees who serve and assist their district as board secretary. Topics included communication and personality styles, FOIA and OMA, planning for retirement, electronic records, board policies and administrative procedures, and school safety.

Licensed Illinois teachers attending as guests or as board members were also able to qualify for up to nine Professional Development Clock Hours, and 238 participated.

In addition to professional development, members held their annual meeting to elect officers and vote on legislative positions proposed by member districts. This year, a resolution debated at the IASB Delegate Assembly pertaining to student and school safety garnered significant media attention.

At the Saturday meeting, a proposed resolution calling for IASB to support legislation that would provide local school boards the option to decide if they will allow for properly trained staff to be armed in school buildings as part of the district's overall student safety and protection plans was not adopted.

Steve Fiorentino@SJFiorentino1

Proud to represent CUSD300 at the 2018 house of delegates. After a lengthy and spirited debate on resolution #2...defeated 179 to 203. Safety of students and staff remain one of our highest priorities.


"our board members modeled for students today, how they can respectfully disagree on an issue," IASB Executive Director Thomas Bertrand told a group of TV reporters following the meeting. The 87th Joint Annual Conference will be held Nov. 22-24, 2019 in Chicago.

*NOTE: Attendance numbers based on preliminary data as of November 18, 2018 and is subject to change.