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Delegates push for constitutional convention

The Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) has resolved to push for a statewide constitutional convention in order to obtain long-sought school funding reform. More than 300 local school board representatives adopted a resolution to pursue that goal in a vote taken at this year's largest statewide conference of school leaders on November 19 in Chicago.

"We're not going to solve school funding problems in Illinois unless we put it in the hands of voters," said Mike Kelly, a member of the Plainfield CCSD 202 Board of Education.

Kelly spoke in support of a resolution submitted by Indian Prairie CUSD 204, Naperville, which called upon IASB to actively promote a constitutional convention when the option goes before voters in 2008, as required by the 1970 Illinois Constitution. The question of whether to convene a constitutional convention must go before Illinois voters at least every twenty years, according to terms of the 1970 Constitution. The last such vote was taken in 1988, and the next one will be in 2008 unless state lawmakers set an earlier date.

>The rationale behind the adopted resolution states that school funding is in dire need of reform. It suggests that a constitutional convention represents the best opportunity to make majority funding of education at the state level a requirement, rather than a mere goal, as the courts have interpreted provisions under the present state constitution.

The rationale adds that a constitutional convention presents the opportunity to have decisions on important policy questions made by a body not motivated to evaluate its actions by the effect thereof on re-election chances, without consideration for caucus loyalty or deference to the other influences that deprive the legislature of the courage to do what's right.

The decision to push for a constitutional convention was one of the key actions taken by school board representatives at the policy-setting delegate assembly of IASB. The 2005 delegate assembly was part of the 73rd Joint Annual Conference of the Illinois Association of School Boards, Illinois Association of School Administrators, and Illinois Association of School Business Officials. The conference also provided training to school board members through more than 115 expert-led panel presentations on school governance and education.

The school board delegates also voted to urge Congress to change a provision in federal law regarding military recruitment in schools. The aim is to replace an opt-out provision with an opt-in provision for parental consent required on forms used to prevent military recruiters from gaining access to student information from schools.

"All we're doing is giving the military the same access to student information as we would a college," said one supporter of the proposal.

School board delegates also adopted several other new IASB policies, including resolutions that would:

  • Support legislation to exempt school district employees from overtime and salary requirements imposed by regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The resolution was submitted by East Peoria CHSD 309.
  • Oppose efforts to amend state law to make it easier for some areas to detach from school districts and form new districts without a vote of the entire territory affected. The resolution was sponsored by Unit District 46, Elgin.
  • Support a change in the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 to permit alternate tests and other appropriate measures of achievement for students with disabilities.
  • Urge lawmakers to strictly comply with the State Mandates Act by labeling mandates and refusing to adopt new state legislation containing unfunded mandates.
  • Support proposed legislation to limit the amount of interest paid on property tax refunds arising from tax appeals to the percentage established under tax caps, and to allow such refunds to be credited toward future tax payments.

School board delegates refused to support a number of other ideas, however, including resolutions that would have pushed for legislation to:

  • Allow local school districts to opt to make state high school exit exams, known as the Prairie State Achievement Exam, a graduation requirement.
  • Require county alternate education programs (existing programs operated for troubled students who might otherwise be expelled) to accept special education students as well as regular education students.
  • Allow each local school district to impose a local sales tax on retail sales within its boundaries.
  • Require a comprehensive eye examination for all children entering school, and urge local school districts to adopt a policy of required vision exams, along with the health exams already required for school attendance.
  • Permit a municipality to determine which adjacent local school district would get jurisdiction over property newly annexed by the municipality.
  • Repeal provisions in federal law that compel secondary schools to allow military recruiters on campuses or risk losing federal funding.

The latter resolution, sponsored by Northfield Township High School District 225, was deleted from the resolution prior to adoption regarding parental opt-ins for schools to give out student information.

More than 300 Illinois school board members voted on these resolutions in setting policy direction for IASB for the coming year.

IASB is a voluntary association of school boards that trains, informs, and advises its members on governing schools and represents their views before the legislature.

IASB Delegate Assembly voting also included election of the following IASB officers for the coming year:

President, Marie Slater

Marie Slater was elected for a one-year term as president of the Illinois Association of School Boards. She has served on the Wheaton Warrenville CUSD 200 Board of Education since 1987. From 1990-1994, she served as Program Chairman of the DuPage County Division of IASB. She has been a member of the IASB Board of Directors since 1994, at various times serving on the Nominating Committee, Joint Annual Conference Committee and the Executive Director Search Committee. Before being elected president of IASB she served two terms as vice president.

Vice President, Mark C. Metzger

Mark C. Metzger was elected as Vice President of IASB for a one-year term. He has been a member of the Indian Prairie CUSD 204 Board of Education since 1991. He has served as President, Secretary and Committee Chair of every committee of his local board. Mark previously served on the IASB Nominating Committee and as an Alternate Delegate to the 2004 NSBA Delegate Assembly. Mark is frequently an invited adjunct presenter at IASB Leadership offerings and holds both Leadership Academy membership and Master Board Member status, which he has maintained since 1997.

Treasurer: Joseph Alesandrini

Joseph Alesandrini was selected by the IASB board to serve as treasurer of the association. He is vice president of the Pekin CHSD 303 Board of Education, and director of the Central Illinois Valley Division of IASB. He has served as interim treasurer of IASB since May.



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