|2018 IASB JOINT ANNUAL CONFERENCE|
IASB’s Delegate Assembly sparked an unusual amount of attention across the state in 2018, with vital concerns of school security and student safety converging with Illinois’ distinct variety of school districts and local communities.
Representatives from Illinois school boards considered resolutions at IASB’s Delegate Assembly, which gives member school districts the opportunity to establish IASB’s positions on legislation and related matters of public policy. The assembly was held November 17 in conjunction with the 2018 Joint Annual Conference in Chicago.
A proposed resolution calling for the Illinois Association of School Boards 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 by the IASB Delegate Assembly.
Districts opposing the measure opined that arming staff would not create a safer environment for their students. The intent of the proposed resolution was to give local school districts the authority to decide what is best for their communities in the areas of school safety and student protection.
Delegates from districts supporting both perspectives on the proposed resolution spoke at the Delegate Assembly.
Julie Wagner, president of proposing district Mercer County SD 404, emphasized that “This issue is about each district’s ability to decide for itself what’s best. As it is written, it would not compel any district to comply; it is an option, not a mandate. The resolution is written so that any employee is eligible if they receive specialized training and background checks.”
The resolution was supported primarily by rural school districts with concerns about emergency response time and lack of financial resources to employ school resource officers.
“A problem we face is the county sheriff’s department not having enough personnel available to put an officer in each of our school buildings, even if we had the money to pay for salary and benefits for them.” Wagner continued. “And, what caused us to consider this resolution in the first place is our distance from law enforcement, and response times.”
Those opposing the measure raised concerns about the possible dangers of guns in schools, and promoted instead increased funding for safety and security personnel. Harry Arvanis, board member at United THSD 30 and Debra McAtee of Wheeling CCSD 21 were among those who spoke against the proposal.
“The idea that doing something is better than doing nothing is only correct if that something does not make the situation worse,” Arvanis said. “There is also concern about liability, and securing and control of weapons in schools.”
“We understand the hearts of the sponsoring districts are at the same places as ours are,” said McAtee. “The safety of our students is our highest priority. However we feel that this resolution is not the appropriate measure.”
After a half hour of discussion, the question was called and a vote was taken. The vote tally was 179 in favor of the adoption of the resolution, 203 against.
In its other resolutions action, the Delegate Assembly approved a resolution that would allow school districts to approve funds, without going to referendum, for the purchase and installation of energy-saving equipment relating to utility usage.
The membership also
- Approved a reaffirmation of an Association position on charter school funding methodology;
- Approved an amended belief statement on education in civics, adding language on the importance of student voter registration;
- Approved a new belief statement recommending local authority over decision-making relating to school safety drills, plans, and procedures;
- Approved an amended belief statement on safe and secure environments, adding language to encourage state and federal investment of comprehensive mental health resources;
Each resolution is originally proposed by a member district, reviewed by a 21-member Resolutions Committee, and then brought before the Delegate Assembly for any discussion and vote. The adopted resolutions set IASB’s policies and establish the legislative direction of the Association and its member districts.
A FAQ on the IASB Resolutions Process, including links to related resources, is available at http://iasb.mys1cloud.com/FAQs_ResolutionsProcess.pdf
In addition to setting legislative priorities, IASB delegates re-elected the Association’s president and vice president. Joanne Osmond, a member of the Lake Villa CCSD 41 Board of Education, will serve a second term as president. Thomas Neeley, a member of the Morton CUSD 709 Board of Education, will serve another term as IASB’s vice president. Delegates also received the Association’s financial report from IASB treasurer Linda Eades of Northwestern CUSD 2 and a written annual report from IASB Executive Director Thomas Bertrand.
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Although the IASB website strives to provide accurate and authoritative information, the Illinois Association of School Boards does not guarantee or warrantee the accuracy or quality of information contained herein.