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The Education Year in Review -- 1996-1997

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School Funding Reform
State Board of Education Budget
Elimination of School Board Election Date
School Bus Control Arms Required
Action on Delegate Assembly Positions

Chicago Schools
State Learning Standards
Illinois School Most Segregated
Other Significant Developments

Special Education
Telecommunications Act

Policy Reference Subscription Service
Televised Workshops
Management Tools
Election Guidance
Resource Center
Risk Management
Unemployment Claims Control

National Leadership
Burroughs Award
Cole Awards
Those Who Excel


School Funding Reform

School finance reform dominated the Illinois legislative scene in 1997. The amount of attention, effort and press coverage given the issue was unprecedented. The Illinois Association of School Boards and the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance were key players in bringing school finance reform legislation forward, encouraging meaningful discussion of the issues involved, uncovering support for the reform effort and mediating when opposing points of view threatened passage of a bill.

Although the final reform proposal was defeated in the Illinois General Assembly, IASB was successful in achieving the simple, yet substantial, goals that had been set a year earlier. Those goals were to frame the legislative debate on school finance reform, set the guiding principles against which any reform plan would be judged, and ensure IASB's active political involvement in the late stages of legislative development of a final plan.

The school finance debate of 1997 had its roots in the release of the Ikenberry Commission Report and the Quality First Education Initiative of House Republicans in March of 1996. IASB, in an effort to provide an informed and comprehensive response to these proposals, worked with the other Alliance partners to form the Alliance Special Finance Committee. The Committee quickly changed focus when it became obvious that the education community had an opportunity to take the lead in moving the state toward adequate education funding for all schools. The Alliance formed a working coalition with the Illinois Education Association, Illinois Federation of Teachers and Illinois Parent Teachers' Association to draft a school finance plan. Together these partners developed a strategy for moving the General Assembly toward passage of a plan that would be greatly influenced by the Education Coalition plan.

Over the next several months, the Education Coalition drafted several school finance proposals, negotiated specific points in the plan and finalized its political strategy. In October 1996 the Education Coalition (which was expanding to include other organizations) held a series of meetings in eleven different locations to discuss with its respective memberships what the Coalition was working on and to initiate a grassroots lobby effort. As a result of these meetings, legislative contact teams were formed at the district level. The teams included representatives from each of the educational organizations represented in the Education Coalition. Also, as a result of feedback from the October hearings, the Education Coalition further revised its school finance plan.

In January 1997 the Education Coalition conducted a second series of meetings in the same eleven communities. At these meetings, Coalition representatives laid out the specific finance proposal that was to be submitted to the General Assembly for consideration. Once again, feedback from these meetings resulted in further modification and strengthening of the coalition finance plan.

The Fair School Funding Plan was introduced at press conferences in Springfield and Chicago on February 13, 1997. The plan was built upon five guiding principles:

  • To raise the foundation level to provide every school with the resources necessary to provide a high quality education;
  • To reduce the resource inequities;
  • To harm no district;
  • To move the state toward 51 percent funding for schools;
  • To provide substantial property tax relief.

News coverage of the plan was generally positive and remarks offered by the Governor in response to the plan's release were very encouraging. It was apparent that the timing was perfect--school finance reform was quickly becoming the primary issue to be considered in the 1997 spring legislative session.

Within days of the release of the "Fair School Funding Plan" the Illinois House of Representatives convened an historic Committee of the Whole to discuss proposals for school funding reform. Wayne Sampson, representing the Coalition, outlined the Fair School Funding proposal to a very attentive General Assembly. According to the House Speaker's office, 116 of the 118 state representatives were in attendance during the four hour meeting. Many state Senators attended the hearing, as well.

The Education Coalition took advantage of the growing momentum. Toolkits were developed and made available to school districts for use in developing local support for, and understanding of, the school funding reform proposal.

Wayne Sampson and Peter Weber traveled the state to meet with the editorial boards of Illinois' large circulation newspapers. Along with other representatives of the Fair School Funding Coalition, they reviewed how and why the coalition was formed, described the successful use of school contact teams to uncover grassroots support to the legislature, and outlined the plan and importance of the Coalition's five guiding principles, which were used to guide the legislature toward a school funding reform agreement. The resulting press coverage was consistently quite supportive throughout the remainder of the legislative session.

The Fair School Funding Coalition soon developed a four­part grassroots campaign and communicated its components to Coalition members.

Administrators, board members, teachers, parents and concerned citizens were asked to participate in a grassroots version of a "full­court" press. A scheduled phone blitz, weekly lobby days, letters to the editor and a "Fair School Funding" media day were the most noteworthy components of a plan developed to see the issue through to a successful end in the legislative session.

The pressure from school districts, parents, concerned citizens and the press continued to grow throughout the session. Various school finance proposals were developed from a number of sources and all the legitimate and viable ones had one thing in common--they were clearly written in such a way as to avoid violating the five guiding principles put forward by the "Fair School Funding" Plan. Governor Edgar finally put forward what was considered the "final school finance proposal. It was in many ways a variation of the plan put forward by the Education Coalition. That is, the influence of the "Fair School Funding" Plan and the five guiding principles was apparent. IASB and School Management Alliance representatives were in constant contact with the key legislative and gubernatorial representatives in the development of the "final" plan and were involved in the political strategy used to move the plan through the legislature.

Ultimately, the plan was passed in the House of Representatives and defeated in a Senate committee. Last minute negotiations to put forward a revised plan were unsuccessful and school funding reform was once again dealt a damaging blow by the state legislature.

Despite the failure of the General Assembly to adopt comprehensive school funding reform, IASB was very successful in achieving its goals: 1) IASB did, as part of the Education Coalition, frame the debate; 2) the guiding principles were, without fail, referred to in the consideration of various proposals; and 3) IASB representatives were Aat the table in the last hours of the legislative session when the key players were putting together a final proposal.

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State Board of Education Budget

After the General Assembly failed to pass a school funding reform bill, budget negotiators were forced to hastily piece together an education budget in the waning hours of the session. The legislature began with the Governor's budget recommendation, which provided for $153 million over last year's level. An additional $100 million was added for a total of 253 million new dollars for elementary and secondary education. The General State Aid Formula received only $52.5 million in new money, although $54.9 million was added in a hold­harmless line item. The projected foundation level for fiscal year 1998 is $3,108. However, a new line was added in the form of an "adequacy grant." This $47 million was added to bring the lowest­spending school districts up to a $3,600 per pupil spending level. The flat grant provision established in 1996 was again funded, this year with $56.5 million. This grant should provide roughly $32 per pupil to every school district in the state.

The foundation level was $23 lower per pupil than the estimated level discussed at the time the state budget was adopted. State Board experts said this was due to two unusual circumstances in connection with attendance figures and equalized assessments. First, final school district claims included 7,332 more pupils than were estimated in December 1996--far exceeding the usual gap between estimates and actual attendance. Second, the statewide equalized assessed valuation decreased by more than $444 million from initial estimates. This unfortunate situation forced many school districts to revise their budgets and institute cutbacks in spending just before the start of the 1997­98 school year.

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Elimination of School Board Election Date

The legislature passed a bill this year that will eliminate the non­partisan November election in odd­numbered years. Starting in 1999, school board members will be elected in the spring consolidated partisan election. Though similar proposals had been defeated the last two years, HB 652 was approved despite Alliance opposition.

Amendments were made to the bill to answer constitutional questions and to keep school board member terms staggered. Constitutionally, an incumbent elected official cannot have his term shortened while in office. Lengthening incumbent terms would have caused all school board members to be up for election in 2001. Language was drafted to answer these concerns, but there will be a two­election cycle transition period before term lengths are normalized.

Those school board members elected in November of 1995 will serve until November of 1999. There will be no election in November of 1999, however. The successors to those school board seats will be elected in April of 1999 but will not take office until November. Likewise, those school board members elected in November of 1997 will serve until November of 2001. The successors to those school board seats will be elected in April of 2001 but will not take office until November that year. Starting in 2003, school board terms will be from April to April.

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School Bus Control Arms Required

Responding to several accidents in which students were run over by their own school bus, the legislature approved a bill that will require all school buses to be equipped with crossing control arms by December 31, 1999. The control arms are mounted on the front bumper of the bus and extend down at each bus stop so students have to walk several feet in front of the bus -- in the driver's field of vision.

All new school buses purchased must be equipped with the control arms. The December 31, 1999 effective date will allow school districts to retro­fit their existing school buses. The cost of purchasing, installing and maintaining the control arms is reimbursable under current transportation reimbursement guidelines.

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IASB Delegate Assembly Positions Addressed in the 1997 Spring Legislative Session

Delegate Assembly resolutions provide Association leadership and staff with direction. Some prompt the introduction of new legislation, others establish positions for or against measures contained in existing legislation. Some resolutions call for other action -- typically dealing with the federal government, the State Board of Education, or member districts.

IASB resolutions directly address hundreds of pieces of legislation each year in Springfield. Space does not allow the listing of all of the bills from the 1997 legislative session. But here is a summary of actions taken by IASB, working through the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance in 1997, regarding key Delegate Assembly positions:

Position 1.07 -- Safety for School Children -- The legislature approved two measures regarding school bus safety. HB 1388 establishes a "zero tolerance" standard regarding school bus drivers. Specifically, the bill provides that a school bus driver is deemed to have given consent to a chemical test of blood, breath or urine for the purpose of determining blood alcohol content if arrested with probable cause that the driver has consumed any amount of alcohol. If the driver is found with an alcohol concentration of more than 0.00 he will lose school bus driving privileges for three years. SB 31 would prohibit the operation of a school bus in Illinois after December 31, 1999 unless the bus is equipped with a crossing control arm.

Position 2.01 -- Priority and Support/ Position 2.02 -- Funding Sources/Position 2.40 -- School Finance Reform -- The General Assembly had an opportunity to make comprehensive changes to the state's school funding formula. SB 645 contained a school funding proposal that would have set a foundation level high enough to provide an adequate education for every student, moved the state's share of education funding costs toward 50 percent, created a mechanism to tie future education costs to inflation, provided substantial property tax relief and identified a reliable source of state revenue to finance the plan. The plan, backed by the Governor, was approved by the House but was defeated in the Senate Revenue Committee.

Position 2.05 -- Funding Special Education Programs/Position 2.20 -- Special Education Costs -- HB 1526, as introduced, would have raised the per capita special education reimbursement from $2,000 to $2,500, increased the special education personnel reimbursement to 22 percent of the state's average teacher salary, and required full funding for mandated special education reimbursements. After the bill passed the House it was amended in the Senate to sunset the state special education rules and regulations and allow for special education waivers under the mandate waiver law. The bill was defeated in the Senate Education Committee.

Position 2.11 -- Funds for Computer Technology -- SB 69 would allow school districts, under the personal property and educational facility lease levy, to levy a 5 cent tax for purchasing computer technology components. The bill passed both houses.

Position 2.22 -- Capital Funding for School Construction -- Several bills were introduced this year designed to provide funding for school capital construction projects. HB 18, HB 487, SB 68 and SB 201 each would have increased the state's bonding authority and started a school construction grant program. Also, most every proposal relating to school funding reform contained a school construction funding provision. When no school funding package emerged at the end of session, however, the school construction initiatives were put on hold.

Position 2.29 -- Local District Income Tax -- In the final hours of the legislative session, an amendment was offered that would have authorized school districts to impose a local income tax. Each dollar raised from the income tax was earmarked for property tax relief. The amendment was defeated in a Senate committee.

Position 2.31 -- Property Tax Base -- Dozens of bills were introduced that would have eroded the local property tax base of school districts through the various homeowners' exemptions. None of the major cost initiatives passed, however HB 45 was approved to increase the maximum homestead improvement exemption from $30,000 to $45,000.

Position 2.33 -- Tax Increment Financing -- Many bills were introduced regarding TIF districts. The Senate Revenue Committee established a special TIF subcommittee to study the issue over the summer. HB 525, an initiative of the TIF Association, was opposed by the Alliance; it passed the House but did not move beyond committee in the Senate.

Position 2.45 -- Impact Fees for Residential Development -- The Alliance's impact fees bill was again introduced in the legislature. HB 1313 was approved by the House Local Government Committee but was never called for a vote on the House floor.

Position 2.48 -- Cook County Prior Year EAV -- SB 715 and HB 1295 each would have removed the prior year EAV provision for Cook County taxing districts. SB 715 passed the Senate intact, but was amended in the House. The bill no longer removes the prior year EAV provision, but allows new property, annexed property, and recovered tax increment value to be factored in to the assessed value in the current year. SB 715 was approved by both houses.

Position 2.49 -- Local Taxes on School Districts -- HB 468 authorizes municipalities to exempt school districts from telecommunications taxes. The bill passed both houses.

Position 2.54 --Non­Public School Funding -- HB 999 would provide an income tax credit of up to $500 for qualified educational expenses -- including tuition at a non­public school. The bill passed the House but was never called for a vote in the Senate.

Position 5.01 -- Board Rights/ Position 5.18 -- Tenure Repeal -- SB 568 and SB 645 would have increased the probationary period for teachers to four years. SB 99 would have eliminated the state statute regarding tenure and would have allowed school boards to determine the tenure requirements for the district. Most every school funding reform proposal contained other education reforms that were aligned with our position statements.

Position 5.06 -- Hearing Officer Repeal -- SB 559 modifies many of the procedures in selecting hearing officers for proceedings to remove or dismiss teachers. The bill passed both houses.

Position 5.07 ­ Nurse Certification C SB 380 and HB 1531 would have allowed school districts to hire registered nurses who were not certificated by the State Board of Education to work in positions that did not require the exercise of instructional judgment. The bills did not advance beyond committee.

Position 7.01 -- Consolidated Election Law Revisions/Position 7.08 Election Schedules -- HB 652 and SB 200 would eliminate the non­partisan election in November of odd­numbered years and move the election of school board members to the Spring Consolidated election. HB 652 passed both houses.

Position 7.04 -- Annexing District Requirements -- HB 574 requires that a petition to annex be considered by the voters in each territory affected and approved by a majority of those voting in each territory when a school district seeks to annex another entire school district. The bill passed both houses.

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Chicago schools open on time again

For the second consecutive year, Chicago's public schools opened on time in 1997. A compromise worked out last year between the teachers union and the new school board allowed this to occur. Much of the credit was given to Paul Vallas, the district's chief executive officer.

Vallas also effectively did away with the tradition of social promotion. Students who do not pass will no longer advance to the next grade from the third, sixth, eighth and ninth grade. More than 10,000 Chicago public school students were asked to repeat a grade under the new promotion policy.

"What's wrong with having children spend another year or two in elementary school?" Vallas asked. "What's wrong with taking five or six years to get through high school, if that's what it takes to get them prepared? Why force all kids through school on the same schedule?" he added, calling social promotion "educational malpractice."

To support the new approach, school leaders funded a new $34 million summer school program called "summer bridge programs."

Chicago school leaders also: launched a major program to expand preschool to serve roughly 10,000 more children than last year, organized after­school reading projects in 412 schools, and expanded another program for all­day schooling to serve 60 additional schools.

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State learning standards approved

In perhaps the most significant school reform action in more than a decade, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) approved comprehensive learning standards that clearly define what students should know and be able to do as a result of their public schooling.

"Standards are important because they provide a common learning foundation for students, no matter where they live," explained State Superintendent of Education Joseph Spagnolo.

The learning standards set state expectations for what students should learn in the fields of English and language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, physical development and health, and fine arts. A set of advisory standards was approved for foreign languages, as well.

"Local schools and communities retain the flexibility and control to decide how and when learning takes place and whether there are additional content and skills they want their students to know and be able to do," Spagnolo said. "The standards include the basics, but they also go beyond them to prepare our students for the future in a workplace that will be vastly different from today's."

Each of the standards is linked to a State Goal for Learning, a broad statement of knowledge or skills in a subject area. Standards are precise statements of skills and knowledge within a goal that together define the learning needed to meet that goal. Each standard is expanded into "benchmarks," mile­markers that show how student learning builds from early elementary grades to late elementary, middle school/junior high, early high school and late high school.

Most important for the sake of improving learning, according to ISBE, will be the local assessments, checks on student achievement that teachers perform nearly every day in their classrooms and the testing that local school districts will use to measure learning success. In addition, Spagnolo said, by 1998­99, the ISBE is required to develop a state assessment system that will provide a big­picture perspective of student and school progress toward fulfilling the standards.

"The standards will benefit education in a number of critical ways," said State Board Chair Louis Mervis, of Danville. "With the desired results of schooling clearly spelled out for all to see and understand and with methods in place to monitor achievement, schools can more effectively use their money and other resources to improve teaching and learning."

"Parents, employers, legislators and other citizens will be able to hold schools accountable more effectively because they will know what knowledge and skills are expected and whether those expectations are being met," he said.

In addition, public accountability mechanisms will be impacted by the standards, including revisions in the existing School Report Card, issuance of the Academic Early Warning/Watch List and support programs for "low­performing" schools, plus development of a performance­based report to the General Assembly.

The standards reportedly will be reviewed within the next three years to ensure that they remain relevant, sufficient and up­to­date. Just as the standards development process included broad participation of Illinois citizens--including a seven­month public review and comment period--the process for reviewing, refining and updating them is expected to be conducted in the same way.

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Illinois schools most segregated in nation

A month­long study this year confirmed earlier findings that Illinois schools are the most segregated in the nation. The report, "Deepening Segregation in American Public Schools," called Illinois schools the most "separate, unequal" in the nation, with growing proportions of minority students becoming isolated from middle class children and from successful schools.

"Southern states were the most integrated, along with rural and small towns. Illinois, Michigan, New York and New Jersey were the most segregated," said researcher Gary Orfield, a Harvard University professor. Orfield authored the study, along with Indiana University researchers Mark D. Bachmeir, David R. James and Tamela Eitle.

Only 5 percent of schools in the United States have conditions of concentrated poverty among their children, but more than 80 percent of segregated Latino and Black schools face such conditions, according to the study.

"Desegregation is not only sitting next to someone of the other race. A child moving from a segregated African American or Latino school to a white school will very likely exchange conditions of concentrated poverty for a middle class school," the report stated.

The report called for a federal government commitment to resume civil rights enforcement, renew desegregation efforts "and create more schools where children of different groups can learn with each other and each other's languages," Orfield said.

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Special Education. Congress passed legislation in May to reauthorize the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) -- the first revision since its original enactment in 1975. Under the legislation, states will have to contribute at least the same funding level for special education as they did in the previous year and will have to identify a process by which the financial obligation of other social service agencies must be defined to finance services for children with disabilities. The bill also makes changes regarding attorneys fees. Under current case law, school districts can be required to pay a parent's attorneys fees during the IEP process when the parent prevails on appeal to a hearing officer or to a court. This bill prohibits the payment of such fees unless the IEP team is convened as a result of a hearing or court action. It also provides that attorney fees may be denied if the parent's attorney does not provide adequate information in the due process complaint and encourages mediation as an alternative to due process appeals when the IEP process fails to satisfy programming requests by parents.

Illinois school board members followed the National School Boards Association (NSBA) lead on this important issue. NSBA worked diligently on this legislation, but was not able to support the bill as a whole because of concerns that the legislation did not go far enough to contain costs or to address school safety issues.

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Telecommunications Act. In May, the Federal Communications Commission released its decision on the implementation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The FCC voted to provide schools and libraries with "E­rate" discounts of 20 percent to 90 percent on all telecommunications services, Internet services, and the internal communications necessary to deliver access to students. The "E­rate" will be funded at $2.25 billion per year, with half of the unused monies rolling over to the next year. Effective January 1, 1998, a school's eligibility for discounts will be linked to the number of students who qualify for free and reduced­price lunches.

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Other Significant Developments, 1996­97. The Illinois Supreme Court deals a final death blow to a six­year­old lawsuit challenging the state's school funding system, October, 1996.....IASB joins the Illinois Learning Partnership, a coalition designed to encourage school improvement by achieving systemic change in Illinois school districts, November, 1996.....Tech 2000: Students for the Information Age, the sixth annual demonstration of education technology at the State Capitol, earns a major grant from AT&T; AT&T also agrees to provide support for the School Technology Fair at the Joint Annual Conference, November, 1996.....An FCC panel approves a special e­rate for schools, the first step towards permitting discounts on Internet access, and wiring, November, 1996.....The Association, through arrangements with a legal publisher, offers the latest edition of Illinois School Laws on the World Wide Web. The online document is presented in a user­friendly search engine that makes it easy to quickly find all the statutes related to a particular topic.....IASB provides Superintendent Searches in 23 school districts throughout the state.....Spring Leadership Academies, regional meetings to develop school board leadership skills, are held at three sites throughout the state, April, 1997.....The monthly number of visitors to the IASB Homepage on the World Wide Web attracts 2,620 user sessions, up from 582 in June, 1996, the month the Internet site was launched. Although it seems usage drops off during the summer months, traffic appears to be growing exponentially, May, 1997.

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Policy Reference Education Subscription Service. The policy subscription service called PRESS was a valuable resource tool for a growing number of administrators and school board members in 1997. Subscribing school districts continued to receive a Policy Reference Manual, along with periodic and timely policy revisions and updates, thus enhancing school board leadership and effectiveness. PRESS is the first comprehensive policy service to combine policy statements with required procedures, explanations and full legal citations. PRESS helps districts maintain their policy manuals while providing a useful encyclopedia on policy and legal issues. The service ended the fiscal year in 1997 with roughly 525 current subscriptions, another large increase over the previous year.

The IASB­customized policy service continued to offer valuable direction to districts in adopting broad policy statements that represent "the law." Districts using the service are encouraged to streamline their policies, leaving most procedural matters to the superintendent and administrative regulations.

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Televised Workshop. For the seventh year in a row, IASB worked with Western Illinois University in providing an interactive workshop by satellite television.

The workshop, broadcast live to participants at nearly 50 locations around the state, was designed for school board candidates and served as an introduction to the roles and responsibilities of board service.

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Litigation. Upon invitation, the IASB participates in cases having statewide significance.

Last year, the IASB supported the Chicago Board of Education's appeal of a case in which a teacher's physical conduct toward a student, in violation of a warning resolution, was found remediable. Despite the IASB's plea that violating a warning resolution should be deemed irremediable conduct, the Supreme Court refused to overturn the lower court's decision. Golub v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago.

The IASB joined other associations in an Amici Curiae brief in support of the Wood Dale Park District. The Park District was sued by the parents of an autistic child who was enrolled in a summer program there. On a short walk to a pool, the child bolted into the street and was struck and killed by an oncoming vehicle. The trial judge granted the Park District's motion to dismiss based on the Tort Immunity Act. The parents' appeal sought the application of the "special duty" exception to immunity. The IASB argued that the "special duty" exception is very narrow; that the facts do not support its application; and that its application would erode immunity under the Tort Immunity Act. The Court of Appeals ruled in our favor. Diklich v. Wood Dale Park District.

The National School Board Association and the IASB jointly filed an Amici brief in a case being heard by the entire panel of judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit. The case concerns whether school officials are responsible for the conduct of student journalists. Massachusetts statute grants students the right of freedom of expression in public schools. Thus, the school board gave student journalists control over newspaper and yearbook content. The students rejected a proffered advertisement in support of abstinence. The group submitting the ad sued the school district claiming that its refusal to publish the ad violated their free speech and equal protection rights. The Court imputed the actions of the student journalist to the school district. Thus, the district violated the Constitution by failing to require the student journalists to include the ad. Yeo v. Town of Lexington.

The IASB joined other interested associations in an Amici Curiae brief seeking Supreme Court review of a tort action brought under the Structural Work Act. The case presents the issue of whether the Tort Immunity Act bars actions under the Structural Work Act as well as numerous other theories of liability. This appeal is pending. Epstein v. Chicago Board of Education.

Several years ago, the IASB submitted an Amicus brief in support of Paris Union School District. IASB argued that Section 162a of the Illinois Revenue Act does not apply to schools. Citizens may not, therefore, require a vote on the question of establishing a tax rate limit. IASB further urged that the referendum provisions to alter the maximum tax rates for education purposes are found in the School Code B not the General Revenue Law. IASB was successful at the State Election Board level. This matter is being briefed for the Court of Appeals and IASB is submitting an Amicus brief there.

In November of 1996, the IASB joined the Board of Education of the City of Chicago in a case involving the drowning death a student during swimming class. The teacher was present at all times during the class. The student had passed a swim test and was allowed to swim in the deep end during a free swim period. Two students were serving as student guards. Both saw the plaintiff in distress but mistook his action for play. The trial court granted summary judgment for the school district as to all allegations except those claiming willful and wanton conduct in the supervision of the plaintiff. Two questions were certified for appeal: whether the district and teacher are entitled to immunity and whether the actions of the student guards are entitled to immunity. The appeal is pending. Trotter v. School District 218.

The School Code provides state funds for the dual purpose of improving education opportunity for economically disadvantaged children and minimizing fiscal disparities of Illinois school funding. These funds are known as Chapter 1 funds. Districts are prohibited from using Chapter 1 funds for general purposes. Parents of disadvantaged children sued the Chicago Board of Education alleging misuse of these funds. The Court of Appeals found that Chapter 1 allows these parents a private right of action. The Illinois Supreme Court has accepted this case for a review. The IASB filed an Amicus Curiae brief not to defend to the use of the funds, but rather to urge the Court to find that Chapter 1 does not provide a private cause of action to students or parents. The case is pending. Noyola v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago.

In another case, the IASB is supporting the State Superintendent and the Board of Education, East St. Louis School District 189, in their efforts to overturn an appellate court decision. According to that ruling, the educational article of the Illinois Constitution provides a cause of action for students to compel a school district and school officials to provide a safe and adequate education. The State does not provide a free education, as required by the State Constitution, if that education is not provided in a reasonably adequate and safe school environment. The IASB Amicus brief will argue that complaints regarding the adequacy of education should be addressed by the legislature rather than by judicial mandate. Lewis v. Spagnolo.

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Management Tools. IASB member districts received a variety of management and public relations tools from their association during the year. Two publications of the State Board of Education were mailed to all school board presidents: State, Local and Federal Financing for Illinois Public Schools and the annual Teacher Salary Study. Many districts also obtained bulk supplies of IASB pamphlets on school funding for distribution to local constituents.

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Election guidance. Each IASB member district received a packet of tools for the 1997 school board election, including a calendar of key dates and guidelines for the board secretary. Member districts also requested hundreds of special kits addressing such issues as the recruitment of new board members, informing candidates about board work, and promoting voter turnout, as well as over 2,000 kits for board candidates and more than 10,000 copies of Your School Board and You, a booklet about school boards. IASB staff respond to numerous questions from member districts during the months preceding any school board election.

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Resource Center. The IASB Resource Center serves staff and member school boards with prompt research assistance. The Resource Center's catalog data base continued to expand at a rapid pace in 1997, along with requests for services, and growth in materials available. The growing aggregate of materials available through the Resource Center results from its own burgeoning collections, cooperative relations with other institutions and an increase in on­line materials offered for loan. One significant data base deals with school design and architecture, and another provides an index of newspaper articles obtained from the Association's account with the Illinois Press Association' clippings service. This year the data bases for the Resource Center materials collection, school design and architecture file, and the index to the newspaper clippings were converted to a more user­friendly Windows computer format. In addition, the Center honored a growing number of direct requests for the use of IASB materials by Illinois school districts.

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Growing Risk Management Programs. The Workers' Compensation Self­Insurance Trust (WCSIT) ended the 1997 fiscal year with more than 400 members under the trust's coverage, and has earned nearly $11.3 million in contributions. In addition, the WCSIT experienced a renewal rate in the 90th percentile through July 31, 1997. This phenomenal rate is attributed to the unique package of benefits in addition to the competitive workers' compensation coverage that WCSIT provides its members.

Last year, the WCSIT Board of Trustees added to its coverage package by approving a guaranteed dividend plan to qualified members until the year 2000: Qualified WCSIT participants who are members of record on September 15 of the following year will be guaranteed dividends of at least 20 percent of their annual audited paid contributions (premium) amounts for the 1996­97 program year and the following two years. In the 1999­00 program year, the dividend amount will be reviewed and determined by the WCSIT Board of Trustees depending on the available surplus at that time.

Qualified WCSIT members also receive School District Treasurer's Surety Bonds as a benefit of membership in any amount up to $15 million to protect the faithful performance of their districts' treasurers. An additional benefit of membership is the School Board Legal Liability coverage program (school board errors and omissions coverage) that provides coverage up to $2 million to qualified participants. WCSIT members also receive specialized loss control services as an additional benefit of membership.

The WCSIT has emerged to be one of the most financially successful workers' compensation pools available to Illinois school district today, as the WCSIT has paid a total of $12.1 million in dividends and distributions to its members since its inception in 1982. In addition, the WCSIT has never asked for additional assessments from its members in its 15­year history and waived the possibility of assessing its members through the 1996­97 program year. As of May 31, 1997, the WCSIT holds a healthy surplus of $12.2 million (unaudited amount).

The Illinois School District Agency (ISDA) provides property/casualty coverage to more than 170 school districts across Illinois. For the 1997­98 program year, the ISDA experienced a renewal retention rate in the 90th percentile and received approximately $5 million in contributions. In addition to receiving competitively priced property/casualty coverage, ISDA members receive specialized loss control services and access to low­cost property appraisals.

Both the WCSIT and ISDA programs are designed specifically for Illinois school districts by school districts. Each pool is controlled by a board that is composed of Illinois school district administrators, school board members and business officials. Together, these school district representatives voice what their peers want in workers' compensation and property/casualty coverage. In an effort to keep Illinois school districts informed of insurance­related issues that affect their operations, the WCSIT and ISDA contribute information to IASB School Board Newsbulletin, the Association's monthly newsletter, which is distributed to school districts across the state.

Working together to provide sound and viable coverage to Illinois school districts, the WCSIT and ISDA are endorsed by the IASB and are administered by Hinz Professional Insurance Program Managers, Inc. (HPIPM), which assists Illinois school districts through its Chicago and Springfield offices. WCSIT and ISDA are the sole financial sponsors of the State Superintendent's breakfast each year at the Joint Annual Conference, where they bestow WCSIT and ISDA's risk management TEAM award. This award signifies a school district's remarkable strides in risk management for the year. The 1996 winner was the Workers' Compensation Self­Insurance Trust Board of Trustees. Specifically, eight people from the WCSIT Board of Trustees received the award, including: IASB Immediate Past President Stanton Morgan, Board Vice President of Bismarck­Henning C.U. District 1, WCSIT Chairperson; IASB Director­at­Large Gerri Long, Board President of Lombard Elementary District 44, WCSIT Vice Chairperson; James Hendren, Director of Business Affairs at Decatur District 61, WCSIT Treasurer; IASB President Jay Tovian, Board Member of Villa Park District 45, and WCSIT Secretary; Edward Armstrong, Superintendent of East Richland C.U. District 1, Olney; Elise Grimes, Superintendent of LaGrange­Highlands District 106; Michael Oberhaus, Comptroller of Rock Island District 41; and Wayne Sampson, Executive Director of IASB and WCSIT Trustee.

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The IASB­sponsored Unemployment Program is entering its thirteenth year with Gibbens Company, which administers this program for members. During the fiscal year ending June 30, 1997, 1,804 unemployment claims were processed on behalf of 300 IASB program participants. Of those claims protested, favorable decisions were reached in 91.5 percent of the cases, resulting in savings of over $1.7 million to IASB member districts.

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Liquid Asset Fund. The Illinois School District Liquid Asset Fund Plus now boasts 434 actively participating school districts and community colleges that had $262 million invested at the end of the fiscal year on June 30. Endorsed by IASB, the Fund offers school districts a variety of vehicles for investing school funds and is a source for short­term borrowing through tax anticipation warrants and notes. In addition to the liquid fund there is a fixed fund (including CDs, and commercial paper). Together the two funds totaled $741 million at year's end.

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National Leadership. IASB President Jay Tovian was chosen by the Governor to represent Illinois on the Education Commission of the States. IASB Past President Barb Wheeler was chosen as NSBA's President­Elect at their annual conference.

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Thomas Lay Burroughs Award. Merv Roberts, Director of IASB's Lake Division and board president of Adlai Stevenson High School District 125, Lincolnshire, received the sixth annual Thomas Lay Burroughs award at the 1996 Joint Annual Conference in November. The award recognizes the state's outstanding local school board president and is named in honor of the late chairman of the State Board of Education. The award is presented annually by the State Board to the local school board president who has shown outstanding leadership on behalf of improved student learning, educational excellence, equal opportunity, and crisis resolution. IASB Southwestern Division Director William Jenner, of O'Fallon, was among 22 other finalists for the award.

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Cole Awards. Nine Illinois newspapers received recognition in the 1997 Robert M. Cole competition for best coverage of local school board issues. The contest is sponsored by IASB and conducted by the Illinois Press Association. Among the larger newspapers, the Cole Award plaque went to the Courier­News, Elgin, last year's third­place winner; while among the smaller newspapers, The Courier, Lincoln, won top honors for the first time. The Elmhurst Press newspaper, in Moline, and the Rockford Register­Star, finished second and third, respectively, among the larger papers. Large paper First Honorable Mention went to the Belleville News­Democrat; and Second Honorable Mention went to the Wednesday Journal, Oak Park. Among smaller papers, the second­place winner was the Breeze­Courier, Taylorville; and the third­place winner was The Herald, Bourbonnais; while Honorable Mention went to the Warrenville Post.

Nearly 100 different newspapers have received recognition in the 18 years IASB has sponsored the competition. The awards are named in honor of the Association's first full­time executive director.

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Those Who Excel. Many school board members were honored by the State Board of Education this year for their outstanding contributions to the schools. The 25 board members receiving Those Who Excel awards were: Gerri Long, Lombard Elementary District 44; Jacqueline Goetter, Decatur District 61; Janella H. Cooley, Bloomington District 87; Gerald L. Martoglio, McLean County District 5, Normal; Jacqueline Gregorio, Ridgewood High School District 234, Norridge; Anne P. Koller, Township High School District 211, Palatine; Tony J. Laureto, North Berwyn District 98; Paula Mikula, Palatine C.C. District 15; Laura G. Schwartz, Niles Township High School District 219, Skokie; Kathleen Bossier, Bensonville Elementary School District 2; Kristin C. Ciesemier, Glenbard Township High School District 87, Glen Ellyn; Timothy W. Costello, Naperville C.U. District 203; David T. Griffin, Deerfield Public School District 109; Diane Carolyn Holder, Adlai E. Stevenson High School District 125, Lincolnshire; Charles E. Nelson,Edwardsville C.U. District 7; Eldin E. Rea, Granite City C.U. District 9; Phyllis O. Markley, Peoria District 150; Robert B. Tallitsch, Moline District 40; Richard Dillinger, Dupo C.U. District 196; Dennis Hauck,Belleville Area Special Services Cooperative; Richard Phelps, Pontiac District 105; Mary K. Richter, Lebanon C.U. District 196; Randall G. Farmer, Crete­Monee District 201­U; Doris L. Runnels, Chaney­Monge Elementary District 88, Crest Hill; Dayton L. Franklin, Herrin C.U. District 4.

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