The Education Year in Review -- 1997-1998
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- Highlights of 1997-98
- LEGISLATIVE ISSUES
- School Funding "Reform" Bill – HB 452
- State Board of Education Budget
- Teacher Pension Enhancement
- Governor Announces Advance School Aid Payment
- ILLINOIS EDUCATION
- Small gains noted in ACT test scores
- Student reading scores increase on IGAP
- State Superintendent Spagnolo submits resignation
- THE FEDERAL SCENE
- SCHOOL BOARD PROGRAMS
- AWARDS AND HONORS
- Copyright Notice
Highlights of 1997-98
- The Illinois State Board of Education approves learning standards defining what students
should know and be able to do as a result of public schooling, July, 1997.
- IASBs Board of Directors approves a new logo and slogan for the Association
employing the theme "Lighting the Way to Excellence in School Governance,"
- IASB files Amicus Curiae arguments in two important casesurging the Illinois
Supreme Court to find that Chapter I does not provide a private cause of legal action
against a school district, and arguing that complaints about the adequacy of education
should be addressed by the legislature rather than judicial mandate, October, 1997.
- The Association announces plans to offer training to school boards and superintendents
in the "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," Stephen Coveys effective
leadership program, based upon his 1989 best-selling book, November, 1997.
- Major school funding legislation, described by Governor Jim Edgar as "the most
significant" such legislation in 30 years, wins legislative approval to deliver more
than $400 million in new state funds to public schools and a $1.4 billion school
construction grant program over five years, December, 1997.
- IASB provides Superintendent Searches in 25 school districts throughout the state.
- Governors budget proposal for FY 1999 calls for an additional $270 million in
General State Aid, the largest GSA increase in state history, February, 1998.
- IASB and Motorola announce plans to offer two-day leadership development sessions
designed in cooperation with IASB exclusively for board members, April, 1998.
- IASB, through arrangements with a legal publishing company, offers the latest edition of
the Illinois School Code and related legislative acts of interest to schools. A
complimentary copy is mailed to school superintendents in member districts. The document
is also made available through a user-friendly search engine at the IASB home page on the
World Wide Web, May, 1998.
- Applications for the states new School Construction Program total 180 school
districts for Fiscal 1999, the first full year of the program. The applications cover $1.7
billion in total construction costs, with the states share estimated at $674
million, May, 1998.
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- Lawmakers adopt an elementary and secondary education budget for the state that fully
funds the provisions of H.B. 452 and provides an 18.3 percent increase over the prior
years funding level, May, 1998.
A $485 million boost in school funding, and major new bonding authority for school
construction projects were the crowning legislative accomplishments of 1997.
The push for this new legislation began after the legislature failed to pass a school
funding reform bill in the Spring of 1997, and after the education funding debate spilled
over into the fall Veto Session. In November, the General Assembly drafted a new school
finance plan, a proposal much less comprehensive and less effective than plans debated in
the Spring of 1997.
By making the funding solution temporary and by removing the income tax increase
component, the Governor and legislative leaders believed that they had a bill that could
pass. The bill (HB 452) won Senate approval easily but failed by 4 votes in the House of
Representatives in the early hours of November 15, 1997 the last action of the fall
Three days later, Governor Jim Edgar called a Special Session of the legislature to
address the school funding issue. After meeting with the four legislative leaders and
speaking with Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Governor Edgar proclaimed the Special
Session. The General Assembly re-convened at high noon on December 2, 1997 for a historic
meeting that led to the adoption of "the most significant" education funding
bill of the past 30 years, as Governor Edgar later described it. The House immediately
passed HB 452 and Governor Edgar signed the bill into law two days later.
The session was successful because it was not designed to re-open the entire school
funding debate that had raged throughout 1997. It was called simply to allow the General
Assembly to reconsider one specific school funding bill. No new funding plan or
legislation on any other topic was allowed to be considered in the Special Session. The
lone exception was that supplemental appropriations were adopted to amend the previous
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School Funding "Reform" Bill – HB 452
HB 452 made significant changes to the school funding formula, but the states
over-reliance on property taxes to fund public schools was not addressed. A reliable and
stable funding source for public education was not identified. A long-term solution to
this problem was not found, and that made HB 452 simply a stop-gap measure.
The new law does create a new school funding formula that assigns each kind of school
district a calculation rate by which to multiply the districts "available local
resources." To the amount resulting from this calculation, the state adds funding to
make sure that each district receives a per pupil foundation level. The foundation level
is set at $4,225 in fiscal year 1999, $4,325 in fiscal year 2000 and $4,425 in fiscal year
2001. After 2001, a funding advisory board will make recommendations for the foundation
The foundation level is guaranteed for these three years by the creation of a
"continuing appropriation." This makes the state aid formula an entitlement. The
continuing appropriation expires after fiscal year 2001. HB 452 adds to the guaranteed
foundation level a poverty grant that gives additional funding to those school districts
with a high concentration of low-income students. A "hold harmless" payment also
was created to guarantee that school districts that do not benefit from the new funding
formula do not receive less money than they received from the old funding formula.
The result of this new funding formula adds an additional $482 million to public school
budgets in fiscal year 1999. To pay for this new infusion of money, the cigarette tax was
increased by 14 cents a pack, the telecommunications excise tax was increased from 5
percent to 7 percent, and a graduated tax on riverboat gambling was implemented. The
reliability of these revenue sources is questionable.
HB 452 also creates a supplemental payment to provide funds to school districts in
counties with a property tax cap. This provision is intended to address the "double
whammy," the predicament a school district is in when it cannot access all of the
property tax base it is entitled to but has its state aid payment based on the total
property tax value.
With some significant changes to the school funding formula, but with many shortcomings
evident, the Statewide School Management Alliance viewed HB 452 as a solid education
"appropriations" bill not as a comprehensive school funding reform
vehicle. It obviously sets the stage for another major school funding battle in the Spring
legislative session of 2000.
There was another important aspect to HB 452. A large portion of the bill contained
substantive reform measures, many long sought by the Alliance. First, the bill creates a
school construction grant program designed to help school districts finance the
construction and renovation of school buildings. This initiative had been pushed by many
legislators to help fast-growing school districts and those districts with aging
buildings. The $1.5 billion program, to be funded over a five-year period, will be jointly
administered by the State Board of Education and the Capital Development Board. The state
will provide a matching grant to school districts, with the grant amount based on a
sliding scale determined by the districts local wealth.
Interest in the construction grant program was overwhelming in the first two
application filing periods. The concern now is that demand far outweighs supply and funds
will not be able to cover the vast majority of construction projects approved.
Many other substantive reform measures were included in HB 452. Some of the more
notable provisions include the following:
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- a requirement that after the expiration of any contracts currently in place, school
districts may only hire superintendents, principals and other administrators under
one-year contracts or multi-year (running up to five years) contracts;
- a requirement that all such contracts shall be performance-based;
- a requirement that establishes a five percent cap on growth of administrative
expenditures beginning in the 1998-99 school year;
- a provision to allow school districts to hire registered nurses to provide professional
nursing services in schools;
- a change in the remediation period for unsatisfactory, tenured teachers to 90 days
(instead of one year);
- a change in the probationary period for teachers to four consecutive school terms for
teachers first employed by a school district on or after January 1, 1998;
- the establishment of a new multi-tiered teacher certification process effective July 1,
1999. New teachers would receive an Initial Certification and could receive a Standard
Certification after four years upon passing the certification test. Certification would be
renewable every five years with proof of continuing professional development;
- the creation of an alternative teacher certification program allowing a person with a
bachelors degree and five years working experience to enter a program that
would lead to expedited teacher certification;
- the creation of an alternative administrator certification program, allowing a person
with a masters degree and five years experience in a management-level position to
enter an intensive study program that would lead to administrative certification.
State Board of Education Budget
With the 1998 spring legislative session coming on the heels of the new school
funding reform law, it was evident very early that the members of the General Assembly
were not ready to tackle any new education initiatives. Being an election year as well,
political pundits predicted that this spring would be a "do nothing" session.
They were absolutely correct. Few political observers could remember a more quiet and
uninteresting legislative session.
Knowing that any bold new initiative or controversial bill would never see life outside
of the Rules Committee, the Alliance concentrated on making corrections to HB 452. Several
provisions needed to be revisited for reasons of practicality or due to implementation
difficulties. The language of the administrative cost cap provision made the concept
unworkable. The teacher remediation provision ignored teacher evaluation timelines, so
that stipulation was unworkable as well. The hold harmless and "double whammy"
provisions needed clarification in order to ensure their implementation.
On the last day of session both houses passed HB 1640, a clean-up bill for HB 452. In
it, the administrative cost cap language was significantly amended to make the ground
rules much more clear. The teacher remediation and evaluation language was fixed, the hold
harmless provision was clarified to reflect its permanency, and the double whammy
calculation was revamped to more accurately determine this supplemental payment.
With the enactment of HB 452 in 1997, the General Assembly was bound to fund elementary
and secondary education in a new way. Because of the continuing appropriation, the general
state aid formula must be funded first at a specified level. In the State Board of
Educations budget for fiscal year 1999, the funding standards provided for in HB 452
were met. To meet the $4,225 per pupil funding requirement the appropriation provided an
18.3% increase in general state aid over fiscal year 1998. The hold harmless line item
received $58 million to fully fund that provision. The budget included an additional $60
million over the Governors recommendations for categoricals, however they still were
prorated at the FY 1998 level.
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Teacher Pension Enhancement
After a year-long push by teacher and administrator organizations, the General
Assembly approved a bill to change the Teachers Retirement Systems pension formula
by establishing a 2.2 percent flat rate for the calculation of benefits. The change will
allow members of TRS to reach the maximum pension benefit nearly four years sooner,
creating a permanent early retirement program.
The bill was passed on the last day of the Spring legislative session as part of the
total budget package. The Governor acted on the bill that same day so the program could
become effective immediately. The bill requires an employee contribution of 1% of salary
beginning July 1, 1998 and a school district contribution of .3% of total TRS payroll
beginning July 1, 1998 and .58% of payroll on July 1 each year thereafter.
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Governor Announces Advance School Aid Payment
Governor Edgar announced in June that he would advance a school aid fund payment of
$102 million for that month to help improve cash flow and financial conditions for
Illinois public schools.
"This payment accelerates funds to help schools improve cash flow and payment
cycles as they see fit," the Governor said. "The states solid end-of-year
cash balance for FY 1998 and outstanding revenue growth together provided the cushion we
needed to help schools by advancing this school aid payment a month early."
A payment of about $102 million that would have been made July 20 was instead provided
in June. "It has always been my intention to move those payments up to June again, as
soon as funds in the statewide budget allowed us to do that," Governor Edgar
The action offset much of the effect of a fiscal move made at the end of FY 1992. At
that time the state was experiencing a fiscal crisis, and legislation changed the school
aid payment schedule to stop the practice of providing an advance payment in June, easing
pressure elsewhere in the state budget.
The Governors action exercised his statutory authority to advance a school aid
payment from July to June.
Illinois school boards appreciated the Governors action in advancing one of the
July state aid payments to June, according to Wayne Sampson, executive director of IASB.
"For one thing, this will cut the potential cost of borrowing in school districts
with cash flow difficulties.
"Just as important," Sampson said, "this action by the Governor may be a
first step toward permanently restoring the full advance payments from July back to
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Small gains noted in ACT test scores
Although the national average composite score on the ACTthe entrance exam
taken by 60 percent of college freshmenremained unchanged at 21.0 in 1998, Illinois
high school seniors raised their composite score from 21.2 to 21.4.
Most minorities and other groups made modest gains this year in national averages on
one or more of the ACT tests in English, mathematics, reading and science reasoning. For a
record nine consecutive years, the overall ACT national average has either remained
constant or improved slightly. ACT President Richard L. Ferguson said this
"unprecedented trend" in the national average score is good news for those
concerned about student achievement.
Illinois student scores topped the national average for the eighth consecutive year,
with fully 69 percent of Illinois high school seniors taking the exam this year. The
number of Illinois students taking the test increased more than 3 percent, rising from
86,802 to 89,452.
The statewide average composite score ranked Illinois 22nd among the 50 states, which
compares favorably to, say, Michigan, which ranked 30th. Illinois and Michigan may be good
states to compare because they have similar demographics and they test roughly the same
percentage of graduates (68 percent in Michigan, compared to 69 percent in Illinois).
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Student reading scores increase on IGAP
Results from the 1998 Illinois Goals Assessment Program (IGAP) showed sizable
increases in reading test scores in three of the four grades tested this year. The
Illinois State Board of Education reported student scores in mathematics, writing and
science were generally stable in all grades tested, but increased in social science at all
Reading scores among third graders remained unchanged at 246. But reading scores rose
by 19 points among sixth graders, from 229 to 248; and by 10 points among eighth graders,
from 227 to 237; and by 20 points among tenth graders, from 208 to 228. IGAP uses a
500-point scale for all tests except writing, which uses a 32-point scale.
The rebound in Illinois reading test scores followed a five-year decline. From 1993
through 1997, reading achievement slipped eight points among third graders; 38 points
among sixth and eighth graders; and a staggering 42 points among tenth graders.
State Superintendent of Education Joseph A. Spagnolo hailed the sudden improvement as
evidence a statewide focus on teaching reading had been a success. He credited the
Illinois Right to Read Initiative, among other recent efforts, with making the difference.
The improved reading test scores came in the wake of allegations of flaws in IGAP test
scoring. Those allegations were registered by two university staffers who contributed to
the design of the original IGAP reading exam.
State officials said they believe reading declines shown on the IGAP exam were genuine,
but they conceded scoring techniques adopted in 1993 may have exaggerated the severity of
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State Superintendent Spagnolo submits resignation
State Superintendent Joseph Spagnolo submitted his resignation to the Illinois
State Board of Education in mid-July, effective August 31, 1998.
"I have accomplished what I was hired to do, to set the Illinois education system
on a course of change and reform that would result in improved student achievement,"
"The State Board brought Joe Spagnolo to Illinois to make changes in the schools
and in the agency. He is a visionary and his ability to transform vision into reality has
restored Illinois place as a leader in school reform and renewed our emphasis on
teaching and learning," said State Board Chair Louis Mervis of Danville.
Since he became Illinois fifth appointed State Superintendent in June 1994,
Spagnolo had led efforts to establish the Illinois Learning Standards as the academic
target for all students and to design a state testing program, the Illinois Standards
Achievement Test. This test directly measures how well students are progressing toward the
state standards. Spagnolos leadership was instrumental, as well, in helping
successfully integrate technology into the classroom in a growing number of schools.
Spagnolo also had pushed to strengthen teacher training, creating a new certification
system and requirements, establishing teacher standards, and expanding and redesigning
continuing professional development for all educators. Moreover, he initiated reform
programs aimed at improving reading (Right to Read), and mathematics and science.
The State Board of Education (ISBE) announced that a new State Superintendent of
Education could be selected by late October. The Board appointed Robert Mandeville as
Interim State Superintendent to begin running the agency September 1. Mandeville had
headed the bureau of the budget under Governors Jim Thompson and Jim Edgar.
The Board voted to accept the resignation of State Superintendent Joseph Spagnolo. The
Board put out a call for bids to hire a professional search firm and approved a search
schedule that begins immediately and would conclude in October unless a suitable candidate
cannot be found during that period. That timetable led to political controversy, however,
as critics charged ISBE should not make its final choice until after the next Governor is
selected in November.
"Why dont they wait another 12 days and discuss the matter with the new
governor," said Illinois Sen. Vince T. Demuzio (D., Carlinville), who heads the
statewide Democratic Party. Yet a board spokeswoman said the deadline was set entirely as
a matter of logistics.
In addition to hiring a professional firm to assist them, the Board began the search by
meeting with groups of educators, parents, business people, lawmakers and others to seek
their advice on what skills and qualifications a new superintendent should have and what
issues that individual will likely face on the job.
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THE FEDERAL SCENE
Special EducationIDEA services may be suspended for up to 10 days. The
federal Education Department (ED) indicated in late 1997 that new special education
regulations will no longer require schools to continue providing special services to
disabled students serving a short-term suspension. A newly updated federal law on special
education, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), generally prohibits
schools from interrupting services. ED official Judith Heumann said this will not apply,
however, to suspensions of 10 days or less. Heumann is EDs assistant secretary of
special education and rehabilitative services.
The federal agencys new stance on this issue was first publicized when a letter
was sent to U.S. Senator Bill Frist (R-Tenn.). The letter also suggested that "good
practice" would require schools to evaluate the circumstances that led to a
suspension and to assess whether the student was being served as outlined in an
individualized education plan.
FCC chops $1 billion from e-rate program. The Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) voted in June 1998 to chop more than 40 percent from the new federal
"e-rate" subsidies designed to help schools and libraries purchase
telecommunications services. Thus the FCC said it would collect $1.28 billion for the
program in 1998, well short of the $2.25 billion annual cap the agency had set for it. The
total also falls short of the $2.02 billion in funding requests for 1998 submitted by
schools and libraries earlier in the year.
Rather than providing $2.25 billion in discounts over a period of one year, as
originally pledged, the FCC now intends to provide $1.9 billion over a period of 18
months. Some in Congress had pressured the FCC to scale back the programor even
terminate itafter long-distance telephone companies announced plans to increase
customers phone bills to pay for it. In addition, some consumer groups had called
for the program to be curtailed.
Despite the cuts, long-distance telephone companies began adding special charges to
residential phone bills, starting July 1. The e-rate program represented a portion of what
those new fees were designed to finance.
Acknowledging that the funding level would leave some schools requests
unfulfilled, the FCC adopted rules of priority to direct money first toward providing
discounts for recurring services, such as telecommunications services and Internet access.
Yet only the most disadvantaged schools and libraries were to receive discounts for
internal connections, such as classroom wiring.
Vocal e-rate critics in Congress were not appeased by the changes. Sen. John McCain,
R-Arizona, the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, stated, "The FCCs
latest attempt to recalibrate its schools and libraries program is an exercise in
futility." Another federal lawmaker, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R., Wis.), introduced a
bill to repeal the e-rate program. Meanwhile, other efforts were launched in the House and
Senate to eliminate or delay implementation of the program.
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SCHOOL BOARD PROGRAMS
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 1998. 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
1998 with more than 600 current subscriptions, another large increase over the previous
The IASB-customized 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.
Televised Workshop. For the eighth 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.
Litigation. Upon invitation, the IASB participates in cases having statewide
significance. Last year, the IASB filed an Amicus Curiae brief urging the Supreme Court to
find that Chapter 1 does not provide a private cause of action to students or parents to
challenge the manner in which funds are spent. The School Code grants state funds for the
dual purpose of improving educational 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 Supreme Court found that Chapter 1 allows these parents a private right
of action. Noyola v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago.
The National School Boards 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 concerned 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.
In its initial decision, the First Circuit imputed the actions of the student
journalist to the school district. Thus, it found that the school district violated the
Constitution by failing to require the student journalists to include the ad. On
rehearing, however, the First Circuit reversed its earlier decision and agreed with
IASBs assertions. Decisions regarding the advertisements exclusion were
neither made nor controlled by school officials. Here, where school officials did not
exercise editorial control over the students, the school district was not liable for the
acts of the student journalists. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the decision. Yeo
v. Town of Lexington.
The Illinois Supreme Court accepted an Amici Curiae brief filed by the IASB, along with
other interested associations, in a tort action brought under the Structural Work Act. The
IASB urged the Court to find that the Tort Immunity Act grants immunity to public entities
for any injury caused by failure to supervise an activity on public property, including
immunity from the failure to supervise construction activities. The Supreme Court agreed
with the IASB and held that the Tort Immunity Act bars actions under the Structural Work
Act. Epstein v. Chicago Board of Education.
The Illinois Supreme Court denied the IASB permission to file an Amici Curiae brief in
a case brought under the educational article of the Illinois Constitution. The IASB sought
to support 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 Constitutions educational article provides a cause of action for
students to compel a school district and school officials to provide a safe and adequate
education. The IASB Amicus brief would have urged the Court to defer complaints regarding
the adequacy of education to the legislature and, alternatively, to limit relief to an
action for mandamus with no compensatory damages recoverable. Lewis v. Spagnolo.
The IASB submitted an Amicus brief to the Court of Appeals in support of Paris Union
School District. The Court of Appeals agreed with our position that the referenda
provisions in Section 162a of the Illinois Revenue Act do not apply to schools. Citizens
may not, therefore, use Section 162a to place the question of establishing a tax rate
limit on the ballot.
Section 162as applicability to school districts depended on the statutes
meaning. Section 162a applies to "any taxing district" whose rates are subject
to the referendum provisions of the "General Revenue Law." The issue was whether
the phrase "General Revenue Law" is interpreted to include any revenue
provisions, including those in the School Code, or limited to those in the Revenue Act
itself. The Court adopted two of our arguments regarding statutory construction: (1) that
a publishers footnote referencing the phrase "General Revenue Law" in
Section 162a indicates that the phrase is commonly understood to mean the Revenue Act, and
(2) that the use of upper case letters and the singular form are indications that the
limiting language refers to the Revenue Act and not to revenue laws in general. Thus, the
referendum provisions to alter the maximum tax rates for education purposes are found
exclusively in the School Code. Fayhee v. Paris Union School District No. 95,
Pending Litigation. The IASB and IASA filed an Amici Curiae brief with the
Illinois Supreme Court in support of current budget and tax levy practices. While the case
arises out of DuPage County, it is of extreme importance to hundreds of school districts.
Tax levy objectors construe the School Code to require districts operating on a cash basis
to adopt an annual budget before passing a levy for the year in question. Such a rule
would require adoption of a school annual budget 18 months or more in advance of the
fiscal year to which the levy pertains. The friend-of-the-court brief will argue that a
tax levy filed before the December deadline is for that fiscal year regardless of when the
district intends to spend the money. In re. Application of DuPage County Collector for the
Year 1993 v. ATI Carriage House.
The IASB joined the Board of Education of the City of Chicago in an Amici Curiae brief
supporting a very favorable appellate court decision. The Illinois Court of Appeals held
that the immunity provisions in the School Code and the Tort Immunity Act apply
independently to school districts; the School Codes immunity does not limit the
immunity granted by the Tort Immunity Act.
Due to spine fusion surgery, the plaintiff-student informed the district that he was
permanently restricted from participating in contact sports. He was injured during a water
basketball game in PE class. He alleged that by allowing him to participate, knowing of
his preexisting medical condition, the district engaged in willful and wanton misconduct.
The immunity granted by the Tort Immunity Act is broader than that granted by the
School Code. Specifically, the Tort Immunity Act grants immunity for injuries resulting
from a failure to supervise activities on public property, even those alleged to be
willful and wanton misconduct; the School Code does not. The plaintiff-student
unsuccessfully argued that the Tort Immunity Act is inapplicable to situations involving
alleged improper supervision in a school setting. As the legislature did not express an
exception to the immunity granted under the Tort Immunity Act for alleged improper
supervision by a teacher, the court refused to create one. The plaintiff-student is
appealing to the Illinois Supreme Court. Henrich v. Libertyville High School.
According to a recent decision, the Rockford School District may not use the tax levy
provision of the Tort Immunity Act to fund federal court desegregation remedies. A local
government may use Tort Immunity Taxes to "protect itself against" tort
liability. Thus, local governments, including school districts, use Tort Immunity Fund
taxes to pay for a variety of activities in the name of "protecting itself
against" tort liability. In the Rockford case, a judge ruled that Tort Immunity Fund
taxes may only be used to fund compensatory damages
The Board of Education of the City of Chicago and the IASB jointly filed an amici brief
demonstrating that the Tort Immunity Act is an appropriate source for funding a school
districts remedial tort obligations. In Re: Consolidated Objections to Tax Levies of
School District 205.
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.
Election guidance. Each IASB member district received a packet of tools in
October for the April 1999 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 hundreds of 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.
Resource Center. The IASB Resource Center serves staff and member school boards
with prompt research assistance. An automated catalog is used to facilitate staff access
to the Associations small, specialized collection, which consists of books, reports,
many serial titles and a vertical file with hundreds of headings. Through
telecommunications connections, however, the Center has access to resources far beyond its
walls. The Resource Center is a member of the Rolling Prairie Library System and the OCLC
(Online Computer Library Center, Inc.) an international bibliographic database which
contains over 35 million records. OCLC is used for cataloging documents and providing
reference services. The Resource Center has access to over 800 Illinois libraries through
ILLINET Online, and has full Internet access as well.
The Resource Centers catalog data base continued to expand at a rapid pace in
1998, 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
on-line 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
Associations account with the Illinois Press Association clippings service. In
addition, the Center honors a growing number of direct requests for the use of IASB
materials by Illinois school districts.
Growing Risk Management Programs. The Workers Compensation Self-Insurance
Trust (WCSIT) ended the 1998 fiscal year with 381 members under the trusts coverage,
and has earned nearly 9.8 million in contributions. In addition, the WCSIT experienced a
renewal rate in the 90th percentile through July 31, 1998. This phenomenal rate is
attributed to the unique package of benefits in addition to the competitive workers
compensation coverage that WCSIT provides its members.
Back in 1996 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 plan year (of
eligibility) will be guaranteed dividends of at least 20 percent of their annual audited
paid contributions (premium). The dividend for the 1997-98 plan year is an impressive 30
percent. In the 1999-00 program year, the dividend amount will be reviewed and determined
by the WCSIT Board of Trustees depending on the available surplus at the time.
Qualified WCSIT members also receive School District Treasurers 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 $7 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 districts today, as the WCSIT has declared
a total of $14.9 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 16-year history and waived the possibility of assessing its members through
the 1997-98 program year. As of June 30, 1998, the WCSIT holds a healthy surplus of
approximately $11.3 million (unaudited amount.)
The Illinois School District Agency (ISDA) provides property/casualty coverage to more
than 160 school districts across Illinois. For the 1997-98 program year, the ISDA
experienced a renewal retention rate in the 90th percentile and received approximately
$4.6 million in contributions. In addition to receiving competitively priced
property/casualty coverage, ISDA members receive specialized loss control services and
access to low-cost 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 insurance-related issues that affect their operations, the
WCSIT and ISDA contribute information to IASB School Board Newsbulletin, the
Associations monthly newsletter, which is distributed to school districts across the
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 Superintendents breakfast each year at the Joint Annual Conference, where they
bestow the WCSIT and ISDAs risk management TEAM award. This award signifies a school
districts remark-able strides in risk management for the year. The 1997 winner was
Carlyle CCSD #1.
The IASB-sponsored Unemployment Program is entering its fourteenth year with
Gibbens Company, which administers this program for members. During the fiscal year ending
June 30, 1998, 1,680 unemployment claims were processed on behalf of 300 IASB program
participants. Of those claims protested, favorable decisions were reached in approximately
90 percent of the cases, resulting in savings of over $2.9 million to IASB member
Liquid Asset Fund. The Illinois School District Liquid Asset Fund Plus now
boasts 475 actively participating school districts, educational service regions, community
colleges and insurance pools. Endorsed by IASB, the Fund offers school districts and other
members a variety of ways of investing funds. Members can choose between two Standard
& Poors AAAm-rated money market-type funds and a wide range of fixed-rate
investments, including U.S. government securities and agencies, FDIC-insured certificates
of deposit and high-quality commercial paper. Members can also choose an unlimited
checkwriting account that earns a competitive interest rate until checks actually clear,
thus earning interest in the interim.
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AWARDS AND HONORS
National Leadership. IASB Past President Barb Wheeler was chosen as the
National School Board Associations President at NSBAs annual conference in
Thomas Lay Burroughs Award. Gery Chico, president of the Chicago School District
299 Board of Education, received the sixth annual Thomas Lay Burroughs award at the 1997
Joint Annual Conference in November. The award recognizes the states 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.
Cole Awards. Ten Illinois newspapers received recognition in the 1998 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 Wednesday Journal, Oak Park, last years second
honorable mention winner; while among the smaller newspapers, The Free Press Advocate,
Wilmington, won top honors for the first time. The State Journal-Register newspaper, in
Springfield, and the Glen News, Glen Ellyn, finished second and third, respectively, among
the larger papers. Large paper Honorable Mention went to the Rockford Register. Among
smaller papers, the second-place winner was the Breeze-Courier, Taylorville, which also
won second prize last year; and the third-place winners was the Paris Beacon-News.
Meanwhile, First Honorable Mention went to The Enterprise, Plainfield; Second Honorable
Mention went to the Salem Times-Commoner; and Third Honorable Mention went to the Morris
Over 100 different newspapers have received recognition in the 19 years IASB has
sponsored the competition. The awards are named in honor of the Associations first
full-time executive director.
Those Who Excel. Many school board members were honored by the State Board of
Education this year for their outstanding contributions to Illinois schools. The 13 board
members receiving Those Who Excel awards were: Rick E. Heironimus, Springfield District
186; Ralph A. Sabetti, Beardstown C.U. District 15; Burdell D. Chapman, Rich Township High
School District 211; Donald C. Clark, Jr., West Northfield District 31; Miriam Cooper,
Township High School District 214, Arlington Heights; Marcia Heuser, District 130, Blue
Island; Anita B. Mittelman, Skokie District 69; Joan M. Murphy, Tinley Park District 146;
John K. Schroder, Lombard Elementary District 44; Darell O. Bellm, Highland C.U. District
5; Dale L. Neudecker, Alton C.U. District 11; Howard C. Olsen, Edwardsville C.U. District
7; and Dennis L. Petry, Triad District 2, Troy.
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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.