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Historical Summary 2010-2015

2010 President: Joseph Alesandrini, Pekin

More than half of IASB’s divisions increased the percentage of newly elected board members who attended training or workshop opportunities during the Association’s “20% Challenge.”

Data show page views for the IASB website topped 1 million for the first time in 2009. The site’s 142,244 “unique visitors” averaged 11,854 monthly visits and 382,813 site visits during. The site, launched in 1996, was redesigned in 2008 and now has more than 1,700 pages online.

IASB’s Targeting Achievement through Governance (TAG) Program and the Five-State Policy Project: Targeting Student Learning (TSL) received the 2010 Thomas A. Shannon Award for Excellence in School Board Leadership from the National School Boards Association.

A new packet of materials, “Recruiting School Board Candidates,” is released to help boards and communities recruit prospective school board candidates during the next election cycle or during an appointment process.

Association membership reached an all-time high of 97.8 percent. As of February, only 11 districts in Illinois were not members, the lowest count ever recorded in the number of districts that have chosen not to belong to the Association.

Approximately 936 Illinois school leaders attend the NSBA conference in Chicago April 9-12.

Three long-time staff members retired in 2010: Douglas P. Blair, with 34 years; Dave Love, and Kora Searcy with 10 years each. Patrick Rice is hired to replace Love as director of field services for the Association’s Egyptian, Illini, Shawnee and Wabash Valley divisions.

IASB hosted its Fourth Biennial LeaderShop Academy Symposium. Keynote speaker was Jim Nowlan, a former state lawmaker, author and newspaper publisher. Theme for the symposium was “Building Trust through Transparency.”

Mary Ellen McElligott, a 32-year-veteran district secretary from Marquardt SD 15, received the Holly Jack Outstanding Service Award. The award is named after long-time IASB administrative assistant Holly Jack, who died in 2008.


2011 President: Joseph Alesandrini, Pekin

A survey showed that respondents see field services staff as “helpful/supportive” and “professional, and that the services provided are “educational,” “high quality” and have a “good reputation.” Respondents also said they value in-district content workshops.

Executive committee members elected for 2011 are: Ben Andersen, East Dubuque CUSD 119; Karen Fisher, Ottawa THSD 140; Tom Neely, Morton CUSD 709; and Roger Pfister, Carbondale ESD 95. They joined IASB officers President Joseph Alesandrini, president; Carolyne Brooks, vice president; Mark C. Metzger, immediate past president; and Dane Tippett, treasurer.

Illinois delegates for NSBA’s 2011 Federal Relations Network conference in Washington, D.C., were: Joseph Alesandrini, Pekin CHSD 303; Carolyne Brooks, West Richland CUSD 2; Mike Kelly, Plainfield CUSD 202; Mark C. Metzger, Indian Prairie CUSD 204; and Michelle Skinlo, Mattoon CUSD 2.

Michael D. Johnson, executive director emeritus, was named the 2011 recipient of the Thomas A. Shannon Award for Excellence in School Boards Association Leadership at the National School Boards Association annual Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. Johnson was cited for doubling the size of IASB’s staff to meet district needs, reaching an all-time high membership percentage and leading three capital improvement projects, in addition to fostering partnerships and entrepreneurial funding, and finding new revenue opportunities.

IASB/IASA/IASBO Joint Annual Conference registration materials were posted online for the first time, making access more equitable than by mailing registration packets to districts.

Sharon Studinger Kennedy retired after 16 years as an IASB policy services consultant. Before coming to the Association, she had been a teacher, counselor and coordinator for academically gifted students at Morton High School.

IASB Executive Search Services rolled out an online application process in addition to posting openings online that include salary information and closing dates.

Karen Carney, Kishwaukee Division, announced her retirement from the Board of Directors because she was not seeking reelection to her local board.

Anthony G. Scariano, an equity partner with Scariano, Himes and Petrarca in Chicago, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by NSBA’s Council of School Attorneys.

A national search began for a replacement for Michael D. Johnson, executive director emeritus, who will retire July 1, 2012. Members of the IASB Board of Directors, led by President Joseph Alesandrini, will conduct the search.

Changes to the Board of Directors include: Dr. Tariq Butt, who represented Chicago Public Schools District 299 for 15 years, retired. Linda Eades replaced Felton Jose Jr. to represent the Kaskaskia Division. Dale Hansen, Grant Park CUSD 6, was named interim treasurer after Dane Tippett was not reelected to his local board.

Recent staff changes included: Nesa Brauer retired as consultant/board development. Sandra Kwasa was promoted from consultant to director/board development. Susan Hilton was promoted to director/governmental relations. Kim Munch, Julie Niewinski and Angie Powell were promoted to administrative assistants.

Beginning with the July 2011 issue, the Illinois School Board Newsbulletin became an online-only publication, available in both print and PDF versions.

The Resolutions Committee, chaired by Vice President Carolyne Brooks, reviewed 20 proposals to put before the 2011 Delegate Assembly on a variety of topics, many related to funding concerns and the financial difficulties that districts are facing.

John Cassel retired at the end of August after nearly 18 years as a field services director for the North Cook, DuPage and Starved Rock divisions. Laurel DiPrima assumed Cassel’s duties on September 1, moving from policy services consultant. The move also precipitated a realignment of divisions. DiPrima will serve Kishwaukee, Northwest and Starved Rock. Field services director Barbara Toney will serve Lake, North Cook and DuPage divisions. Brian Zumpf joined IASB policy services as a full-time consultant. He had been an extern in 2010 in the office of general counsel.

The Board of Directors approved the final six sets of division bylaws to complete the process for all of IASB’s 21 divisions.

Jesse Ruiz, former chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education, was named to the IASB Board of Directors to represent Chicago Public Schools.

IASB staff developed an online course to meet the requirements of SB 7 for mandatory board training on financial oversight and accountability, education and labor law, and fiduciary responsibility.

Attendance at Joint Annual Conference topped 11,000 with 85 percent of member districts sending at least one representative. The 738 districts represented 79 more than in 2010. The Delegate Assembly adopted resolutions to support legislation to exempt school districts from the scope of the Prevailing Wage Act and another to require the state to pay interest on late state aid payments, among others.

Shelly F. Marks, president of the Homewood SD 153 school board, received the Thomas Lay Burroughs Award from the Illinois State Board of Education, and Dottie Crews, district administrative secretary for New Berlin CUSD 16, received the Holly Jack Outstanding Service Award.


2012: Carolyne Brooks, Noble

853 of the state’s 864 school districts in Illinois were members of the Association in 2012.

Illinois delegates for NSBA’s Federal Relations Network Conference in Washington, D.C., were: Carolyne Brooks, West Richland CUSD 2; Karen Fisher, Ottawa THSD 140; Joseph Alesandrini, Pekin CHSD 303; John Jekot, East Maine SD 63; Mike Kelly, Plainfield CUSD 202; and Pelleg Graupe, Aptakisic-Tripp CCSD 102.

For the first time, exhibitor forms for the Joint Annual Conference were available online as fillable PDFs.

Rosemary Swanson, DuPage division director, and Tom Neeley, Central Illinois Valley division director, were co-chairs for the Joint Annual Conference in 2012.

Executive committee members elected for 2012 were: Joanne Osmond, Lake Villa CCSD 41; Roger Pfister, Carbondale ESD 95; Phil Pritzker, Wheeling CCSD 21; and Joanne Zendol, Berwyn South SD 100. They joined IASB officers Carolyne Brooks, president; Karen Fisher, vice president; Joseph Alesandrini, immediate past president; and Dale Hansen, treasurer.

IASB’s Online Learning Center launched a new course to fulfill mandatory training requirements of the Professional Development Leadership Training (PDLT). Open Meetings Act (OMA) training was added to the Online Learning Center later in the year.

IASB initiated its own Federal Legislative Reports in January, 2012, to monitor federal legislative issues and proposals. The reports were posted on the IASB website.

Roger Eddy of Hutsonville was chosen as the 6 th full time executive director of the Association and assumed the duties on July 1, 2012. He replaced Michael D. Johnson, who retired after 12 years with the Association.

The 4 th LeaderShop Symposium featured Diane Reed, speaking on “How You as a Leader Can Thrive in Adversity.” Reed is co-director and associate professor of the graduate leadership department at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY.

The Resolutions Committee, chaired by Vice President Karen Fisher, reviewed 23 proposals to put before the 2012 Delegate Assembly.

Ben Schwarm was promoted to Deputy Executive Director, replacing Michael Bartlett, who retired August 1.

Other staff changes in 2012 saw the retirement of Debra Larson Walden from the Targeting Achievement through Governance program. Carrie Cloyd joined the staff as administrative assistant to the executive director. Loretta Cotten from the Field Services department was promoted to secretary III and Mary Torgler from the Executive Searches department was promoted to administrative assistant. Carla Bolt was promoted to director-designee in the Meetings Management department. Zach Messersmith was hired as an assistant director in governmental relations. Angie Powell was promoted to a newly created assistant policy consultant position. Michelle Uher was hired as a secretary II to replace her in the board development department.

Eight-five percent, or 737 of 864 of school districts, attended the Joint Annual Conference in November. More than 10,500 people took part in pre-conference workshops, general sessions, panel sessions, and Delegate Assembly.

Ronald Moehring of Illini Central CUSD 189 won the Thomas Lay Burroughs Award from the Illinois State Board of Education. Debra Williams, district administrative assistant for Arlington Heights SD 25, won the Holly Jack Outstanding Service Award.


2013: Carolyne Brooks, Noble

The Association’s Centennial celebration plans are announced in January, kicking off a year of activities designed to culminate at the 2013 Joint Annual Conference. IASB was launched on Dec. 13, 1913, when 25 Illinois school board members met in Quincy to discuss their common challenges.

Staff announce that use of IASB’s website jumped 17.9 percent in 2012, with page views reaching nearly 1.26 million. It was the fourth consecutive year in which page views on www.iasb.com topped a million. The number of visitors to the site increased 2.9 percent on the year.

Decision-making software from Forecast5 Analytics becomes IASB’s newest sponsored program. A product of PMA Financial Network, Inc., Naperville, it provides schools with data analysis and collaborative tools.

A bill in the statehouse pushing board takeovers is held up and ultimately fails to advance after the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance pushes through amendments more favorable to school interests. The bill would have allowed for unlimited takeovers of local school districts.

An IASB-led consortium of school management groups announces plans to offer comprehensive group health insurance to member school districts. The new Illinois Schools Employee Benefits Consortium (ISEBC) is designed to give schools another option for providing employee health benefits at affordable prices.

Three veteran staff members announced their respective resignation or retirement in the spring, namely Angie Peifer, after 19 years of service, Dawn Miller after 21 years, and Diane Cape, after 37 years.  

Spring division attendance totals for the year are on par with the previous three years, and show a trend of increased participation. “The long-term trend is definitely one of increased attendance at division meetings in recent years,”said Cathy Talbert, IASB associate executive director of field services and policy services.

Directors received a budget update in August showing a positive FY 2013 end-of-year balance. Revenue from sold-out workshops in May enhance the fiscal picture, along with many reductions in expenses. “We will invest any freed-up money into upgrades in technology, communications, and member services,” said Executive Director Roger Eddy.

Director Eddy co-chairs a state panel reviewing mandates to schools. An implementation review committee for state leaders, it was launched as a subcommittee of the P-20 Council, a statewide education group launched by the legislature in 2009 to foster collaboration among state agencies, schools, community groups, employers, taxpayers, and families. The goal of the Council is to increase the proportion of state citizens with high-quality degrees to 60 percent by the year 2025.

Centennial-year observances at the Joint Annual Conference range from murals, a photo booth, and special contests to member district videos. An invitation to member districts yields a display of IASB centennial remembrance videos from 59 school districts. The video greetings project invites local school boards to introduce their governing teams, recognize the district’s history and to send a video message to celebrate the Association's anniversary.

 IASB bids farewell to long-time administrative assistant Judy Niezgoda at the conference in November, meanwhile adding two new staff members. Mary Anne Blythe joins the Lombard office as a secretary, and Kara Kienzler takes the post of assistant director of production services in Springfield. Kienzler takes over many of the duties of Diane Cape, who retired as senior director of production services after 37 years of dedicated service, and of Ruth Ann Ferris, who had been in charge of typesetting and conducting layout and production tasks for over 20 years.

A tribute to meetings manager Pat Culler honors her for half a century of service on staff, primarily in putting together the Joint Annual Conference and arranging for numerous other events.   In a fun and, at times, emotional ceremony, co-workers, family, and friends extolled her dedication to IASB. “She is the heart and sole of IASB,” said Executive Director Roger Eddy.

Paid attendance at the 2013 Joint Annual Conference, held Nov. 22-24 in Chicago, is 2.5 percent higher than the previous year. Total attendance in 2013 tops 10,425, compared to the 10,494 who attended in 2012.


2014: Karen Fisher, Ottawa

A new book by staff member Patrick Rice, IASB Field Services Director, tells why boards are vital yet endangered, pointing to stepped-up efforts to limit local control.  In Vanishing School Boards, the former school principal discusses the importance of board training and describes how school superintendents can assist the board in the mission of delivering a quality education to all students.

IASB bids farewell to Field Services directors Jeffrey Cohn, a seven-year staff member, and Laurel DiPrima, who served for more than nine years. Staff additions announced in May to fill their posts feature Perry Hill IV, a former public school principal and lobbyist; and Laura Martinez, a teacher who had been education coordinator for the Pritzker Military Library, Chicago.

A national cooperative purchasing organization known as BuyBoard becomes IASB’s latest sponsored program. The program was developed to comply with state laws on purchases while giving school districts an advantage by leveraging a cooperative’s ability to obtain bulk discounts. Combining that with the ease of online, web-based shopping, the program aims to save money and time for participating schools and districts.

IASB hosts a new workshop on community engagement in April for a group of 18 LeaderShop Academy Fellows. The training program is developed out of IASB’s community engagement report, seeking to demonstrate the correct techniques needed to foster proper school-community connections. Subsequent training sessions on the subject are offered at the November conference and later at in-district workshops in December.

Past president George Wirth dies at age 90 on Jun. 24, 2014. Wirth, of New Athens, served two years as IASB President, from 1970 to 1971, and later as Secretary-Treasurer for the National School Boards Association, from 1974 to 1976. He formerly served for 25 years as a school board member. At the time of his death, he was the oldest living IASB past president.

The IASB Board of Directors approved a new vision/mission statement for the Association. The new statement elaborates on what IASB’s vision is and how it expects to accomplish it. The new language states: “The vision of the Illinois Association of School Boards is excellence in local school board governance supporting quality public education.”

Theresa Kelly Gegen of Rochester joins the IASB staff in Springfield as a director of editorial services. She will serve as editor of The Illinois School Board Journal, succeeding retired Journal editor Linda Dawson, a 13-year veteran with the Association.

IASB’s nominating committee endorses Karen Fisher, Ottawa THSD 140, as president and Phil Pritzker, Wheeling CCSD 21, as vice president. Other IASB officers for the year are Carolyne Brooks, immediate past president; and Dale Hansen, treasurer.

Demonstration projects get under way in several districts to pilot a school security service from a new IASB-sponsored program, NaviGate Prepared™. The service provides an emergency response system that uses advanced, cloud-based technology to give first responders instant access to critical information.

A new IASB course on bullying prevention is launched on the Association’s Online Learning Center. The new course, “Bullying Prevention: the Board’s Role,” is launched in mid-September and focuses on pertinent law concerning bullying prevention as it applies to schools.

In conjunction with its “Stand Up 4 Public Schools” campaign, IASB launches the Association’s first Facebook and Twitter pages. The pages can be found on Facebook by searching Illinois Association of School Boards, and on Twitter @ ILschoolboards. Participants can “like” and follow both pages, and share them with colleagues and public education advocates, and can follow IASB during the 2014 Joint Annual Conference for live updates from Chicago.

Districts share with IASB their original “StandUp4PublicSchools” messages in videos they have recorded in and around their schools. The national “Stand Up” campaign is designed as an opportunity to counter misinformation and myths about public schools. IASB shares the district videos on its YouTube, Facebook and Twitter accounts and later shows them at Conference in the IASB Information Room.

IASB receives a communications award for its centennial publication, “Lighting the Way for 100 Years: 1913-2013.” The Illinois Chapter of the National School Public Relations Association (INSPRA) presents the award in September. IASB receives an Award of Excellence in the special-purpose category for this book, which chronicled 100 years of the organization’s history in public education with staff interviews, a historical overview, and timeline of IASB events.

More than 82 percent of the state’s 855 public school districts are represented at the 2014 Joint Annual Conference, held Nov. 21-23 in Chicago.


2015 President: Karen Fisher, Ottawa

After two years of research on a wide variety of issues, state school management groups launch the “Vision 20/20” campaign. IASB is included in the coalition that announces a comprehensive legislative initiative through this campaign that leaders call “a long-range blueprint for improving public education in Illinois.” The Vision 20/20 initiative is explained in a detailed policy brief and website. Key provisions are adopted into law during the first year of the campaign.

An initiative to enable school officials to effectively engage Illinois legislators is launched at the first-ever Alliance Leadership Summit, Feb. 17-18, in Springfield. The event focuses on the future of public education, with an emphasis on the Vision 20/20 recommendations.

In March, IASB unveils a new in-district community engagement workshop, The Board’s Work in Community Engagement, offering professional development, coaching, and implementation aid to local school boards that wish to pursue the work. The work is based on the IASB publication “Connecting with the Community: the Purpose and Process of Community Engagement as part of Effective School Board Governance.”

School referendum results from the April 7 Consolidated Election show voters approved six of 16 tax increase questions, seven of 14 bond propositions, and three of six county sales tax plans on the ballot. Of six countywide sales tax increase proposals earmarked for school facility purposes, voters approved three: in Jersey, Perry, and Scott Counties. To date, 33 counties have adopted a sales tax to benefit school facilities, or nearly one-third of the state’s 102 counties.

For newly elected school board members, IASB offered an unprecedented number of new board member workshops in 2015, with 19 two-day professional development opportunities held over six weekends around the state. A large contingent of IASB staff (Field Services, Policy Services, Board Development, Office of General Counsel, and others) and expert legal and financial consultants delivered excellent instruction in mandatory PDLT, PERA, and OMA training and the Basics of Governance.

The Online Learning Center starts a new course in the spring for new board members needing to fulfill state-mandated training requires, known as Professional Development Leadership Training (PDLT) and the Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA).

IASB staff begins the transition to a new association management system to replace a 20-year-old IBM database. The new system is expected to enrich the online experience for members by improving staff access to member information and ease online registration for IASB events. It will provide Association staff with streamlined, user-friendly access to data related to IASB membership and the services it offers. The new system is expected to be available to members in 2016.

The Illinois School Board News Blog makes its debut on May 13. The former monthly newsletter is redesigned and formatted to appear on the right-hand side of the IASB website’s homepage. The change will allow the Association to report on education events and issues in a timelier manner. The News Blog becomes part of IASB’s social media strategy, which also includes Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube sites. Many of the topics and features contained in the former newsletter are continued in the new format.  

A division leaders’ workshop is offered in the Association’s Springfield office on September 12. Workshop objectives included providing division leadership with: the opportunity to be recognized for their service to the Association, a chance to collaborate and communicate, and network with peers, and to better clarify roles and responsibilities, and strengthen leadership skills.

Raymond W. “Ray” Zimmerman of Flanagan, a former IASB president, died Sep. 20, 2015. He was 68. He was president for two terms, in 2004-2005. A former teacher, Zimmerman was elected in 1988 to the school board of Flanagan Unit District 4 in Livingston County, which later became Flanagan-Cornell Unit District 74. He served that board for 24 years, serving in IASB leadership positions for 12 of those years.

More than 9,850 public school leaders, exhibitors, and guests attend the 2015 Joint Annual Conference of the Illinois Association of School Boards, Illinois Association of School Administrators, and Illinois Association of School Business Officials. This year’s theme is “Ready, Set, Lead!”

IASB’s Delegate Assembly elects Phil Pritzker, Wheeling CCSD 21, as president and Joanne Osmond, Lake Villa CCSD 41, as vice president. Other IASB officers for the year are Karen Fisher, immediate past president; and Tom Neeley, treasurer.

New features at the 2015 Joint Annual Conference include 20 “Mini Clinics” and 11 “Learning Labs.” The clinics are hosted by IASB staff and feature short, 20-minute presentations on Association services. In contrast, the learning labs are hosted by select vendors in the exhibit hall and feature in-depth exhibitor presentations about products and services designed to assist districts looking for solutions

More members are following IASB on social media. By the end of the year, the Association had 414 Facebook likes and 1,069 followers on Twitter. The News Blog records more than 27,000 page views in 2015.

IASB welcomed several new staff members during the year, including new administrative assistant to the executive director, Chris Montrey on June 1. Rhonda Cass Mackiney was added to the board development staff in July as an administrative assistant. Joining Montrey and Mackiney in the Springfield office was Karen Johnson, an assistant business manager for administrative services. Johnson replaced Marge Reavis who retired on Sep. 22 after 15 years with IASB. Meanwhile the Lombard office added Debra Muhlena, who joined the field services department as administrative assistant to Perry Hill IV.


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