Local Issues Director: Judy Gervase, The League of Women Voters of Glen Ellyn
Our chapter of the League follows major issues of interest to our membership; each area is the responsibility of a local issues director. They track legislation and items of particular timely interest. Our Observer Corps attends meetings to report back to the board and members on key issues.
LATEST REPORT: September 2019
The 2019/20 Kickoff Community Meeting was held August 22 at Reserve 22 at the Village Links Golf Course, featuring the Superintendents of Districts 41, 87 and 89. District 41’s new Superintendent Dr. Melissa Kaczkowski was introduced to the community, along with Dr. Emily Tammaru from D89 and Dr. David Larsen from D87. They spoke of construction work done over the summer, testing information they’d received on student achievement and goals they have for the upcoming school year. They also fielded questions from attendees regarding social/emotional issues and about the preparedness of the schools in the event of an active shooter incident.
There was a flurry of House and Senate Bills passed and signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker:
HB1226 will abolish the state commission that oversees charter schools next year, transferring that duty/power to the Illinois State Board of Education.
HB246 mandates this school year, that by 8th grade schools must teach contributions to Illinois and US history made by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Illinois is the 5th state to pass such a bill.
HB2265 mandates that beginning this school year, elementary schools must include at least one semester of civics education in 6, 7 or 8th grade.
HB2078 raises Illinois public school teachers’ minimum salaries incrementally from $32,076 in 2020-21 to $40,000 in 2023-24.
HB 1472 allows retired public school teachers to go back to teaching in a public school and keep their pensions in some cases where there are qualifying schools with teacher shortages.
SB 1952, in an effort to recruit/retain qualified teachers, removes the licensing requirement that teachers pass a basic skills test; student teachers may be paid; teachers in underfunded/hard -to-staff schools can be refunded the cost for required teacher performance assessments.
Amendment to HB 35, called “Grow Your Own Teacher” law, which is meant to provide incentives for more people to become teachers, expands the definition of “eligible” and “hard to staff” within the grant-based initiative to include qualifying early childhood programs, candidates who have had an interruption of their college education, and to high school students taking dual-credit courses at a participating institution of higher learning.
HB 2605, starting January 1, 2020, eliminates what sponsors called a “redundant certification requirement” to make it easier to fill Speech Pathologist positions.
HB 2205 requires Chicago Public Schools to publish a full financial report including a cost and benefits analysis within 8 months of giving notice of the intent to close a public school.
SB1250, starting January 1, 2020, allows students with prearranged medical action plans to self-administer their medications at school.
SB 455, starting January 1, 2020, allows school nurses and administrators to provide medical cannabis to eligible students on school property or at school events.
HB 2627 requires that a parent or designate be present when a student is questioned about an alleged crime on school grounds.
HB 254 requires public school districts to report teacher employment data, including student-to-teacher ratios, to the Illinois State Board of Education by November 16, 2020.
Judy Gervase, Education Director
The Department of Education is considering whether federal funds can legally be provided to schools to provide guns to teachers or other school personnel. The League of Women Voters strongly opposes this action and has asked members to call the Department of Education at 202-401-3000 voicing opposition.
While passage of the Evidence Based Funding bill that passed in 2017 was a significant improvement in the way schools are funded throughout the state, it is far from being fully funded. Approximately 83% of the school districts in Illinois do not have enough resources to provide an adequate education. Teacher shortages are being reported, particularly in downstate districts. Many children in Illinois are not prepared for kindergarten.
LWVIL is currently supporting HB2265 which requires every public elementary school to include civics education in the 6th, 7th, or 8th grade curriculum. Students who achieve proficiency in civics at an early age are more likely to vote regularly and participate more broadly in our democracy.
Educational Issues LWVIL anticipates being important during the 2019 Legislative Session:
· Advocate for increased sources of funding to accommodate budget increases for Evidence Based Funding as well as property tax relief for low income/high property tax districts
· Oppose a property tax freeze which would undercut new dollars for schools
· Support bills preventing the Charter School Commission from overriding local school boards
· Support efforts to increase the number of well-prepared teachers
· Support efforts to increase funding for higher education
· Oppose unfunded mandates
The election on April 2 resulted in changes to the Boards of Education in all school districts in Glen Ellyn. In District 41, the new members elected are Jessica Buttimer, Edward “Ted” Estes, and Julie Hill. In District 89, incumbents Timothy Jedlicka and Scott Pope were re-elected along with new board member Benjamin Yates. In Glenbard District 87, incumbents Margaret DeLaRosa and Martha Mueller were re-elected along with new board member John Kenwood. Two new members were elected to the College of DuPage Board of Trustees—Annette Corrigan and Maureen Dunne
The Board of Education of District 41 has named a new superintendent beginning on July 1, 2019. She is Dr. Melissa Kaczkowski, who has recently served as Superintendent of Roselle School District 12.
OFFICIAL POSITION OF THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF ILLINOIS:
SCHOOLS: LWVIL supports a system of high quality elementary and secondary schools for all children in Illinois, which provides for local control of school program and budget within minimum program requirements set by the State. The State should provide leadership to local communities for program development and should set standards for recognition and accreditation of schools. Educational programs’ effectiveness should be evaluated regularly. The League favors minimum standards for graduation and promotion of students. LWVIL supports increased professionalism for teachers including stringent teacher preparation standards, comprehensive teacher and principal evaluations, changes in tenure, and increased teacher compensation. The State should assume the major responsibility for funding public schools and guarantee an adequate level of financial support. Schools should be provided stable, reliable, and adequate revenue through a combination of federal, state and local sources.
LWVIL supports accountability, transparency, and equity in the use of public funds for education, including charter schools. Charter school authorizers should evaluate the performance of existing charters before granting new charters or approving additional campuses. The authority for approving and renewing charters should reside exclusively in the local school board.
Latest EDUCATION Observer Group Report
D41 Observers – Michelle Peterson and I have been attending D41 Board meetings for more than two years. We have written reports to be placed on the LWVGE website. District 41 is now posting summaries of the meetings on their website and linking the discussions to the actual time on the archived videos of the meetings. We encourage interested parties to visit D41.org and click on School Board. Board videos and summaries of the meetings can be found at this link. We are continuing to observe the meetings and will report on items of interest.