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IFT VP offers teacher shortage solutions

Lawmakers in Springfield last week heard testimony on important education issues and voted on several proposals in committee. Here are the highlights of this week’s action:
IFT VP offers teacher shortage solutions
IFT Vice President Elaine Barlos (Local 943) testified about the state’s teacher shortage before the House Elementary and Secondary Education Licensing, Administration & Oversight Committee on Wednesday. Barlos focused on solutions to the shortage that legislators and policy makers can implement to elevate the teaching profession and encourage potential candidates to become educators.

Her suggestions included: reforming the Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA) to provide more meaningful feedback to teachers; allocating funding and making time for new teacher mentoring; ensuring that professional development is relevant to educator needs; eliminating the constant changes in licensure requirements; and providing fair retirement security to all teachers, not just those in Tier I.

The committee plans to take additional testimony in the coming weeks. Action on this topic is likely; more than a dozen bills have been filed this session to address the state's teacher shortage.
Revenue estimates presented in committee
The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) and the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) presented their Fiscal Year 2019 revenue estimates to the House Revenue and Finance Committee. Both predicted revenue growth for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins on July 1. GOMB is predicting state revenues of $31.8 billion, while COGFA is predicting $31.7 billion. The adoption of a revenue estimate by the General Assembly is usually the first step in the budget making process.

The House and Senate Appropriation Committees will continue to take agency testimony on the FY19 state budget.
Highlights of committee action
The Senate Education Committee approved:

SB 2545 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill) - This proposal clarifies the intent of PA 97-008/SB 7 (Education Reform), which says that the Reduction in Force (RIF) and Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA) committees will be excluded from the Open Meetings Act, along with the negotiating team strategy sessions.

SB 2658 (Shimpf, R-Murphysboro) - This proposal provides for a valid provisional teaching license until June 30, immediately following three (rather than the current two) years of the license being issued for service members and their spouses.

SB 2941 (McGuire, D-Joliet) - This proposal expands ISBE’s competency-based, high school graduation requirements to additional schools.

SB 3045 (Manar, D- Bunker Hill) - This proposal provides that for the next two years, a retired teacher may teach for 120 days (versus the current 100 days) without impairing his or her retirement status.

The Senate Government Reform Committee approved:

SB 2900 (Righter, R-Mattoon) - This proposal creates a process for a school board to fill a vacancy due to a lack of candidates for election in a congressional township. The bill provides that the board shall submit a question to the voters in the next election as to whether they approve an at-large election of the board instead of mandatory board representation by area.

The House Elementary and Secondary Education Licensing Committee approved:

HB 4409 (Pritchard, R-Sycamore) - This proposal defines school psychologist to include a person that holds a valid Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) credential.

HB 4514 (Pritchard, R-Sycamore) - This proposal provides that only individuals licensed and endorsed as a school counselor may use the title of school counselor.
IFT local co-hosts 13th Congressional District forum
The Champaign Federation of Teachers (Local 1925) gathered Democratic candidates for the 13th Congressional District at the Plumbers and Pipefitters Hall last week to discuss the future of Illinois. Rodney Davis currently represents the district. His primary opponents include Betsy Londrigan, Jon Ebel, Erik Jones, Dr. David Gill, and Angel Sides. The forum gave the public an opportunity to ask questions about each candidate and hear their stances on DACA, healthcare, and state pensions.
The House returns to the Capitol on March 6, while the Senate returns on March 13. Both chambers will be on break from March 19-30. Watch Under the Dome for updates.




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