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Legislative update for the week of March 25


March 29 was the House and Senate Committee deadline. This signals the end of most committee work and moves the focus to floor action.


HB 350
(Rep. Willis, D-Northlake) repeals the 3% salary limitation for members in the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) and the State Universities’ Retirement System (SURS). This would restore the previous limit of 6%, which would continue to apply to cost of living increases, stipends, extracurricular duties, coaching stipends, seniority payments, promotions, overtime compensation, National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) stipends, and other compensated duties. HB 350 is currently on its third reading in the House.

Fair tax remains major focus
Gov. Pritzker released new county-level data that illustrates how a majority of communities stand to do even better than the statewide average under his fair tax proposal. Of the over 5.68 million filers in tax year 2016, 5.52 million taxpayers — 97 percent statewide — will pay the same or less in state income taxes.

Teacher evaluation

SB 1213 (Sen. Lightford, D-Westchester) amends the Performance Evaluation Reform Act to provide more effective evaluation feedback to teachers and administrators. Changes include making student growth measures permissive, establishing a local appeals process for school districts outside Chicago, and for purposes of the School Report Card, moving to a two-rating evaluation reporting system. SB 1213 passed out of the Senate Education Committee and continues to be negotiated with stakeholders.

SB 1822 (Sen. Lightford, D-Westchester) stretched the evaluation period to once every four years (formerly 2) for teachers rated “excellent” and “proficient.”. The bill will alleviate workload on teachers and administrators while maintaining the informal evaluation process. SB 1822 remains in Committee.

Paraprofessionals and School Related Personnel (PSRP) rights
HB 921
(Stuart, D-Collinsville) gives PSRPs recall rights. The measure resulted from an unfair reduction in force (RIF) that harmed 21 PSRPs in a downstate school district, causing them to lose seniority, pay, and health care benefits. HB 921 provides that if a PSRP is called back to work within one year from the time they were RIF’ed, they will maintain any rights and benefits accrued. The bill is on the third reading in the House.

Restoring the instructional day
SB 28
(Sen. Bertino-Tarrant, D-Plainfield) and HB 247 (Rep. Crespo, D-Streamwood) seek to restore the instructional day and school year requirements as they were prior to November 9, 2018. As amended, SB 28 expands e-learning snow day availability to all districts (rather than limited to the pilots in West Chicago, Gurnee, and Leyden) and reaffirms that dual-credit, career development experiences under PWR, youth apprenticeship, and certain blended learning would count towards the hours in an instructional day. SB 28 passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the House.

HB 2100
(Rep. Welch, D-Westchester) seeks to abolish the State Charter School Commission. The bill was approved by the House Education Licensing Committee on a partisan vote and continues to be negotiated.

Senate hearing on educator misconduct

IFT and CTU testified before the Senate Education Committee about a group of bills that make changes to laws related to educator misconduct. Union advocates urged the legislature to enhance student safety while maintaining due process. It is anticipated an omnibus bill will advance this session.

Other highlights include: 

HB 253 (Rep. Guzzardi, D-Chicago) changes the law to ensure that graduate research assistants are recognized as employees, just as teaching assistants are. The bill passed the House 72-32 and now moves to the Senate.

HB 3244 (Rep. Demmer, R-Dixon) passed the House on a vote of 98-0-1. This legislation would allow counties to seek voter approval to use school facility tax dollars toward employing school resources officers and/or mental health professionals.

HB 2265 (Rep. Lilly, D-Oak Park) requires public elementary schools to include civics education curriculum in at least one semester during 6th, 7th, or 8th grade, beginning with the 2020-2021 school year. The bill passed the House by a vote of 73-31.

HB 3053 (Rep. Mayfield, D-Waukegan) backed by the Illinois Policy Institute, creates the School District Efficiency Commission. Unions and school management groups have expressed concerns with a referendum process included in the bill. The bill passed the House on a vote of 109-0-0.

SB 1809 (Sen. Dewitt, R-West Dundee) extends Monetary Awards Program (MAP) eligibility to individuals with bachelors degrees returning to the teaching field. The bill was approved by the Senate Higher Education Committee and is now on its 3rd reading in the Senate.

SB 2025 (Sen. Koehler, D-Peoria) requires each school district to inform a student's parent or guardian if his or her child is beginning to receive tiered Response to Intervention support that is more intensive than the universal level of instruction, and the district must allow the parent or guardian to participate in the process. The bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee and advances to the Senate floor.

HB 254 (Rep. Guzzardi, D-Chicago) requires the State Board of Education to make information about actively-employed teachers, pupil-teacher ratios, class instructors by grade level and subject, and class size available online. The bill was approved by the House Licensing Committee and now moves to the House floor.

HB 256 (Rep. Guzzardi, D-Chicago) prohibits ISBE from requiring an assessment that requires videotaping as a final component of student teaching. This bill is aimed eliminating the required edTPA assessment. Rep Guzzardi is concerned about the impact it has on student data privacy as well as the impact on student teachers. The bill passed the House Education Licensing Committee and now moves to the House floor.

SB 209 (Sen. Bertino-Tarrant, D-Plainfield) provides districts and cooperatives with planning time to ensure appropriate student placement by requiring that a petition for withdrawal from a joint special education agreement must be presented to other member districts within 18 months from the date of the withdrawal. The bill was amended in the Senate Education Committee and now moves to the Senate floor.

A look ahead

The House and Senate return on Tuesday, April 2 for committee and floor action.

The House Personnel and Pensions Committee is holding a subject matter hearing on buyout programs and other reforms.

Download the IFT app (Apple or Android) for updates and watch Under the Dome for the latest legislative news.



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