April 23 was the deadline for bills to cross from the House to the Senate and vice versa. The past two weeks in Springfield have been bustling with new amendments filed and sent to committee with one hour notice as well as long days of legislative action on the floor. Legislative efforts will now shift to readying bills for final passage and crafting the FY22 State Budget. At this time, the General Assembly continues to be on track to adjourn by the May 31 deadline. A recap of the action:
FY22 State Budget Discussion
Members of the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee held a joint hearing Friday April 23 on tax changes proposed by the governor to balance the state’s budget for the 2022 fiscal year. In his budget proposal released in February, Gov. Pritzker outlined nine changes to the corporate tax code meant to generate $932 million in revenue for the state to maintain a balanced budget while keeping income taxes and government spending flat for FY 22, which begins July 1. According to the governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB), the state’s short-term fiscal situation looked positive due to loans and an influx of funds from the federal government as part of several coronavirus relief packages passed in the last year. But for long-term stability, there are hard choices to be made regarding the tax code. IFT supports changes to the Invest in Kids Tax Credit. The governor also proposed a reduction (from 75% to 40%) of the tax credit for individuals and businesses that contribute to private school scholarships.
Forced Consolidation Bill Stopped
HB 7 (Mayfield, D-Waukegan) as amended by House Amendment #3 creates the Efficient School District Commission. Its purpose is to provide recommendations to the governor, the General Assembly, and the electorate regarding the number of school districts in this state and where the reorganization and realignment of school districts would be beneficial. The 13-member commission would be charged with making recommendations to regional superintendents on school consolidation. The question of whether to consolidate districts would be put on the ballot in communities without their input. The IFT and other education stakeholders opposed this bill and it failed to gain enough support to pass the House. The bill will be returned to the House Rules Committee, though similar efforts could still come up before the end of the 2021 spring legislative session.
Elected School Board Efforts Continue
IFT, CTU, and parent and community allies continue pushing to create an elected representative school board for Chicago.
Chicago Board of Education Elected School Board
HB 2908 (Rep. Ramirez, D-Chicago) brings the Chicago Public Schools in line with the rest of Illinois’ school district governance structures. The bill provides for a 20-member school board representing districts in the city of Chicago to first be elected in the consolidated election of 2023. Candidate qualifications for board members are the same as candidates in the rest of the state, and the board’s duties would be equivalent to those of other Illinois school boards. Districts will be drawn to ensure equal representation and meet all tests required by the Federal Voting Rights Act. HB 2908 passed the House last week by a vote of 71 YES – 39 NO – 3 PRESENT.
A similar bill, SB 2497 (Martwick, D-Chicago) was advanced out of Senate Committee last week but still awaits a vote of the full Senate.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Bill for Chicago School Board
SB 827, Senate Am. 1 (Lightford, D-Hillside). This amendment would make changes to the Chicago School Board, beginning in 2026, replacing the current seven members with 5 directly appointed by the Chicago Mayor and two elected from districts. In 2028, three additional members would be appointed by the Mayor, and one additional member would be directly elected. By 2028, this would result in 8 directly appointed by the Mayor, and 3 elected from districts. These districts shall be drawn by a five-member committee appointed by the mayor, the president of the board of education, the CEO of the schools, one member of a local school council, and the chair of the city council’s education committee. To run for a board seat, a candidate must live in the city and may not be an employee of CPS. This amendment has been filed but has not yet been heard in committee.
IFT Initiatives Cross Chambers
HB 18 (Scherer, D-Decatur/Morrison, D-Highwood) will stretch out the evaluations for teachers with excellent and proficient ratings to once every three years (rather than every other year) but leaves in the flexibility for more frequent administrative observations to ensure meaningful feedback to teachers and if determined to be necessary (current law).
HB 375 (Smith, D-Chicago) will provide an employment notice for adjuncts at universities and community colleges. The amended bill requires a higher education institution to notify the adjunct about the status of enrollment for their class at 30 days and then again at 14 days before the beginning of the next term. The legislation was approved in the House of Representatives by a vote of 74-38. The Senate will now take up the bill for further consideration.
Over the past two weeks the House and Senate have acted on nearly a thousand different legislative initiatives. While not every bill impacts education, higher education, or labor, a large majority do. Below are updates organized by subject matter of bills impacting IFT members:
School Operations and Curriculum Changes
Bill Addressing ‘Sexting’ Passes House
HB 24 (West, D-Rockford) requires sex education course material for grades 6-12 to include an age-appropriate discussion on sexting. The discussion shall include an exploration of consequences of sexting, bullying and harassment, internet safety, and the identification of appropriate school personnel who may be contacted for assistance if a student is concerned about something occurring in this area. Such personnel may include the principal, a teacher, school social worker, counselor, trusted community leader. Passed the House with 115 Yes votes, zero NO votes.
School Anaphylactic Policies
HB 102 (Carroll, D-Northbrook) requires schools to adopt an anaphylactic policy developed by the ISBE and IDPH.
School Menstrual Hygiene Product Placement
HB 156-HFA 2 (Barbara Hernandez, D-Aurora) amends the language pertaining to menstrual hygiene products to be placed in bathrooms of every school building that are open for student use in grades 4 through 12 during the regular school day. The amendment passed committee and is pending a vote by the full House.
Uses of Seclusion and Restraints in School Settings
HB 219 (Carroll, D-Northbrook) The bill makes changes concerning a school board's use of time out and physical restraint, including providing that isolated time out, time out, and physical restraint may be used only under certain circumstances. Passes the House unanimously.
Social Studies and American History – Must be Inclusive of the Asian American Experience
HB 376 (Gong-Gershowitz, D-Glenview) requires public schools to include in their curriculum a unit of instruction studying the events of Asian American history. This shall include the study of the wrongful incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II and the heroic service of the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team of the United States Army during World War II. Passed the House 98 – 13.
Update to Youth Suicide Prevention Policies
HB 577 (LaPointe, D-Chicago) makes changes to school code and requires any youth suicide prevention policies designed by the state board of education and local school boards and leadership shall include a safety plan for students identified as potentially at greater risk, including: students suffering a mental health or substance abuse disorder, engaging in self-harm, those who have attempted suicide previously, those who reside in out-of-home placement or are homeless, students who identify as gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning, and who are bereaved by suicide, have a medical condition, or certain disabilities. Passed the House with 114 YES votes.
Sex Abuse Prevention
HB 1975 (Mussman, D-Schaumburg) requires the state board of education to develop and maintain a resource guide for students, parents, and teachers about sex abuse prevention resources available in the community. Licensure renewal is updated to require PD providers include in their training information about grooming, sex abuse, and how to protect children. The bill requires districts develop a professional code of conduct policy. The bill makes changes to the criminal code, to add offenses around criminal sexual assault and grooming. This passed the House, 115 – 0.
School Safety Drill Safety HB 2400 (Hirschauer, D-West Chicago) sets forth several limitations, requirements, and notice requirements regarding school safety drills.
Special Education Services for Students – 22nd Birthday
HB 2748 (Ness, D-Carpentersville) provides that if a student turns 22 during the time in which the student's in-person instruction is suspended for a period of 3 months or more during the school year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, then the student is eligible for special education services through the end of the following school year (rather than being eligible for such services only until the day before the student's 22nd birthday). Passed the House 115 – 0.
Remote Learning on School Improvement Days
HB 2778 (Burke, D-Oak Lawn) allows school districts to have whole-day school improvement days four times a year in lieu of improvement days with students in attendance. Metrics for Reopening Schools
HB 2789 (Mussman, D-Schaumburg) requires the Department of Public Health (IDPH) to establish metrics for school districts to determine if the district may safely conduct in-person or remote instruction. School Board Oath of Office
HB 2814–HFA 1 (Halbrook, R-Shelbyville) amends the language to the school board oath of office. The bill passed the House unanimously this week.
Teaching Work Ethic
HB 2987 (Lilly, D-Oak Park) provides that beginning in sixth grade, students should be introduced to the importance of developing and applying a work ethic under the Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness program.
Driver Education Update – How to Interact with Police During a Traffic Stop
HB 3097 (Harper, D-Chicago) requires school driver education course instruction to include procedures for interacting with law enforcement during traffic stops. Also requires that adult education courses include these procedures. The bill requires the Secretary of State and Illinois State Police to collaborate in updating the Illinois Rules of the Road to include appropriate law enforcement interaction during traffic stops. Passed the House, 113-0.
State Education Equity Committee
HB 3114 (Delgado, D-Chicago) creates a State Education Equity Committee to address systemic inequities and ensure each and every child is equipped to reach their fullest potential.
Health Education on E-Cigarettes and Vaping HB 3202 (Mason, D-Gurnee) adds e-cigarettes and other vapor devices as an education area under Comprehensive Health Education Program.
Ensuring Success in Schools for All Students
HB 3223 (Moeller, D-Elgin) allows a student who is a victim of gender-based violence to transfer schools immediately if the student’s continued attendance at the original school poses a risk to the student’s mental or physical well-being or safety. It also provides that a student’s disclosure of his/her status as a parent, expectant parent, or victim of gender-based violence be a mitigating circumstance in any suspension or expulsion proceeding. Many other requirements for school districts are also included affecting homebound instruction, student absences/truancy, staff training, review/revision of policies and procedures, complaint procedures, confidentiality, and student accommodations and services.
Policies for Pregnant and Parenting Students
HB 3272 (Harper, D-Chicago) requires school districts to adopt policies related to absences and missed schoolwork as a result of pregnancy.
Citizenship Education HB 3281 (Ortiz, D-Chicago) allows school districts to teach a unit of instruction on the process of becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Changes to District Policies around Sex Abuse Training and Prevention
HB 3461 (Crespo, D-Streamwood) requires districts to adopt and implement policy that includes age-appropriate and evidence-based curriculum for PreK- 12 grades. Training materials shall include a definition of prohibited training behaviors and boundary violations and how to report these behaviors. Also requires districts to provide training no later than January 31st of each school year. Passed the House, 116 – 0.
Time for Play
SB654 (Peters, D-Chicago) would require public schools to provide a 60 minutes of daily play time for all students in kindergarten through 8th grade. This bill passed the Senate on a vote of 36-16 this week.
Mental Health Days for Students
SB 1577 (Martwick, D-Chicago) allows students to be absent up to five days for mental or behavioral health without a medical note and shall be allowed to make up any schoolwork missed.
Inclusive Dress Code
SB1784 (Murphy, D-Des Plaines) provides that each school district must allow a student-athlete to modify his or her athletic uniform for the purpose of modesty in clothing or attire that is in accordance with the requirements of his or her religion.
Financial Literacy Expansion
In recognition of financial literacy month, Senator Loughran Cappel (D-Plainfield) introduced SB1830, which provides that a semester or part of a semester of financial literacy may be a part of the fulfillment of the mathematics requirement needed to receive a high school diploma.
Representative Seeks to Lower Lapsed Educator License Fee
HB 2828 (Caulkins, R-Decatur) allows for the reinstatement of a lapsed Professional Educator License upon the payment by the applicant of the lesser of a $100 penalty or a $10 penalty for each year the license has lapsed (rather than a $500 penalty). Passed the House with 105 votes.
Changing the EdTPA
SB 808 (Murphy, D-Des Plaines) provides that, to obtain a license under the Article, a student teacher candidate may not be required to videotape himself or herself or his or her students in a classroom setting. SB 808 passed the Senate on a vote of 47-5.
Financial Changes for School Districts, Universities, and Community Colleges
SB 508 (DeWitte, R-West Dundee) provides that a taxing district's aggregate extension base shall be adjusted whenever an assessment increases or decreases due to the issuance of a certificate of error, a decision of the board of review, or a decision of the Property Tax Appeal Board results in the overextension or under-extension of taxes for the last preceding levy year. SB 813 (Johnson, D-Waukegan), with respect to the evidence-based funding formula, provides that, in recognition of the impact of COVID-19, the definition of "Average Student Enrollment" or "ASE" shall be adjusted for calculations for fiscal years 2022 – 2024.
SB 815 (Lightford, D-Maywood) would establish a commission to recommend to the General Assembly equitable funding policy for public universities and community colleges. The legislation creates a 35-member commission that includes one community college and one university faculty member. The commission must report its findings by February 1, 2023.
HB 1966 (Hammond, R-Macomb) and SB 1646 (McClure, R-Jacksonville) allow for the purchase of private school credit under TRS. The member must pay the employee and employer cost plus interest to purchase up to two years of service credit. Both pieces of legislation have been approved by their chamber of origin and will proceed to the opposite chamber for further consideration.
SB 2093 (Martwick, D-Chicago) allows educators working in CPS contract schools to access a defined benefit pension via CTPF. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 34-18 this week.
HB 2569 (Windhorst, R-Harrisburg) extends the provision allowing retired teachers to return to teaching without penalty until June 30, 2024. It also requires schools to post vacancies on the district’s website and in an online database.
HB 4 (Mayfield, D-Waukegan) allows student instruction to be delivered electronically as an e-learning day when a school is required to be used as a polling place on Election Day.
Parity for Chicago strike votes
HB1160 (Guerrero-Cuellar, D-Chicago) would remove the requirement that 75% of the members of the Chicago Teachers Union must vote to strike. Chicago Public Schools is the only school district this provision currently applies to. The bill passed the House by a vote of 67-42-1.
Electronic signatures for union elections, no strike retaliation
HB2521 (Gonzalez, D-Chicago) would allow electronic signatures to be used in elections to select a labor organization as the representative of the employees in a bargaining unit. The bill also makes any retaliatory action from an employer against employees who are on strike an unfair labor practice. The bill passed the House by a vote of 67-43.
Union rights for Chicago Principals
HB3496 (Davis, D-East Hazel Crest) changes the legal definition of a supervisor in Chicago and would allow principals to be considered educational employees with collective bargaining rights. The bill passed the House by a vote of 68-44.