NEWS

Legislative highlights for the week of March 22

The deadline to pass House bills out of House Committees passed March 26. The Senate deadline has been extended to April 16. New leadership in both the House and the Senate, changes to operating procedures, and the ongoing remote committee environment has meant a higher volume of bills in Committees as well as more bills being released from Committee that still need work.


The Illinois General Assembly is on break through the week of April 12, making it a good time to reach out to legislators in their district offices. To learn more about how IFT can support in-district efforts visit IFT's Local Action for Statewide Results (LASR program).

IL Redistricting process begins in earnest

The Illinois House and Senate began hearings to start the process of redrawing congressional and state legislative districts in line with the 2020 census. Lawmakers are holding hearings even though detailed census data will likely be unavailable until September.


The once-in-a-decade process follows the U.S. Census count. Each state is required to draw new boundaries for legislative districts in response to shifts in population. While each state has a unique process for redistricting, legislative districts must conform to several constitutional and statutory standards, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In Illinois, legislative redistricting maps must also meet four requirements including:

  • districts must be substantially equal in population

  • districts must be configured to provide adequate representation to minorities and other special interests protected by state and federal law

  • districts must be compact and contiguous

  • maps must meet all legal requirements regarding political fairness

Public hearings hosted by both the House and Senate are being held up and down the state allowing for communities to have input and/or express concerns, particularly from minority and underrepresented groups.


Submit House testimony here.

Submit Senate testimony here.


The Illinois Constitution requires the GA to pass new maps by June 30. However, a delay in data from the U.S. Census Bureau has created an obstacle for lawmakers. If not passed by the statutory deadline, the map-making process is handed over to a commission.


Bill action of note this week:


Education and School Operations

HB 7 (Rep. Mayfield, D-Waukegan) creates the School District Efficiency Commission that would identify, before May 1, 2022, no less than 25% of school districts in Illinois that will be required to hold a referendum to consolidate in the next general election. Regional Superintendents would be required to notify the public, approve or disapprove the proposition, and submit the proposal to the State Superintendent for review and approval before going before the voters. With the promise to continue to work on the underlying issues, HB 7 passed 8-0-0, however Representative Mayfield said that amendments and changes will have to be brought back to committee for a vote.

SB 564 (Sen. Ellman, D-Naperville) adds January 17, the birthday of Muhammad Ali, to the list of commemorative holidays and requires the teaching of the contributions made by Muslims and Muslim Americans to society as part of U.S. History. The bill passed out of committee 11-3-0. SB 1819 (Sen. Koehler, D-Peoria) creates the Rural Education Advisory Council to address the needs of rural school districts. An amendment was added that would provide for teachers from rural districts to participate. The bill passed out of committee 14-0-0.


SB 1821 (Sen. Koehler, D-Peoria) allows a student whose 22nd birthday occurs during the school year to complete the academic year for 2021-22. In current statute, special education students are eligible for services until they reach their 22nd birthday. An amendment was added that would allow federal COVID funds to help support district efforts to continue to enroll these students. The bill passed out of committee 12-0-0.


SB 2043 (Sen. Pacione-Zayas, D- Chicago) is an initiative of ISBE to clean up statute. Two issues are included in the bill that are of interest to the IFT: 1) the exemption of the ISBE employees from the Sick Bank requirement in Statute. ISBE employees are currently able to access these benefits via an internal agency sick back; that will continue after passage of this bill. and 2) language that would allow ISBE to reimburse districts for virtual course provided. This second provision is concerning to IFT and ISBE has agreed to amend this language out. The bill passed out of committee 10-0-0.


SB2071 (Sen. Castro, D-Elgin) provides that an applicant who has earned a master's degree in social work and holds a valid license may obtain a social worker endorsement on an Educator License. The bill passed out of committee 12-0-0.


E-cigarettes and Vaping

HB 3202 (Rep. Mason, D-Gurnee) includes e-cigarettes and other vapor devices as one of the educational areas the Comprehensive Health Education Program must include. Passed unanimously.


Public Health Metrics and Schools

HB 2789 (Rep. Mussman, D-Schaumburg) provides that Department of Public Health shall establish metrics and develop recommended guidelines for school districts and public institutions of higher education to use during the public health emergency. Provides that the rapid COVID-19 testing shall be paid for from federal relief funds. Makes other changes. Passed unanimously. This is a work in progress. An amendment is being negotiated.


E-Learning Day on Election Day

HB 4 (Rep. Mayfield, D-Waukkegan) permits student instruction to be received electronically under a school district's program for e-learning days while students are not physically present because a school was selected to be a polling place under the Election Code. The bill passed out of committee 8-0-0.


Nurses in Schools

HB 70 (Rep. Flowers, D-Chicago) provides that the Chicago Board of Education, beginning with the 2022-2023 school year, shall require the top 20% of the lowest performing schools in the district to employ a school nurse. The bill passed out of committee 5-3-0.


Award of Contracts

HB 2421 (Rep. Didech, D-Buffalo Grove) provides that a school board may award contracts for the purchase of supplies and materials or work involving an expenditure in excess of $50,000 or a lower amount as required by board policy to the lowest responsible and responsive bidder or to the bidder determined to best meet the needs of the board, considering such factors as conformity with specifications, terms of delivery, quality, and serviceability and such other performance criteria determined by board policy and included in the bid documents, and then price (rather than awarding contracts for the purchase of supplies and materials or work involving an expenditure in excess of $25,000 or a lower amount as required by board policy to the lowest responsible bidder, considering conformity with specifications, terms of delivery, quality, and serviceability), after due advertisement. Provides for an exception for contracts for the repair, maintenance, remodeling, renovation, or construction or a single project involving an expenditure not to exceed $100,000 (rather than $50,000) and not involving a change or increase in the size, type, or extent of an existing facility. The bill passed out of committee 8-0-0.


Charter School Auditor

HB 2795 (Rep. Harper, D-Chicago) With respect to a charter school's retention of an outside, independent contractor to audit the charter school's finances, provides that the contractor shall not be an employee of the charter school or affiliated with the charter school or its authorizer in any way, other than to audit the charter school's finances. The bill passed the out of committee 8-0-0.


Required school board oath removed

HB 2814 (Rep. Halbrook, R-Shelbyville) removes portions of a school board member's oath of office taken before taking seat on the board. The bill passed out of committee 8-0-0.


HB 3149 (Rep. Mason, D-Gurnee) provides that a duty of the regional superintendent of schools is to inspect the energy conservation measures of schools under the Code. In the Article concerning school energy conservation and savings measures, makes changes concerning definitions, the evaluation and submission of guaranteed energy savings contract proposals, performance reviews, the award of a contract, the written guarantee, installment payment contracts and lease purchase agreements, cost savings, and available funds. The bill passed out of committee 5-3-0.


Updating Absence Guidelines

HB 3272 (Rep. Harper, D-Chicago) requires a school board to adopt written policies related to absences and missed homework or classwork assignments as a result of, or related to, a student's pregnancy. The bill passed out of committee 8-0-0.


School District Boundaries

HB 3310 (Rep. Welter, R-Morris) provides that the length of time that signatures on the petition remain valid before the filing of the petition shall not exceed one year (rather than shall not exceed 6 months) with respect to change school district boundaries by detachment, annexation, division, or dissolution. The bill passed 8-0-0.


School Construction Grants

HB 3563 (Rep. Ugaste, R-Geneva) with regard to early childhood construction grants, provides that (i) a public school district assigned to Tier 1 under the evidence-based funding formula under the School Code or any other eligible entity in an area encompassed by that district must provide local matching funds in an amount equal to 3% of the awarded grant, (ii) a public school district assigned to Tier 2 under the evidence-based funding formula or any other eligible entity in an area encompassed by that district must provide local matching funds in an amount equal to 7.5% of the awarded grant, (iii) a public school district assigned to Tier 3 under the evidence-based funding formula or any other eligible entity in an area encompassed by that district must provide local matching funds in an amount equal to 8.75% of the awarded grant, and (iv) a public school district assigned to Tier 4 under the evidence-based funding formula or any other eligible entity in an area encompassed by that district must provide local matching funds in an amount equal to 10% of the awarded grant (rather than providing that a public school district or other eligible entity must provide local matching funds in an amount equal to 10% of the grant). The bill passed out of committee 8-0-0.


Remote Learning

HB 3573 (Rep. Bennett, R-Pontiac) makes a change in the School Code to allow a school district to utilize a remote learning day instead of an emergency day. It requires the school district to have a remote learning plan in place before they utilize a remote learning day. The bill was approved 8-0.


HB 3638 (Rep. Marron, R-Danville) provides that a public or private educational entity that offers credit-bearing vocational, career, or technical education and coursework to high school students through a learning program, approved by the school district, wherein the location of the course instruction takes place in a building or structure that is located on the campus of an institution of higher education or in a building or structure that is located on a site that is under the jurisdiction or control of the institution may not be required by the Department of Public Health to obtain asbestos testing or to implement an asbestos remediation or abatement plan for that building or structure if (i) the public or private educational entity is not associated or affiliated with the institution of higher education other than in the use of the building or structure for course instruction and (ii) the institution of higher education is in compliance with all State and federal asbestos testing, abatement, and remediation requirements for buildings or structures located on its campus or that are otherwise under the jurisdiction or control of the institution. The bill passed out of committee 8-0-0.


Purple Star Schools in Illinois

HJR 10 (Rep. Keicher, R-Sycamore) urges the Illinois State Board of Education to establish and manage a program designating Purple Star Schools in Illinois. The bill passed out of committee 8-0-0.


Data Collection Review

HR14 (Rep. Keicher, R-Sycamore) urges the Illinois State Board of Education to review existing data reporting mandates, both State and federal, in an effort to streamline the reporting system and remove redundant data collection. The bill passed out of committee 8-0-0.


Support for Education Support Professionals

HR 77 (Rep. Gong-Gershowitz, D-Glenview) states that education support professionals in public schools should be treated with the same respect, recognition, value, and standards as teachers. Urges the General Assembly to seek solutions via study and legislation that include, but are not limited to, legislated salary parity, quality professional development and training, and mandated access to health benefits for all education support professionals. The bill passed out of committee 8-0-0.


Chicago Board of Education Elected School Board

HB 2908 (Rep. Ramierz, D-Chicago) provides for the election of the Chicago Board of Education for the 2023 and 2027 consolidated primary elections only. Provides that no later than June 30, 2029, the General Assembly must review and revise the election of members of the Chicago Board of Education and if the General Assembly has not reauthorized the election of members of the Chicago Board of Education by June 30, 2029, then, on May 13, 2031, the terms of all members elected in 2027 shall end, and a new Chicago Board of Education consisting of 7 members shall be appointed by the Mayor. Makes conforming changes. Amends the Chicago School District Article of the School Code. Provides that a person shall be a U.S. citizen and registered voter and shall have been a resident of the city and the electoral district for at least one year immediately preceding his or her election. Sets forth provisions concerning nominating petitions and ballots. Sets forth provisions providing that the City of Chicago shall be subdivided into 20 electoral districts by the General Assembly for seats on the Chicago Board of Education. This bill passed out of committee 11-7-0.


Student Health and Sex Education, Sexual Abuse Prevention, ‘Sexting’ all addressed in Multiple Bills

Sexting

HB 24 (Rep. West, D-Rockford) requires that course materials and instruction include age-appropriate discussions about sexting, possible consequences of sharing and forwarding inappropriate materials, identification of situations in which bullying or harassment may occur, safe uses of the internet, and adults whom students may contact if in need of assistance. Passed unanimously.


Health Education must include legal and medical impacts of cannabis use.

HB 79 (Rep. Flowers, D-Chicago) provides that a school's comprehensive health education program must include instruction on the medical and legal ramifications of cannabis use. Passed unanimously.


Child Sex Abuse Prevention

HB 1975 (Rep. Mussman, D-Schaumburg) requires the State Board of Education to prepare a parent resource guide to provide a centralized source of the assistance, support, advocacy, and resources available to the parent or guardian of a student who is, or may be, the victim of sexual abuse. Provides for up to two teachers institute days for child abuse prevention training and sexual harassment prevention training and requires training for school personnel on child sexual abuse. Provides for professional development opportunities concerning the well-being of students. Adds provisions concerning sexual misconduct in schools, including requiring a school district to develop a code of conduct, an employment history review, and what a sex education class must teach. Amends the Criminal Code of 2012 to add certain acts to the offenses of criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and grooming. This bill is a work in progress and will be amended. Passed unanimously.


Comprehensive Sex Education

HB 3071 (Rep. Lilly, D-Chicago) makes changes concerning sex education, including changing the name to sexual health and changing course requirements. Makes changes concerning family life course requirements. Amends the Critical Health Problems and Comprehensive Health Education Act to make changes concerning the educational areas a comprehensive health education program must include. Passed out of committee 14-9.


Child Sex Abuse Prevention, Revises ‘Grooming’ definition

HB 3461 (Rep. Crespo, D-Streamwood) makes changes to provisions relating to a school district's policy addressing sexual abuse of children. Provides that the policy must be adopted and implemented no later than July 1, 2022. Provides that the policy shall (rather than may) include an age-appropriate and evidence-based curriculum (rather than age-appropriate curriculum) for students in pre-K through 12th (rather than 5th) grade. Requires a school district to include in its policy and all training materials and instruction a definition of prohibited grooming behaviors and boundary violations for school personnel and how to report these behaviors to school authorities. Passed unanimously.


Urges Children be Educated to Recognize Signs – Potential Addiction/Mental Health Issues

House Joint Resolution 1 (Rep. West, D-Rockford) urges Illinois schools to provide education for all students in grades six-12 on how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of addictions and mental illnesses, as well as provide instruction for how to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. Passed unanimously.


Supports for Comprehensive Sex Education

House Resolution 39 (Rep. Mussman, D-Schaumburg) supports comprehensive sex education. Passed out of committee 14-9.

Special Education

Parent Notification – Student Eligibility SPED Services

HB 290 (Rep. Hirschauer, D-West Chicago) requires a school district to provide notification to the parent or guardian of a student with an individualized education program (IEP) that the student may be eligible to receive additional specified services. Provides that the written notification must be provided no later than 30 days following the implementation of the initial IEP and once a year thereafter. Passed unanimously.


Complaints made to CPS about Special Ed Must be Filed with State Board of Education

HB 2425 (Rep. Crespo, D-Streamwood) provides that complaints concerning delays and denials of special education services in the 2016-2017 or 2017-2018 school year by the Chicago school district as a result of the adoption of policies and procedures identified by the State Board of Education as unlawful must be filed on or before September 30, 2022 (rather than September 30, 2021). Passed unanimously.


SPED Services for Students – 22nd Birthday

HB 2748 (Rep. 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 unanimously.


Changes to CPS Special Ed Policy – Published Online, Provided Within 10 day of Request

HB 3859 (Rep. Crespo, D-Schaumburg) amends the Children with Disabilities Articles of the School Code. Provides that the Chicago school district shall publish on the district's website any proposed changes to the district's policy and procedural manuals, no later than 45 days before the adoption of that change, unless this would prevent the district from following State or federal laws. Provides that school boards shall provide upon request by any person written materials and other information that indicates the specific policies, procedures, rules, and regulations regarding the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of children with disabilities. Requires these materials and other information to be provided within 10 school days from the receipt of the request by the school board. Passed unanimously.


Determination of Parent/Guardian of SPED Students

HB 3906 (Rep. Davis, D-East Hazel Crest) provides that the State Superintendent of Education may determine that the location of the parent or guardian of a special education student is unknown after considering information submitted from the school district that last enrolled the student or from the school or special education facility providing special education and related services. Passed unanimously.

Labor Issues

Charter School union neutrality

HB114 requires any new charter school or renewal of an existing charter school to contain a union neutrality clause. This clause would require the charter school management not to take any position on the unionization of its employees. The clause would prohibit any type of intimidation and require the school to provide access for labor unions to meet with the employees. The clause also requires union recognition to be determined through a majority card check election. The bill passed out of committee 15-10.


Electronic signatures for union elections, no strike retaliation

HB2521 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 out committee 15-10.


Union rights for Chicago Principals

HB3496 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 out of committee 15-10.

Revenue and Finance

SB330 (Sen. Feigenholtz, D-Chicago) establishes new property tax assessment policy for multi-family apartment buildings in Cook County. Other counties can opt-out by a vote of the county board. This bill, the has the potential to impact local property tax revenues, passed out of committee 9-0-0.


HB571 (Rep. Carroll, D-Northbrook) is an initiative of Comptroller Mendoza and will provide additional oversight for TIFs by requiring municipalities to report the following additional items to the Comptroller’s office:

  • A comparison between the original projected increment and jobs for the TIF versus the actual amount of jobs and increment created thus far.

  • An update on the stated rate of return for the TIF development, verified by a third party.

  • Actual debt service against any notes issued by the municipality.

The bill would also require the municipality – not the developer – to hire any consultant providing analysis of the projected increment and the value of any debt issued by the municipality. The bill was approved by 18-0-0.

Pensions

HB2997and HB2998 (Rep. Severin, R-Marion) allow teachers to receive additional service and age considerations for purposes of retirement if they worked during the COVID public health emergency. The bills were held in committee, but the sponsor indicated he is continuing to work on the issue. IFT supports both pieces of legislation.


HB2569 (Rep. Windhorst, R-Harrisburg) allows retired teachers to return to work in school districts that have a shortage in a particular subject area. The legislation was passed out of committee. Retirees can return to work under these circumstances without impairing their annuity. The legislation extends the program to June 30, 2024.


Higher Education

HB3950 (Rep. LaPointe, D-Chicago) requires community colleges to develop a plan to offer dual credit courses for high school students with disabilities that have an individualized education program. The legislation was passed out of committee.


A Look Ahead

Lawmakers return the week of April 12, when action will shift to the House and Senate floors. Adjournment is scheduled for May 31.