The Senate was not in session this week, so all the action was on the House side of the Capitol. With next Friday’s House deadline for bills to clear committee, much of the legislators’ time was spent in hearings. IEA lobbyists spent the week meeting with lawmakers, adding the association’s voice to negotiations on issues including school funding, the substitute teacher shortage, charter schools, PERA and pensions. With half the legislative session still to come, we expect many twists and turns over the next few months.

Following are the results of committee hearings on bills of interest to IEA members:

Committee action

Elementary and secondary education: School curriculum and policies committee

HB 1774 (Martwick, D-Chicago) would require the City of Chicago have an elected school board oversee Chicago Public Schools, rather than one appointed by the mayor. IEA supports this bill, which passed out of committee and resides on the House floor.

Elementary and secondary education: Licensing, administration and oversight

HB 261 (Mussman, D-Schaumburg) is designed to help homeless students find housing in-district, thus decreasing the school district’s transportation costs. With IEA support, this bill passed out of committee. The sponsor intends to bring the bill back to committee with an amendment.

HB 459 (Ives, R-Wheaton) is portrayed by its sponsor as a “taxpayer protection” measure, but it would severely limit many options school districts currently use to raise and appropriate funds. The IEA opposes this bill, which passed out of committee this week. HB459 will be held until the sponsor produces an amendment.

HB 3298 (Scherer, D-Decatur) would allow districts to waive fees for any new or renewing substitute teacher after the teacher has worked up to 10 school days. The IEA supports this legislation, which is intended to help school districts attract potential substitute teachers. After passing out of committee, the measure’s sponsor agreed to bring it back to committee with an amendment.

House higher education committee

HB 230 (Thapedi, D-Chicago) requires each public university to admit first-time freshmen applicants as undergraduates if the applicant’s high school GPA was in the top 10 percent of the student’s graduating class in either of the two school years preceding the year for which the applicant seeks admission. The bill passed out of committee with IEA support.

School funding

The bipartisan House Education Task Force met for a second time Tuesday. The group is tasked with continuing the discussion on revising the school funding formula, undertaken this past year by the Governor’s School Funding Commission. In the first meeting, members of the task force heard from Illinois State Board of Education Superintendent Tony Smith on the commission’s report, submitted on Feb. 1, and on the proposed evidenced-based funding model (EBM).  On Tuesday, the task force heard from special education interest groups, which included the Special Education Coalition, the Illinois Association of Administrators of Special Education and the Illinois Association of Private Special Education Centers; as well as representatives from suburban school districts and suburban school management organizations on the effects of the Commission report and EBM.

The next meeting of the task force will be on Tues., Mar. 28, at 10 a.m. More information on committee members and meeting dates can be reviewed on the Illinois General Assembly’s website and then clicking on “House Education Task Force.”

Important dates

  • Mar. 31 – Bills out of committee (House)
  • Apr. 28 – Third reading deadline (both chambers)
  • May 12 – Deadline for House bills to get out of Senate committee
  • May 19 – Deadline for Senate bills to get out of House committee
  • May 26 – Final third reading deadline (both chambers)
  • May 31 – Adjournment

A schedule for each chamber can be found on the General Assembly website.

Senate calendar

House calendar

Next week:

The Senate and House will be in session Tues., Mar. 28. To be connected to the latest information, “like” IEA on Facebook, follow IEANEA on Twitter and bookmark the IEA website.