Page 1

M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 7

V ol. 8 5, N o . 3



his issue of The Illinois School

of a referendum will be floated even-

members need to know about the

Board Journal offers a warm

tually. It’s never an easy question

roles they can take in a referendum

welcome to the many newly-elect-

— school leaders must juggle the


ed board members across the state,

district’s needs with the commu-

In addition to the success sto-

and shares some valuable informa-

nity’s interests and the power of

ries, shared wisdom, and video rec-

tion regarding your new individual

opposition to tax increases (or the

ommendations, this Journal also

responsibilities, the work you will do

perception of them). In “Working

includes a short take on topics and

as a school board, and your success

towards referendum success,” start-

trends for referendum passage. Are

in tandem with your superintendent

ing on page 14, readers will learn

fall elections better than spring? Do

as a leadership team.

that hard work and preparation are

bonds get more support than tax ref-

You probably owe your posi-

necessary even before the referen-

erendums? Learn more on page 18

tion on a school board in part to

dum question can be approached.

with “IASB offers referendum data,

reputation and standing in your

We talked to three school districts

trends.” This information comes

community. New board members

— Morton CUSD 709, Troy-based

from IASB’s historical database of

are encouraged to read “Protecting

Triad CUSD 2, and Aurora West

Illinois public school referendums

your name” beginning on page 6,

USD 129. Representatives of each

for bond issues (working cash and

which forewarns about, and cau-

were willing to share their stories

building bonds), school tax rate

tions against, unexpected pitfalls

about recent successful referendum

propositions, and county school

and potential improprieties.

proposals, and their assistance is

facilities sales tax outcomes. The

The Journal also offers — for

appreciated. I recommend the video

database, which can be accessed

newbies and veterans alike — a look

produced by the Aurora West com-


at the school board member’s big-pic-

mittee (the link is in the story); it

cfm, has been updated with 2017’s

ture role in “Serving as stewards of

will make you smile.

election results and upgraded with

the principles of public education,”

I f you re a d ju st one t h i n g

on page 10. In addition, this issue’s

b e for e s t a r t i n g a r e fer e nd u m

Welcome aboard, new board

“Ask the Staff” by Field Services

c a mpa ig n, read “FAQ s : Refer-

members! We look forward to work-

Director Larry Dirks offers sage

endum activities conducted by

ing with you in support of quality

advice on getting your new school

school officials,” which begins on

public education.

board off to a great start.

page 23. Provided by the Illinois

No matter what stage of devel-

Council of School Attorneys, the

opment your board is in, the topic

FAQs include what school board

clear graphics and useful charts.

— Theresa Kelly Gegen, Editor



Working towards referendum success By Theresa Kelly Gegen Three Illinois school districts share their stories of successful referendum campaigns, acknowledging the work involved to engage the community and present the facts to the voting public.


IASB offers referendum data, trends By Gary Adkins


FAQs: Referendum activities conducted by school officials By a committee of members of the Illinois Council of School Attorneys

FEATURE ARTICLES 6 Protecting your name By Kimberly Small How can school board members avoid the appearances of impropriety and protect the good name that brought them to board service?

10 Board members share responsibility of stewardship By George A. Goens “As citizens holding elective office, board members have a responsibility to take long-term care of the public schools and protect the community’s investment and the interests of children.”

27 Traditional vs. contemporary salary schedules By Harry M. VanHoudnos The author offers a teacher salary schedule to apply limited financial resources in a fair and equitable manner.

M A Y / J U N E

2 0 1 7

Vol. 85, No. 3

ILLINOIS SCHOOL BOARD JOURNAL (ISSN-0019-221X) is published every other month by the Illinois Association of School Boards, 2921 Baker Drive, Springfield, Illinois 62703-5929, telephone 217/528-9688. The IASB regional office is located at One Imperial Place, 1 East 22nd Street, Lombard, Illinois 60148-6120, telephone 630/629-3776. The JOURNAL is supported by the dues of school boards holding active membership in the Illinois Association of School Boards. Copies are mailed to all school board members and the superintendent in each IASB member school district. Non-member subscription rate: Domestic $18 per year. Foreign (including Canada and Mexico) $21 per year. PUBLICATION POLICY IASB believes that the domestic process functions best through frank and open discussion. Material published in the JOURNAL, therefore, often presents divergent and controversial points of view which do not necessarily represent the views or policies of IASB. James Russell, Associate Executive Director Theresa Kelly Gegen, Editor Gary Adkins, Contributing Editor


Heath Hendren, Contributing Editor Britni Beck, Advertising Manager Kara Kienzler, Design and Production

Front Page. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Inside Front Cover Practical PR. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Insights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Milestones. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Ask the Staff. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Inside Back Cover

Copyright © 2017 by the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB), The JOURNAL is published six times a year and is distributed to its members and subscribers. Copyright in this publication, including all articles and editorial information contained in it is exclusively owned by IASB, and IASB reserves all rights to such information. IASB is a tax-exempt corporation organized in accordance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. @ILschoolboards


Quarantine ’17 By Jim Blaney

Jim Blaney is director of school and community relations at St. Charles CUSD 303.


f all the media that might cover

the students were ill. By mid-morn-

sharing information about their kids

an event in our school district,

ing, there were 800 students absent.

over the weekend. I think the helpful

Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend

The number went over 1,000 by the

response from parents was due to the

Update” would be one of the last I

end of the day. We cancelled class-

initial principal’s message, which

would have expected.

es for Tuesday and Wednesday and

went out within 90 minutes of our

thoroughly cleaned the building.

learning about the basketball team.

Classes resumed on Thursday.

The principal works very hard at his

But it happened. It was the finale of a norovirus outbreak in one of our

We made the national “news”

everyday relationship with the par-

On January 7, our administration

debut the following Saturday night,

ents of his students. They trust him

learned that 10 of the 14 members of

when SNL’s Colin Jost poked some

and it showed.

the St. Charles East High School boys’

good-natured fun at us by asking what


I’ve been asked by col-

were ill with stomach

lea gues and fr iends

virus symptoms. The

about the most import-

team was supposed to

ant thing at our dispos-

play that evening, and

al in dealing with what

we had to postpone the

is now referred to by


our students as “Quarantine ’17.”

Because it was a


In the aftermath of all this,

varsity basketball team

Saturday and students

My answer is the

weren’t in school, we

relationsh ips we’ve

needed an idea of how

developed in our dis-

many of the 2,500 St.

trict, in the media, and

Charles East students were ill. Our

else could be expected from a school

in our community — not only since

administration worked with the prin-

whose mascot is “the warm shrimp

I was hired eight years ago, but even

cipal, who sent an email message to

cocktails.” For the record, East High

in my prior jobs.

parents about the game postpone-

School is the Fighting Saints!

At the top of the list is an informal

ment, asking parents to reply and

From a communications stand-

group called the Kane County Public

let him know if their kids were ill.

point, there was a lot to cover, but we

Relations Council. Once each quarter,

He also asked if they could describe

never really felt that we were in crisis.

the public information officers from a

the symptoms of the illness.

A lot of that is due to the parents of

wide range of county public agencies

By the time classes resumed on

our students. They never panicked.

get together and brown bag our lunch.

Monday, we knew about one-third of

In fact, they helped immensely by

We tell stories, complain about our


press coverage, and shake our heads

because it allows your communi-

at some of the strange things that

ty to see the interview unedited.

happen. Most importantly, we get to

Also, when the radio stations start

know each other.

calling, you don’t have to do the

My counterpart at the coun-

interviews again; they can pull the

ty health department and I had

sound bites off your website and the

worked on projects together prior to

audio quality is outstanding.

the norovirus outbreak. Being able

Then it was time to monitor

to say we were working with the

Facebook and email to check the

county health department to assess

buzz in the community. I addressed

the situation and to have their guid-

direct questions and misconceptions

ance was an immense help.

on Facebook and called parents who

When you have half of the stu-

emailed with questions. A phone call

dents absent from a school, you’re

is more personal and it helps build

going to attract the press. Once

bridges. As I watched the Facebook

we announced we were closing the

posts that week, I saw the names of

school on Monday night, we got calls

parents I had spoken to in the past

from the Chicago television report-

speaking positively of our district.

ers. They wanted someone to answer

I sti l l consider mysel f new

some questions and get video of our

to school communications. I am

custodial staff cleaning the schools.

amazed by the things my counter-

Normally, our superintendent does

parts do every day. But if I could be

these press conferences, but because

so bold as to offer advice, I would

we had a board meeting that night,

suggest taking time to get to know

I was the guy.

your fellow PIOs in city and county

As we were waiting for all the

government, park district, library,

crews to arrive, I was chatting with

and state’s attorney’s office, along

one of the photographers and found

with the elected officials and busi-

out we had worked together years

ness leaders in your district. Most

ago on some live sports productions.

importantly, talk to as many parents

I should note I always capture video

of students as you can.

of when we have a press conference

When the crisis hits, it’s too late

and I’ll explain why in a moment.

to build bridges. They need to already

Because I was working by myself, I

be in place.

asked the photographer if he could

President Phil Pritzker

Treasurer Thomas Neeley

Vice President Joanne Osmond

Immediate Past President Karen Fisher

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Abe Lincoln Lisa Weitzel

Kishwaukee Mary Stith

Blackhawk David Rockwell

Lake June Maguire

Central Illinois Valley Thomas Neeley

Northwest Chris Buikema

Cook North Barbara Somogyi Cook South Denis Ryan

Shawnee Roger Pfister Southwestern Mark Christ

Cook West Carla Joiner-Herrod

Starved Rock Simon Kampwerth Jr.

Corn Belt Mark Harms

Three Rivers Dale Hansen

DuPage Thomas Ruggio

Two Rivers David Barton

Egyptian John Metzger

Wabash Valley Dennis Inboden

Illini Michelle Skinlo Kaskaskia Linda Eades

Western Sue McCance Service Associates Glen Eriksson

frame my shot and start my camera Board of directors members are current at press time.

when I started the press conference and he said, “No problem.” The reason for capturing video of press conferences we have in crisis situations, and then posting the press conference on the website, is

Columns are submitted by members of the Illinois Chapter of the National School Public Relations Association

M A Y - J U N E 2 0 1 7 / T H E I L L I N O I S S C H O O L B O A R D J O U R N A L 

IASB is a voluntary association of local boards of education and is not affiliated with any branch of government.



Bold ideas “Illinois has clearly articu-

In Illinois, we know that a vision,

learning from stakeholders cre-

lated a bold set of ideas and aspi-

mission, and supporting goals are

ated the foundation upon which

rations that w ith considerable

only as useful as the collective

the Illinois ESSA State Plan was

collective effort and policy sup-

work to make real what appears

developed. ”

port will be realized over time.

aspirational. ... Listening to and

— “State Template for the Consolidated State Plan Under the Every Student Succeeds Act,” Illinois State Board of Education, March 15, 2017.

“The uneven balance between OFFICE OF THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Roger L. Eddy, Executive Director Benjamin S. Schwarm, Deputy Executive Director Meetings Management Carla S. Bolt, Director Office of General Counsel Kimberly Small, General Counsel Maryam Brotine, Assistant General Counsel Executive Searches Thomas Leahy, Director Jim Helton, Consultant Dave Love, Consultant Alan Molby, Consultant ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES Jennifer Feld, Associate Executive Director/ Chief Financial Officer ADVOCACY/GOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS Benjamin S. Schwarm, Deputy Executive Director Deanna L. Sullivan, Director Susan Hilton, Director Zach Messersmith, Assistant Director Advocacy Cynthia Woods, Director IASB OFFICES 2921 Baker Drive, Springfield, Illinois 62703-5929 217/528-9688 Fax 217/528-2831 One Imperial Place, 1 East 22nd Street, Suite 20 Lombard, Illinois 60148-6120 630/629-3776 Fax 630/629-3940


responsibility and reward no doubt naturally inhibits many potentially

BOARD DEVELOPMENT/TAG Dean Langdon, Associate Executive Director

good leaders from seeking public

Board Development Sandra Kwasa, Director Nesa Brauer, Trainer Angie Peifer, Consultant

the conditions that make these jobs

Targeting Achievement through Governance (TAG) Steve Clark, Consultant

about ways to create a more appeal-

COMMUNICATIONS/ PRODUCTION SERVICES James Russell, Associate Executive Director Gary W. Adkins, Director/Editorial Services Jennifer Nelson, Director/Information Services Theresa Kelly Gegen, Director/Editorial Services Heath Hendren, Assistant Director/Communications Kara Kienzler, Director/Production Services FIELD SERVICES/POLICY SERVICES Cathy A. Talbert, Associate Executive Director Field Services Larry Dirks, Director Perry Hill IV, Director Laura Martinez, Director Reatha Owen, Director Patrick Rice, Director Barbara B. Toney, Director Policy Services Shanell Bowden, Consultant Angie Powell, Consultant Brian Zumpf, Consultant

office, so we are struck by some of even less attractive. We all should be talking — and doing something — ing, or at least less discouraging, balance.” — “Editorial: Some things we can do to make local leadership more attractive,” The Daily Herald Editorial Board, April 4, 2017.

“Virtually every public school in the country has someone in charge who’s called the principal. Yet principals have a strangely low profile in the passionate debates about education. The focus instead falls on just about everything else … But principals can make a real difference. Overlooking them is a mistake — and fortunately, they’re starting to get more attention. There is no better place to see the difference that principals can make than Chicago.” — “Want to Fix Schools? Go to the Principal’s Office,” David Leonhardt, New York Times Sunday Review, March 20, 2017


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Protecting your name By Kimberly Small

Kimberly Small, who updated this article for 2017, is general counsel for the Illinois Association of School Boards. It was originally written by IASB Director of Communications Jerry Glaub and has been updated with contributions from other staff members.



uestion: How can I protect my

break it unintentionally. Or you can

of your first objectives should be

reputation and make certain

share the blame when others break

to familiarize yourself with that

things I do avoid the appearances

it. And a reputation for honesty is


of impropriety while I serve as a

almost impossible to regain once

school board member?

you’ve lost it.

Following is a brief review of both the legal and public relations

Answer: Your good name is your

The areas where school board

pitfalls that you, as a school board

most prized possession — no doubt

members are most likely to put

member, need to consider in order

your good name, including your rep-

their good names at risk include

to protect your good name:

utation for honesty, had a lot to do

violating the Open Meetings Act

with your being elected to your local

(OM A) or the Freedom of Infor-

school board.

Open meetings

mation Act (FOIA), violating and/

OMA states clearly that actions

Unfortunately, school board

or abusing expense laws and /or

of public bodies are to be taken

members sometimes find themselves

policies, failing to direct or fail-

openly and that their deliberations

in situations where their reputations

i ng to cau se t he school b oa rd

are to be conducted openly. That

are at risk. You don’t have to be dis-

to direct the superintendent or

said, the Act lists reasons for when

honest to break the law; you can

other administrator to report

a school board may convene in

allegations of child abuse or

closed session and the procedures

neg le ct when such i n for-

for closing a meeting or a portion

mation is lear ned dur ing

of a meeting. The Act applies any

a n op en or clo se d b oa rd

time “a majority of a quorum” of a

me et i n g, prov id i n g job s

school board meets to discuss public

for relatives (nepotism) or

business. However, a quorum must

friends (cronyism), hold-

be present to hold a meeting. The

ing a financial interest in

law applies to board committees as

d i st r ict c ont ract s, a nd

well as to the full board.

neglecting to assure that

The law requires a school board

adequate records and

to give notice and posting of meet-

minutes of meetings are

ings. This includes posting a notice

kept and open for public

and agenda on the school board’s

inspection. These and

website, if the district meets the

ma ny ot her a rea s a re

requirements under the law for web-

addressed in the board

site posting. At any properly noticed

policy manual, so one

open meeting, a school board may,


without additional notice, hold a

— including the cost of registra-

to qualify for reimbursement, e.g.,

closed meeting, provided all of the

tion or tuition fees at workshops

what vouchers and receipts are

other requirements are met for going

a nd c o n fer e nc e s . T he S c ho o l


into closed session.

Code, 105 ILCS 5/10-9, 5/10-10

The law requires that expens-

It is not necessary to be an

a nd 5 / 22 -1 (no c omp en s at ion

es be “actual and necessary” and

expert in all the intricacies of the

allowed, conflicts of interest pro-

directly associated with the meet-

law to avoid violations. Simply keep

hibited) and 105 ILCS 5/10-22.32

ing itself, including travel to and

in mind that the overriding purpose

(expense advancements) and the

from the meeting. It specifically

of OMA is to assure that a public body

Local Government Travel Expense

bars reimbursement of expenses for

does its work in the public view.

Control Act, 50 ILCS 150/10, add-

anyone other than the board mem-

Unless individual privacy rights

ed by P.A. 99-604, effective Jan-

ber, meaning expenses for family

or the interests of the district are

uary 1, 2017 (regulation of travel

members who accompany you are

at stake, debate, deliberation and

expenses) control how your school

not reimbursable.

decision-making are to take place

board reimburses its members for

Keep in mind that travel on

only in an open meeting.

expenses associated with educa-

behalf of your school district should

tional meetings.

not profit you. Neither should it

While certain violations can lead to criminal charges, the real

The board regulates the reim-

cost you money. A good philoso-

danger is to fall into a pattern of

bursement of all travel, meal, and

phy is that you won’t benefit at the

overusing closed meetings to dis-

lodging expenses in its district by

expense of the district, and the

cuss public business. The commu-

resolution. However, state law does

district won’t benefit financially

nity will quickly lose trust in the

not guarantee reimbursement for

at your expense.

board and the district will lose the support of its community. This mistrust can lead to complaints with the Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor. Chapter 3 of IASB’s Coming to Order: A Guide to Successful School

While certain violations can lead to criminal charges, the real danger is to fall into a pattern

Board Meetings outlines the legal

of overusing closed meetings to discuss public

requirements for meetings to comply

business. The community will quickly lose

with provisions of OMA. In addition,

trust in the board and the district will lose the

Open Meetings Act Training sessions of IASB’s New Board Member Work-

support of its community.

shops detail these meeting requirements and more, which satisfies a board members’ training requirements under OMA. such expenses. The school board Expenses

Nepotism and cronyism

must authorize the reimburse-

It is not uncommon for school

School board members need

ment. You r board mu st have a

board members to have relatives

to travel to educationa l meet-

policy that defines the kinds of

who are employed by the district.

ings and the cost of such travel

meetings for which it will authorize

This is particularly true for small

is a legitimate district expense

travel and the process necessary

districts where both the pool of job



applicants and the pool of people

not based on merit but that “who”

willing to r un for a seat on the

you know is more important than

board are small.

“what” you know.

Interests, gifts, and activities The School Code allows a board member to hold a ver y modest

Illinois has no law that prohib-

Beyond the question of hiring,

interest in a school district con-

its the hiring of relatives. However,

other ethical aspects of this issue

tract, assuming that a number

a board member’s good name may

are not all straightforward. What if

of specified conditions are met.

be placed at risk by hiring rela-

the board is voting to approve a new

A school board member may not

tives (nepotism) or friends (cro-

teachers’ contract, and the deciding

be employed by the district he or

nyism) if others perceive that the

vote must be cast by a member whose

she serves unless the pay is less

person was hired due to favoritism

spouse is a teacher? What if the deci-

than the statutory contract limit.

and not because he or she was the

sion to re-employ a probationary

Violation of the law is a felony, so

best-qualified applicant for the

teacher hinges upon the vote of that

compliance is a given.

position. If a pattern or practice

teacher’s spouse? Should the board

Another law prohibits school

of hiring relatives, regardless of

member refrain from voting? The

board members from accepting

their qualifications, is established

law doesn’t provide a clear answer to

expensive gifts from individuals

in a district, community confi-

these questions. The answers lie in

or companies doing business with

dence in the board may be eroded.

the specific facts of the situation and

the district or that otherwise have

Such a practice sends a message

in the conscience of the individual

an interest in the district. Board

that employment decisions are

board member.

members should carefully review

Policy Services Custom, in-district services and workshops to assist your board with all aspects of its policymaking role Development – Policies that provide for good board processes, a strong board-superintendent relationship, appropriate direction and delegation to the superintendent, and district ends. Updating – Policies that are current with legal requirements and provide for effective board governance.

Review – A process that assures board policy continues to accurately support the board’s mission, vision, and goals. Monitoring – A process that assures board policy is being followed and is having the intended effect. Communicating – A process that allows easy access to current board policy by the board, staff, students, parents, and the community.

If your board needs assistance in any of these areas, contact IASB policy services today! Phone: 630/629-3776 or 217/528-9688, ext. 1214 or 1154 Email: or



the exceptions to this law before

Records and minutes

members need to know that the

accepting expensive gifts from other

The public policy of Illinois is

board’s financial records show

than family and friends. The same

that access to public records pro-

that there has been no misuse of

law also identifies prohibited political

motes transparency and account-

public funds. By the same token,

activities. Determining what political

ability for public bodies. FOI A

minutes of meetings should show

activities are prohibited depends on

makes it a fundamental obligation

what the board did (or did not do).

the context and the activity.

of government to provide public

Minutes must also demonstrate

Presented with an opportuni-

records as expediently and effi-

compliance with OM A. Minutes

ty to do business with the district,

ciently as possible. A school board

a nd a l l d i s t r ic t r e c or d s mu s t

however, a board member needs

that operates with the mindset that

a lways be readily available for

to consider appearances as well as

these mandates should be “got-

public inspection.

legality. Is there someone else who

ten around” because they are too

W hile you can’t oversee the

can provide the material or service

burdensome risks being perceived

district’s recordkeeping opera-

just as well as the board member?

as unreliable, unbelievable, even

tions, you can monitor them with

If not, is that fact well known in the


the goal of full compliance with

G o o d re c ord s of f i n a ncia l

state law and appropriate business

Self-serving conduct may result

transactions and board meetings

practices. The failure to ensure

in accusations of misconduct even

are essential, especially if a school

proper recordkeeping and open

if the conduct was legal. In addition

board action is ever challenged. It

access to records will surely lead

to avoiding self-serving conduct,

may seem like wasted effort — until

to the loss of community trust.

you may avoid the appearance

a legal authority comes into your

Obviously, it isn’t always easy

of impropriety by disclosing and

district to investigate a complaint

to avoid appearances of impropriety.

explaining the interest and/or by

and finds there is no evidence that

But if you keep your eyes and ears

refraining from voting on any mat-

you have been obeying the law. The

open in the five areas discussed

ter that will financially affect you

question people will ask is, “If you

above — and keep openness and

or a family member. Keep in mind

have nothing to hide, why have you

reasonableness foremost in mind

that a transaction approved by the

hidden it?” Even an entirely inno-

— you’ll avoid most of the dangers


school board that is perceived as dishonest affects all members of the board, not just the one who is personally involved. For other helpful publications developed for you by the Illinois

Good records of financial transactions and

Cou nci l of S chool Attor neys

board meetings are essential, especially if a

(ICSA), see:

school board action is ever challenged.

• Answers to FAQs regarding Conflicts of Interest and Incompatible Offices at COI_FAQ.pdf

• Answers to FAQs regarding the Gift Ban Provisions of the State

cent person can be convicted in the

to your good name. In fact, you

Officials and Employee Eth-

court of public opinion.

might even enhance it by developing

ics Act at GBFAQ14.pdf

Although it is possible to go to unnecessary extremes, board


a wider reputation for protecting the public’s interest.



Board members share responsibility of stewardship By George A. Goens

George A. Goens is a former school superintendent. He has written six books on leadership and education. His new book is The Fog of Reform: Getting Back to a Place Called School. He lives in Litchfield, Conn.



n most of our lifetimes, public

public education. Stewardship

ensure proper implementation and

schools were seen as the bed-

rests on responsibility, a sense of

outcomes. Sometimes educational

rock of our nation and a source of

the future, and a commitment to the

and political decisions overlap and

pride for our communities. They

common good. As citizens holding

local boards must be able to rise

were places to realize the Ameri-

elective office, board members have

above local, state, or national poli-

can dream, where the playing field

a responsibility to take long-term

tics to do what is best for children

could be leveled and children could

care of the public schools and pro-

in their local community.

pursue their aspirations and have a

tect the community’s investment

Stewardship requires courage to

life better than their parents.

and the interests of children. They

face special interests, the economi-

The idea, which is uniquely

should leave the schools in better

cally connected, the politically pow-

American in many respects, was

condition than they were prior to

erful, and the criticism of pundits

that it didn’t matter where you came

their holding office. Making difficult

and the press. Some board members

from or who your parents were.

and unpopular decisions today so

and superintendents are cowardly

Neither did your race, ethnicity, or

the schools are better tomorrow is

lions in the face of economic, social,

socio-economic status. What mat-

the role of a steward.

and political pressures. Doing what

tered was hard work and persever-

Stewards add value to the com-

is expedient takes less courage than

ance to learn and hone abilities and

munity, rather than diminish it.

doing what is right. Decisions and

contribute to the future.

Board members interested in their

pressure are a part of public life, but

Free public schools nourished

own self-interest of getting re-elect-

those decisions should look to the

the concept that what you know

ed can compromise stewardship for

future and support core values and

matters more than who you know.

expediency or their own popularity.

the common good.

Common people coupled with an

Only in looking back do we realize

Running schools is not easy or

education, talent, and drive could

which public officials, from presi-

always efficient. Democratic gover-

counter social status and elitist con-

dents to school board members, have

nance never is. But it is better than

tacts based on wealth or position.

been good stewards.

elites or corporations deciding the

Only in America is there a Fanfare

Inquiry is the foundation for

future of our children and the edu-

for the Common Man, instead of

stewardship. The board must ask

cation they receive. Marketing is

fanfares for some inherited royalty

questions and inquire into the

not synonymous with results and

or elitist privilege. Public education

principles behind proposals, the

reformers are not always interested

celebrated the possibilities in the

research base to support them, the

in the common good. Locally elect-

“common” diverse citizenry.

reasons for and the costs of ini-

ed school boards epitomize what

Local school board members

tiatives, and the expected results

the founders believed. Democracy,

are stewards of the principles of

and accountability procedures to

while not perfect, is preferable to


self-interest and the control of cor-

diligence as part of their responsi-

Whether a school community is

porations or special interests.

bilities to the citizenry. They must

true to itself is a matter of integrity.

Public schools are an indispens-

find common ground and positive

To be a good steward of the public

able foundation of our democratic

connections in the school commu-

education, board members have to

society. Keeping public schools

nity by establishing clear values

ensure the honor of the school dis-

democratic, rather than agents of

and principles under which the

trict by making its actions, words,

corporations or partisan politics, is

school district operates.

and programs congruent with its core

absolutely essential. W hat boa rd s debate about and how they do it is an indicator of whether they are in touch with the essence of the school’s purpose

As citizens holding elective office, board members

and soul. The focus of the debate

have a responsibility to take long-term care of

defines their efficacy as a group. Discussing the issues in the form of dialogue generates understanding

the public schools and protect the community’s investment and the interests of children.

and better comprehension of the basic assumptions behind different options and the thinking and values behind them. Dialogue is an essential component of stewardship. Dialogue allows people to see divergent points of view and respectfully consider options. Listening actively and clarifying for understanding are important. Dialogue is more than a discussion. It involves reflecting together, understanding the content and intent of messages and ideas, inquiring into the assumptions behind concepts and proposals, suspending judgment and ultimately creating shared meaning. Determining a collective vision for the public schools requires open and respectful dialogue. Obviously one standard is that “the best interests of the children” be the determining factor. Obviously, resources are not unlimited, local or political issues affect decisions, and when a decision is made, not everyone will be happy. Board members must ask thoughtful questions and do due



values and principles. All this presup-

are the core that gives people a sense

educationally, organizationally and

poses the board and the community

of identity and purpose.

culturally. Board members need

have a dialogue about the schools and

Communities are value-based;

to understand the large and sub-

the ideas under which they function.

politics are power-based; and the

tle issues of school districts before

Dialogue on principles is positive and

private sector is profit-based. The

taking action. New members must

can instigate growth.

public has become cynical about

take time to sort out what they know

The common good through

government, which is a dangerous

and don’t know. Grasping technical

strong schools should be the board

trend, particularly as the younger

and policy questions takes time and

of education’s primary focus. Citizen-

generation hears repeatedly that

work. There is a significant differ-

ship emphasizes responsibilities and

government does not work and that

ence between opinion and knowl-

obligations. Service, responsibility,

it cannot be trusted. It does not work

edge, and between information and

duty, and honor almost sound like

if special interests are served and the

understanding. K nowledge and

anachronistic ideas from the past.

interests of the people are ignored.

understanding are prerequisites for

But they are the mainstays of the

The old adage — wisdom is

common good and the sense of com-

knowing what you don’t know —

Good public servants under-

munity that are necessary for society

applies to board members. Wise ones

stand what is controllable and what

to work. The values, ideals, and prin-

know what they need to learn. School

is not. Otherwise, policies and plan-

ciples under which schools operate

districts are complex places fiscally,

ning can be compromised. Stew-

responsible decision-making.

ardship and accountability are the foundations of public officials and not necessarily at the forefront with privatization.

New School Board Members:

Congratulations and Welcome! After taking the Oath of Office, you’ll want to review your Board Policy Manual to find answers to many frequently asked questions about: • board powers, duties, and processes • school district goals and operations • and much more!

The heart of stewardship is valuing what a school is and what it can mean to children. Board members must protect the soul of the school from the dark entrapments that can destroy schools and turn them into mere institutions, complete with standard operating procedures and no heart. To do that, communities must elect people with deep passion for children and the courage to stand on t he p oi nt a nd advo c at e for

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them. There is no greater public

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May/June 2017

service than to improve the condition of children. To do so, school board members must be committed to the ideals and values of public education. Reprinted with permission from American School Board Journal, February 2017. Copyright 2017 National School Boards Association. All rights reserved.


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Working towards referendum success By Theresa Kelly Gegen

Theresa Kelly Gegen is editor of The Illinois School Board Journal.


illions of dollars, thousands

needs. Together, they prove that

• A ll began by engaging their

of conversations, hundreds

you get what you work for, not what

community and finding active

of meetings, dozens of yard signs, and

you wish for. But even then, there’s

at least one viral video.

no guarantee. Despite some differ-

• All dug deep tell their story, pro-

Three school districts in Illinois

ences in needs, approaches, and

viding facts and communicating

shared their stories about calling

core issues, they had key points in

for a referendum for their district



with transparency; • All studied both what they needed, and what they could ask for; and • All succeeded. “History taught us to not try to ‘fly a referendum under the radar’,” said Michelle Bernier, president of the Morton CUSD 709 Board of Education. Morton passed a $10.5 million bond referendum in the general primary in March 2016, to “build and equip additions to and alter, repair, and equip” its four elementary schools, a junior high, and its high school. Cutting programs and increasing class sizes were expected without a referendum passage in Triad CUSD 2 in Troy, Ill. “We wanted to make sure the community was aware of what we had done — the cuts that we had made to be in the situation we were in,” said Jason Henderson, assistant superintendent at Triad. “We asked ‘what do you want us to do: keep cutting or continue the level of service and education we were providing?’”



Triad asked its community to

“In this day and age, when there

planning. The district followed and

approve a tax referendum, increas-

is a critical public eye on taxes and

intertwined that with a facilities

ing property taxes to 2.34 percent

spending, when there can be distrust

advisory committee that met in 2013

from 1.84 percent, in the April 2015

of governmental bodies in general,

and into 2014 to work through grow-

consolidated election.

there has to be a significant amount

ing enrollment and aging buildings.

Also in the 2015 consolidated

of groundwork laid in communicat-

That committee’s recommendation

election, Aurora West USD 129 passed

ing with your constituents,” Morton

of a new high school was “a huge,

an $84.2 million bond referendum to

superintendent Lindsey Hall said.

expensive undertaking.”

replace a 128-year-old elementary

“What we learned — what I learned,

However, a new school board

school building, and improve other

what the board learned — was that

elected in 2015 changed the tenor

facilities, including heating and cool-

it’s not a quick process.”

of the conversation.

ing system installations, and school security improvements. “We needed to work through the fact that we needed to learn our community and what it wanted,” said

“In this day and age, when there is a critical public

Jeffrey Craig, superintendent of the

eye on taxes and spending, when there can be

Kane County district. “Some ques-

distrust of governmental bodies in general, there

tioned if we should go for a referendum three months after I started. We waited. I’m glad we did. We needed

has to be a significant amount of groundwork laid in communicating with your constituents,”

to first meet with our community

– Lindsey Hall, Morton superintendent during the district’s 2016 referendum

and dig deep into the details of our facilities.” Groundwork As these districts prepared for referendum work, each story

In fact, Morton CUSD 709 saw a

“The discussion changed to

started with state funding, or lack

referendum fail in 2011. Hall became

‘what are our urgent needs right

thereof. With the foundation level

superintendent in 2012 and worked

now? ” and ‘what do we need to

unchanged since 2010 and the state

with the board of education to frame

address our most critical needs?’”

prorating its payments from 2012

what would become the 2016 referen-

Hall said. “In mid-2015, we narrowed

through 2016, as well as missing cat-

dum question. According to Hall, the

the scope of our urgencies, and came

egorical payments during and since

2011 failure “set a course of action

up with the financing and what exact-

that interim, there wasn’t money to

and of excellent decision-making by

ly it was we needed to ask out voters

maintain facilities, replace outdated

the board. They regrouped and deter-

to approve.”

infrastructure, carry out operations,

mined to do community engagement.

In 2013, Triad’s fund balances

and educate students to levels the

The feedback from the failure was

had been cut and the district was

respective communities expected.

that the communication wasn’t what

spending into its working cash.

But a referendu m is never

it needed to be, that the story wasn’t

“We raised class size,” said

an easy ask. Each of the districts

told and there were a lot of distract-

Henderson. “We cut every place we

acknowledged it was not quick, nor

ing side stories,” she said.

could, and came to a point where we

easy, to own the story, do the work,

In 2012, Morton invested in

needed either to see the state do a

overcome the opposition, and have

community engagement that guid-

dramatic turnaround, or we needed

a successful outcome.

ed its goal-setting and strategic

to find more revenue, or we would



do drastic, district-changing cuts —

Aurora West USD 129 worked

“The facilities audit was need-

really big cuts that would alter the

through a similar process. Prior to

ed,” Craig agreed, “not just to get a

landscape of our district.”

Craig’s arrival as superintendent in

bird’s-eye, superficial look at what

Triad engaged its community,

2014, a referendum question was

we needed, but to dig deep into the

first making sure it was aware of what

floated and the district conducted

details: the mechanicals, our roofs

the district had done to fix the situa-

a facilities audit considering the

and doors. We had to understand

tion, and also to ask the community

need to replace or upgrade aging

what our parameters were, and to

for its input on the next steps: Keep


understand our debt capacity, before

cutting? Cut everything except var-

“We needed to get an under-

we set out saying ‘this is what we’d

sity-level sports? Or continue the

standing of what we had and what

like to accomplish.’ We had to do our

level of education it was providing?

condition it was in,” said Angela


“What came out of those meet-

Smith, assistant superintendent of

The facilities audit covered 18

ings was that people didn’t want to

operations. “We also looked at what

buildings, including one elemen-

go the cut route,” Henderson contin-

would need to be repaired, and what

tary school, parts of which date

ued. “When the community told us

likely expenditures we would have in

to the 1800s. The audit included

that, we heard that we needed to go

the coming years that would strain

“over a million square feet of roof,

forward with generating revenue.”

our operating budget if we didn’t

and everything needed for special

figure out a

education, technology, heating,

way to attend

cooling, and instructional envi-

to them.”

ronment.” Concurrently, Craig

Referendum campaigns use infographics, websites, and facilities information as well as social media, community engagement, and face-to-face conversations.



began his superintendency with a

Show your work

In doing so,

Each of the three districts not-

Triad formed a

“You can’t go out there and ask

ed that it was critical to show to the

bud get reduc -

for what we did without establishing

community that the effort wasn’t

tion committee

a relationship first,” Craig said. “We

being undertaken lightly. Every effort

which included

did the listening tour, and that bore

was made to demonstrate need.


listening tour.

a lot of fruit for us. We introduced

“We continued to push out factu-

from all of the

our new team and it was important

al information, stayed positive, and

district’s inter-

for us to recognize and understand

made sure the community saw the

ests, to “make a path” to $1 million

the community.

need and knew the cost impact to

in cuts, to show what the district

them personally,” said Bernier, Mor-

would look like of the district did

ton’s school board president.

not gain additional revenue. The

Central to the next level of conversation in West Aurora was prioritizing the needs of the district and its community.

Triad CUSD 2 compared its

underlying theme was sharing the

revenue rates to that of surround-

pain, and the purpose was for the

“The new conversations were,

ing districts, demonstrating that it

stakeholder group to present its

‘here’s what we heard from you,” Smith

was spending less. It showed it had

determinations, and for the board

said. “And here’s how we are going to

already made considerable cuts,

to act. The Triad board of education

attend to those specific needs. Building

and that additional cuts would

approved the recommendations and

by building, we could tell that story.”

severely impact student learning.

continued on page 20



IASB offers referendum data, trends


hat does history tell us about the likelihood of

to local conditions, including economic conditions,

a successful referendum?

many boards of education may have chosen not to seek

The Illinois Association of School Boards recently

updated and reformatted its database of school finance

or in its immediate wake.

referendums for bond issues, school tax rate proposi-

But the contemporary trend in outcomes of work-

tions, and county school facilities sales tax outcomes.

ing cash bond propositions appears to be more favor-

Current results and previous election results going back

able. Working cash passage rates are accelerating.

to 1989 are available online and illustrated on page 19.

The success rate was extremely favorable last year,

A look at the data shows the following trends.

in particular, with five of six passing in March 2016

The school district building bond referendum suc-

and one proposal passing in November 2016. Those

cess rate has been nearly on par with the historic norm

outcomes compare favorably with the typical pas-

in recent years. Voters approved 140 of 248 such refer-

sage rate of 59 percent experienced from November

endums on ballots from March 2006 through November

1989 through November 2016. Indeed, the success

2016 (56 percent). Historically, 58 percent of school

rate over the past decade is well above the 59 per-

building bond issues are approved, with voters passing

cent historical norm, as fully 69 percent of working

718 of 1,240 building bond issues from November 1989

cash bond issues passed from March 2006 through

through November 2016.

November 2016.

However, despite the near-normal success rate of

The larger question for school boards, of course,

such questions in recent years, the number of school

is whether particular election-cycle timing appears

building bond issues appearing on ballots has fallen

to promise a more favorable outcome for bond issues.

since 2008. Since November 2008, no election has

The answer from the historical record for November

produced more than 15 building bond issues. Four of

1989 through 2016 is that a finance bond election in

the five elections immediately before that produced

even-numbered years has generally produced better

over 15 successful building bond issues, with a high

results than in odd-numbered years.

count of 41 in March 2006, and 31 in April 2007.

For building bond questions, the passage rate

Prior to 2008, no year in memory failed to produce

has stood at 64 percent in even-numbered year elec-

at least one election with more than 15 building bond

tions, both in the spring and the fall, well exceeding

issues, and 30 or more was common. The high count

the mean average success rate of 58 percent for all

for an election in modern times was 77 building bond

elections historically. Furthermore, the 64 percent

issues in November 1998; fully 80 percent of those, a

success rate produced for building bond questions

total of 62 proposals, were adopted at that election.

in even-numbered years far outstrips the 49 percent

Why the big decline in numbers? Some might


to borrow for facilities upgrades during the recession

success rate seen in odd-year elections.

conjecture that effects of the Great Recession, which

For working-cash bond proposals, the results are

began in 2008, were responsible for this decline in

much the same, except that success is even more

the number of building bond proposals placed before

pronounced in the first election of an even-numbered

voters. Because school boards are generally responsive

year, with an 80 percent success rate (17 of 21 passing).


This outcome compares most favorably to working

This database information is part of IASB’s collec-

cash proposition success seen at April elections in

tion of information regarding school board and

odd-numbered years, with a low 44 percent success

school-district-related elections and can be explored

rate (only 15 of 34 passing) for the period of November


1989 through 2016.


— By Gary Adkins


The referendum campaign for Triad CUSD 2 offered volunteers a script for discussing the proposal with their neighbors.

y of the vassing t

Referendum success


continued from page 17

— we had strategies for everything.

if the referendum failed. A new school

made the cuts – pending the out-

Everything the board took action on,

board looked at the background and

come of the referendum vote.

we were committed to doing.”

decided a new high school was too

Triad officials learned many

Overcoming the perception that

big a project to take on, but worked

things from the process, including

individual programs could “fundraise

towards a shorter-term solution to

how to help stakeholders understand

out of it” was a crucial task.

its facilities needs.

the reality of the district’s financial

“We made it clear,” she said. “If

“We had a Plan B if it didn’t pass,”

situation, and helping the district see

we were going to fundraise, it would

Hall said. “You’ve got to be ready to

where it was perceived to be over-

be for academic, structural priorities.

follow through. We discussed porta-


Don’t spend your time deciding what

ble classrooms, on which my board

“This was a big deal to me,

you will try to save if the referendum

was completely split. We looked at

because people could view what

doesn’t pass. We’re not deciding how

different scheduling options and at

we were doing as scare tactics or

to save programs individually. Pass

limiting involvement in some classes.

threats,” said Leigh Lewis, superin-

the referendum. Our board was unit-

None of this was palatable.”

tendent of Triad CUSD 2. “But this

ed — if it doesn’t pass, we would lose

was going to be the case, and it was

these programs.”


going to hit everything — transpor-

Morton, similarly, sought realis-

State law limits what school

tation, extracurriculars, class size

tic input and had a plan in the works

board members and school


personnel can do to support a refer-

just our financial story, but the great

endum (see related story, page 23).

things the district was doing.”

Aurora West didn’t face orga-

Each of the three districts used their

Triad’s campaign included a

n i ze d opp o si-

preparatory community engage-

Yes 2 Triad group, a social media

tion, but found

ment efforts to identify supporters

blitz, “highlighting everything good”

that supporters

to springboard a community-led

which reached potential voters who

of the referen-

referendum campaign.

might not have a current stake in the

dum — both

West Aurora Volunteers for Edu-

district. The group produced info-

from within and

cation (WAVE) created a Facebook

graphics that presented financial

outside of the organization — would

page, which included a detailed flyer

details with clarity. The group went

correct misinformation they found

about the referendum and a video.

door-to-door among likely voters,

on social media.

“Developing a volunteer team was really important,” Craig said.

armed with a script enforcing the

Morton faced stiff opposition.

supporters’ message.

“A very vocal anti-referendum

“They generated a lot of conversa-

Morton benefited from pro-ref-

group published incorrect infor-

tion in our community. The created

erendum support as well, including

mation regarding the referendum,

a video, they found pockets in our

a group known as Morton Schools

continuing to claim the district’s

community to have conversations.

Matter, and Superintendent Hall

information was not accurate,”

They were creative in communicat-

considered it the key to the effort’s

Bernier said. “These same people

ing the message, and to relate it back


to individuals.”

“We had an organized effort of

The music video, which was

a strong group of individuals,” Hall

filmed at the antiquated Hill Elemen-

said. “We had people who were will-

tary School, went viral. It includes

ing to give up their time and offer

lyrics such as “cost and complications

their specific talents and strengths.”

through the roof, even literally” and

The districts took a different

“taxes won’t be raised to have great

track when dealing with opponents.

schools.” The video was targeted to

Triad didn’t seek to engage with

the elementary school community,

no-voters with their minds made up.

which might not have been the usual

“I looked through our history,”

‘frequent flyers’ to the polls, according

Lewis said. “And I saw that on pre-

to Craig. “It brought them out, and by

vious tries, the district spent a lot

supporting that, they supported the

effort to change peoples’ minds. That

whole referendum.”

approach didn’t work, and we had to

Triad’s community involvement

move away from that.”

started with its community engage-

“We thought responding gave the

ment work, and expanded from there

no-votes a louder voice, added Hen-

in January 2015.

derson. “ We decided not responding

“We had the beginnings of the

was a better strategy. That’s not to

group,” Henderson said. “And we

say we didn’t respond to reasonable

looked for other people, school sup-

questions. We had facts to correct

porters, parents with children in the

misinformation, and we could reach

district and especially in activities,

out to those people with someone

because one of the keys to our suc-

they knew, their neighbors and

cess was getting the story out — not



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hijacked the community engage-

to make. Understandably, there are

“Be able to justify the needs as

ment process in certain cases, which

very few communities who can look

vital to the district and the future of

made some people stop attending.

a $60 million bond issue in the face

the community,” said Morton’s Ber-

We responded by staying positive.

and be all for it. There are those in

nier. “Know the costs and be able to

We continued to push factual infor-

the community who will expect the

break them down to an understand-

mation and made sure the commu-

next team to make a long-term plan.”

able format. Be sure your financial

From the district’s perspective,

assumptions are realistic and have

each agreed that transparency is vital.

an end point. Be able to answer the

nity saw the need and knew the cost impact to them personally.”

“Being completely upfront with

erendum volunteers dealt with crit-

the cost of the referendum was key,”

“K now your numbers,” said

icism unemotionally, and responded

said Morton school board president

West Aurora’s Smith. “You can’t be

with facts. Some criticism, she said,

Bernier. “When people realized the

defensive about them, you have to be

was that the Morton referendum

impact to them personally, I believe

open and honest about them. Don’t

didn’t ask for enough.

many had that Ah-ha moment of,

commit to anything that won’t happen. If you have to, under-promise

“An interesting angle was that

‘this is financially doable for me.’”

some were disappointed that we

West Aurora’s Craig noted that,

were asking for so little,” Hall, who is

from the outset, efforts to maintain

“The number-one thing is being

leaving Morton this year for another

the district’s relationship with the

able to explain what you’ve done,” said

superintendent position, said. “If we

community is invaluable.

Henderson of Triad. “People need to

and over-deliver.”

were doing all this work, why didn’t

“There’s a credibility factor

see you’ve done everything reason-

we ask for a new high school? We

there,” he said. “We built the rela-

able before you ask for more. Be one

made sure our taxpayers understood

tionships to have people talking. The

hundred percent transparent with

that what they were voting for was a

responsibility on our part was to have

everything: finances, budgets, expen-

short-term solution, and that at the

the voters’ confidence that we would

ditures. You have to show people what

time it was the right decision for us

hold true to our promises, both to not

it’s going to look like, and be able to

increase the tax bill and to fulfill the

answer every question. Be prepared to

list of what we said we were going to

tell the voters it’s their choice.” Voters can prove that a hard-

accomplish.” Tony Martinez is director of com-

working effort is no guarantee and a

munity affairs for Aurora West SD

well-executed campaign may still

129. “We ask a lot of our community.

not result in successful passage of a

The first time you’re not straight with

referendum. School districts propos-

them, it makes it harder down the

ing referendums in Illinois saw equal

road to ask for support. Keep it real, be

parts success and failure. As success

genuine and honest. Don’t overprom-

stories show, a failure might be the

ise. Make sure you have a statement

first step in the next success.

of what will get done, be mindful of it, and don’t deviate,” he said. Homework Representatives from the three districts had similar advice for Illinois school districts anticipating a referendum: Be transparent, be prepared, and be able to tell your story.


questions that will arise.”

Hall reported that the pro-ref-

Resources Aurora West SD 129’s viral video and referendum infographics can be viewed at WAVE1292015/. Yes 2 Triad is at http:// yes2triad The Facebook page for Morton Schools Matter is at MortonSchoolsMatter/.



FAQs: Referendum activities conducted by school officials By a committee of members of the Illinois Council of School Attorneys


he Illinois Council of School

public funds to advocate votes for or

to any candidate or political orga-

Attorneys publishes guidance

against a referendum, but permits

nization. This Section shall not

as part of its continuing effort to

use of public funds to disseminate

prohibit the use of public funds

provide assistance to school leaders.

factual data. Questions 2 and 3 in

for dissemination of factual infor-

These responses to FAQs regarding

this publication address the Election

mation relative to any proposition

referendum activities conducted by

Code’s interference prohibition.

appearing on an election ballot, or

school officials represent the com-

The State Officials and Employ-

bined thinking of committee mem-

ees Ethics Act (Ethics Act) prohibits

This law allows school district

bers. Potential conflict questions may

State employees and officials from

resources to be used for brochures,

arise that are not addressed in this

engaging in certain political activ-

webpostings, and other communica-

guidance. This guidance is published

ities. It also requires local govern-

tions that describe the proposition,

for informational purposes only, and

ment units including school boards

but not to urge a yes or no vote. Com-

is not a substitute for legal advice. For

to adopt an ordinance or policy “no

munications using district resources

legal advice or a legal opinion on a

less restrictive” than the Act’s provi-

should be factual and include relevant

specific question, you should consult

sions. This means that the Ethics Act’s

data, such as enrollment projections,

a lawyer.

prohibitions apply to board members

comparisons with other districts, the

and employees, including its ban on

status of current facilities or pro-

[inapplicable language omitted].

1. School officials and employ-

engaging in political activity in certain

grams, and the district’s financial

ees usually want to support a ref-

situations. Questions 4 and beyond in

condition. These communications

erendum question that has been

this publication address the Ethics Act.

should avoid persuasive language,

proposed by the school board. How does state law limit their referendum-related activity?

such as, urge, save, shatter, ensure, 2. May the district spend money to publicize a referendum?

break, and devastating. Violating this law is not a ground to invalidate or

Two laws significantly limit the

Yes, provided district funds are

challenge the results on a referendum

scope of referendum-related activi-

not used to advocate for or against

question (Sherman v. Indian Trails

ty permitted by school officials and

a referendum. The Election Code’s

Public Library District, 975 N.E.2d

school employees: the Election Code’s

interference prohibition states:

1173 (Ill.App.1st, 2012)). Any per-

interference prohibition (10 ILCS

No public funds shall be used

son who violates this law is guilty of

5/9-25.1) and the State Officials and

to urge any elector to vote for or

a Class B misdemeanor. Upon the

Employees Ethics Act (5 ILCS 430/).

against any candidate or prop-

second or any subsequent violation,

The Election Code’s interference

osition, or be appropriated for

the person violating it is guilty of a

prohibition bars the expenditure of

political or campaign purposes

Class A misdemeanor.



3. Will district-funded com-

4. May an individual school

• Soliciting votes … for or against

munications to publicize a refer-

board member or school employee

any referendum question or

endum constitute electioneering

support a referendum?

helping in an effort to get voters


to the polls.

The answer to this question

No. Communications that do not

depends on the facts. Many referen-

• Initiating for circulation, pre-

ask voters to vote for or against the

dum-related activities are within the

paring, circulating, reviewing, or

question are specifically exempt from

definition of political activities for

filing a petition … for or against

the definition of electioneering com-

purposes of the State Officials and

any referendum question.

munications (P.A. 96-832 amended

Employees Ethics Act (Ethics Act).

the definition of “electioneering com-

The following are some examples:

• Distributing, preparing for distribution, or mailing campaign

munication” such that it overturned

• Planning, conducting, or partic-

literature, campaign signs, or

Citizens Organized to Save Tax Cap

ipating in a public opinion poll

other campaign material … for or

v. State Bd. of Elections, 910 N.E.2d

… for or against any referendum

against any referendum question.

605 (Ill.App.3d., 2009)).


• Campaigning … for or against any referendum question. • Managing or working on a campaign … for or against any ref-

A system of EVALUATION

starts at the TOP with the



erendum question. A further list of examples is available on the online document at This

overarching question is addressed further in the remaining questions below. 5. When are referendum-related activities prohibited? The answer to this question

How do you score?

depends on the actor (board member or employee) and the context. The following list summarizes the


Annual board self-evaluation


Clear mission, vision, and goals


Solid community connection


Productive meetings

perform any political activity


Strong board/superintendent relationship

during any time they are being

ban on referendum-related political activities:

Employees may not intentionally


___ 100% Does your score add up?

Board members and employees may not misappropriate or use any district property or resourc-

Contact your IASB field services director today! Springfield - 217/528-9688 Lombard - 630/629-3776


es in connection with the political activity;

Field Services

May/June 2017

Board members and employees may not require other board me mb er s or e mploye e s t o


perform a political activity;

media representatives, the responses

on compensat-


should be as factual as possible rather

ed time. E ach

Board members and employees

than advocating a position.

ad m inistrator should evaluate

may not award employees additional compensation or benefits

8. When may employees support

t he a nt icipat-

for participating in any political

their school district’s referendum?

ed community

Off the clock and away from dis-

response before

trict property, employees may freely

accepting invita-

6. What types of referendum-re-

engage in referendum-related activi-

tions to appear before non-district

lated activities are school employees

ties provided they do not use district

clubs and groups.

prohibited from conducting?

resources. For example, employees


10. When and how may board

Employees are prohibited from

may post yard signs, wear advocacy

engaging in political activities con-

buttons, distribute literature, urge

cerning a referendum during any

yes votes, attend referendum com-

All of the limitations on the use

time they are being compensated

mittee meetings, and contribute to

of district resources also apply to

(compensated time). Determining

citizens’ referendum committees.

board members: they may not misap-

compensated time for the superin-

Indeed, the Local Governmental

propriate or use any district property

tendent, a principal, or any salaried

Employees Political Rights Act pro-

or resources to support a referen-

employee can be difficult. High-rank-

vides that no school district “may

dum. They may not, for example,

ing, salaried employees must care-

make or enforce any rule or ordi-

use the district website, letterhead,

fully consider their actions on a

nance that in any way inhibits or

computers or office equipment for

case-by-case basis.

prohibits any of its employees from

referendum-related activities. When

members support a referendum?

During compensated time or

exercising the employee’s political

they are on school district property

when on district property, a school

right.” It also provides that public

and during school board meetings,

employee should not wear a button

employees may not “engage in polit-

board members should adhere to a

pro- or anti-referendum, distribute

ical activities while at work or on

factual approach.

pro- or anti-referendum brochures,

duty.” (50 ILCS 135/10(a) and (b))

Since board members are not compensated by the school district

ask others how they plan to vote, distribute pencils or other favors with

9. May a superintendent or oth-

they serve, the rules concerning

advocacy messages, or engage in any

er administrator support a referen-

compensated time do not apply to

other activity in support of or oppo-

dum during meetings sponsored

them. This gives board members

sition to the referendum.

by non-district sponsored clubs or

more latitude to advocate for a refer-

focus groups?

endum. Away from district property,

7. May a superintendent or

Possibly. W hen articulating

board members may individually

other administrator publish an

support for a referendum, a super-

engage in referendum-related activ-

article in the district newsletter

intendent or other administrator

ities. For example, they may post

or website describing the refer-

should make it clear that he or she

yard signs, wear advocacy buttons,

endum’s rationale?

is providing a personal opinion. At a

distribute literature, urge yes votes,

Yes. The article discussing a pro-

minimum, an administrator should

and attend and contribute to citizens’

posed referendum’s rationale must be

not participate while on school

referendum committees.

carefully worded to avoid advocacy.

grounds, during work hours, or at

Important: If a majority of a

Similarly, when an administrator is

a school function. In addition, the

quorum of district board members

expressing his or her views on the ref-

administrator should express that

is present (three members on a sev-

erendum in an official capacity, such

he or she is not speaking as part of

en-member board) during a refer-

as when being interviewed by news

his or her official duties and is not

endum-related activity, the Open



Meetings Act may apply and, even if

Of course, all the limitations on indi-

publishes extensive guidance material

they are acting as private citizens,

vidual school officials and employees,

on its website at

there may be an appearance that the

as discussed above, still apply to them

addressing campaign contributions

Act applies.

even as members of a citizens’ refer-

and disclosures, among other topics.

When speaking, writing letters to

endum committee. To avoid even the

the editor, or taking other actions in

appearance of impropriety it is recom-

13. What are the rules for allow-

public, however, they are urged to do so

mended that the chairperson of such a

ing outside groups to use school

as individuals and not to use an official

committee not be a board member, the

facilities to advocate for or against

title, such as member of the Board of

superintendent, or even an employee

a referendum?

Education or Board President. When

of the district. And, the school sec-

School districts must make their

writing letters to the editor it is a good

retary, for example, should not help

facilities available to such groups,

idea to check the practice of your local

organize meetings or enlist members

regardless of the group’s viewpoint,

newspaper, as some routinely add the

of a committee during paid time and

on the same basis that other outside

letter writer’s title after his or her name

on school grounds.

organizations are granted access. This

whenever the writer is a public official,

Under the Illinois Election Code,

means the same availability rules and

such that it appears the letter was writ-

a citizen committee formed to sup-

rental charge according to the appli-

ten in an official capacity, instead of

port or oppose a public question being

cable board policy (see the sample

inserting an editorial comment which

put to voters is required to organize

PRESS policy 8:20, Community Use of

notes the title of the writer.

as a ballot initiative committee, if

School Facilities). A district can easily

it accepts contributions or makes

become indirectly involved in referen-

11. Is a citizens’ referendum

expenditures exceeding $5,000

dum activity, such as by allowing the

committee bound by the restrictions

during any 12-month period (10

referendum committee to store advo-

in the Ethics Act?

ILCS 5/9-1.8(b)). Unless their work

cacy signs on district property, use

No, provided its members who

constitutes donation of an in-kind

the district copy machines even if the

are school employees or board mem-

service or is provided with a promise

committee supplies its own paper and

bers abide by the requirements under

or expectation of compensation, the

ink, or use the administrative office

the Ethics Act as well as the Election

time individuals spend volunteer-

after hours for a phone bank. The dis-

Code’s interference prohibition.

ing is not a reportable contribution.

trict should obtain an opinion from

Detailed treatment of the reporting

its attorney whether these indirect

12. What are the requirements

requirements applicable to a ballot

activities are permissible.

for a citizens’ referendum committee?

initiative committee is beyond the

Please periodically check the

A citizens’ referendum committee

scope of this FAQ, and the commit-

IASB School Law website at www.

may provide an excellent means for

tee should consult legal counsel. for updates to this

advocating in favor of a referendum.

The Illinois State Board of Elections

publication and other helpful ICSA publications.

ADVANCING PUBLIC EDUCATION IASB Service Associates provide quality products and services for schools. Membership is by invitation only. A list of Service Associate firms is on the IASB website and in this Journal.


Editor’s note: The following attorneys are members of this committee: Heather Brickman, Hodges, Loizzi, Eisenhammer, Rodick & Kohn, LLP; John Izzo, Sraga Hauser, LLC; Heidi Katz, Robbins, Schwartz, Nicholas, Lifton & Taylor, Ltd.; Alan Mullins, Scariano, Himes, & Petrarca, Chtd.; Melinda Selbee, Illinois Association of School Boards; and Peter Wilson, Jr., Mickey, Wilson, Weiler, Renzi & Andersson, P.C.



Traditional vs. contemporary salary schedules By Harry M. VanHoudnos


radition is what we know,

schedules. Examples of such scenar-

money is distributed on the sched-

a nd we do it b e c au se we

ios include when

ule becomes the issue.

always have. The first school dis-

• Schedules have an artificial BA

These intractable dilemmas

trict in the United States paid a

Base from which to derive cell

require new thinking. The chal-

teacher to educate the students.


lenge is to effectively apply limit-

When enrollment increased, they

• Districts offer a hiring bonus

ed financial resources in a fair and

hired more teachers and created a

the first year, which minimizes

equitable manner to the schedule

salary schedule.

or eliminates the second-year

so the needs of all parties are sat-


isfied as much as possible.

A teacher salary schedule usually consists of a grid of cells going

• S a l a r y s c h e d u l e s a r e n o t

To understand the salary sched-

down, entitled “steps” or “experi-

enhanced for cost of living and

ule, it helps to bifurcate it into distinct

ence” and cells going across entitled

only step movement is allowed.
 functions. In this case one function is

“education level.” The grid is called

• Step movement is not allowed

training, which occurs for a limited

a single salary schedule because it

and everyone receives a fixed

period of time, the second is longevity,

does not differentiate salaries by

dollar or percent increase, or

which occurs as the employee contin-

grade level or subject taught.

nothing at all.

ues working in the district.

The entry salary (known as BA

• New hires are not placed on

What training is typically need-

Base) is in the upper left corner of

Step No. 1, so some senior staff

ed, it terms of how many years with

such a grid. All cells have a numer-

members are paid less than

ic relationship to that entry salary.

new staff.

When the entry salary increases, all

A s distr icts hire new staf f,

cells increase, and accordingly, the

a chasm can develop within the

schedules’ cost increases. This math-

teacher unit as to how available

ematical process can create a dilem-

dollars should be applied to the

ma for school boards. They must

schedule. Entry-level staff mem-

raise entry salaries to attract qual-

bers need money today to repay stu-

ified staff, but that increase makes

dent loans, buy automobiles, set up

the full schedule more expensive.

housekeeping, and continue their

The necessity of paying staff with

educations. Senior staff members

today’s limited or diminishing finan-

want money applied to their area

cial resources frequently destroys the

of the schedule to increase lifetime

traditional cell relationship within

retirement benefits. How available


Harry M. VanHoudnos was an auditor and data management executive for the State of Illinois and a senior research analyst with the Illinois Education Association for more than 20 years.


Exhibit A/Traditional Salary Schedule/Year 1 Step BA BA+12 BA+24 MA* MA+12* MA+24* MA+36* 1 39,457 40,896 42,431 43,904 45,510 47,075 48,683 2 39,725 41,431 43,234 45,436 46,741 48,272 49,922 3 40,261 42,235 44,038 46,258 47,906 49,526 51,204 4 41,024 43,025 44,855 47,484 49,174 50,821 52,542 5 41,828 43,842 45,699 48,780 50,484 52,159 53,907 6 42,524 44,566 46,436 50,103 51,849 53,538 55,342 7 43,248 45,302 47,199 51,481 53,255 54,974 56,818 8 43,583 45,637 47,534 52,903 54,578 56,463 58,350 9 43,917 45,972 47,869 54,380 56,222 58,010 59,939 10 44,252 46,307 48,204 55,912 57,782 59,612 61,582 11 44,293 46,454 48,445 57,832 59,812 61,749 65,450 12 45,110 47,298 49,302 60,417 62,476 64,393 68,154 13 45,940 48,156 50,186 62,029 64,216 66,093 69,882 14 46,797 49,040 51,097 63,714 65,937 67,838 71,690 15 49,503 51,812 53,950 65,429 67,557 69,629 73,543 16 67,220 69,378 71,495 75,451 17 69,055 70,869 73,422 77,425 18 70,952 73,201 75,394 79,470 19 72,909 75,202 77,441 81,577 20 76,736 79,060 81,209 85,540 Index No. 1.01633



1.02982 1.02949 1.02912

11,757,799 11,414,718 343,081 2.91%

Proposal Cost Prior Year Cost $ Increase % Increase


* Or equivalent hours

Exhibit B/Contemporary Modified Salary Schedule/Year 1 Step BA BA+12 BA+24 MA* MA+12* MA+24* MA+36* 1 40,641 42,122 43,704 45,221 46,875 48,487 50,144 2 40,917 42,674 44,531 46,800 48,143 49,720 51,420 3 41,469 43,502 45,359 47,645 49,344 51,012 52,740 4 42,255 44,316 46,201 48,909 50,649 52,346 54,119 5 43,083 45,158 47,070 50,243 51,998 53,724 55,525 6 43,800 45,903 47,829 51,606 53,404 55,144 57,002 7 44,545 46,662 48,615 53,026 54,853 56,623 58,523 8 44,890 47,006 48,960 54,490 56,216 58,157 60,101 9 45,235 47,351 49,305 56,012 57,909 59,750 61,737 10 45,580 47,696 49,650 57,590 59,516 61,400 63,430 11 45,621 47,848 49,898 59,567 61,606 63,601 67,413 12 46,463 48,717 50,781 62,230 64,350 66,325 70,199 13 47,318 49,600 51,692 63,889 66,142 68,075 71,978 14 48,201 50,511 52,630 65,625 67,915 69,873 73,841 15 50,988 53,367 55,569 67,392 69,583 71,718 75,749 16 69,237 71,460 73,639 77,715 17 71,127 72,995 75,625 79,747 18 73,081 75,397 77,656 81,854 19 75,096 77,458 79,764 84,024 20 79,038 81,432 83,645 88,107 Index No. 1.01283



NEW BASE 40,641 PRIOR BASE 39,457 INCREASE 1,184 3.00% 11,638,962 11,414,718 224,244 1.96%

Proposal Cost Prior Year Cost $ Increase % Increase

1.02723 1.02688 1.02658 1.02646

* Or equivalent hours



principal supervision and colleague

• Money saved with step reduction

Year 1 cost in the traditional sched-

collaboration, for a new teacher to be

is used to increase the BA Base

ule is $11,757,799, an increase of

comfortable and sufficiently skilled

entry salary.

$343,081 with a new entry salary

to properly handle a classroom? Six or seven years are the consensus of teachers interviewed by this author in 20-plus years of fieldwork. It is not cost effective to continue paying

• The entry salary percent increase applies to all cells. • Training steps can move vertically and horizontally. • Longevity steps can only move

of $40,641. A p p ly i n g a c o nt e mp or a r y schedule (Exhibit B), the Year 1 cost of $11,638,962 is $118,837 less. Those savings could be used


to increase the BA Base salary to

ing period. Step movement beyond

One can visualize the cost and

$41,055, an increase of 4.05 per-

training is a major cost factor. Howev-

entry-level advantages of the con-

cent, which then applies to all cells

er, longevity or cost of living increas-

temporary methodology by compar-

including steps 10-20.

es are appropriate.

ing it against the traditional costing

Staff members on steps one

The author offers two contem-

process. For comparison purpos-

through nine moved down, and steps

porary schedule designs: 1) A sim-

es, both models will determine

10-20 did not move. The gray area

ple modification, by bifurcating an

the effects of next year on Exhibit

cells will cease to be relevant as staff

existing schedule, and 2) A com-

A when both models increase the

members leave.

prehensive approach that not only

entry salary 3 percent. Also in our

A more definitive case materi-

bifurcates the schedule, but also

example, six new staff members are

alizes when the above comparison

encompasses fairness and equity

hired in the same positions as the

is expanded to three years. The tra-

within steps and lanes.

previous year, and six senior staff

ditional method costs $1,017,055 to

members are removed from steps

increase the entry salary 3 percent

15 and/or 20.

each year. The entry salary would

“training dollars” beyond the train-

With the modified contemporary schedule: • Step movement only applies to

The original cost of the above

be $43,116 and the maximum sal-

classroom training and is a nego-

schedule, using the traditional cost-

ary $93,472 (both a 9.3 percent

tiated number.

ing method, was $11,414,718. The

continued on next page

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Salary schedules

continued from previous page

increase). When the contemporary model applies to the $1,017,055 example, the entry salary is $44,692 and the maximum salary $96,889 (both a 13.3 percent increase). Beyond that, a full contemporary salary schedule could further

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• Illinois searches with IASB include serving 192 school districts in 70 different counties, from 2009-2016

percentage of the previous cell

dollar and percent relationships may have been lost during past porary schedule, • Vertical step increases are a fixed (percentage schedule concept) and the dollar amount increase

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is the same in each lane. • Equal or progressive increases for additional education and/or training are provided across the

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lanes. Converting to the full contemporary methodology often involves a structural schedule change. In that process, no one should lose money i n t he tra nsition ; however, some will receive a larger raise than others will. Steps may no longer equal “years” of work experience. Salary schedule tradition is important because it attempts to provide fairness and equity. However, when alterations occur because of pressures such as attracting qualified staff and underfunding, a con-

Contact your field services director today! Springfield: 217/528-9688 Lombard: 630/629-3776


temporary approach should be used to reclaim its original purpose.

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In memoriam: Doug Blair continued from page 36

hear much discussion about is the population and economic patterns in rural areas have really changed. There’s a trend where it’s almost more economical to probably give everyone a free lunch, and that doesn’t sit well with a lot of taxpayers,” he said in 2013. “One of the things I’m concerned about is the farm community; at one time, it was the backbone of rural communities. That has really changed. Previously, it was not uncommon to have five, six, or seven farmers on the school board. Today, you have to

Doug Blair, standing fourth from right, is pictured with the field services and policy services departments of the early 1980s.

hunt pretty hard to find one. Farmers were always good

throughout the Central Illinois Valley, Corn Belt, Two

businessmen, that’s why they were successful. So you

Rivers, Abe Lincoln, Illini, and Shawnee divisions and

lose some of that knowledge on the board.”

recalled learning the lingo of CB communications to

Born in New York, Blair’s education continued at

facilitate his travels. “We didn’t have cell phones,

Quincy High School, where he was a good student and

although I eventually got a ‘bag’ phone. Before that,

athlete. He started college at Illinois State University

if I needed to call the office, I would stop at a filling

before joining the United States Air Force. After serving

station with a pay phone. If they wanted to call me,

two years and achieving the rank of sergeant, he returned

they were out of luck.” At IASB, Blair brought a superintendent’s perspec-

to ISU on the “GI Bill.” His first job as an educator, at Downs Elementary

tive to the work of boards of education. In 2008, after 22

School, actually came before he finished college. He

years in field services, Blair moved to IASB’s executive

eventually earned his bachelors, masters, and Doctorate

searches — a service that he excelled in because of his

of Education from Illinois State, attending on a part-time

connections and experience.

basis while he worked full time as a teacher and coach,

years to provide assistance to the board members and

and raising a family with his wife, Martha. In 1965, Blair moved from rural McLean County to

boards so they can be more effective in working with their

rural Logan County, to become superintendent of the

superintendent. And that helps form a more effective

Atlanta CUSD 20 and ultimately what would become

school district,” Blair recalled in 2013.

part of the Olympia CUSD 16 school district. The con-

Known throughout Illinois as an advisor and men-

solidation of five smaller districts was a difficult financial

tor to aspiring education leaders, Blair received the

process that had to survive a legal challenge, but proved

Exemplary Service Award from IASA in 2004. He also

to be a lasting testament to the cause of providing addi-

participated in the “Education is Key” oral history proj-

tional resources and opportunities for rural students.

ect conducted by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential

While he was a superintendent, Blair also was active

Library and Museum. Blair also reflected on his career

in statewide advocacy work with the Illinois Associa-

and service to school boards in the IASB centennial

tion of School Administrators (IASA), which led to his

book, Lighting the Way for 100 Years. Doug and Martha were married for nearly 56 years,

connection to, and eventual work for, IASB.


“We have really made a concerted effort over the

Blair joined IASB in 1976, at a time when the

until her death in 2012. They raised three sons and had

Association was growing and the need for personal,

five grandchildren. A memorial gathering and service

in-district visits important. Blair traveled extensively

were held on April 1 in Springfield.



continued from page 36

school board president in Westches-

for both the Marion and Benton high

an ordinance that threatened par-

school districts.

ents with arrest for allowing teenage

Virginia A. McKinley, 88, died

drinking on their property.

March 1, 2017. She was the first wom-

Irvin Phoenix, 80, died Febru-

Deborah J. Harrison, 66, died

an elected to the Avon school board.

ary 10, 2017. He was previously a

March 10, 2017. In her earlier years,

Kenneth R. Myers, 83, died

school board member in Trico CUSD

she served as a member and past

March 28, 2017. He formerly served

176, serving for two terms from 1975

president of the Galesburg CUSD

on the Hinckley-Big Rock CUSD 429

until 1981.

205 Board of Education.

school board.

ter SD 92½.

Donald L. Pfeifer Sr., 85, died

Lyndall Wade Heyen, 74, died

Carl J. Neiss, 88, died March 22,

March 19, 2017. He previously served

March 11, 2017. He previously served

2017. He was previously a member

on the Goodfarm Township school

on the Carlinville CUSD 1 school

of the McHenry school board and



inductee into the McHenry High

Luke Andrew Johnsos, 75, died

School Athletic Hall of Fame.

John R. Schweighart, 85, died February 21, 2017. He previously served

March 5, 2017. He formerly held posi-

E. Lawrence “Larry” Oldfield, 72,

as a member of the Villa Grove school

tions on the Deerfield school board

died March 18, 2017. He was a former

board for nine years, six as president.

and served on many school referen-

attorney and Glen Ellyn District 41

Donald V. St. John, 96, died

dum committees.

school board member, and was known

March 19, 2017. He was a former

to wear a cowboy hat and boots. This

Burbank school board member and

31, 2017. He was a former member of

reflected his longtime legal represen-

an alderman for the City of Burbank.

the Rochester school board.

tation of the National Cattlemen’s Beef

Kenneth Lincoln Turner, 92,

Richard E. “Mac” McFadden,

Association. During a term on the

died Marcy 17, 2017. He had served

69, died March 20, 2017. He previ-

village board for Glen Ellyn, he made

as school board president for the

ously served on the school boards

headlines when the board adopted

Forreston Grade School.

agreeing to the rules of engagement

regarding team building. Recog-

aspires to produce life-long learners,

and how the group will do its business.

nizing that, IASB’s field services

then the school board members, both

Finally, the performing stage sees an

department is often called upon

newly elected and veteran, should

effective team conducting its business

to help by conducting a “Starting

model life-long learning, and ask a

in an efficient manner. Some have

Right: Board-Building for the New

lot of questions.

added a fifth stage to this group devel-

Governance Team” self-evalua-

opment process called “adjourning,”

tion to help the board move toward


where the team considers its legacy

the performing stage as quickly

as a team.

as possible.

“Orientation: Building the Board Team” is available at orientation-building-the-board-team.pdf

Parker Len Kious, 84, died March

Ask the Staff

continued from inside back cover

The need for effective school

Board member professional

district governance does not take a

development is essential to school

break while the board goes through

board governance effectiveness. And

the stages of development. Getting

governance effectiveness is crucial

the new team started right is essen-

to the continued existence of local-

tial. Boards may want to consider

ly elected school boards. If the school

getting some outside assistance

district that the board governs


To learn more about the in-district workshop “Starting Right: BoardBuilding for the New Governance Team,” visit startingright.cfm IASB offers New Board Member Workshops designed to meet the needs of school board members elected in 2017. Visit training/nbmw.cfm to learn more.


FARNSWORTH GROUP — Architectural and engineering professional services. Normal – 309/663-8436 FGM ARCHITECTS, INC. — Architects. Chicago – 312/942-8461; Oak Brook – 630/574-8300; O’Fallon – 618/624-3364; St. Louis, MO – 314/439-1601; website: GREENASSOCIATES, INC. — Architecture/construction services. Deerfield – 847/317-0852, Pewaukee, WI – 262/746-1254; website: www.greenassociates. com; email:

A Directory of your IASB Service Associates IASB Service Associates are businesses which offer school‑related products and services and which have earned favorable repu­tations for quality and integrity. Only after screening by the Service Associates Executive Committee is a business firm invited by the IASB Board of Directors to become a Service Associate.

Appraisal Services

INDUSTRIAL APPRAISAL COMPANY — Building and fixed asset appraisals for insurance and accounting purposes. Oak Brook – 630/575-0280


ALLIED DESIGN CONSULTANTS, INC. — Architectural programming, site planning and design, architectural and interior design, and construction administration with a specialization in K-12 facilities. Springfield – 217/522-3355 ARCON ASSOCIATES, INC. — Full service firm specializing in educational facilities with services that include architecture, construction management, roof and masonry consulting, landscape architecture, and environmental consulting. Lombard – 630/495-1900; website:; email: BERG ENGINEERING CONSULTANTS, LTD. — Consulting engineers. Schaumburg – 847/352-4500; website: BLDD ARCHITECTS, INC. — Architectural and engineering services for schools. Decatur – 217/429-5105; Champaign – 217/3569606; Bloomington – 309/828-5025; Chicago – 312/829-1987 BRADLEY & BRADLEY — Architects, engineers, and asbestos consultants. Rockford – 815/968-9631; website: CANNONDESIGN — Architecture, Interiors, Engineering, Consulting. Chicago – 312/332-9600; website: ; email:

HURST-ROSCHE, INC. — Architecture, engineering, planning, and interior design. Hillsboro – 217/532-3959; East St. Louis – 618/3980890; Marion – 618/998-0075; Springfield – 217/787-1199; email: JH2B ARCHITECTS — Architects. Kankakee – 815/933-5529; website: JMA ARCHITECTS — Full service professional design firm specializing in K-12 educational design, construction management, strategic/ master planning, health/life safety compliance, building commissioning, and interior space design. South Holland – 708/339-3900; website:; email: THE GARLAND COMPANY — Complete building envelope solutions to extend the life of existing building assets (walls, roofing, waterproofing, sealants, and floors) Facility Asset Management programs and US Communities Vendor. Cleveland, OH – 815/922-1376; website: KLUBER ARCHITECTS + ENGINEERS — Building design professionals specializing in architecture, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, structural, and fire protection engineers. Batavia – 630/406-1213 LARSON & DARBY GROUP — Architecture, Engineering, Interior Design, and Technology. Rockford – 815/484-0739, St. Charles – 630/444-2112; website:; email: snelson@ LEGAT ARCHITECTS, INC. — Architectural and educational planners who specialize in creating effective student learning environments. Gurnee – 847/622-3535; Oak Brook – 630/990-3535; Chicago – 312/258-9595; website: PCM+DESIGN ARCHITECTS — Provide a full range of architectural services including facility and feasibility studies, architectural design, construction consulting and related services. East Peoria – 309/694-5012 PERFORMANCE SERVICES, INC. — An integrated design and delivery engineering company serving the design and construction facility needs of K-12 schools. Schaumburg – 847/466-7220 PERKINS+WILL — Architects. Chicago – 312/755-0770 RICHARD L. JOHNSON ASSOCIATES, INC. — Architecture, educational planning. Rockford – 815/398-1231; website:

CM ENGINEERING, INC. — Specializing in ultra efficient geo-exchange HVAC engineering solutions for schools, universities, and commercial facilities. Columbia, MO – 573/874-9455; website:

RUCKPATE ARCHITECTURE — Architects, engineers, interior design. Barrington – 847/381-2946; website:; email:

CORDOGAN CLARK & ASSOCIATES — Architects and Engineers. Aurora – 630/896-4678; website: www.cordoganclark. com; email: rmont@cordogan

SARTI ARCHITECTURAL GROUP, INC. — Architecture, engineering, life safety consulting, interior design, and asbestos consultants. Springfield – 217/585-9111

DEWBERRY ARCHITECTS INC. — Architects, planners, landscape architecture, and engineers. Peoria – 309/282-8000; Elgin – 847/695-5840

STR PARTNERS — Architectural, interior design, planning, cost estimating, and building enclosure/roofing consulting. Chicago – 312/464-1444

DLA ARCHITECTS, LTD. — Architects specializing in preK-12 educational design, including a full range of architectural services; assessments, planning, feasibility studies, new construction, additions, remodeling, O&M and owner’s rep services. Itasca – 847/7424063; website:; email:

TRIA ARCHITECTURE — An architectural planning and interior design firm that provides services primarily to School Districts in the Chicago-Land area with an emphasis on service to their clients, as well as their communities. Burr Ridge – 630/455-4500

DLR GROUP — Educational facility design and master planning. Chicago – 312/382-9980; website:; email:

WIGHT & COMPANY — An integrated services firm with solutions for the built environment. Darien – 630/696-7000; website:; email:

ERIKSSON ENGINEERING ASSOCIATES, LTD. — Consulting civil engineers and planners. Grayslake – 847/223-4804; Chicago – 312/463-0551; Mokena – 708/614-9720; website:; email:

WM. B. ITTNER, INC. — Full service architectural firm serving the educational community since 1899. Fairview Heights – 618/624-2080

FANNING HOWEY ASSOCIATES, INC. — School planning and design with a focus on K-12 schools. Oak Brook – 847/292-1039 34

HEALY, BENDER & ASSOCIATES, INC. — Archi­tects/Planners. Naperville, 630/904-4300; website:; email:

WOLD ARCHITECTS AND ENGINEERS — Specializing in PreK-12 educational design including master planning, sustainable design, architecture, mechanical and electrical engineering, quality review, cost estimation and management. Palatine – 847/241-6100


Building Construction

RADON DETECTION SPECIALISTS — Commercial radon surveys. Westmont – 800/244-4242; website:; email:

F. H. PASCHEN — A General/Construction Manager with extensive experience in new construction and renovation of educational and institutional facilities in the public/private sectors. Chicago – 773/4441525-3535; website:

Financial Services

CORE CONSTRUCTION — Professional construction management, design-build, and general contracting services. Morton – 309/2669768; website:

FREDERICK QUINN CORPORATION — Construction management and general contracting. Addison – 630/628-8500; website: HOLLAND CONSTRUCTION SERVICES, INC. — Full service Construction Management and General Contracting firm specializing in education facilities. Swansea – 618/277-8870 PEPPER CONSTRUCTION COMPANY — Construction management and general contracting services. Barrington – 847/381-2760

AMERICAN FIDELITY ASSURANCE COMPANY — Specializing in Section 125 compliance, 403(b) plan administration, flexible spending accounts, health savings accounts, dependent audits, and health care reform. Fairview Heights – 855/822-9168 BERNARDI SECURITIES, INC. — Public finance consulting, bond issue services and referendum support. Fairview Heights – 618/2064180; Chicago - 312/281-2014; email: EHLERS & ASSOCIATES — School bond issues; referendum help; financial and enrollment studies. Chicago – 312/638-5250; website:; email: FIRST MIDSTATE, INC. — Bond issue consultants. Bloomington – 309/829-3311; email:

POETTKER CONSTRUCTION COMPANY — Specializing in Construction Management, Design/Build, Construction Consulting Services, and Energy Solutions for education clients. Breese – 618/526-7213; website:

GORENZ AND ASSOCIATES, LTD. — Auditing and financial consulting. Peoria – 309/685-7621; website:; email:

ROSS CONSTRUCTION, INC. — A full-service construction management firm specializing in educational institutions. Marion – 618/993-5904

ICE MILLER, LLP — Nationally recognized bond counsel services. Chicago – 312/726-7127

S.M. WILSON & CO. — Provides construction management and general construction services to education, healthcare, commercial, retail, and industrial clients. St. Louis, Mo – 314/645-9595; website:; email:

KINGS FINANCIAL CONSULTING, INC. — Municipal bond financial advisory service including all types of school bonds; school referenda, county school sales tax; tax revenue forecasts/projections. Monticello – 217/762-4578

TRANE — HVAC company specializing in design, build, and retrofit. Willowbrook – 630/734-6033

MATHIESON, MOYSKI, AUSTIN & CO., LLP — Provides audit, consulting and other related financial services to Illinois school districts, joint agreements and risk pools. Wheaton – 630/653-1616

Computer Software, Supplies, Services

SIKICH, LLP — Professional services firm specializing in accounting, technology, and advisory services. Naperville — 630/364-7953

SONITROL GREAT LAKES — Verified electronic security. Northbrook – 847/205-0670; website:

Environmental Services

ALPHA CONTROLS & SERVICES, LLC — Facility Management Systems, Automatic Temperature Controls, Access Control Systems, Energy Saving Solutions; Sales, Engineering, Installation, Commissioning and Service. Rockford, Springfield, Champaign: toll-free 866/ALPHA-01; website:; email: CTS GROUP — Dedicated to assisting K-12 education meet the challenge of providing healthy, safe, and educational appropriate learning environments. St. Louis, MO – 636/230-0843; Chicago – 773/633-0691; website:; email: rbennett@ ENERGY SYSTEMS GROUP — A comprehensive energy services and performance contracting company providing energy, facility and financial solutions. Itasca – 630/773-7201; email: smcivor@ GCA SERVICES GROUP – Custodial, janitorial, maintenance, lawn and grounds, and facility operations services. Downers Grove – 630/629-4044 GRP MECHANICAL CO., INC. — Renovating buildings through energy savings performance contracting to provide the best learning environment. HVAC, Plumbing, Windows, Doors, and Mechanical Services. Bethalto – 618/779-0050 HONEYWELL, INC. — Controls, maintenance, energy management, performance contracting, and security. St. Louis, MO – 314/548-4136; Des Plaines – 847/770-5496; Maryland Heights, MO – 314/548-4501; email:; IDEAL ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING, INC. — Asbestos and environmental services. Bloomington – 309/828-4259 ILLINOIS ENERGY CONSORTIUM — Sells electricity and natural gas to school districts, colleges, and universities. Dekalb – 815/7539083; website:; email:

SPEER FINANCIAL, INC. — Financial planning and bond issue services. Chicago – 312/346-3700; website: www.speerfinancial. com; email: STIFEL — Full service securities firm providing investment banking and advisory services including strategic financial planning; bond underwriting; referendum and legislative assistance. Edwardsville – 800/230-5151; email: WILLIAM BLAIR & COMPANY — Bond issuance, financial advisory services. Chicago – 312/364-8955; email: WINTRUST FINANCIAL — Financial services holding company engaging in community banking, wealth management, commercial insurance premium financing, and mortgage origination. Rosemont – 630/560-2120

Human Resource Consulting

BUSHUE HUMAN RESOURCES, INC. — Human resource, safety and risk management, and insurance consulting. Effingham – 217/3423042; website:; email:


THE SANDNER GROUP — Insurance program management, marketing & claims services for workers' compensation, property & liability. Chicago – 800/654-9504

Office Equipment

FRANK COONEY COMPANY, INC. — Furniture for educational environments. Wood Dale – 630/694-8800

Superintendent Searches

ECRA Group & HYA — Superintendent searches, board and superintendent workshops. Schaumburg – 847/318-0072

OPTERRA ENERGY SERVICES — Turnkey partnership programs that enable K12 school districts in Illinois to modernize their facilities, increase safety, security and efficiency, reduce operations costs, and maximize the lifespan of critical assets. Chicago – 312/498-7792; email: MAY-JUNE 2017 / THE ILLINOIS SCHOOL BOARD JOURNAL



Achievements Miriam (Mimi)

five percent of Illinois lawyers each

law and real estate matters. For the

Cooper, a longtime

year. Cooper was a teacher before

past 27 years, Cooper has served as a

THSD 214 (Arling-

becoming an attorney in 1987. She

school board member of District 214.

ton Heights) school

is a member of the Illinois State Bar

She has served for many years as the

board member, has

Association, and currently serves as

chairman of Law Day, pairing her law

been named to the

the treasurer of the Northwest Sub-

career with her interest in education.

2017 Illinois Super Lawyers list, rec-

urban Bar Association, a member of

Super Lawyers is a rating service of

ognizing her as one of the most excep-

its matrimonial law committee, and

outstanding lawyers from more than

tional attorneys in the state. This is

former co-chair of its real estate law

70 practice areas who have attained

the fifth time Cooper has been on the

committee. Her firm, The Law Office

a high degree of peer recognition and

list, which recognizes no more than

of Miriam Cooper, focuses on family

professional achievement.

In memoriam R. Gary Barnett, 81, died March 19, 2017. He was a member of the

“I’ve never had a day here that I didn’t enjoy.”

20 years.

The Illinois Association of School Boards bids

Donald E. Becker, 59, died Feb-

farewell to a longtime leader in public education.

ruary 6, 2017. He was serving on the

Douglas P. Blair died March 10, 2017 at the age of 82.

Watseka school board at the time of

Blair worked for more than 55 years in roles as

his passing and had been a member

varying as teacher, coach, principal, and superinten-

since 2007.

dent. And 34 of those years were spent at IASB, where Blair started as a

R icha rd A. Becker Sr., 76,

field services director for six central and southern Illinois divisions — a

passed away February 4, 2017. He

position that required him to log many miles, some of them apparently

previously served for 12 years as pres-

driven at high speeds.

ident of the Emmons School Board of Education.

“I hadn’t been here long and this is when they changed the speed limit,” Blair recalled in an interview for IASB’s centennial commem-

Bill Chipman, 89, died March

oration in 2013. “And I got a couple traffic tickets. [Then-Executive

10, 2017. He was a former president

Director] Hal Seamon always knew of them about the same time I did.

of the Jacksonville District 117 Board

When I got the second ticket, he came into my office and shut the door.

of Education and founding president

He said to me, ‘My understanding is if you get three of those speeding

of the Jacksonville Public Schools

tickets, your driving privileges are suspended.’ He asked how we would


handle that. I said I wasn’t sure, and asked if we could afford a driver.

William Francis “Bill” Delaney,


D oug las P. Blair

Bluffs school board for more than

I don’t think that’s what he wanted to hear.”

82, died March 19, 2017. He was pre-

Anyone who knew Doug Blair also knew that he only told a story like

viously a member of the Germantown

that with a wide grin and hearty laugh. But he also learned his lesson

Hills Elementary Board of Education

and claimed that he never got another speeding ticket.

Patr icia M. Green, 76, died

Throughout his career, Blair was an advocate for quality public

March 14, 2017. She was a former

education, notably in the rural areas of Illinois. “One thing you don’t

Continued on page 33

Continued on page 32



How can new school boards get off to the best start? By Larry Dirks


uestion: How can boards get

and mentoring is one way to provide

to the district’s identity and board pro-

off on the right foot when

that help. Experience matters, and

cesses, in other words, “who we are

exper ienci ng boa rd member

many boards are in the practice of

and how we do things.” This should


assigning a veteran board member

include a discussion of district goals

Answer: I heard a veteran board

to each new board member to act as

and priorities that guide and inform

member recently offer what I thought

a mentor. The mentor can serve as

the board’s decisions and the process

was a great piece of advice to a room

a resource for the new board mem-

with which those decisions are made.

of school board candidates. He said,

ber in understanding the practices

The third task is to orient new board

“Ask a lot of questions.”

and protocol that is school board

members regarding professional devel-

Veteran school board members

governance. That relationship can

opment, where and how they can learn

can offer great perspective for newly

give confidence to the new member,

more about good governance, including

elected school board members who

especially if the board feels “under

professional development workshops

may, at times, struggle to a get han-

the microscope” as many do in the

and further reading.

dle on their new role. Many veteran

current environment.

School board members are elect-

board members, when reflecting on

On the flipside, the questions

ed governing officials. They form a

“hardest” lessons learned, will make

a new board member asks may give

governing body. There is an old saying

reference to notions such as under-

pause for the entire board to reflect

regarding elected officials that “you

standing the role of the board versus

on its practices. Some boards get

campaign as an individual, but you

the role of the staff, or that change

mired in bad habits, and past practice

serve as a team.” It may take some

comes slowly, or the realization that

is not always best practice.

newly elected board members by

a board member can’t solve a parent’s

In addition to mentoring, a prop-

surprise that when they arrive onto

problem alone, or that a board mem-

er orientation process for new board

a school board they are part of a team.

ber has no authority as an individual.

members is vital in helping the new

A ny team that experiences

One of my mentors here at IASB

board members become effective

turnover will go through four stages

used to say, “Good governance is not

team members. IASB’s publication

of development. Bruce Tuckman,

necessarily intuitive to most peo-

“Orientation: Building the Board

an author and researcher of group

ple.” What he meant was that often

Team” identifies three distinct tasks

dynamics, labeled these stages “form-

the first reaction to a situation (as a

in school board orientation. First is a

ing, storming, norming, and perform-

board member), however well-inten-

“nuts and bolts” orientation to spe-

ing.” Forming is fairly superficial but

tioned, might not be best practice

cific district information and general

necessary as the team members get


information about public education.

to know each other. Storming sees

G ood gover na nce requ ire s

This may include updated informa-

members positioning for influence and

thought and discipline. It is incum-

tion about district finances, current

alliances forming that may or may not

bent upon veteran board members

contracts, instructional programs, or

be productive. Norming is eventually

to help new board members along,

personnel. A second task is orientation

Continued on page 33

Larry Dirks is field services director for IASB’s Abe Lincoln, Kaskaskia, Southwestern, and Two Rivers divisions.


2921 Baker Drive Springfield, Illinois 62703-5929 Address Service Requested

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The Illinois School Board Journal, May/June 2017  

A bimonthly magazine for public school board members and administrators highlighting issues in education.

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