Page 1

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Vol. 84, No. 2

Early learning changes the course



anuary 28 marked 30 years

news that many of McAuliffe’s stu-

use, by school board members, of

since the Challenger disaster.

dents at Concord High School in

online chat rooms and discussion

A crew of seven — five NASA mission

New Hampshire are now teachers

forums. IASB’s legal and policy trio of

specialists and two civilian payload

themselves, directly influenced by

Melinda Selbee, Kimberly Small, and

specialists — lost their lives when the

McAuliffe. Many who never met her

Cathy Talbert shares that cautionary

space shuttle broke apart 73 seconds

were similarly inspired. A generation

tale, starting on page 21.

into flight. It was a defining moment

of teachers is a Challenger legacy.

This Journal also features a look

for Generation X. Many of us watched

However, fewer young people are

at the future of education. Following

the live telecast in our classrooms.

choosing to teach as a career. Oth-

up last issue’s piece on IASB’s collab-

Others heard the news from stunned

ers falter in the effort. Today, many

oration with The Ounce of Prevention

teachers and classmates in hallways

places in the United States face a

Fund, Megan Meyer of The Ounce

and classrooms.

teacher shortage, stemming from

shares a vital piece on the importance

a variety of causes and provoking a

of early learning to future outcomes.

multitude of concerns.

“Early learning changes the course”

As you probably recall, one member of the crew was a teacher,

begins on page 6.

Christa McAuliffe. Her mission as a

In this issue of The Illinois

civilian payload specialist was the

School Board Journal, we hear from

NASA’s space shuttle program

culmination of NASA’s Teacher in

McKendree University professor

included 135 missions from 1981 to

Space Project, which was why so

James Rosborg and IASB’s Patrick

2011. After Challenger, shuttle flights

many 1980s schoolkids were watch-

Rice, who write about one cause of

resumed in 1989, and seemed star-

ing Challenger launch.

local teacher shortages, and what

tlingly routine until 2003’s loss of

McAuliffe, Commander Francis

school boards need to be aware of

Columbia upon re-entry into Earth’s

Scobee, pilot Michael J. Smith, pay-

as this problem manifests in Illinois.

atmosphere. Again, the program

load specialist Gregory Jarvis and

“Rigor to Reality” begins on page 11.

recovered. In 2007, astronaut Bar-

mission specialists Ellison Onizu-

Also in this issue, we look at

bara Morgan, once McAuliffe’s back-

ka, Judith A. Resnick, and Ronald

developments in technology here on

up in the Teacher in Space Program,

McNair all perished. Even today,

earth: new and social media, and the

took flight and spent 12 days on

their names are mournfully evoca-

pluses and minuses of both. IASB

Endeavor. Shuttle flights ended with

tive of the time and place Challenger

invites readers to learn about and

a predawn landing of Atlantis in July

bears in our collective memories.

partake in social media offerings in

of 2011.

Notable among recent 30th-an-

an article by Heath Hendren that

niversary remembrances was the

starts on page 15. Also, read about

— Theresa Kelly Gegen, Editor


COVER STORY 6 Early learning changes the course IASB is collaborating with The Ounce of Prevention Fund to communicate with school boards the importance of early learning to attack the gap in academic achievement that can exist between many low-resource students and their more advantaged peers. By Megan Meyer

FEATURE ARTICLES 11 From rigor to reality: Lack of candidates escalates Illinois’ teacher shortage As boards of education deal with a scarcity of teachers and substitutes, changes to admission standards have made it harder for students to become teachers. By James Rosborg

14 Sidebar: Teacher preparation programs influence board work By Patrick Rice

15 IASB focuses on digital engagement In effort to reach a wider audience and serve members effectively, IASB is adjusting its communication strategy to increase online engagement. By Heath Hendren

21 Chat rooms, discussion forums raise red flags School board members should exercise great caution and restraint if using online communication such as discussion forums and chatrooms and chat. By Melinda Selbee, Kimberly Small, and Cathy Talbert

M A R C H / A P R I L

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Vol. 84, No. 2

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

REGULAR FEATURES Front Page. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Inside front cover Practical PR. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Insights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Milestones. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

Shantel Rotherham, Advertising Manager Kara Kienzler, Design and Production Copyright Š 2016 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.

Ask the Staff. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Inside back cover Cover art: Digital Vision/Photodisc/



Tell your district’s story in 60 seconds By Margaret Van Duch

Margaret Van Duch is communications director for Fremont District 79, based in Mundelein.


eople crave information.

Starbucks has launched a mobile

is consu m i ng ever y t h i ng t hey

We desire it instantly and

order and pay app for the customer

can access. These communica-

want it delivered in a way that is

who doesn’t want to wait five minutes

tion ambassadors are attending

useful to us. As a mobile society, we

for that foamy drink.

PTA meetings, soccer games, and

also want it delivered wherever we happen to be. In the United States,

they want.

cocktail parties ― and sharing their knowledge and opinions on the sub-

three-quarters of adults use social

For educators, it is essential

ject. For this reason, it is paramount

media sites. The global Internet pop-

that a district’s message will reach

to ensure that information about hot

ulation represents 2.4 billion people.

its audiences. Like Starbucks, school

topics is well placed and available

Every 60 seconds, email users send

districts can use Twitter, Instagram,

where people can easily access it.

204 million messages, Twitter users

Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest,

For school districts, this is typically

tweet 277,000 times, Facebook users

LinkedIn, email, and more. Each

the website.

share 2.5 million pieces of content,

platform holds different attractions

and YouTube users upload 72 hours

for its audience.

of new video. When traveling coffee drinkers


Starbucks gives customers what

The key in telling stories is to use the various media seamlessly.

For example, on a district website, a finance page might provide readers with information about the district’s spending and revenue hab-

want their brew, they can easily stop

And it is vital to tell the story

its. This is where a business manager

at Starbucks, the giant of the coffee

quickly: 90 percent of readers will

will want to place information about

world with over 20,000 stores and

view online content or data for 30

tax levies, an easy-to-view Power-

resellers in over 61 countries. The

seconds. Seven percent of viewers

Point about the district’s budget, and

company listens, researches, and

will stay on task for three minutes.

other meaty documents like the state

tests the market. Starbucks has more

A mere three percent of a school dis-

budget form. When an issue arises,

than 36 million followers on Face-

trict’s audience will devote 30 min-

this is what the public sees.

book, 11 million on Twitter, and 7.2

utes to content shared with them.

million on Instagram. In Starbucks

What this means is that a district

cafes, tables are bustling with indi-

has less than 60 seconds to reach

viduals conducting business, working

the majority of its audience.

on laptops, and talking on phones

That’s not to say that the three

while enjoying a chocolate mocha,

percent of viewers researching a

cafe latte, or caramel macchiato.

topic are not crucial to any con-

Starbucks introduces new sweetened

versation. For hot topics like refer-

drinks or skinny lattes to customers

endums, building expansions, and

on a monthly basis. Most recently,

budget cuts, that small percentage

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


It is important to make sure the

how much content to add. Short is

message is repeated — and repeated

best. Keep messaging simple. Send

often — if your audience is to remem-

short emails with pictures. Use

ber it and stand behind the message.

one-sentence statements for Face-

Psychologists have documented that

book with lots of photos. Create

the more an audience is exposed to

one-word statements for Twitter or

the same message, the more familiar

Instagram with a telling photo. Edu-

it becomes, and the more attached

cational videos, pictures, Tweets, or

people will be. An individual will

headlines can tell a district’s story

be more apt to “buy in” to what it

in a few seconds. If you don’t think

is being sold or told to them. This,

brevity has impact on an audience,

too, is true of school districts that are

look at advertising campaigns with

reaching out to taxpayers, for exam-

slogans like Nike’s “Just Do It.” A

ple to approve bond referendums to

district could manage a similar slo-

renovate their schools or to approve

gan with 1:1 devices using photos

pay hikes where their teachers may

of students with iPads and a phrase

make more than the average house-

that states, “1:1 opens a world of

hold income in town.


Keep district messaging clear

What makes for effective mes-

and concise, and use a variety of

saging is when — as in advertising

platforms that will reach many indi-

campaigns — messages are short,

viduals. What is nice about many of

consistent, and repeated often using

the social media sites is they dictate

a variety of platforms.

President Phil Pritzker

Treasurer Thomas Neeley

Vice President Joanne Osmond

Immediate Past President Karen Fisher

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Abe Lincoln Lisa Weitzel

Lake June Maguire

Blackhawk David Rockwell

Northwest Ben Andersen

Central Illinois Valley Thomas Neeley

Shawnee Roger Pfister

Cook North Barbara Somogyi

Southwestern Mark Christ

Cook South Denis Ryan

Starved Rock Simon Kampwerth Jr.

Cook West Carla Joiner-Herrod

Three Rivers Dale Hansen

Corn Belt Mark Harms

Two Rivers David Barton

DuPage Thomas Ruggio Egyptian John Metzger Illini Michelle Skinlo Kaskaskia Linda Eades

Wabash Valley Dennis Inboden Western Sue McCance Chicago Board Jaime Guzman Service Associates Glen Eriksson

Kishwaukee Mary Stith Board of directors members are current at press time.

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

M A R C H - A P R I L 2 0 1 6 / 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 



Addressing inequities “The solution has to be a varied

with the pension reform previously

a crucial issue for the growth of the

approach; none of them popular.

mentioned. More money needs to

state and needs to be addressed.”

The funding formula must be fixed

flow to the classroom and less to a

to address inequities. The state has

bloated educational bureaucracy. The

too many school districts, so con-

issue may or may not be the ‘defining

“School districts can use their

solidation must be considered along

issue of our time.’ But it’s certainly

community-wide voice to help unify

— Editorial Board, The Pantagraph, Bloomington, February 2, 2016.

potentially disparate infant and toddler programs around child-focused metrics of quality that will serve their long-term educational goals. By clearly communicating school district 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 Melinda Selbee, General Counsel Kimberly Small, Assistant General Counsel Executive Searches Donna Johnson, Director Doug Blair, Consultant Jim Helton, Consultant Thomas Leahy, 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


BOARD DEVELOPMENT/TAG Dean Langdon, Associate Executive Director Board Development Sandra Kwasa, Director Nesa Brauer, Consultant Angie Peifer, Consultant Targeting Achievement through Governance (TAG) Steve Clark, Consultant 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 Gerald R. Glaub, Consultant 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 Anna Lovern, Director Nancy Bohl, Consultant Shanell Bowden, Consultant Angie Powell, Consultant Brian Zumpf, Consultant

tations for kindergarten readiness and mapping a ladder for readiness from birth … the school district can help build the capacity of infant and toddler teachers and care providers to meet the needs of children for the long term.” — Early Learning User’s Guide for Illinois School Boards, Illinois Association of School Boards and The Ounce of Prevention Fund. See page 6.

“Illinois’ schools ref lect the diversity of communities across the state. There are school districts with one school building and school districts with hundreds of schools. Some schools and school districts are located in municipalities or multiple municipalities that have fully staffed professional, full-time police departments, and fire departments. Other schools are located in towns that may be served by one full-time police officer and a volunteer fire department. Every school district has its own needs, ideas, and vision when it comes to the safety of the students it serves. We need to continue to think critically about how we can keep schools safe, prevent violence, and build school climates where all students can succeed.” — Report of the Illinois School Security and Standards Task Force, January 1, 2016.


School Districts Depend on IPRF. The Leader in Workers’ Compensation Coverage Since its inception in 1985, the Illinois Public Risk Fund has invited school districts and other public entities to examine its outstanding record for cost control in workers’ compensation coverage. • It’s AAA Exceptional Rating • Money-Saving Grant Programs • First Dollar Coverage with No Deductible • Consistent Cost Savings Through Low Overhead and Investment Income • A Dedicated Claims Unit with Easy Access and Aggressive Subrogation • Interest-Free Premium Financing Discover why nearly 700 risk managers rely on IPRF. 800-289-IPRF • 708-429-6300 FAX 708-429-6488







Early learning changes the course By Megan Meyer

Megan Meyer is marketing and media manager for The Ounce of Prevention Fund. This piece is part two in a Journal series, following up last issue’s introduction of the collaboration between IASB and The Ounce.


a r l y e d u c a t io n p l ay s a n

R e s e a r ch h a s pr ove n t h at

The speed at which babies’

important, very real role in

education begins prenatally and

brains grow and develop is aston-

the broader K-12 education system.

grows by leaps and bounds from

ishing. Equally astonishing is how

Every year, nearly one million chil-

birth. Our expanded knowledge of

quickly the achievement gap between

dren enter kindergarten unprepared

human growth and development

low-income children and their more

to succeed. Every year, about a mil-

in the earliest years has taught us

advantaged peers can grow.

lion children fail to graduate with

that children are learning from

their peers from high school. We

the moment they are born. Brain

need children to arrive at kinder-

grow th, approaches to life and

Across the U.S., and here in

garten ready to learn and succeed.

learning, and language skills are

Illinois, a persistent and widening

The foundation for that begins the

shaped by what does — or does not

gap in academic achievement exists

moment children are born. In fact,

— happen in a child’s first days,

between low-income students and

it begins before a baby is even born.

months, and years.

their more advantaged peers. There

Pervasive achievement gap

is much discussion about addressing the achievement gap in third grade and beyond. In fact, the gap has been growing for years by that point. It is detectable by as early as nine months and measurable by 18 months. By age 4, the achievement gap has widened to an 18-month gap between an impoverished child and his more affluent peers; and that gap is still present at age 10 and continues through high school. Many low-income students consistently underperform on school coursework and on standardized tests, graduate high school at lower rates, and are less likely to attend col lege. A s a resu lt, ma ny are ill-prepared to meet the challenges of today’s workforce, which forces



them into low-skilled, low-paying

toddlerhood. Early experiences that

with the confidence, motivation,

jobs that will not help them escape

are nurturing, active, and challeng-

persistence, and curiosity that will

or avoid poverty.

ing actually thicken the cortex of an

prepare them to be successful learn-

Our nation’s public schools do

infant’s brain, creating a brain with

ers. In effect, the achievement gap

not have the capacity or resources to

the more extensive and sophisticated

reflects a gap in school-readiness

remediate skills for the overwhelm-

neuron structures that determine


ing number of children who are not

intelligence and behavior.

academically or socially ready for school.

The social and emotional skills

While good experiences help the

(or so-called “soft” skills) a child

brain develop well, poor experienc-

acquires before age 5 — the capac-

Children who enter the K-12 public school systems unprepared are often unable to take full advantage of what the classroom has to offer. These are the children who struggle to keep up academically

Brain growth, approaches to life and learning, and

in class, are frequently placed in

language skills are shaped by what does — or does not —

special education programs, are

happen in a child’s first days, months, and years.

labeled as having behavioral problems, or are held back one or more grade levels. O nc e e st abl i she d , g ap s i n school-readiness skills are difficult — and more costly — to remedy.

es can cause a genetically normal

ity to control behavior or impulses,

A study of a 1998-99 kindergarten

child to have a lower IQ. Children

the ability to get along with other

cohort found that the gaps in achieve-

exposed to fewer colors, less touch,

children or seek out and accept help

ment for children who entered

little interaction with adults, fewer

— are just as important as academic

k indergar ten w ith lower mean

sights and sounds, and less language

skills in preparing for school. Yet

achievement scores in reading and

actually have smaller brains.

one-third of low-income children

math were wider still by the end of third grade.

So much of the neural founda-

demonstrate significant behavioral

tion for learning is in place by the age

problems at transition to kindergarten.

The challenge is even greater for

of five that waiting to intervene until

the growing number of young chil-

kindergarten is too late, especially

Math skills at kindergarten entry

dren from non-English-speaking

for children whose life circumstances

— the ability to recognize numbers,

homes. A Chicago study of low-in-

put them at-risk for academic trouble

problem solve, use reasoning skills,

come children entering public kin-

later on. We can close the achieve-

and apply knowledge — are increas-

dergarten found that twice as many

ment gap by recognizing first and

ingly seen as an even better predictor

children from non-English-speaking

foremost that this gap is actually a

of later academic success than early

homes scored in the lowest ranges

gap in school-readiness skills — one

reading ability. Yet there is a signif-

on standardized tests measuring

that is rooted in experiences that

icant gap in achievement in math

language skills.

take place long before a child enters

performance between low-income


and higher-income children.

Not just hard skills

development is a key component of

Early language and literacy

Evident before kindergarten The brain does not suddenly switch on at kindergarten. Brain

Young children need both cogni-

school preparation, and differenc-

architecture develops in infancy and

tive and social skills to enter school

es in vocabulary growth between



children in low-income families and

In developing secure relation-

development is often compromised

high-income families begin to appear

ships with adults, young children

by the stress of living in poverty. Par-

as early as 18 months. By age three,

discover a sense of confidence,

ents struggling to cope with severe

the average child in a low-income

which enables them to explore and

financial instability, unsafe neighbor-

household knows fewer than half as

learn about the world around them.

hoods, lack of medical care, hunger,

many words as a child in a high-in-

They are also developing synapses at

and other stressors may not be able

come household.

an extraordinary rate — nearly 700

to adequately respond to their babies’

every second. Those new synapses

needs, making it more difficult to

can be strengthened with high-qual-

forge the strong bonds required to

Exacerbated by poverty The ea rl ie st relat ion sh ip s

ity learning experiences, or they

help their babies thrive later in life.

babies develop with caring adults

can wither and fade from adverse

The overlay of poverty and this

shape brain development by helping

experiences such as food insecurity,

critical developmental phase means

young children learn to manage their

lack of positive reinforcement, and

that our youngest children are most

behavior and emotions, which leads

toxic stress.

at risk during the period of the most

to the ability to focus their attention on the tasks of learning.

For many low-income children, the complex process of healthy brain

substantial brain growth of their lives. Early interventions change the course Fortunately, a wide body of research demonstrates that interventions, particularly in the first years of life, do work. High-quality early education programs are proven to help children succeed in school, increase high-school graduation rates, and increase enrollment in a four-year college. They can reduce teen pregnancy rates, crime, and

Successful Searches Lead to Longevity 60% of the 35 superintendents hired through an IASB assisted district search in the 2010-2011 school year are still in that same position.

other social problems, and reduce long-term social costs for special education, child welfare, and public assistance. With high-quality early childhood experiences, people are more likely to have a higher income as adults and more likely to own a home. In addition to the increased earnings capacity by those who receive quality early childhood education, research has suggested that

FOR INFORMATION: 217/528-9688, ext. 1217 | 630/629-3776, ext. 1217

society saves more than $7 for every $1 invested in preschool. The returns on high-quality experiences in the first three years


March/April 2016


are significant. Children exhibit

learning and health are mutually

health outcomes. It’s

better social-emotional develop-

reinforcing. A healthy child is less

been proven that chil-

ment and more positive approaches

likely to miss school and is better

dren who par ticipate

to learning than their peers. Their

able to concentrate and process

in hig h- quality early

parents are more supportive of their

information in class. The skills the

learning are less likely

children’s development, more likely

child acquires in school often pay

to later engage in such unhealthy

to enroll their children in formal

off in mental and physical health

behaviors as overeating, smoking,

preschool programs, and less like-

benefits down the road.

or substance abuse. Children who

ly to be depressed. Importantly,

W h i le much attent ion a nd

receive high-quality early learn-

children who receive high-quality

ef for t have b e en d i re ct e d at

ing, care, and family support are

services for five years beginning

addressing the widening achieve-

more likely to have better physical,

at birth fare better than those who

ment gap in the U.S., children

mental, and oral health, exercise

spend only two years before kinder-

g row i ng up i n pover t y face a n

regularly, and maintain a well-bal-

garten in a high-quality preschool

e qu a l ly p er va sive a nd relat e d

anced diet. As adults, these chil-

program. In addition to center-based pro-

The return on investment on early childhood education is

real: forand children, districts, report better overall communities, health health gap. By large, they parents, have drenschool and returns reduced risks of such markedly worse health... than and the state. Thetheir highest come fromthings investments

grams, research studies have shown

higher-income peers. In fact, chil-

as heart disease and hypertension.

that evidence-based home visiting

dren in poor families are almost

Early learning investment

programs increase children’s litera-

five times more likely than their

generates strong returns

cy and high school graduation rates,

higher-income peers to be in “less

The return on investment on

as well as how much parents read

than optimal health.” This health

early childhood education is real:

to their children. In addition, such

gap appears early in life and grows

for children, parents, school dis-

programs increase positive birth

larger over time, diminishing the

tricts, communities, and the state.

outcomes for children, improve the

potential for children in poverty

Nobel lau reate a nd econom ist

likelihood that families have access

to lead lives unfettered by illness

James Heckman started out look-

to a doctor, and decrease rates of

or injury.

ing for the return on investment in

in the earliest years, because skill begets skill.

child abuse and neglect. In home

Many children living in pov-

workforce development programs.

visiting programs, trained parent

erty receive fewer vaccinations

Not finding the results he was look-

coaches provide child-development

and experience higher incidenc-

ing for, he looked earlier — high

and parenting information to help

es of childhood injury, chronic

school, middle school, elementary.

young parents create safe, stimu-

disease, suppressed immu ne

He ended up at infants, finding a

lating home environments; model

systems, a nd cog n itive a nd

rate of return so high there wasn’t

positive and language-rich rela-

behavioral challenges. Dispari-

a banking analogy that would do

tionships; and connect families to

ties in the development of chronic

it justice. The message is clear:

medical, dental, mental health, and

diseases are often already pres-

The highest returns come from

other supports.

ent by the time children are pre-

investments in the earliest years,

school age and persist throughout

because skill begets skill.

Health gap equally pervasive

their lives.

Just as real as the ROI is the

Good health in early childhood

Quality early learning builds

need — Illinois has nearly one mil-

is another essential component

critical social-emotional skills that

lion children under the age of six,

of school readiness, and a large

are a foundation for learning and

with 45 percent living in low-in-

body of evidence links learning to

good health. Being able to focus,

come families. They all, regardless

lifetime health. Young children’s

make decisions, think f lexibly,

of where they live or their family’s

health needs are tightly coupled

and handle an x iety or fr ustra-

economic status, deserve the stron-

to developmental needs, because

tion have been linked to positive

gest start possible.



The early education

board members with the informa-

Illinois and throughout the United

and elementary educa-

tion needed to guide and develop

States, visit

tion communities have

early learning practices appropriate

the same goal — prepare

to their communities. Included in

students for success in

these efforts is the Early Learning

school, career, and life. By joining

User’s Guide for Illinois School

forces, we can effect change that

Boards, focusing on early learning

has the power to alter the way we

from a local governance perspective.

view the education continuum from

Read more in the January/Febru-

birth to college.

ary issue of the Journal. The full User’s Guide is available

Ed itor’s note : The Il linois


Association of School Boards is

To learn more about the research

collaborating with The Ounce of

included in this article and about

Prevention Fund to provide school

The Ounce of Prevention’s work in

Community Engagement — essential to effective school board governance.

Community Engagement, also called public engagement or civic engagement, is the process by which school boards actively involve diverse citizens in dialogue, deliberation, and collaborative thinking around common interests for their public schools.


Learn more about why it’s important, what it looks like, and how school boards do this work. Consider an in-district workshop facilitated by IASB staff to bring this work to your board and district. Contact your IASB field services director for more information. Springfield - 217/528-9688 Lombard - 630/629-3776

Field Services

March/April 2015T 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 / M A R C H - A P R I L 2 0 1 6


From rigor to reality Lack of candidates escalates Illinois’ teacher shortage By James Rosborg


he Illinois Council of Profes-

educational training at universities

The severity component of the

sors of Educational Adminis-

throughout Illinois. The word “rig-

definition of rigor can definitely be

tration (ICPEA), in conjunction with

or” has become a cliché to support

used for TAP. As recently as Octo-

the Illinois Association of School

changes in teacher and adminis-

ber 2015, the results published by

Boards (IASB), has been studying

trator academic preparation. The

the Illinois License Testing System

the impact of the changes in the

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines

(ILTS) shows a 21 percent passage

state rules and regulations on the

rigor as “(1): harsh inf lexibility

rate on the TAP. Of 202 examin-

number of candidates going into edu-

in opinion, temper, or judgment:

ees, only 42 passed. These indi-

cation in the state of Illinois, both

SEVERITY (2): the quality of being

viduals met university admission

in the teaching and administration

unyielding or inflexible: (3): severity

requirements and fared well in high

areas. There are already shortag-

of life: AUSTERITY.”

school. Yet evidence indicates that

es of candidates in some rural and

We define this term to bring

we have a current and long-term

urban areas. Boards of education

attention to the disparity regarding

problem with TAP that is leading

throughout the state are voicing the

goals and results in academic testing

to a future of limited candidates

need for more substitute teachers

that surrounds the word “rigor.” In

for educational positions. (More

and minority candidates.

2010, the Illinois State Board of Edu-

specific TAP and ACT results can

Working with IASB field ser-

cation (ISBE) raised the minimum

be found at

vices director Patrick Rice, ICPEA

standards needed to pass what was


surveyed and received data from a

then called the Basic Skills Test. The

Some estimates have report-

cross-section of 14 universities in

test to become a teacher in Illinois

ed that a passing score on TA P

the state of Illinois. The results of

was renamed the Test of Academic

approximates a score of 26 on the

the survey are cause for concern.

Proficiency (TAP). Much of this was

ACT. TAP requires a candidate to

done in the name of rigor.

be proficient in all academic areas:

Overall, the decrease in elementary teaching candidates at the 14

Government, media, and busi-

universities ranged from 17 percent to

ness officials felt that this change

83 percent. The decrease in second-

was needed to improve the results

ary candidates was between 20 and

of PK-12 students. One cannot argue

83 percent. Early childhood showed

against the goal of raising standards,

There is no need for teacher

a decrease of 20 to 71 percent.

Ph.D., is Director of Master’s in Education program at McKendree University and is the president of the Illinois Council of Professors of Educational Administration.

reading, language arts, mathematics, and writing. Is this needed for an individual to be an effective teacher? No.

but a disparity lies in how the term

candidates to be proficient in all

The past six years have brought

rigor is used, and how it is applied

testing areas within the college con-

dramatic changes to admission stan-

to the test. Here is why the goals and

tent standard. For example, a math

dards for student candidates to enter

objectives of TAP are flawed:

teacher can lack high academic


James Rosborg,


skills in language arts and still be

Illinois needs to change the require-

elementary teacher to know the

an outstanding teacher in the area

ment that a candidate has to pass all

concepts of advanced algebra, trig-

of mathematics. This also could be

areas of the TAP test. Even chang-

onometry, and analytic geometry

said for science and social studies

ing to an average score for passage

to be effective in the classroom.

teachers. Likewise, an outstand-

would be an improvement.

We need elementary teachers who

ing language arts teacher does not

From an instructional stand-

love kids and have basic elementary

have to be an expert in mathematics.

p oi nt , t here i s no ne e d for a n

academic skills in the subject matter to be able to translate the love of knowledge, the love of children, along with accurate academic facts to their students. It has been the author’s experience that some of the best teachers at the elementary level struggled a little bit academ-

Policy Services

ically themselves. These teachers understand the struggles of the slow learners and work hard to make them better learners. Ad m i n istrator s a l so ex p e r ienced intel lectu a l ly g i f ted teachers (some, but not all) had problems getting information to a

Using technology to enhance your board effectiveness through online services, such as ...

student that does not easily understand a concept. History tells us that some of the top academic scholars in the past struggled in

PRESS, the IASB sample policy and procedure service – Use the newly upgraded interface and navigation tools to receive 24/7 Internet access to PRESS, IASB’s sample board policy and administrative procedure service. Find the information you need quickly and easily with our powerful search engine and the legal, informational, and time saving links embedded in the policies and procedures.

certain areas of the curriculum.

School Board Policies Online – Let IASB publish your board policy manual online and easily navigate your manual with keyword searches, jumps to cross references, and links to legal references by using the same newly upgraded interface and navigation tools used for PRESS online. Place the IASB supplied link to your manual on your district website to provide increased community access and awareness of your district’s governing document.

but also their people skills and


– Learn about the advantages of electronic board packet preparation made possible through use of IASB’s BoardBook® service by scheduling a demonstration for yourself, your administrators, or your entire board.

for all students at the university

Contact IASB Policy Services today for information: 630/629-3776 or 217/528-9688, ext. 1214 or 1125 or

all the time from government and

Our expectations in the name of rigor are now limiting potential outstanding teachers the ability to pass on not only their knowledge common sense to students. We also have the data to know that the changes made at the state level in 2010 have drastically hurt the number of teacher candidates level. For African Americans and Hispanics, the pass rate on the TAP test is less than 25 percent. We hear media officials that we need more diversity in the classroom, but admission standards at the state

March/April 2016 12


level have done more to impede

policy set in 2010 to limit the num-

made by ISBE to offer the ACT as

minorities in the classroom than

ber of times (five attempts) prospec-

an alternative to TAP. This alter-

any other factor.

tive teachers could take the required

native solution requires an ACT

In the survey of 932 elementary

TAP Test. It is the author’s opinion

plus writing composite score of at

candidates at 14 universities, only

that this change was a political ges-

least 22 (with minimums in the

39 were African American. Along

ture to push back the critics — those

English subject areas) or an SAT

this same vein of 597 candidates

of us who now have the research to

(critical reading and mathemat-

at the secondar y level, only 31

show that there are proportionately

ics) composite score of 1030 (and

were African American. The most

smaller numbers of African Ameri-

a minimum score of 450 on the

troublesome data was this: only 10

can and Latino educators in Illinois

writing sub area). This was defi-

African American individuals are

schools with no immediate solution

nitely a positive move forward from

projected to graduate at the elemen-

being presented to increase the

the rigid TAP test. It is still to be

tary level this coming May, and 10

number of candidates to fill future

determined whether this will allow

African Americans at the second-

job openings.

more minority candidates into the teaching and educational adminis-

ary level as well. As one compares

This proposal, while not a spe-

the state’s Title II reports of candi-

cific part of the Vision 20/20 rec-

dates in 2009, the drop in numbers

ommendations, certainly fits with

Will these efforts increase the

of candidates is shocking. When the

the spirit of the Vision 20/20 ini-

overall educational candidate pool?

Title II data reports come out for

tiative to attract and retain highly

Will high school students again get

2015-2016, this comparison data

qualified educators. Education is a

excited to enter the field of educa-

needs to be shown to key stake-

people business that needs govern-

tion? Let us move forward by plac-

holders to show the problems we are

mental support to encourage quali-

ing “rigor” in the right places and

trative areas.

going to have in the future filling education positions throughout the state of Illinois. This will go along with a drastic drop of education candidates of all races in Illinois

We need elementary teachers who love kids and have basic


elementary academic skills in the subject matter to be able

The focus regarding the TAP should be prioritized to the sub-

to translate the love of knowledge, the love of children,

ject matter and grade level of an

along with accurate academic facts to their students.

individual teacher. Have different Basic Skills Tests for elementary teachers, middle school teachers, and high school teachers. At the middle school and high school level,

ty candidates to enter the program.

setting rational goals for teacher/

the Basic Skills Test should be devel-

As we refer back to the Merri-

administrative preparation so that

oped for each academic area instead

am-Webster definition of rigor, are

the education field continues to

of requiring high benchmarks in all

we truly looking at the improve-

have sufficient quality candidates

academic areas.

ment of student achievement? Or

to fill open positions.

To improve the quality of educa-

are officials using the definition of

tion, it is time to quit playing polit-

rigor to be the “harsh inflexibility

ical games and look closely at the

in opinion, temper, or judgement

realities of our diverse society. In

along with being unyielding and

March 2014, ISBE voted to scrap the

inf lexible” ? A positive step was


Reprinted with permission from Leadership Matters, the newsletter of the Illinois Association of School Administrators, and the author; also modified for the Journal by the author.


Teacher preparation programs influence board work By Patrick Rice Patrick Rice, Ph.D., is an IASB field services director, working with school boards in the Egyptian, Illini, Shawnee, and Wabash Valley Divisions.


eriodically, IASB’s field service directors work

overcome obstacles in providing a quality education

with various school boards to assist in strategic

for their communities. To this end, the IASB develops

planning to refine and/or to develop a systematic plan

partnerships with other educational groups, one being

to improve district performance.

the Illinois Council of Professors of Educational Adminis-

A common goal for many of these boards involves

tration (ICPEA). There is strength in numbers, especially

teacher quality. School boards want to ensure they are

when building alliances with educational organizations

able to attract and retain highly qualified staff in order

with similar goals and aspirations. IASB’s partnership

to promote student achievement. School boards under-

with ICPEA allows for an ongoing relationship with the

stand that poor teaching can have a negative long-term

professors who instruct future educators and adminis-

impact on student lives, as well as the various performance

trators hired by local districts.

assessment tests for which the district is accountable. To

IASB’s reciprocal relationship with ICPEA centers

increase the chance of finding highly qualified teachers

on developing a quality educational workforce. When

that fit the district needs, boards hope their administrators

significant regulatory changes were made to principal and

can screen and choose from a surplus of potential teacher

teacher preparation programs, ICPEA and IASB desired

candidates when making hiring recommendations.

to know what impact these changes would have on future

Because recent changes were made regarding teacher

educational candidates. Working in conjunction with

preparation programs, school administrators are inform-

ICPEA, IASB began surveying principal preparation pro-

ing their boards that they no longer have the luxury of a

grams to determine if state regulatory changes led to an

strong applicant pool – which used to be routine. Some

increase or decrease in the number of candidates. When

districts fare worse than others. The growing teacher

ICPEA and IASB observed a sharp decline in principal

shortage is especially cumbersome for rural districts

candidates, teacher preparation programs were surveyed

due to their location and to districts seeking to diversify

to determine if there is a negative correlation there as

staff. The research shows declining ratios of non-whites

well. As Jim Rosborg points out in the accompanying

in teacher preparation programs.

article, there is.

As community trustees for the district, boards are

The data gathered w ith ICPEA also infor ms

concerned about how teacher shortages will influence

Vision 20/20, a long-range blueprint for improving

the district’s educational program and other operations,

education in Illinois. A key platform in that cam-

including district finances. Increasingly, districts con-

paign is “highly effective educators,” which states

sider providing additional resources, including financial

“by attracting, developing, and retaining our state’s

incentives, to attract candidates, and authorizing admin-

best educators, we can have a profound impact on

istrators to travel to various job fairs to locate potential

student learning.” The teacher and principal prepa-

teachers. Meanwhile, financially strapped districts resort

ration surveys that were analyzed provide Vision

to increasing teacher class size and hiring less-qualified

20/20 with a better understanding of the issues (for

teachers. When this happens, students will increasing-

more information concerning Vision 20 /20, visit

ly be taught by staff with heavy caseloads and/or less ).

proficiency to provide the quality education outcomes that boards and administrators desire. As an association that advocates for school boards, IASB continues to fulfill its vision by helping boards


Changes to educational program requirements are one facet of the challenge to ensure that public school districts will always be able to attract and retain highly qualified educators.



IASB focuses on digital engagement By Heath Hendren


ith the continued devel-

issue-focused individuals, such as

transformation of the Association’s

o p m e nt o f n ew d i g it a l

school board members, superinten-

popular monthly newsletter, The Illi-

dents, and education leaders.

nois School Board Newsbulletin,

communication tools and nearly three-quarters of American adults

In recent years, IASB has made

which had been in continuous pub-

using a social media network of some

it a goal to expand the use of tech-

lication and delivered to all members

kind (according to the Pew Research

nology-driven communication. From

since 1943. In 2011, the Newsbulle-

Internet Project), IASB is adjust-

targeted email delivery to online blog-

tin went from a printed and mailed

ing its communication strategy to

ging integrated with Facebook, Twit-

paper newsletter to a digital PDF fac-

increase online engagement.

ter, and YouTube accounts, online

simile that was posted online and

Because of the potential to reach

contact has become a primary compo-

emailed to all members. Although the

larger and more diverse audiences,

nent of the Association’s connection

move saved the time and expense to

lower production and distribution

with its members and the public.

print and mail the newsletter, it did

costs, unlimited archiving capaci-

This article will review the tools

not change the content or frequency

ty, enhanced search methods, sig-

that IASB is using, and how much

of the news, as it remained a monthly

nificant user preference over print

their use has grown.

publication. The final edition, No.

materials, and a steady decline in the “digital divide,” IASB recog-

Heath Hendren is IASB assistant director/ communications. He develops and manages IASB’s social media efforts.

754, was posted in May 2015. That’s Illinois School Board News Blog

when the Newsbulletin officially

nized the need for increased digital

IASB’s most recent online out-

engagement. Online communica-

reach was the creation of the Illi-

tion tools are ideal for associations

nois School Board News Blog, at

W hile many topics and fea-

such as IASB to reach like-minded, . The News Blog is a

tures of the former newsletter have


became the News Blog. This change was made for several reasons.


can be shared with other users with-


out leaving the blog site. Another important feature of

Top Website Downloads (pdf)

the blog is cross-integration to IASB’s

JAC Preview, 14.5% Joint Annual Conference, 7.2% New Board Member Workshop, 4.6% Mandatory Training, 2.8% PRESS, 2.1%

social media networks: Facebook, Twitter, and its YouTube video sharing channel. The blog has sections showing the latest IASB tweets, current calendar of events, and news clips from

Top Blog Posts School districts can be harmed by a bad TIF Changes anticipated for Illinois PARCC IASB General Counsel to retire; replacement named Meet the new members of the IASB Board of Directors Registration open for 2015 Joint Annual Conference

mainstream media on public education and school governance issues. Launched May 2015

In its first eight months, the News Blog recorded nearly 300 posts, which generated more than 27,000 “page views.” Popular topics identified in these page views include legislative

Top Tweets School Board Members Day HB 2683 Balanced Accountability NSBA three pillars of advocacy Alliance Leadership Summit position papers Alliance Legislative Report

activities, legal opinions and court 1,069 followers 382 tweets 167,006 impressions

cases, standardized testing, local school district issues, as well as Association division news, awards, and events (see the accompanying chart). IASB compiles monthly reports

Top Facebook Posts

on use of the blog, via, so

Duncan Retires School Board Member Duties School Board Member Day ESSA Passed Alliance Legislative Report

414 likes 135 posts 21,701 reach

that editors can see what topics are being followed and adjust coverage accordingly. The potential to reach members and the public with timely and relevant news is why the Illinois School Board News Blog occupies a prominent position on the home page


of the IASB website,

(2015 compared to 2014)

Social Networking IASB’s social media networking accounts were launched in Septem-

PAGE VIEWS +7.7% 1.37 million

USERS -2.4% 110,000

SESSIONS +10.0% 242,000

DURATION +2.6% 3:11 minutes

Statistics as of December 31, 2016

ber 2014. Judging by their monthly usage reports, both Facebook and Twitter have become popular online portals where Illinois school leaders can find, comment, and share information that matters most to them.


continued in the new format, the

that can be accessed at home, work,

The Association was very delib-

News Blog gives the Association an

or on mobile devices. Updates or cor-

erate about launching its networking

ability to report on topics of interest

rections can be made instantly; links

accounts, as it considered the ram-

and timely information in a format

go to live sources; and information

ifications of content sharing and


comments with little supervision or

IASB created an official conference

control. “We may have been one of

hashtag: #ILjac15. Use of hashtags

the later arrivals,” said James Russell,

captures and indexes all the tweets

IASB associate executive director for

that other users are posting while at

communications and production ser-

Conference. It reads like a play-by-

vices. “It was important to us and our

play overview of what is happening

members that we do this right. These

at the event and gives participants

networks offer tremendous opportu-

a chance to share their stories and

nities, but they also create significant

what they feel is most important to

liabilities if they are not monitored

their professional development. The

and regularly serviced.”

2015 conference hashtag generat-

IASB used both Twitter and

ed 627 tweets between Nov. 16 and

Facebook accounts to launch its

30, reaching more than 150,000

“Stand Up 4 Public Schools” cam-

Twitter users.

paign in time for the 2014 Joint

IASB’s own live Tweets from the

Annual Conference. “I think this set

Conference included the following:

the tone for the content and what people could expect from these outlets,” Russell added. While Facebook provides a more personal atmosphere that fosters

“HEROES create an exceptional exper ience, and take responsibility for everything.” Kevin Brown #ILjac15

conversation through a “community” that encourages sharing of photos,

“We need to rethink how

videos, and other media, Twitter’s

we teach people to learn. People

rapid dissemination of information

learn in groups...find ways of

through short messages is particu-

connecting disciplines.” — Dr.

larly effective in offering live cover-

Hrabowski #ILJac15

@ILschoolboards on Twitter:

Another @ILvision2020 bill signed into law! HB2683-balanced accountability model allows local flexibility to focus on continuous improvement (HB 2683 Balanced Accountability) @NSBAComm Pres John Tuttle 3 pillars of advocacy. Legislative, legal & public advocacy. (NSBA three pillars of advocacy) Quick link to position papers: @ILVision2020 #ILEdLeadershipSummit @ IllinoisASBO @IllinoisASA @ilprincipals @iarssil (Alliance Leadership Summit position papers) School board election changes, @ ILVision2020 funding proposal & new unfunded mandate covered in Legislative Report. (Alliance Legislative Report)

age of education-related events. The availability of each account allows

Were you at 1st Gen. Session?

IASB to adjust its message to the

Did you see Comm. Eng. video?

In fact, both of the major social

specific audience, and encourage

Learn more today at Comm. Eng:

networks have been successful in

users to share, comment, or act on

W hat, W hy & How @ 130pm,

meeting the initial objective of pro-

the content.

Columbus C/D-Hyatt East

viding more communications options

For the past two years, IASB

and opportunities to connect with

has “live tweeted” from a variety

In addition to Conference, oth-

of events and activities at the Joint

er IASB events live tweeted over

In 2015, the Association’s Face-

Annual Conference. At the 2014

the past year included the Alliance

book fan page ended the year with

conference, IASB sent out 59 tweets

Leadership Summit, New Board

414 “likes,” and the 135 posts during

resulting in 21,600 “impressions,”

Member Workshops, the National

the year reached 21,700 users, gen-

or how many times each message

School Boards Association confer-

erating 636 “engagement” (likes,

has been seen. In November 2015,

ence, and select General Assembly

comments, shares), and more than

more than 23,10 0 impressions

hearings. The use of live tweets will

1,200 clicks to the links contained

were recorded from the 83 tweets

likely grow as more Association staff

in the posts.

posted by IASB. To help create con-

members become involved in the pro-

versations between Twitter users,

cess, Russell said.


members and followers.

Twitter analytics indicated an even greater reach. IASB ended the


YouTube video channel

calendar year with 1,069 followers

Social media was also very suc-

and sent 382 tweets that garnered

cessful in promoting targeted ini-

While the News Blog, Facebook,

167,000 impressions, 3,311 “engage-

tiatives. “School Board Members

and Twitter accounts make up most

ments” (retweets, likes), and 885

Day” was the top tweet of 2015,

of IASB’s social media presence, the

link clicks.

earning 2,965 viewer impressions.

Association’s video sharing platform

The topic that earned the most

Numerous posts were made con-

has also generated considerable

interest was legislation, making up

taining Illinois Vision 20/20 news


five of the top ten posts on both

and consistently ranked as most

platforms [see graphic, page 18].

read, liked, and shared.

The channel, which can be found at ILSchoolBoards, currently hosts 96 videos. Visitors to this independent website can find instructional guides to Association products and services, general guidance on advo-

A system of

EVALUATION starts at the TOP with the



cacy, and other tips for board members and education officials to assist with their duties. Seven new videos were posted on the IASB YouTube channel last year, which were viewed 647 times. To date, the most popular was “Illinois Vision 20/20: Fulfilling the Promise of Education,” which has been seen 4,050 times. Since it was launched in 2013, the channel has generated 19,628 views, with more than 40,000 minutes of actual time spent watching the content. Also popular are the videos created and uploaded by local

How do you score?

school districts. These include videos created for the Association’s 100th anniversary celebration and districts


Annual board self-evaluation


Clear mission, vision and goals


Solid community connection


Productive meetings

Public and members-only


Strong board-superintendent relationship


___ 100% Does your score add up?

that participated in the “Stand Up 4 Public Schools” campaign.

If the News Blog is IASB’s infant and social media is entering the adolescent years, then the Association website serves as the parental

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


guardian. Created in 1996, www. is the digital warehouse of

Field Services

anything and everything that IASB is and does. From online training and policy updating services to executive


searches and legal guidance, these

topic-sensitive content. In 2013, for

services, access to them and infor-

example, the home page was used

mation about them is available on

to post daily facts about IASB’s 100-

the website.

year history. Ongoing or temporary

The website content and its use

campaigns such as Vision 20/20 or

have grown at a phenomenal rate over

School Board Members Day will get

the past 20 years. The 1,835 pag-

front-page placement for maximum

es of content on the site generated


nearly 1.4 million “page views” in

In 2009, the Association added

2015 by 110,000 individual users.

the Members-Only website with new

What began in 1996 as a primitive

interactive tools and features. The

online bulletin board is now the front

secured site is password-protected

door to IASB for both members and

and is available to board members,

public alike.

superintendents, and board secretar-

MAILINGS BY CATEGORY Divisions Searches Online Update Policy JAC

664,421 emails sent open rate 31%

“First and foremost, we want the

ies who have a member ID number

Not receiving IASB emails?

website to be where members can

that is contained within the IASB

find and access the Association ser-

database. This member-exclusive

vices they need,” Russell explained.

content includes access to the annual

“But it’s also where other school

conference planner and panel hand-

officials and leaders, lawmakers,

outs, archives to board of director

1. Check that your email address is on file and you have not opted out of receiving emails from IASB. 2. Add to your address book, safe sender list, or whitelist to be sure we get in your inbox.

the media, parents, and prospec-

minutes, member participation data,

tive school board members can go

and additional resources on topics

“occasional” users. That comprises

to learn about school governance and

such as community engagement,

51.9 percent of board members, of

school board service.”

superintendent evaluation, and sec-

which 24.4 percent say the website is

retary duties.

easy and useful; and 61.3 percent of

Because of the popularity of the Joint Annual Conference, relat-

The challenge for IASB staff is to

superintendents; of which 48.1 per-

ed pages consistently garner the

help members navigate the growing

cent believe the Association website

most views and generate the most

number of links and pages. “I would

is easy and useful.

downloaded documents. The 2015

call this more of an art than a sci-

This data comes from the latest

Conference Preview, posted in

ence,” Russell acknowledged. “We do

survey (2013) of IASB board mem-

mid-September as a PDF document,

our best to make the site intuitive,

bers and superintendents.

generated 7,170 downloads. When

but we are always open to feedback

you add documents related to reg-

to help our members find and use the

istration, housing, and workshops,

information they want and need.”

Targeted e-mail delivery One additional online tool that

conference documents account for

Evidence of that use varies

is not connected to or accessed by

23.3 percent of last year’s downloads.

among the types of IASB members.

websites has become a cornerstone

Other pages or content areas that

For example, board members who

of the Association’s information

consistently rank high include the

“frequently” use the public website

delivery network. Since 2010, IASB

member directory database, school

(10.9 percent), say it is “easy to nav-

has utilized Constant Contact email

board policy, school law, executive

igate and provides a lot of import-

software to build an archive of 16,623

searches, and the events calendar.

ant and useful information” (24.4

contacts for targeted emails.

The website, which was com-

percent). In comparison, superin-

Targeted emails allow IASB to

pletely redesigned in 2007, has added

tendents who frequently use it (15.0

communicate with categories and

features periodically to offer users

percent) agreed by a higher margin

sub-categories of larger audiences.

quicker access to time-sensitive or

(48.1 percent). The same is true for

With 92 percent of online adults



using email regularly (PEW Research

of products and services that are

has a self-selected email sign-up to

Internet Project), it is by far the most

available to members.

receive a daily message highlighting

Targeted email does work, pro-

active digital communication tool at

new content on the blog.

vided that the Association has valid

IASB’s digital communications

In 2015, the Association sent

email addresses to work from. IASB

tools are intended to be use cohesive-

664,421 emails through 344 differ-

emails were opened on average 31

ly, across the various platforms, to

ent group mailings. These groups

percent of the time, with 15 percent

accommodate different audiences at

included all school board members,

of viewers actively clicking a link con-

different times. Not everyone will use

board members within specific divi-

tained within the correspondence.

every method, but Russell said the

sions, or even those from a specif-

While these numbers may seem low,

goal is to reach everyone by the means

ic district. Other groups included

in fact they are well above the indus-

they choose or rely on. That includes

superintendents, secretaries, exec-

try average open rate of 23.8 percent

direct mail of print publications and

utive search clients and prospects,

and 8 percent click-through rate.

notices, including this magazine.

IASB’s disposal.

media outlets, educational adminis-

The Association also utilizes two

“The diversity of this large state

tration professors, ROEs, and many

other services that users can “opt-

and our membership means that we

other education leaders. Informa-

in” to receive email notifications.

cannot abandon or forsake old tech-

tion sent by IASB includes event

“Online Update” emails highlight

nology for new,” he said. “We must

invitations, training opportunities,

new items, publications, legislative

keep up, but we can’t let or keep out

policy notification updates, super-

reports, recent court decisions, and

those who can’t. That requires a bal-

intendent and other administrative

other material recently added to the

ance of resources that will continue

position vacancies, and a number

public website. The News Blog also

for the foreseeable future.”

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Chat rooms, discussion forums require constant caution By Melinda Selbee, Kimberly Small, and Cathy Talbert


lthough discussion forums

negate the slippery slope that elec-

their fellow board members morph

and chat rooms may provide

tronic conversations present for Illi-

a conversation into public business.

nois school board members.

While board members can be edu-

school board members with useful insights and support, there are inher-

The biggest risk to school board

cated, warned, and disclaimed to

ent dangers. These dangers can be

member users is their lack of con-

control their own behavior to avoid

understood and mitigated by under-

trol over conversation. The Illinois

sunshine law violations, if one in a

standing cautions and adhering to

Attorney General has opined that

gathering of a majority of a quorum

the following best practices.

conversations can morph into pub-

in an electronic chat morphs the

lic business discussions. During

conversation to public business, all

Caution: Discussion forums may

in-person conversations, board

board members have violated the

precipitate Open Meetings Act

members can control their partic-

Open Meetings Act.


ipation in the discussion easily -- by

Whenever there is a gathering

moving to another room, stopping

Caution: Sharing information

of three or more school board mem-

the conversation, or leaving the

requires prudence.

bers to discuss public business, the

conversation. However, it is almost

Board members must be care-

Open Meetings Act requires school

impossible to control conversations

ful about information they post in

boards to give notice and post an

in electronic communication set-

agenda for a meeting to avoid violat-

tings. Morphing during electronic

ing the law. A gathering includes any

communications can happen quick-

coming together through electronic

ly and inadvertently when board

means. A discussion of public busi-

members try to help one another

ness means an “exchange of views

and share experiences.

or ideas that pertain to the business of the school board.”

Melinda Selbee is IASB general counsel. Kimberly Small is IASB assistant general counsel. Cathy Talbert is IASB’s associate executive director for field services and policy services.

Even more damaging is electronic evidence of these conversations.

Discussion forums and chat

In electronic communications,

rooms generally provide their users

especially chat threads, board mem-

some type of disclaimer, e.g., “…

bers have little control over gath-

don’t post messages about official

ering numbers reaching a majority

board matters.” They try to steer

of a quorum of their school board.

users away from violating sunshine

Users participating have no idea who

laws that apply to them. While dis-

may enter or leave various conver-

claimers like these are necessary

sation threads. Board members

for this type of service, they cannot

also have no control over whether




an online discussion forum. The

identified may violate one or more of

occurs, the board member may not

level of care must exceed rules and

these laws. For example, describing

participate in deliberations con-

etiquette of ordinary chat rooms.

the backstory to a notorious event

cerning that employee’s employ-

Each message posted will test the

involving students in your district

ment without potentially violating

individual’s credibility and merit as

may be an inadvertent disclosure

the employee’s constitutional due

a school board member. Moreover,

of the students’ school records, and

process rights. Posting negative com-

an individual board member may

could subject you to possible legal

ments about a fellow board member

be liable for violations of the law or


may seriously harm future board

damages to individuals caused by

Posting negative comments is


always dangerous. Posting nega-

Board members must also avoid

State and federal laws protect

tive comments about individuals or

prematurely posting information.

the privacy of school district staff

companies may be actionable libel.

The General Assembly recognizes

members and students. Posting

Critical comments made about an

that public entities can be harmed

information from which an individ-

employee may demonstrate bias

by premature release of information.

ual student or staff member can be

against the employee. When this

It exempts preliminary drafts, notes,

his or her indiscretion.

and recommendations from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. Board members should follow that practice. Posting information that was discussed in a lawful closed session can damage the school district. For

Policy Services

example, the district may be harmed if a board member posts bargaining strategy that was discussed in

PRESS Plus Policy Development Maintenance Service


closed session, and the post is read by the employees’ bargaining representative. A board member, unless authorized by the board, has no author-

If your policy manual is not currently up to date with all the recent legislative changes, we can help with streamlined custom policy manual development and a full-maintenance policy updating service all in one!

ity outside of a board meeting. Yet,

POLICY DEVELOPMENT — Work with an IASB policy consul-

ideas and opinions from that of the

tant to develop an up-to-date local school board policy manual.

POLICY MAINTENANCE — PRESS Plus will help you ensure

messages on a discussion forum may appear official. Board members must carefully distinguish their individual entire board. In summary, board members

that your policies will never become outdated again.

should follow sound governance

We can help you get and keep your policy manual up to date!

sion forum. To help protect rela-

For more information, please contact: Angie Powell, Policy Consultant Brian Zumpf, Policy Consultant 217/528-9688, ext. 1154 630/629-3776, ext. 1214

practices when posting to a discustionships and avoid legal challenges when posting to a discussion forum, board members should respect privacy interests, avoid negative comments, avoid premature disclosures,


March/April 2016


avoid sharing confidential informa-

discussion forum, readers should

tion from closed session, and avoid

first determine whether the infor-

appearing to speak for the board.

mation is applicable to their state.

Caution: Applicability and accu-

question whether the source of the

racy of information in discussion

information or opinion on a discus-

forums should be verified.

sion forum has a bias. Is the infor-

Finally, readers should always

E ver yone k nows t here is

mation or opinion offered to promote

immeasurable bad information on

a particular group? Is the informa-

the Internet. Yet, when information

tion or opinion based on facts or

appears useful and comes from a

an interpretation of facts? Strong

similarly situated individual, the

points of view can significantly bias

temptation is to give the informa-


IASB’s Melinda Selbee, Cathy Talbert, and Kimberly Small co-authored this article.

must connect with the community to determine the community’s goals

tion inherent credibility. Before relying on information or an opin-

Caution: Discussion forums and

and aspirations for education, as well

ion from a discussion forum, read-

chat rooms can distract board

as what the community is willing to

ers should independently verify the

members from their work and

provide in the way of resources to

credibility of the source: check the

from the work of the school board.

pursue those ends. Board members

author’s credentials and reputa-

IASB’s Foundational Principles

should not confuse individual board

tion. Readers must also evaluate the

of Effective Governance state that

member participation in a discussion

accuracy of the information offered

the board sits in trust for the com-

forum or chat room with community

in discussion forums. This requires

munity and that certain fundamen-

engagement. To do so is likely to lead

readers to check whether the infor-

tal responsibilities arise out of that

to false assumptions about commu-

mation is current, research- or experience-based, and complete. To help evaluate information or an opinion, readers can ask for additional information, resources, and

During in-person conversations, board members can control

supporting data.

their participation in the discussion easily — by moving to

Even information that has been verified may not apply. Contributions

another room, stopping the conversation, or leaving the

to a national discussion forum will

conversation. However, it is almost impossible to control

come from individuals in numer-

conversations in electronic communication settings.

ous states. Many, many state laws and agency rules control almost all aspects of public education. Information that is shared on a discussion forum may not be applicable to Illi-

trustee role. These principles provide

nity values, misalignment of ends

nois school districts. For example,

a job description for the school board

with community expectations, and

information on managing nonresi-

(see page 24).

ultimately lack of community sup-

dent students may appear useful but,

Specifically, Principles 1 and 2

port. True community engagement is

due to state law, using the informa-

provide that the board is responsible

an ongoing process by which school

tion from someone in another state

for clarifying the district mission,

boards actively involve diverse citi-

could violate an Illinois statute. To

vision, and goals (ends). In order

zens from their community in dia-

critically evaluate information in a

to determine those ends, the board

logue, deliberation, and collaborative



thinking around common interests

performance. A quick perusal of edu-

the superintendent accountable for

for their public schools. This is a

cation-related discussion forums and

district performance if a board mem-

two-way conversation with the board

chat rooms often find that conversa-

ber or board has taken action that

identifying purpose, providing infor-

tion topics stray from the work of the

potentially compromises the ability

mation, and seeking to hear from all

school board into administrative and

of the superintendent to act.

the voices in the community through

management issues.

Principle 6 provides that the board, individually and collectively, is responsible for itself — the work it chooses to do and how it chooses to do its work. Discussion forums

Regardless of the medium of discussion, board members regularly need to regularly ask themselves, “Is this topic board work? Is this where I or the board should be

and chat rooms can be seductive, but board members need to ask themselves if participation in discussion forums and chat rooms will make them better board members or if

focusing our time and attention?”

instead, will only serve to distract them from their real work. Board members are busy people and as such, want to make the best use of their time and talents. Board meman intentional and ongoing process.

Regardless of the medium of dis-

bers need to ask themselves what

It takes time and effort and general-

cussion, board members regularly

benefit, if any, they or the board will

ly involves a variety of engagement

need to regularly ask themselves, “Is

receive from the investment of time


this topic board work? Is this where

in these online chats.

Principles 3, 4, and 5 provide that the board is also responsible for hiring

I or the board should be focusing our time and attention?”

Be cautious. Because the risks may ultimately outweigh any possi-

a superintendent, delegating to the

Board members and boards that

ble benefits, there are more effective

superintendent the authority to pur-

stray into administrative matters

options for gathering information,

sue district ends within the param-

can interfere with the superinten-

engaging with the community, and

eters established by law and school

dent’s ability to do his or her job

professionally developing as a school

board policy, and monitoring district

effectively. It’s much harder to hold

board member.

Foundational Principles of Effective Governance


he Fo un d a t i o n a l P r i n c i pl e s of E f fe ct iv e

review the Foundational Principles. The full version

Governance serves as the Illinois Association

with explanations is available at

of School Boards’ primary document to explain the role of school board members in their district. These

1. The board clarifies the district purpose.

six principles are the cornerstone of IASB’s beliefs

2. The board connects with the community.

about the governance process.

3. The board employs a superintendent.

As mentioned in the article above, whether you’re


4. The board delegates authority.

in a board room or a chat room, the Foundational

5. The board monitors performance.

Principles are your guide. Take this opportunity to

6. The board takes responsibility for itself.



continued from page 28

L.D. Scott, 88, died December

for several years and was currently

died January 27, 2016. He was a cur-

21, 2015. He served on the Green-

as a member of the Lewistown CUSD

rent member of the board of edu-

field Board of Education for two

97 school board.

cation for Waukegan CUSD 60. He


Domingo “Sonny” Garza, 56,

served two separate terms on the

William “Bill” Owen Sharkey,

board, elected in 2007 and again in

78, died December 11, 2015. He was

2015. He was known as an advocate

previously a member of the Bradford

continued from inside back cover

for the Waukegan community.

school board.

Created by law in July 2014 and com-

Ask the Staff

Beverly A nn Hart, 68, died

Elizabeth “Bette” Slayback, 71,

prised of parents, legislators, law

December 20, 2015. She served on

died December 11, 2015. She had

enforcement, first responders, school

the Wenona and Fieldcrest boards

been a president and member of the

official representatives, engineers,

of education from 1985 to 1992, and

Heyworth school board from 1985 to

and security experts, the group was

1992 to 1997, respectively.

2015.She was also a member of the

given the responsibility of studying

Heyworth Education Foundation.

school security in Illinois and making

J. Bryce Hessing, 74, died January 5, 2016. He formerly served on

Herman L. Stokes, 94, died Jan-

recommendations to “provide a safer

the Germantown Hills Grade School

uary 23, 2016. He was a past mem-

learning environment for the children

and the Metamora Township High

ber and president of the Lick Creek

of this state.”

School boards.

School Board and past member of

After a series of public hearings,

Anna-Jonesboro High School Board

the task force submitted its preliminary

of Education.

findings, including a request to contin-

Raymond F. Hibner, 78, died January 21, 2016. He formerly served on the Elwood School Board for many years.

Ja m e s C h r i s t o p h e r “Ji m”

ue its work for another year in order

Chalmer Lee Hinton, 78, died

Thilmony, 88, died December 26,

to review new initiatives and issues

December 11, 2015. He previously

2015. He was a past school board

and continue to offer resources and

served on the Bement Unit 5 Board

member for the Rankin grade school

technical assistance. Also proposed

of Education.

and high school districts.

was to make one of the six annual

Paul J. Hoffman, 80, died Jan-

Harold V. “Hal” Turngren, 75,

required emergency-preparation drills

uary 12, 2016. He formerly served

died January 14, 2016. Hal was a

be unscheduled and at random. The

eight years on the Fairbury-Cropsey

previous member of the Hazelcrest

purpose of this proposal is to gauge

school board, ending his terms as the

school board.

effectively the readiness of students

board president.

Clifford L. Walter, 78, died Jan-

and staff to react to such a threat.

Joseph Russell Mayback, 73,

uary 10, 2016. He was a past presi-

The first report of the School

died January 4, 2016. He was a for-

dent of the Amboy CUSD 272 Board

Security and Standards Task Force

mer member of the board of edu-

of Education.

also presented a series of best prac-

cation for Cornell Grade School, serving for eight years.

Norma L. Walton (nee Horn),

tices for schools to consider. The

69, died January 5, 2016. Walton

preliminary report is available at

David L. McDonald, 80, died Fri-

previously taught social sciences at

day, December 4, 2015. He previously

Stephen Decatur High School and

ssstf-final-report-ga-010116.pdf . The

served on the Ohio school board.

served on the Decatur school board.

final report will be submitted to the

Gary Ray Pridemore, 77, died

Alvin “Sonny” Wolf, 90, died

State Board of Education in July and

December 22, 2015. He was a former

January 5, 2016. He formerly served

expected to offer recommendations,

member of the Homer school board.

on the Odell school boards for many

not requirements or mandates.

Richard George Rimbo, 69, died


IASB is developing plans to pro-

December 23, 2015. He was a former

Rodney J. Yurkovich, 65, died

vide education and training on school

member of the school board for Lem-

December 27, 2015. He served on the

safety issues at the Joint Annual Con-

ont High School District 210.

St. David Elementary School Board

ference in November.



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Building Construction 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 MANGIERI COMPANIES, INC. — An agent construction management service with general contractor capabilities. Peoria - 309/688-6845 PEPPER CONSTRUCTION COMPANY — Construction management and general contracting services. Barrington - 847/381-2760

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

Financial Services

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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

ROSS CONSTRUCTION, INC. — A full-service construction management firm specializing in educational institutions. Marion – 618/9935904

BERNARDI SECURITIES, INC. — Public finance consulting, bond issue services and referendum support. Fairview Heights - 618/2064180; Chicago - 312/281-2014; email:

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EHLERS & ASSOCIATES — School bond issues; referendum help; financial and enrollment studies. Chicago - 312/638-5260; website:; email:

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

FIRST MIDSTATE, INC. — Bond issue consultants. Bloomington 309/829-3311; email:

Computer Software

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

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Consulting SEGAL CONSULTING — A comprehensive array of consulting services including Health and Welfare; Retirement Plan; Claims Audit; Compliance; Communications; Administration and Technology; and Compensation and Bargaining. Chicago 312/984-8512

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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



Milestones Achievements before returning home in 2011 as

the Illinois Principals Association.

dent of Shawnee

the first female superintendent of

Prickett leads Richard Bernotas

CUSD 84 in Wolf

Shawnee District 84. She served as

Middle School and has been with

L a ke, received

the assistant regional superinten-

the school district for a year and

the 2016 “Shaw-

dent of schools for Regional Office

a half. The award criteria include

nee’s Best” award

of Education 02 and coordinated

demonstrating a positive impact

from the District

the Illinois New Principal Mentor-

on education and advocacy for

84 Board of Education. The honor

ing Program, where she mentored 15

children, ensuring the school cli-

was bestowed at the district’s home-

new principals in three years. She

mate is positive, ref lecting high

coming in January. A former teacher,

currently serves on the boards of

staff and student morale, taking

coach, and principal in the district,

the Five County Regional Vocation-

risks to improve student learning,

Clover-Hill holds a master’s degree

al System and Tri-County Special

and more, the district said. “We’re

in educational administration from

Education Cooperative.

excited for Jeff and understand why

Southern Illinois University Carbon-

Jeff Prickett,

he’d be nominated and ultimately

dale, a superintendent endorsement

a Cr ystal Lake

selected as the region’s candidate,”

from SIUC, and is currently finish-

S chool Distr ict

Superintendent Kathy Hinz said. “In

ing her educational doctorate degree

47 principal, has

the year and a half he’s been with

in curriculum and instruction at

earned recognition

District 47, Jeff has been instrumen-

McKendree University in Lebanon.

as the Kishwaukee

tal in finding unique opportunities

She spent four years as a principal

Region’s Middle School Principal

to engage students and families in

at Jonesboro Elementary School

of the Year, an award presented by

the middle-school process.”

Dana K. Barber, 67, died Decem-

Saunemin grade and high school

and president of Sullivan CUSD

ber 1, 2015. She formerly served on

board president, and he had served

school board (1960-1963) and had

the Peoria Heights school board.

on the Pontiac Tow nsh ip H ig h

served as a county school trustee.

Shelly Clover-Hill, superinten-

In memoriam Steven Alan Cox, 53, died January 18, 2016. He was a past member of the Oakland school board. Douglas E. Denson, 60, died December 7, 2015. He was a current


school board.

James F. Flem i ng, 82, died

James Stephen Durdan, 83,

January 17, 2016. He served on the

died December 22, 2015. He was

Forman school board from 1968

a former board member for Grand

until 1973.

Ridge School.

Arthur A. Frick, 95, died Decem-

member of the Lake Park CHSD 108

William Henry Eichhorst, 91,

ber 9, 2015. He served on the school

Board of Education at the time of his

died January 2, 2016. He was previ-

board serving the Allerton, Broad-

unexpected passing, having served

ously a member of the board of edu-

lands, and Longview area, known

since April 2013.

cation for Fithian Elementary School.

as the Broadlands (or ABL) school

Alvin G. Diemer, 70, died Jan-

Carl F. Erickson, 97, died Janu-

uar y 16, 2016. He was a former

ary 14, 2016. He was a past member

district. Continued on page 25



What is IASB’s response to reports from Illinois task forces?


wo governmental task forces

the Intergovernmental Cooperation

• Recommendation 6: IASB Posi-

have released reports lately,

Act and encouraging state agencies

tion Statement 5.03 – Collective

both with potential impacts on public

to financially incentivize regional


education in Illinois.

sharing of various functions, prod-

• Recommendation 10: IASB Posi-

Task Force on Local Government

ucts, facilities, etc. allows for flexibil-

tion Statement 6.23 – Mandate

Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates

ity and encourages efficiencies across

Cost and Periodic Review

Governor Bruce Rauner created

local government entities.

the Task Force on Local Government

The task force’s recommenda-

IASB’s position and position

Consolidation and Unfunded Man-

tions on unfunded mandates have

st atement s can be read in f u l l

dates and charged it with “finding

positive correlations with IASB posi-

at w w w . i a s b . c o m / g o v r e l / c o n s t

efficiencies and ways to streamline

tion statements. Recommendations

posstatement.pdf .

local government functions to save

numbered 2-6 and 10 align with

taxpayer dollars.” It was chaired by

IASB’s positions on the following:

The full Task Force on Local Government Consolidation and

Illinois Lieutenant Governor Evelyn

• Recommendation 2: IASB Posi-

Unfunded Mandates report can be

Sanguinetti. The 406-page task force

tion Statement 5.05 – Prevailing


report, with 27 recommendations,

Wage Act


was presented in January. The task

• Recommendation 3: IASB Posi-

force primarily focused on consol-

tion Statement 5.14 – Third Par-

idation and unfunded mandates

ty Contracting

School Security and Standards

as charged but was driven by the

• Recommendation 4: IASB Posi-

notion that the number of local gov-

tion Statement 1.03 – Physical

ernments and unfunded mandates


are the root of Illinois’ overreliance on property taxes. I A S B p a r t icip at e d i n t a sk


Task Force In January, the School Security and Standards Task Force released

• Recommendation 5: IASB Posi-

its first report of recommendations to

tion Statement 2.07 – Contract-

the General Assembly and governor.

ing Driver’s Education

Ben Schwarm, IASB deputy executive director and Deanna Sullivan, director, IASB Governmental Relations, answer this issues question.

Continued on page 25

force meetings and evaluated the recommendations as compared to IASB positions. Regarding consolidation, early indicators were not favorable, but the final recommendations included allowing local decision-making and incentivizing consolidation in lieu of a forced consolidation model. Additionally, recommendations calling for protecting

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The Illinois School Board Journal, March/April 2016  

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

The Illinois School Board Journal, March/April 2016  

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