Illinois School Board Journal May/June 2021

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May/June July/August2021 2019 Vol. 89 87 No. 3

The Journey Begins Welcome to the Board of Education

Words of Wisdom from Experienced Members

Parliamentary Procedure Primer

Front Page


Welcome to the spring/summer issue of the IASB Journal, and welcome to the hundreds of board members who are opening their packets, sitting at the table, and serving their communities for the first time as a member of the board of education. It’s a challenging time for public education, and your willingness to serve in these times is admirable and critical. “A fundamental goal of the People of the State is the educational development of all persons to the limits of their capacities,” according to the Illinois state Constitution. The role of the local board of education is to sit in trust for the community to make the best local decisions towards that fundamental goal. On the way, you’re going to be faced with lots of important decisions, especially in these times of crisis and transition. School boards must maintain a clear vision of the district’s stated mission, vision, and goals and ascertain what results should look like. As you move into each successive stage of service to your community, you’ll discover every school board decision must be considered in light of data, precedent, policy, finances, and community expectations. As each decision approaches and before you

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take your seat at the table, look at the big picture, do your homework, and ask yourself, “What does our community want from this?” In your many decisions, IASB is here to help. There are multitudes of resources for board work and leadership training. IASB hopes its share of that multitude is particularly helpful, because it is directed at and tailored especially for you, the Illinois school board member. Perhaps this issue of the Illinois School Board Journal is your starting point. Each biennial new board member issue brings words of wisdom from a panel of experienced board members, this year featuring many members of the IASB Board of Directors. Please join me in thanking them for taking the time to respond with their thoughts on board service. This issue also features a piece from IASB Field Services Director Dee Molinare on getting started with parliamentary procedure and a commentary by attorneys Dana Fattore Crumley and Kendra Yoch on the necessity and importance of working with your board attorney. By the time you read this, you may have already received a new board member welcome packet

and taken advantage of IASB’s offerings for new board members. If not, let us know. Use the New Board Member page on the IASB website ( to plan your journey, starting with the Roadmap to Success. There you will access the trainings (both state-mandated requirements and recommended training), webinars, publications, and upcoming events to transition you from successful candidate to effective board member. Also on that page, there is a form through which board members with questions can ask for support and resources needed for a successful journey. Not coincidentally, all of these resources could provide a valuable refresher for experienced school board members, as well important information for newbies. Together you will build a new board team and determine the answers to the questions of “What does our community want from this?”  Theresa Kelly Gegen is Editor of the Illinois School Board Journal. Resources associated with this column can be accessed via the Journal’s resources link,

Table of Contents COVER STORIES

10 Welcome to the Board By Theresa Kelly Gegen

School board members arrive in their roles with the best of intentions and a lot to learn. Here’s what’s next.

of Note 15 Publications for New Board Members Recommended reading on education, governance and good meetings, and school finance.

17 What to Expect 2021


Compiled by Theresa Kelly Gegen

Experienced Illinois school board members offer advice on dealing with this extraordinary year of recovery and change.


2 Front Page 4 Leadership Letter

Questions from the Balcony about ESSER3

A Parliamentary Procedure Primer Adapted from “Parliamentary Procedure for the Novice” by Dee Molinare

Parliamentary Procedure has been eliminating hissing and spitting and otherwise making meetings better for hundreds of years.



6 From the Field

Leadership During a Time of Crisis

8 Legal Matters

Hot Mics Get Board Members in Trouble, But So Can Closed Session

28 Practical PR

How Board Members can Support District Communication

An Ounce of Prevention By Dana Fattore Crumley and Kendra Yoch

Discover how and why legal training is essential for your district.

July/August 2019 Vol. 87 No. 3

Kara Kienzler, Associate Executive Director Theresa Kelly Gegen, Editor Britni Beck, Advertising Manager Jennifer Nelson, Copy Editor Katie Grant, Design and Production

34 Milestones 35 Insights

ILLINOIS SCHOOL BOA R D JOURNAL (ISSN-0019-221X) is published every other month by the Illinois Association of Sc hool B oa rd s, 2921 Ba ker Dr ive, Springfield, Illinois 62703-5929 (217) 5289688. The IASB regional office is located at One Imperial Place, 1 East 22nd Street, Lombard, Illinois 60148-6120 (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. Copyright © 2021 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.

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Leadership Letter

Questions from the Balcony about ESSER3 By Thomas E. Bertrand


On March 11, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law. It provides substantial resources to help schools resume in-person instruction and to address the urgent academic, social and emotional, and mental health needs of our students. Illinois will receive over $5 billion for K-12 schools as part of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund (ESSER3). Of that, 90% will go directly to districts. The Illinois State Board of Education publishes district allocations, along with the process for applying for ESSER3 funds, on its website. ESSER3 is the largest federal outlay for K-12 education in United States history. This presents an opportunity for boards to think strategically about how to use a substantial increase in federal funding to serve the most vulnerable students. To that end, boards should consider important questions to inform their decision-making.

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How much will our district get?

ISBE will release allocations soon, and allocations will be publicly available. Districts will be eligible for substantially more funding than with ESSER1 and ESSER2. The state’s allocation under ESSER3 amounts to roughly 2.5 times more per student than districts received through ESSER2. What can the new money be used for?

While districts have flexibility regarding how to use the funds, ISBE is encouraging districts to use the funding to increase in-person instructional time for students, particularly those who may be at risk of not being prepared for the next grade level. Examples include expanded summer school, before-school or after-school programs, high-impact tutoring, and an early start to the school year. Districts must reserve at least 20% of the direct allocation to address learning loss through the

implementation of evidence-based interventions and to ensure that those interventions respond to students’ social, emotional, and academic needs and address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on under-represented student groups. While the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of students may not be clear, it is substantial. Districts can use ESSER3 funds to increase access to mental health supports and to address students’ social-emotional needs. How long do districts have to spend the money?

This can get a bit confusing since there are different deadlines for expending ESSER1, ESSER2, and ESSER3 funds. ESSER2 grant applications end on September 30, 2021, and can have expenditures from between March 13, 2020, through September 30, 2023. ISBE intends to release the ESSER3 grant application on July 1, 2021. Districts can use ESSER3 funds for costs

dating back to March 13, 2020, and through September 30, 2024. Could this new federal money just be canceled out by state cuts to funding?

Unlike ESSER1 and ESSER2, ESSER3 appears to restrict states from cuts to funding, particularly for high-poverty districts. With that said, boards should carefully weigh decisions that obligate the district to recurring costs that extend beyond September 30, 2024. What outcomes do we expect?

It is important to have a plan for how all sources of funds, including ESSER3, will be used to achieve specific outcomes. What metrics will the board use to determine whether outcomes have been achieved? What is the plan for communicating progress to the board and to stakeholders? Once priorities have been established funding should be dedicated to support the effort. This increase in funding represents an opportunity for districts to mitigate learning loss resulting from the pandemic and to extend access to in-person learning for those students who have been most impacted by the pandemic. A carefully crafted plan aligned with agreed-upon outcomes provides a roadmap to a productive and positive return to in-person learning for every student.  Thomas E. Bertrand, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Illinois Association of School Boards. Resources associated with this column can be accessed via the Journal’s resources link,

Illinois Association of School Boards Administration and Staff As of April 1, 2021

OFFICE OF THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Thomas E. Bertrand, Executive Director Meetings Management Carla S. Bolt, Director Executive Searches Thomas Leahy, Director Timothy Buss, Consultant Jim Helton, Consultant Dave Love, Consultant Alan Molby, Consultant Patricia Sullivan-Viniard, Consultant OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL Kimberly Small, Associate Executive Director/ General Counsel Legal Services Maryam Brotine, Assistant General Counsel Debra Jacobson, Assistant General Counsel Policy Services Ken Carter, Director Angie Powell, Director Nicholas Baumann, Consultant Boyd Fergurson, Consultant ADVOCACY/ GOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS Shelly Bateman, Associate Executive Director Zach Messersmith, Director Deanna L. Sullivan, Director Ronald Madlock, Assistant Director ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES Jennifer Feld, Associate Executive Director/ Chief Financial Officer

MEMBER SERVICES Dean Langdon, Associate Executive Director Board Development Nesa Brauer, Trainer Field Services Reatha Owen, Senior Director Patrick Allen, Director Lori Grant, Director Nakia Hall, Director Perry Hill IV, Director Sandra Kwasa, Director Laura Martinez, Director Dee Molinare, Director COMMUNICATIONS/ PRODUCTION SERVICES Kara Kienzler, Associate Executive Director Theresa Kelly Gegen, Director/Editorial Services Katie Grant, Director/Production Services Heath Hendren, Director/Editorial Services Jennifer Nelson, Director/Information Services Isaac Warren, Assistant Director/Digital Communications CONTACT IASB Springfield Office 2921 Baker Drive Springfield, Illinois 62703-5929 (217) 528-9688 IASB Lombard Office One Imperial Place 1 East 22nd Street, Suite 20 Lombard, Illinois 60148-6120 (630) 629-3776

Staff email: First initial and last name preceding

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From the Field

Leadership During a Time of Crisis


By Patrick Allen

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Everyone would agree that this past year has been full of challenges and controversies. The ultimate measure of your school board will be how you dealt with these challenges and controversies and continued to govern the district. I believe the most important thing that your board can do during a time of crisis is to be open and honest about the issues the district and board are facing. In following the second Foundational Principle of Effective Governance, the board must connect with the community. Being open and honest with the community at a time of crisis is one critical way to connect. The community needs to understand that there is a problem, and also know that the board is working towards a solution. During a crisis, there are difficult decisions to make. These decisions will, more than likely, illicit a strong response from people who disagree. The board, in conjunction with the superintendent, is responsible for these decisions and should not shy away from them.

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When the community learns of a decision, communicate why the decision was made and what factors were taken into consideration. This will help alleviate some frustration that members of the community who disagree with the decision might have. As a board member, you are a member of a team. Each member of that team is obligated to express their opinions and respect others’ opinions; ultimately making and supporting the decisions as a board/team. There are going to be times that you disagree with the majority vote. But it is imperative, especially during a crisis, that the entire board acts and speaks as one team. If there is infighting and it becomes public, the trust that the community has in the decisions being made will decrease quickly, especially if members of the community disagree with the decision. It is OK to disagree with the majority. It is even OK to say that you see things differently and voted against the majority. It is acceptable for a board member to share their opinion. A board member must always make sure to convey that while they disagree with the decision, the decision was

made, and they will abide by that majority decision. A community might not expect every vote to be 7-0, but they expect board members to accept the outcome, regardless of how they voted. When governing through a crisis, several factors will assist you in making the best decision that you can. Things will change quickly, and you will need to be able to adjust quickly, and potentially make adjustments to your plans. Remaining flexible is one of the keys to being successful through a crisis. The first factor to keep in mind is to deal in facts. It is easier for the board to be using the same set of information, and making decisions based on that, than to have a board that is governing based on feelings. When you have data, the decisions are easier to make and easier for the stakeholders to understand. Next, when a decision is made, communicating with the community, as mentioned, is important. Remember that communication does not begin or end when a decision is made, but rather communication should be a part of the process throughout. After a decision has been made, communication centers on a plan for

moving forward, effectively implementing the plan, and making updates or changes to the plan based on lessons learned. It is important to communicate with the entire community. Everyone will be affected by a decision that involves the district, not only the parents of children in the district. The community must know what is happening, so everyone can adjust to the plan, its implementation, and any changes. Another factor of focus is to act decisively. Do not worry about having a perfect plan — worry about having a good plan. In a crisis, you will likely have to alter a plan anyway; perfection is both unlikely and not necessary. Make a decision, make it quickly, and begin implementation. Then, adjust as necessary. In a crisis, the board acts decisively because of imperfections, not in spite of them. Once you have a framework, make whatever decision you are going to make and begin the implementation process. If you act decisively, it shows confidence in your action, which your stakeholders will notice. Lastly, it is important to show results of whatever decisions you make. Anytime a decision is made during a crisis, there will be extra light shed on that decision. As mentioned, people will have reactions, both good and bad, to your decision, but it is important to communicate the progress of the plan as it is happening. It is also important to adjust quickly and communicate that, as well. It is not easy to govern in the midst of a crisis. It is important to keep that in mind, but also not to lose track of what your role is as a school board member. Often, the lines between board work and administration work get blurred. Focus on board work. Focus on providing support where necessary, making decisions quickly and effectively, and adjusting as things change. And lastly, stay patient. As we have learned in the past year, a crisis is going to affect everyone differently, but it is going to affect everyone. Be empathetic, and make the best decisions you can with the information you have at that time.  Patrick Allen is IASB Field Services Director for the Association’s Abe Lincoln, Kaskaskia, Southwestern, and Two Rivers divisions.

IASB Board of Directors As of April 1, 2021


NORTHWEST Chris Buikema

BLACKHAWK David Rockwell

SHAWNEE Sheila Nelson


SOUTH COOK Lanell Gilbert

CORN BELT Mark Harms DUPAGE Thomas Ruggio EGYPTIAN Travis Cameron ILLINI Michelle Skinlo KASKASKIA Linda Eades KISHWAUKEE Robert Geddeis LAKE Marc Tepper NORTH COOK Alva Kreutzer


The vision of the Illinois Association of School Boards is excellence in local school board governance supporting quality public education. The mission of the Illinois Association of School Boards is to Light the Way for its members by developing their competence and confidence through a robust toolkit designed to build excellence in local school board governance, including • Premier training experiences; • Networking opportunities for mutual support; • Valuable benefits, pooled services, information, and expertise; • Advocacy on behalf of public education; and • A platform for a strong collective voice on common interests and concerns.

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Legal Matters

Hot Mics Get Board Members in Trouble, But So Can Closed Session By Maryam T. Brotine


News stories about people getting caught on a “hot mic” — being recorded speaking or doing something that they didn’t intend to become public — used to focus on public figures or celebrities. In our new normal of virtual meetings, hot mic trouble abounds for all types of people, including school board members. You may recall a story that went global in February 2021 when an entire California school board was caught making disparaging comments during a virtual meeting that they believed had not started live streaming. Their discussion started out benign, focusing on procedural matters, but eventually slid into the insensitive and profane, including comments such as “they want to pick on us because they want their babysitters back” and “my brother had a delivery service for medical marijuana and clientele were parents with their kids in school.” Shortly thereafter

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the board members discovered they were live streaming, with one stating “Uh oh…we have the meeting open to the public right now.” Though some board members issued apologies, they could not quell public outrage. The entire board resigned two days after the meeting. The California hot mic incident served as a stark reminder to school boards everywhere to mind their virtual meeting settings and their casual conversations. But it’s important for board members to remember to watch their words even when they know (or think) they are out of the public’s earshot in closed session. Why? Because, for various reasons, what you discuss in a closed session may not remain closed. The Leaky Board Member

First, there’s the possibility of a leaky board member — someone who, despite their Oath of Office,

fiduciary duties, and obligation to keep closed meeting discussions confidential, shares what was discussed during closed session. This can happen by word of mouth or on social media (“You will not believe what Board Member X said in closed session at last week’s meeting”). If the board member is both leaky and sneaky, then it can also happen if the board member surreptitiously makes a recording of closed session and then leaks the recording. While in these cases the leaky board member certainly has their own actions to account for, the leaked material will be subject to public scrutiny and could get other board members in hot water. Ordered Release of Closed Session Materials

Second, your board may be ordered to release its closed session minutes and verbatim recording if there’s a finding that the board violated the Open Meetings Act

(OMA) by improperly going into closed session. Board members who have taken IASB’s OMA Training course may recall this being discussed toward the end of the online training module. A disclosure may be ordered by the Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (PAC) or by a civil court. This is because any person may file a complaint with the PAC or in a civil court alleging an OMA violation, and a common remedy for improperly going into closed session is public disclosure of the closed session minutes and verbatim recording. This happened as recently as March 2021, in a PAC decision finding that an Illinois city council violated OMA by improperly using the closed session exception in Section 2(c)(11) of OMA to discuss a matter that “could potentially give rise to litigation” instead of using it as narrowly permitted by the exception for “probable or imminent” litigation. As a result of the violation, the PAC ordered the city council to release the closed session meeting minutes and its verbatim recording. (See Public Access Opinion 21-003.) The PAC ordered similar remedies in June 2020, October 2018, November 2017, June 2017, December 2016, and September 2016. Criminal Charges for OMA Violations

Third, the county state’s attorney may bring a criminal complaint against an individual board member for violating OMA, which is a Class C misdemeanor. Does that really happen? Yes, actually, it does. In 2020, the Piatt County State’s Attorney’s office criminally charged

five county board members over alleged OMA violations at a May 13, 2020 meeting after citizens complained that they were kicked off the virtual meeting platform when the board went into closed session and were then unable to reconnect after the board returned to open session. The criminal charges were eventually dropped in February 2021, but this case illustrates that criminal consequences for OMA violations are a real possibility. Proceeding with Caution and Courage

Aside from proceeding with caution and watching your words at all times, what else can you do? One way to prevent being the subject of a negative hot mic headline is to constantly remind yourself of the sixth Foundational Principle of Effective Governance: The board takes responsibility for itself. The board, collectively and individually, takes full responsibility for board activity and behavior — the work it chooses to do and how it chooses to do its work. Individual board members are obligated to express their opinions and respect others’ opinions; however, board members understand the importance of abiding by the majority decisions of the board. As you apply this principle, keep equity and inclusion in mind. Respecting others’ opinions is easy when “others” are those who feel comfortable speaking up, but it’s important to intentionally make

space for board members who do not. Invite these board members to share their opinions and thank them when they do. Cultivate an inclusive, safe space by establishing board protocols for communication. If you already have such protocols, it may be time to reevaluate them through an equity lens. Once you’ve done that, take the responsibility a step further. Flex your equity and inclusion muscles by acting. If you see disrespectful board member behavior, be an upstander by calmly and respectfully addressing it. This can be done with a gentle reminder such as “I can see that you’re [passionate/upset/angry] about this, but let’s remember this is a discussion and we need to hear various perspectives,” or “This is a heated issue, let’s dial down the temperature by going back to our board protocols.” Sometimes people don’t realize they are being disrespectful and simply asking “What do mean when you say…” or “Why do you say that?” will do the trick. If a question or gentle reminder doesn’t work, then you may need to be more direct by stating something like “I’m trying to understand you but I’m uncomfortable with your [swearing/tone of voice/volume].” The more that board members upstand, the easier it becomes. Eventually, it can become part of your board’s culture. And if it doesn’t, then at least any hot mic headline will catch you trying your best instead of acting at your worst!  Maryam T. Brotine is Assistant General Counsel with the Illinois Association of School Boards.

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Cover Story

Welcome to the Board By Theresa Kelly Gegen


If you’re new to the board of education, welcome — it’s a heck of a time to start, but here you are. Are you ready? Last fall, the EdWeek Research Center surveyed board members on preparedness. Of over 1,500 school board members only 20% of respondents said they had been “very prepared” to serve on the school board during their first six months in the position. Many more — 30% — indicated feeling “somewhat unprepared” or “very unprepared” for school board service. The good news is, by anyone reading is already showing a willingness to prepare.

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School board members arrive in their roles with the best of intentions, a willingness to serve, and a lot to learn. There are challenges ahead, and a learning curve made curvier by the times. Today’s new school board members are considering issues of health and safety we couldn’t imagine a few years ago, and issues of educational equity that, although long-term and ongoing, are in a period of urgency. That’s all in addition to the norms of school board service which include representing the community, developing the district’s purpose and policies, employing a superintendent and delegating authority, and establishing goals and monitoring progress

towards them. On top of that are your own expectations. Who can help new board members get ready for this journey? We recommend two things: the district’s experienced board members, and us — the Illinois Association of School Boards. We recommend pacing yourself. It’s a lot. Don’t try to take it all in at once. As a new board member learns and grows in the role, there are plenty of opportunities to go the extra mile. Packing and Unpacking Board Work

Every individual’s journey to the board of education is different. Similarly, every board of education

is a little different in how it functions. School board practices vary from place to place. The degree of formality required in conducting meetings, for example, may depend on whether the board meets before a large audience, a small one, or no audience at all. The allowances for remote attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic have tossed some norms aside, but have made board protocols more important. Some characteristics, however, are evident in good school boards everywhere. A good school board • Knows the difference between governance (which is its job) and management (which is the administration’s job). • Makes every effort to operate openly by encouraging public attendance at its meetings and keeping constituents informed of the district’s progress. • Enacts policies after study and consultation with all persons or groups affected. • Attempts to reach decisions that all members can support. • Maintains efficient procedures to conduct business. • Works to provide quality education opportunities for all students of the district. The board talks about education, studies the needs of students and the community, and bases its decisions on those needs. The superintendent carries out those decisions. “Communication and trust, as well as roles and responsibilities, spawn the development of … expectations,” said IASB Field Services Director Perry Hill IV. “These expectations involve

communication from the board to the superintendent. They also involve communication from the superintendent to the board. The board and its superintendent must engage in open, focused dialogue to reach clarity on expectations. Such clarity might address desired methods and frequency of contact, creating the meeting agenda, identifying data to monitor goals, and much more.” Recommendations for Boards with New Members

We encourage returning board members to be welcoming and helpful to the newcomers. Pair an experienced board member with one newly elected or appointed, and have a plan in place to make

the partnership work. Meet them where they are, listen to understand and not only to reply. Be aware that they don’t know as much about the board’s work as current and prior members do, but also that they have done their homework and bring new perspective. As IASB Field Services Director Laura Martinez recently wrote, “Be the board member you wish you had as a mentor when you were new.” An effective board of education has a plan for orienting new board members. Orientation is the official launch for new partnerships and relationships, and the new board. “Typically, orientation involves face-to-face meetings with the superintendent and board

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president,” says Reatha Owen, IASB Field Services Director. “New members may have some familiarity with the organization, but it’s always helpful to have a better understanding of the district’s history as well as getting familiar with the district’s mission, vision, goals (strategic plan), and policies.” Returning board members, and the superintendent, must give the new member the information they need to start strong as a member of the team. Recommendations for New Members

First and foremost, do the homework. There is plenty to study about the school district. There is still more to learn about the role of a board member, board

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service, and the obligations of an elected official. Some of these lessons are required by law, in the Open Meetings Act and the Illinois School Code: • Open Meetings Act training covers its applicability, procedures, and legal requirements and must be completed within 90 days of taking the oath of office. • Professional Development Leadership Training (PDLT) includes education and labor law, financial oversight and accountability, and fiduciary responsibilities and must be completed within the first year of the board member’s first term. • Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA) training is required for board members

prior to voting or participating in a dismissal based upon the “optional alternative evaluative dismissal process for PERA evaluations.” Some lessons are not required, but highly recommended. IASB offers “Basics of Governance,” a course specifically designed for Illinois school board members to help them start their service strong, to understand their roles, and gather the knowledge, skills, and abilities critical to good governance. IASB has packaged the state-mandated training with the “Basics of Governance” in its online New Board Member Training Bundle. As initial training is underway, participate in the board’s orientation process as mentioned above.

Request more help if necessary, ask questions, and follow the lead of the board president. As former school board member and current IASB Field Services Director Lori Grant said, “It’s important to understand how much you don’t know. Even if you’ve spent months contemplating a decision to run and using that time to learn more about the district, there is still so much you won’t know.” Every new board member should not only receive the information provided by the district and board, but should study it. Key items for new board members will include the district’s policy manual, specifically at this stage the governance and powers and duties of the board sections, the oath of office and code of conduct, and information on how and when the board packet is presented. The district budget — and an appointment to discuss it with the superintendent — is highly recommended from the outset as well. Familiarize yourself with the recent agendas and minutes of the board. If you’re not getting these documents, ask for them. Consider it part of your role to ask questions about items for which you need clarification. Recommendations for Everyone

The work of the board is done by the board as a whole, not as individuals. For newly elected or appointed school board members to function effectively, respect, courtesy, and cooperation go a long way. Experienced members should make the effort to assist newcomers in understanding the work of the board, its policies and

procedures, its finances, and the pressing issues facing the district. New board members should own their inexperience, listen, and ask questions. All board members, from newbies to 20-plus-year experienced members, can consider IASB’s six Foundational Principles of Effective Governance as a starting point, a defining effort, and a continuing commitment. The obligation to govern effectively imposes these fundamental duties on the board: 1. The board clarifies the district purpose. 2. The board connects with the community. 3. The board employs a superintendent. 4. The board delegates authority. 5. The board monitors performance. 6. The board takes responsibility for itself. Those are the principles themselves; the full document detailing the application of each is recommended to ready new board members for their new roles, and worth revisiting for all. As your journey continues, the importance of the Foundational Principles will become increasingly apparent. How IASB Helps

IASB’s mission is “to Light the Way for its members by developing their competence and confidence through a robust toolkit designed to build excellence in local school board governance, including • Premier training experiences; • Networking opportunities for mutual support;


IASB Welcomes You to the Board (Livestream)


New Board Member Training Bundle (Online)


New Board Member Webinars


Division Meetings


Joint Annual Conference

Figure 1

• Valuable benefits, pooled services, information, and expertise; • Advocacy on behalf of public education; and • A platform for a strong collective voice on common interests and concerns.” IASB recognizes not only that there is a lot to learn, and that May/June 2021 • 13

there are a lot of ways to learn. The acronym VARK stands for four styles of learning: Visual, Auditory, Read/Write, and Kinesthetic “sensory modalities,” and is based on seminal work on learning styles by Neil D. Fleming and Colleen Mills of New Zealand. IASB recognizes that people prefer to learn in certain ways in certain circumstances, and offers modalities — to watch, listen, read, and participate — to suit everyone on their learning journey. No matter how you learn, there is a wealth of information coming your way. To help new board members in particular stay the course, for 2021 the IASB toolkit features the Roadmap to Success (see Figure 1 on page 13). As mentioned, IASB has the state-mandated training and the important “Basics of Governance” courses packaged for 2021. These are listed on the Roadmap to Success labeled “Chart Your Course.” Those who favor visual and auditory learning can partake in an array of webinars, courses, and livestreams. Those who prefer to read have this, the Illinois School Board Journal, and plenty more to peruse on the resource-filled 14 • Illinois School Board Journal

IASB website. The district may have a recommended reading list for new members, and IASB also has an online bookstore, with our top titles for new board members in a package (see page 15). Kinesthetic learners, who learn-bydoing, will probably learn best at their own board meetings, but will find IASB Division Meetings and the Joint Annual Conference appealing to their participatory modality. In particular, the IASB workshop Starting Right sets the new board on a path to becoming a high-performing team. Starting Right is a type of board self-evaluation that begins with a review of the board’s role in effective governance and continues with a discussion of expectations for communications, board/superintendent relationships, board meetings, and more. As new members progress along the learning curve, they will discover how IASB assists districts with policymaking services, advocacy efforts, education law updates, and important topics such as equity in education, collective bargaining, social and emotional learning, school safety

and security, and community engagement. At any point in the journey, school board members can reach out to IASB for assistance. The first point of contact will likely be with the IASB Field Services Department. Field Services Directors look forward to getting to know you and assisting you and your board. The past year has been extraordinary. Many new school board members will have been prompted to run for a seat due to the events of 2020 and 2021. Many experienced board members will have helped steer their district through turbulent times and decided to not run again. With a vision of “excellence in local school board governance supporting quality public education” the Illinois Association of School Boards aims to help all boards of education be ready to make the best possible local decisions on pandemic response, social justice issues, social and emotional learning in the wake of 2020 and 2021, school finance in a time of economic turmoil, and whatever the next years bring. The journey begins. We hope it is rewarding. Along with your fellow board members, IASB will serve as a companion on the journey to good governance in support of public education, your local school district, students, and community.  Theresa Kelly Gegen is Editor of the Illinois School Board Journal. Resources associated with this article, including direct links to IASB offerings, are available via the Journal resources page at

Publications of Note for New Board Members

IASB publishes a series of titles promoting the work of boards of education of Illinois public schools. Of particular interest to new board members are the following three books. Many school districts have copies available for board members, and all are available in the IASB online bookstore. Coming to Order by IASB explains how to plan and conduct meetings that meet the needs of the individual school board and takes the board meeting beyond compliance with legal requirements to meetings that serve the interests of both school and community. Excerpt: Annual Agenda for Recurring Business School board meetings address a wide variety of matters, many of which occur at about the same time each month or each year. Usually, the superintendent and the board secretary develop a schedule of the board’s major obligations for the year ahead. The School Code establishes a number of key dates; the board adds its own dates for meetings and a variety of personnel matters. Local circumstances create additional deadlines. A review of board minutes over the past several years will suggest a list of recurring items and the dates when they must be considered. Keeping a complete record for one year will serve as a basis for planning a master calendar for the following year. The “annual agenda” will prove useful in identifying items for each meeting. Essentials of Illinois School Finance by James B. Fritts is an effective reference for anyone who needs to understand school finance. From the peculiarities of property taxes and state funding to the formulas for projecting enrollments and staffing budgets, this book covers just about everything and is considered the “primer” for newly-elected school board members. Excerpt: The Annual EBF Plan School districts, laboratory schools, Regional Offices of Education and Intermediate Service Centers are required to submit an EBF Spending Plan by September 30. The plan instructions and a submission template are found on

the EBF section of the ISBE website. Districts are to describe the student outcomes expected as a result of their EBF investments and other focused efforts, and their plans for their EBF Tier Funding. Other sections cover plans for special education students, children from low-income families and English Language Learners from all federal, state and local funds. Since EBF is unrestricted money, it can be used for staff and materiel needs for the core programs, including reduction in class size, additional materials and technology. Districts may add counselors, deans and assistant principals, social workers and psychologists, intervention teachers and other specialists to work with students. Enhanced professional development programs, which show a substantial effect size, may also be implemented. In the buildings, funds can be used for capital projects to replace aging infrastructure. Illinois School Law Survey by Brian A. Braun is a convenient guide for answering the school legal questions of educators and laymen. The Survey presents answers to more than 1,600 questions in 27 chapters, along with a list of the statutes, rules, and court cases on which the answer is based. A digital version is included with the purchase of the print book. Excerpt: What is a certificate of tax levy? A certificate of tax levy is a document authorized by formal action of the school board, signed by the president and clerk or secretary of the board, and issued to the county clerk. The document certifies the amount of money necessary in each fund to be levied against the equalized assessed valuation of the taxable property of the school district for a given fiscal year. 105 ILCS 5/17-11  Resources associated with this article are available via the Journal resources page at

May/June 2021 • 15

Cover Story

What to Expect 2021 Compiled by Theresa Kelly Gegen


Every other spring, approximately 1,200 new school board members join their boards of education and begin their service with their first meetings. As in previous years, for 2021 the Journal asked some experts — veteran school board members with insights to share their thoughts on what new members can expect in the first 100 days. With 2021 being an extraordinary year of recovery and change, board members of all experience levels are facing some different challenges in 2021. We thank the following individuals for their time in offering their words of wisdom to new board members. Tom Neeley is president of the IASB Board of Directors and a 32-year board member at Morton CUSD 709. Joanne Osmond is the immediate past president of the IASB Board of Directors. She has served the Lake Villa CCSD 41 board of education for 30 years.

Mark Christ is a 14-year member of the O’Fallon THSD 203 school board who represents the Southwestern Division on the IASB Board of Directors. Tim Custis is a 25-year member of the Washington SD 52 school board and represents the Central Illinois Valley Division on the IASB Board of Directors. Rebecca Drury is a 30-year member of the board of education for O’Fallon CCSD 90. Linda Eades is IASB treasurer and represents the Kaskaskia Division on the IASB Board of Directors. She is in her 24th year on the school board for Northwestern CUSD 2. Sheila Nelson is a nine-year member of the board of education for Cairo USD 1 and represents the Shawnee Division on the IASB Board of Directors. Dave Rockwell represents the Blackhawk Division on the IASB Board of Directors and is a 16-year May/June 2021 • 17

member of the board of education for Rock Island/ Milan SD 41. Marc Tepper has been a school board member for Kildeer-Countryside CCSD 96 for 20 years and represents the Lake Division on the IASB Board of Directors. In a sign of the times, and with hope for the future, we asked: In what ways did the COVID-19 pandemic impact you as a school board member, or change your mind about anything relating to your school board service? Mark Christ: The pandemic made clear the importance of in-person education for students. Joanne Osmond: I have learned that board members can participate remotely and still be effective in the governance of the district. It is still important to come to the meeting prepared and ready to actively participate. Rebecca Drury: It has been a hard year between educating students and keeping all parties safe while satisfying parents’ needs. Marc Tepper: The pandemic saw us making life-or-death decisions. Normally we deal with financial, curriculum, and facilities issues, but with COVID-19 it became about the health and safety

of our children, staff, and administrators. Decisions were and are being made in the best interests of health and safety. A small percentage of our parent population has decided that threats, bullying, and unreasonable behavior are acceptable to achieve their objectives. It has been difficult to watch parent vs. parent, parent vs. administrators, and parent vs. board of education being played out during this pandemic. Tim Custis: Boards experienced the loss of local control initially when the Governor shut us all down; this was disheartening. The different perspectives and concerns in reopening were also difficult for our board. Dave Rockwell: Our district has been virtual or hybrid since last year, so personal interaction with other board members and administrators has been minimal. I miss the physical, personal contact. Obviously, this impacted me less than teachers and students. Hope is real right now that life will be better for everyone soon. Tom Neeley: COVID-19 reinforced the importance of keeping students our main focus. How to best keep teachers and students safe and return them to in-person learning became our top priority. Sheila Nelson: The COVID-19 pandemic gave me a greater feeling of commitment and servitude as a school board member. I wanted to make sure that the staff, students, and families remained educated about the virus. I felt it was necessary to communicate with parents when their child(ren) should stay home and when they could return to school, while actively encouraging employees and students who are sick or who have recently had close contact with a person with COVID-19 to stay at home. The decision was very difficult when deciding if school should move to remote, full-time, or hybrid. No choice left everyone satisfied. However, hard decisions had to be made resulting in what was thought to be best for the safety of the school district.

Q Good thing you didn’t choose to live your life through me, huh Dad?

18 • Illinois School Board Journal

What do you wish you had known before you joined your board of education?

Dave Rockwell: Board members can influence policy but should not be expecting to directly change anything very quickly.

Cover Story


What can new board members expect in their first 100 days?

Marc Tepper: I wish I had known the amount of reading and research that is required on a weekly basis to keep abreast of what is happening in the district and the field of education. Rebecca Drury: To be a good board member it takes more involvement than one board meeting a month. Tom Neeley: I wish I had known more about school board governance and more about all of the school mandates. Joanne Osmond: I was prepared for negative public concern when I joined the board because I came from an under-represented area of the district and had to fight to gain my seat on the board. But, I didn’t realize that the negative voices would continue after I was fairly elected. I learned then that such voices shouting are a minority and I could not let them affect my feeling of self-worth. Linda Eades: I wish I had known more about the finance system of schools. Tim Custis: Staff and teachers really do appreciate board members, when you show that you appreciate their concerns.

Joanne Osmond: What is school governance? Governance and school financing are different than anything that a new board member has experienced. Sitting on other boards, including PTO, does not prepare a new board member for school board service. Learning during the first 100 days is enlightening and not complete. They will continue to learn long after the first 100 days. Sheila Nelson: In the first hundred days, new board members, you can expect to be involved in several trainings and workshops to broaden skills on being an effective school board member. Tim Custis: Expect to be loaded with policies, laws, and regulations. There are many things that you didn’t realize you even had to consider. Mark Christ: New board members can expect to be a bit overwhelmed, with the mandatory training, meetings, and any committee work. Marc Tepper: New board members will get crash courses in policy, procedures, finance, and curriculum. Linda Eades: New board members will learn in the first days to be aware that the reality is not necessarily how they perceived education.


What are the biggest challenges a board member faces in the first full year?

Tom Neeley: Staying focused on the best interest of our students. Marc Tepper: It is a challenge for new members to be ready for the items which come up in sequential order, not at every meeting, but at different times of the year. Dave Rockwell: This year will be different as a new board member in our district will be in place when we can get our district back to normalcy. This will be something to enjoy and celebrate. Mark Christ: New members will be challenged on learning school operations and governance and also how they “fit” in on the board. Rebecca Drury: The member must learn the balance between being a board member and a stakeholder. Also to remember you are one of seven. May/June 2021 • 19

Tim Custis: Understanding all of the laws and regulations that tie a board’s hands for a lot of decisions. Linda Eades: Hopefully the remaining board members are patient and willing to explain the “why.” Sheila Nelson: Challenges include realizing that there are policies and procedures to follow and putting away personal agendas. Joanne Osmond: The biggest challenges are staying off the dance floor and effectively govern the district through policy; and what to say and cover in closed session and what should be said and covered in open session. Both are tricky and take time to become automatic.


What other information would you share with a new member to school board service?

Marc Tepper: Training from IASB is well worthwhile. This is our Association and it has plenty of resources for both new and tenured board members. Mark Christ: Take the IASB training as soon as possible; talk to other board members; keep any expectations moderate; don’t push any pre-election agenda.

20 • Illinois School Board Journal

Rebecca Drury: As a new member, take the time to learn everything. Listen, ask questions. Tom Neeley: Attending and participating in IASB events allows you to learn about school board member issues and ways to deal with them. Additionally, you will meet and learn from other school board members. Linda Eades: Do not hesitate to seek a mentor. Listen. Sheila Nelson: Always do your homework, gather the facts, and follow policy. Tim Custis: IASB provides educational opportunities for board members to improve board governance. Field Services Directors are a great resource. Attending IASB Division Meetings gives you a great opportunity to network with board members for other districts. I have developed a good number of relationships with other board members over the years. You often find out that school districts are much more similar than they are different. Dave Rockwell: Ask questions. There is a lot to learn and do not expect to know all the answers.  Theresa Kelly Gegen is Editor of the Illinois School Board Journal.

Cover Story

A Parliamentary Procedure Primer Adapted from “Parliamentary Procedure for the Novice” by Dee Molinare


As experienced board members know, and new board members soon learn if they don’t know it already, the work of the board requires effective school board meetings, and effective meetings require an agreed-upon set of rules to facilitate the orderly transaction of the business of an assembly, to maintain decorum, to ascertain the will of the majority, and to preserve the rights of the minority. Hissing and Spitting?

Parliamentary procedure is a set of rules for the conduct of

meetings, a long-tested method of conducting public business. The first known rules of how to run a meeting, in the late-1500s, determined that “one subject should be discussed at a time.” Early parliamentarians could not have anticipated Zoom meetings, yet this rule not only makes sense today, but it is also vital to how meetings are run. Later rules included “A member speaking, and his speech, seeming impertinent, and there being much hissing and spitting,

it was conceived for a Rule, that Mr. Speaker may stay impertinent speeches” and “He that digresseth from the Matter to fall upon the Person ought to be suppressed by the Speaker … No reviling or nipping words must be used,” to maintain decorum and to limit debate to the merits of the question. We credit early parliamentarians for the lack of nipping, hissing, and spitting during board meetings today. Conduct at Illinois school board meetings must follow May/June 2021 • 21

federal and state laws — such as the Open Meetings Act — which cover boards of education. Conduct should adhere to local board policies for conducting meetings, such as IASB sample PRESS Policy 2:220, School Board Meeting Procedure, which recommends Robert’s Rules of Order as a guide. Developing Decorum

Robert’s Rules of Order is the most commonly used reference guide for parliamentary procedure for school boards in Illinois — and indeed for organizations everywhere. “Robert’s Rules” is, for many, synonymous with parliamentary procedure. It is a guide to implementation of parliamentary procedure, and it has been guarding against impertinence and protecting decorum since the late-1800s. U.S. Army General Henry Martyn Robert was a civil engineer who grew frustrated by poorly-run meetings and determined to do fix them. He compiled notes into the Pocket Manual of Rules of Order for Deliberative Assemblies, which was first published in 1876 and updated thereafter to great response and demand. We now use the 12th Edition of Robert’s Rules of Order. Parliamentary procedure is the commonly accepted way for people to come together, present and discuss courses of action, and make decisions. It is a democratic process for holding effective meetings and making decisions in a fair and consistent manner, allowing all voices to be heard and making the best use of everyone’s time. Parliamentary procedure is meant 22 • Illinois School Board Journal

to ensure every member is satisfied by the manner in which a decision is made, even if they are not satisfied by the outcome. Going Through the Motions

The first and fundamental lesson for new school board members participating in meetings is understanding motions. The value of discussion via motion becomes increasingly evident the more meetings you attend. Until then, here’s an explainer to get you started. In parliamentary procedure, discussion is taken via motions. A motion is a proposal that is put before a meeting for discussion and a decision. Ultimately, each motion is voted on, and if the question is passed, the decision is binding and recorded in the minutes of the meeting. There are many directions, via subsidiary and a motion can take between being made and being voted on. Also, there is a hierarchy of precedence to motions, which leads some motions to “yield” to others. Refer to Robert’s Rules of Order or one of the many available “cheat sheets.” A main motion introduces a new item, thus bringing forth business to the assembly. It needs a second to be heard. It can be debated, amended by a subsidiary motion, delayed, or any number of actions taken on it. There can only be one main motion at a time. In parliamentary procedure, the steps taken on a motion are as follows: 1. A member makes a motion. 2. Another member seconds the motion.

3. The chair states the question. 4. Members debate/discuss the motion. 5. The chair restates the question and puts the question to a vote 6. The chair announces the results of the vote. A subsidiary motion is applied to a main motion. It can modify the main motion, delay action on it, or dispose of it. Subsidiary motions can postpone a motion indefinitely (such “killing” of a motion is rare in school board meetings); amend a main motion; commit or refer a motion (such as sending it to committee); postpone to a certain time; limit or extend limits of debate; move the previous question (this stops the discussion); and/or lay the question on the table (which requires a motion to bring it back). The subsidiary motion to amend modifies the main motion via insert, delete (strike), or strike and insert. Amendments must be germane to the pending motion and are limited to one amendment and one amendment to the amendment. A privileged motion is an urgent or important matter, unrelated to the pending business before the group. The five privileged motions include a call for the orders of the day (this is used when the discussion veers, to bring it back to the agenda); raising a question of privilege; taking a recess; adjourning; and fixing the time to which to adjourn (the latter is unusual in school board work). An incidental motion questions procedure and its purpose

protect the rights of the members. Incidental motions include a point of order (in cases where rules are not being followed); appeal the decision of the chair; point of information; and parliamentary inquiry (similar to but a bit nicer than, a point of order). Other incidental motions would be to suspend the rules (for example, in a town hall-style meeting); and to divide the question or consider it by paragraph. A board of education is unlikely to use “a re-do motion” but they do exist: reconsider (in the same meeting), rescind; or amend an item previously adopted (in a subsequent meeting). Making a motion takes three words from a member of the deliberative group: “I move that …” Once a motion is made, it must be seconded, which essentially indicates that another member agrees that the motion is of value. Once seconded, the chairperson repeats the motion back to the group, and opens it for consideration. The discussion takes place, and eventually, the chair restates the question and puts the question to a vote, with which the group ultimately takes action that concludes the motion.

• Improper handling of motions, or a motion not restated. • Allowing too much informality. • Mismanaging or not managing the pace of the meeting. • Poor agenda planning. • Allowing discussions without a pending motion. • Discussing multiple issues at the same time. • Allowing negatively worded motions — in other words, a board should not be moving to not do something. Trusting the meeting to parliamentary procedure mitigates or minimizes these drawbacks, therefore making the meeting more

efficient and allowing all voices to be heard. The purpose of a meeting is to determine the will of the majority in an efficient manner, while protecting the rights of the minority. Why is this so important? The authority of the school board is not with the individual member, but in the decisions of the full board acting in concert. And these decisions can only be made in a board of education meeting.  Adapted from the webinar “Parliamentary Procedure for the Novice” by Dee Molinare, which is available at the Journal’s resources link, Dee Molinare, Ed.D, is Field Services Director for IASB’s DuPage, Starved Rock, and North Cook divisions.

What Happens if We Don’t?

Without parliamentary procedure, even a non-contentious discussion can devolve into disorganization. Each of these drawbacks gets in the way of moving the business of the board forward, and using the time efficiently, effectively, and fairly: • The chair dominates the meeting. May/June 2021 • 23

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An Ounce of Prevention Why Legal Training is Essential for Your District By Dana Fattore Crumley and Kendra Yoch


A teacher chastises a student for their political views during a class discussion. A bus driver ignores two high school students kissing in the back row of the bus. A school administrative assistant turns away a family that has no birth certificates for their children. A teacher complains on Facebook about comments her male colleague made to female students during a co-taught class.

These may seem like unrelated situations, which can hopefully be corrected through follow-up by an administrator. In reality, these missteps are linked by what they started — all were the inciting incident for either a lawsuit or damaging media coverage that the school districts in question spent considerable time, money, and resources dealing with. And even when legal defense works to shield the

school district from liability, the damage to the public trust is not easily restored. But there is a more positive takeaway to glean from these incidents and the trouble that resulted. School districts can prevent situations like these by equipping all staff members with the legal knowledge they need to resolve, rather than ignore or escalate, the problems schools face every day. As May/June 2021 • 25

attorneys who have been working with public school districts for decades, we have learned that most problems — and lawsuits — are caused by ignorance and lack of awareness, not

fair, and are faithful to the rule of law. This is why one of the most valuable sources of professional development for your staff, at all levels, is your school attorney.

“As attorneys who have been working with public school districts for decades, we have learned that most problems — and lawsuits — are caused by ignorance and lack of awareness, not ill intent” ill intent. And we have found that district staff members, from principals to lunchroom assistants, have a strong desire to make decisions that put the interests of students first, are

26 • Illinois School Board Journal

While administrators regularly consult with school attorneys to seek counsel or problem-solve, teachers and paraprofessionals are on the front line with students and parents and are often

called on to make decisions that impact a student’s legal rights in the moment. A call after the fact, while instructive, will not provide the same benefit to your school district that proactive training can. Such training, especially when interactive, will empower your staff members to handle decisions with confidence that they are using best practices, both from a legal and practical perspective. We want to create a positive, welcoming atmosphere for all students. And school staff members are working every day to provide that constructive learning environment. The teacher who criticized a student’s political views in class was doing just that — trying to shield a group of students who felt that the political speech was threatening to them based on their racial identity and religious backgrounds. Yet by espousing her own views, she set off a firestorm among many parents, who claimed that the teacher was wrongfully imposing her personal views upon their children. Had the teacher previously received training about the standards that apply to public school teachers in terms of political speech, and been provided the tools to promote student safety and well-being while respecting the boundaries of the First Amendment in the classroom, she may have been able to avert the controversy and mistrust that followed her comment. The impact of the First Amendment on teachers and students is just one topic where school staff members, not just

administrators, need information and training. There are many others: • Abused and neglected child reporting. As mandated reporters, all school staff members play a critical role in keeping students safe. When it comes to student safety and well-being, there is no room for error. Regular training is essential. • Student residency and homelessness. Residency determinations must be made in light of the requirements of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and the Illinois Education for Homeless Children Act. Understanding which documents are required and how to respond to parents who may not have them is critical for all front-line staff members who assist parents with enrollment. • Student records and confidentiality. Maintaining the confidentiality of student records is a cornerstone of parent trust. With many school professionals working with students, it is critical everyone, from the principal to the paraprofessional providing daily assistance, understands their part in keeping student information confidential. • Title IX. Your bus driver may not want to call out the students kissing on the bus. But allowing such conduct to

continue could lead to a Title IX complaint for studentto-student harassment. And the teacher’s complaints on Facebook about comments her male colleague made to students? That is also a concern, not just from a public relations lens, but in that it poses significant risk to the school district of not adhering to the requirements that govern Title IX complaints and investigations. Having the appropriate policy in place only goes so far— staff must understand how to follow policies and procedures to effectively address complaints. • Special Education. The obligation to identify, accommodate, and instruct students with special needs is not just the responsibility

of special education teachers. All staff need to understand their roles in adhering to IEPs and 504 plans and protecting students with disabilities from discrimination. The time you have to devote to training school staff is limited, particularly this year when training on remote platforms and health and safety measures have been a significant undertaking. But investing time training all staff on these critical legal issues, especially using interactive programs that allow for participation and questions, can prove invaluable when your district is able to appropriately handle sticky situations and avoid litigation and controversy.  Dana Fattore Crumley and Kendra Yoch are attorneys with Franczek P.C. in Chicago.

May/June 2021 • 27

Practical PR

How Board Members Can Support District Communication By Keegan Kociss


Many in the community may be surprised by the amount of time, dedication, and effort put in by those volunteering to be a member of a Board of Education. Incumbents know the job of a board member doesn’t stop with just two or three meetings a month. Those joining a school board for the first time will soon find out the position entails more than attending meetings and approving policy. It also includes advocating for schools and creating cohesive bonds between the community and the district. The mission of every school district is centered on doing what is best for students. Showcasing success sometimes rests on a handful of people. Many school districts staff public relations professionals with the goal of engaging teachers and staff, families, and community members while highlighting the many ways goals are achieved. Others rely on administrators, teachers, or others to tell the district’s story. However, a collaborative effort is always the best option. Increasingly, schools are beginning to rely on social media to quickly get information out to their stakeholders. If one were to look at a district’s Facebook followers, the vast majority of those followers would be families

28 • The Illinois School Board Journal

with children currently attending the district’s schools. This means many important stakeholders, including taxpayers, community leaders, and business owners, may not see information pertinent to them. Members of the community who don’t have school-aged children are more likely to follow the account of an elected school board member. As a member of the board of education, you will be an important link between the district and the community when sharing the district’s stories, successes, and information. How can you help spread the word?

Set Up a Dedicated Social Media Account

It is good practice to set up an account dedicated to your work as a school board member where you can share or retweet school and district posts. This isn’t to say personal anecdotes or family photos can never be shared, but the main

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

focus of such an account would always be the district, schools, students, staff, or education in general. There is a #SchoolPR community on Twitter that consistently offers examples and tips on how to develop social media accounts centered on school public relations. For those who are new to the school board, or to social media, this community may be very helpful. There are also regular Twitter Chats (#K12PRChat) that may also answer many questions that come up. The school public relations community is welcoming and offers advice to anyone seeking it. Use a Hashtag

Does your school district use a hashtag? If so, use it whenever posting information relating to the district. Some districts have a different hashtag for each school. Sometimes there are specific hashtags for events or campaigns. For example, our CCSD 146 team uses at least three different hashtags throughout the year: one for the first day of school, one for a district-wide reading initiative, and one general hashtag. If your district also has multiple hashtags and you are unsure of the best to utilize in each instance, reach

out to your school’s communications team or superintendent for guidance. I assure you they will be thrilled to have a new partner in school PR. Showcase Events

Show your support by attending as many events as you can and use your dedicated social media account to showcase some of the wonderful things happening in the schools. Don’t forget to use the hashtag. Some possible posts that would garner interest could be: • If you are at an open house at the beginning of the year, introduce your followers to a new teacher. • Are you attending a science fair? Tweet a photo with a young scientist (with a parent’s permission).

• Enjoying a band concert? Share a quick 15-second video with your followers. At District 146, we are lucky to have board members who always attend events, even if they have no children participating. They come to support the students and staff. From book fairs to musicals, I know I will see at least two or three board members at any event I attend. Do it for Them

Board members, administrators, teachers, staff, and even the public relations team are all in their positions for one reason: the students. We are here to assure our students receive a quality education, and to illustrate that to our families, staff members,

and community members. If you ask anyone why they chose to be in education, you would be hardpressed to find anyone who says they are in it for the glory. The answer will always be the students. Being a school board member can sometimes be a thankless job, especially in today’s climate. It will not always be easy, but you can be proud of the fact that you are helping provide students with the best education your district can offer. You can go on to share that pride with the larger community by becoming an active advocate for your schools.  Keegan Kociss is the communications specialist for Community Consolidated School District 146 in Tinley Park and is the INSPRA Co-Vice President for Communications.

May/June 2021 • 29


Continued from page 34

Delia E. “Dee” Hillyer, 74, died February 23, 2021. She was a former member of the Tonica CCSD 79 school board, a founding member of the PTC (Parent Teacher Community) there, and an obituary writer for local media. James B. Holder, 75, died March 9, 2021. He had previously served on the Chester CUSD 139 Board of Education. Ann S. Hughes, 77, died March 3, 2021. She served on the school board for Woodstock CUSD 200, was chair of the McHenry County Board, and was a member of the Illinois House of Representatives from 1993 to 1997. Raymond Thomas Huston, 81, died February 17, 2021. He was a past member of the school board for Roseville School in Warren County. Nancy Jane Ingels, 81, died March 5, 2021. She was a member and past president of the Galva CUSD 224 school board. Merrill Kirchhoefer, 97, died March 4, 2021. He was a World War II veteran and served on the Nashville CHSD 99 school board. Shirley E. Kitchen, 84, died March 8, 2021. She was a member of the Marengo CHSD 154 Board of Education in the 1970s and 1980s.

30 • Illinois School Board Journal

Sandra K. Kruse, 70, died March 28, 2021. She was a past member of the board for Walnut Grade School in Bureau County and had worked as Food Coordinator for Bureau Valley schools. Benjamin L. McCoy, 44, died March 29, 2021. At the time of his passing, he was a member of the Triopia CUSD 27 school board in Concord. He was a graduate of the district’s schools and served for 23 years in the Illinois Army National Guard. Emmett M. Meinhold, 77, died February 24, 2021. He served for 13 years on the Roanoke-Benson CUSD 60 school board. Ronald Mottaz, 89, died March 24, 2021. He was a past member and president of the school board for Alton CUSD 11. Richard “Dick” Mulch, 86, died February 26, 2021. He was a past member of the Warsaw CUSD 316 Board of Education. Donald C. Newby, 62, died March 17, 2021. He served on the school board for Round Lake CUSD 116 and was a village trustee for 24 years. Ronald Nicolai, 72, died March 16, 2021. He was a past member of the Alden-Hebron SD 19 school board. Leonard F. “Boots” Niekamp, 92, died February 2, 2021. He was a past member and

president of the school board for CUSD 4 in Mendon. Wayne R. Pinter, 76, died February 3, 2021. He had served on the board for Cherry Grade School in Bureau County. Jerome “Jerry” Piper, 81, died February 17, 2021. He was a 26-year member and past president of the Silvis SD 34 Board of Education. Walter S. Roth, 95, has died. He was a longtime member and president of the school board for Deerfield SD 109. Bruce R. Steele, 97, died February 12, 2021. He served in the Western Pacific in World War II and was later a member and president of the Tonica CCSD 79 school board. Donald R. Vaughn, 89, died March 13, 2021. He was a past member of the Dallas City CUSD 336 Board of Education. Joe Gary Vernon, 84, died March 22, 2021. He was a past member of the school board for Illini Bluffs CUSD 327. Norma “Jean” Werner died February 2, 2021. She was a past member of the Ridgeland SD 122 school board.  IASB appreciates contributions to the Milestones section of the IASB Journal. Please send Milestone information to

Service Associates Directory Appraisal Services INDUSTRIAL APPRAISAL COMPANY Building and fixed asset appraisals for insurance and accounting purposes. Oak Brook (630) 575-0280

Architects/Engineers ARCON ASSOCIATES, INC. Full service firm specializing in educational facilities with services that include architecture, construction management, roof and masonry consulting, landscape architecture, and environmental consulting. Lombard (630) 495-1900;; BERG ENGINEERING CONSULTANTS, LTD. Consulting engineers. Schaumburg (847) 352-4500; BLDD ARCHITECTS, INC. Architectural and engineering services for schools. Decatur (217) 429-5105; Champaign (217) 356-9606; Bloomington (309) 828-5025; Chicago (312) 829-1987 CANNONDESIGN Architecture, interiors, engineering, consulting. Chicago (312) 332-9600;; CORDOGAN CLARK & ASSOCIATES Architects and engineers. Aurora (630) 896-4678;; DEWBERRY ARCHITECTS INC. Architects, planners, landscape architecture, and engineers. Peoria (309) 282-8000; Elgin (847) 695-5840 DLA ARCHITECTS, LTD. Architects specializing in preK-12 educational design, including a full range of architectural services, assessments, planning, feasibility studies, new construction, additions, remodeling, O&M and owner’s rep services. Itasca (847) 742-4063;; DLR GROUP Educational facility design and master planning. Chicago (312) 382-9980;;

ERIKSSON ENGINEERING ASSOCIATES, LTD. Site Planning/Studies, Civil Engineering, Traffic/Transportation, Landscape Architecture. Grayslake (847) 223-4804; Chicago (312) 463-0551; Mokena (708) 614-9720;; FARNSWORTH GROUP, INC. Architectural and engineering professional services. Normal, IL (309) 633-8436 FGM ARCHITECTS, INC. Architects. Chicago (312) 942-8461; Oak Brook (630) 574-8300; O’Fallon (618) 624-3364; St. Louis (314) 439-1601; GREENASSOCIATES, INC. Architecture/construction services. Deerfield (847) 317-0852; Pewaukee, Wisconsin (262) 746-125 HEALY, BENDER & ASSOCIATES, INC. Architects/planners. Naperville (630) 904-4300;; HURST-ROSCHE, INC. Architecture, engineering, planning, and interior design. Hillsboro (217) 532-3959; East St. Louis (618) 398-0890; Marion (618) 998-0075; Springfield (217) 787-1199; JMA ARCHITECTS Full service professional design firm specializing in K-12 educational design, construction management, strategic/ master planning, health/life safety compliance, building commissioning, and interior space design. South Holland (708) 339-3900;; KLUBER ARCHITECTS + ENGINEERS Building design professionals specializing in architecture, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, structural, and fire protection engineers. Batavia (630) 406-1213 LARSON & DARBY GROUP Architecture, engineering, interior design, and technology. Rockford (815) 484-0739; St. Charles (630) 444-2112;;

LEGAT ARCHITECTS, INC. Architectural and educational planners who specialize in creating effective student learning environments. Gurnee (847) 622-3535; Oak Brook (630) 990-3535; Chicago (312) 258-9595; PCM+DESIGN ARCHITECTS Provide a full range of architectural services including facility and feasibility studies, architectural design, construction consulting, and related services. East Peoria (309) 694-5012; PERFORMANCE SERVICES, INC. An integrated design and delivery engineering company serving the design and construction facility needs of K-12 schools. Schaumburg (847) 466-7220 PERKINS+WILL Architects. Chicago (312) 755-0770 RICHARD L. JOHNSON ASSOCIATES, INC. Architecture, educational planning. Rockford (815) 398-1231; STR PARTNERS Architectural, interior design, planning, cost estimating, and building enclosure/roofing consulting. Chicago (312) 464-1444 STUDIOGC ARCHITECTURE + INTERIORS StudioGC is passionate community-minded partner, committed to creating imaginative and well-designed facilities. StudioGC offers innovative planning, programming, architectural, interior design, and cost estimates. Chicago (312) 253-3400 TRIA ARCHITECTURE An architectural planning and interior design firm that provides services primarily to school districts in the Chicagoland area with an emphasis on service to their clients, and their communities. Burr Ridge (630) 455-4500 WIGHT & COMPANY For over 77 years, Wight & Company has provided design and construction services for the built environment. As a pioneer of integrated Design & Delivery, we’ve worked with our clients to create exceptional, enduring buildings and spaces that enrich people’s lives and enhance the environment; Darien (630) 969-7000;;

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Service Associates Directory WM. B. ITTNER, INC. Full service architectural firm serving the educational community since 1899. Fairview Heights (618) 624-2080 WOLD ARCHITECTS AND ENGINEERS Specializing in Pre-K-12 educational design including master planning, sustainable design, architecture, mechanical and electrical engineering, quality review, cost estimation and management. Palatine (847) 241-6100

Building Construction CORE CONSTRUCTION SERVICES OF IL., INC. Professional construction management, design-build, and general contracting services. Peoria (309) 404-4700;; F. H. PASCHEN A general/construction manager with extensive experience in new construction and renovation of educational and institutional facilities in the public/private sectors. Chicago (773) 444-1525; FREDERICK QUINN CORPORATION Construction management and general contracting. Addison (630) 628-8500; HOLLAND CONSTRUCTION SERVICES, INC. Full service construction management and general contracting firm specializing in education facilities. Swansea (618) 277-8870 INTERNATIONAL CONTRACTORS, INC. (ICI) An award-winning construction management firm specializing in K-12 facilities. Our firm is currently partnering with eight Illinois School Districts on capital improvement projects. Elmhurst (630) 641-6852 NICHOLAS & ASSOCIATES, INC. Construction management, general contracting, design and build. Mt. Prospect (847) 394-6200 PEPPER CONSTRUCTION COMPANY Construction management and general contracting services. Barrington (847) 381-2760; www.pepperconstruction;

32 • Illinois School Board Journal


POETTKER CONSTRUCTION COMPANY Specializing in construction management, design/build, construction consulting services, and energy solutions for education clients. Breese (618) 526-7213; RUSSELL CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, INC. Russell provides successful, knowledgeable construction management and contracting services in the PreK-12 market from concept to completion and continuing care for your facility needs. Davenport, Iowa (563) 459-4600 S.M. WILSON & CO. Provides construction management and general construction services to education, healthcare, commercial, retail, and industrial clients. St. Louis (314) 645-9595;; TRANE HVAC company specializing in design, build, and retrofit. Willowbrook (630) 734-6033

Computer Software, Supplies, Services COMPUTER INFORMATION CONCEPTS, INC. Infinite Campus student information System and Finance Suite, and Tableau Data Visualization/Analytics. Greeley, Colorado (312) 995-3342 EDMENTUM We provide fully digital curriculum and assessment tools for educators to utilize in K-12 classrooms to establish blended and personalized environments and advance student learning. Bloomington, Minnesota (952) 832-1570

Consulting DECISIONINSITE, LLC DecisionInsite provides the nation’s school district leaders with the technology, enrollment forecasts, and expertise they need to understand how enrollment impacts their district. Irvine, California (877) 204-1392 EOSULLIVAN CONSULTING Illinois-based EOSullivan Consulting has developed a proven process the helps school districts with community engagement, survey research, messaging, informational campaigns and referendums. Libertyville (815) 353-1991

IASB Service Associates are businesses which offer school-related products and services and which have earned favorable reputations for quality and integrity. Only after careful screening is a business firm invited to become a Service Associate. To learn more about IASB Service Associates membership, visit or contact Britni Beck at ROOM READY Highly qualified audiovisual specialists who specialize in removing the complexity and ensuring that your audiovisual installations just work, both today and in the future. Normal (309) 261-3794

Environmental Services ALPHA CONTROLS & SERVICES, LLC We deliver energy cost justified solutions that make the learning environment comfortable, secure, and efficient. Rockford, Springfield, Champaign (815) 227-4000;; CTS GROUP, A VEREGY COMPANY Dedicated to assisting K-12 education meet the challenge of providing healthy, safe, and educational appropriate learning environments. St. Louis (636) 230-0843; Chicago (773) 633-0691;; ENERGY SYSTEMS GROUP A comprehensive energy services and performance contracting company providing energy, facility and financial solutions. Itasca (630) 773-7201; GRP MECHANICAL CO., INC. Renovating buildings through energy savings performance contracting to provide the best learning environment. HVAC, plumbing, windows, doors, and mechanical services. Bethalto (618) 779-0050

IDEAL ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING, INC. Asbestos and environmental services. Bloomington (309) 828-4259

EHLERS AND ASSOCIATES School bond issues; referendum help; financial and enrollment studies Roseville, MN (312) 638-5250

ILLINOIS ENERGY CONSORTIUM Sells electricity and natural gas to school districts, colleges, and universities. DeKalb (815) 753-9083;;

FIRST MIDSTATE, INC. Bond issue consultants. Bloomington (309) 829-3311;

ENGIE SERVICES U.S. Turnkey partnership programs that enable K12 school districts in Illinois to modernize their facilities; increase safety, security and efficiency; reduce operations costs; and maximize the lifespan of critical assets. Chicago (312) 498-7792; RADON DETECTION SPECIALISTS Radon measurements in elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as all DCFS licensed spaces. We service the entire state of Illinois. Westmont (630) 325-4443 or (800) 244-4242;;

Financial Services BERNARDI SECURITIES, INC. Municipal bond specialty firm; offers a full range of school bond underwriting services, including capital needs financing and debt refinancing. O’Fallon (618) 206-4180; Peru (815) 587-8972; Chicago (312) 281-2014; BMO HARRIS BANK BMO Harris Bank’s experienced specialists can help you build a sound strategy to help close budget gaps, manage day-to-day cash flow and maximize your resources. Chicago (312) 461-7895

GORENZ AND ASSOCIATES, LTD. Auditing and financial consulting. Peoria (309) 685-7621;; ICE MILLER, LLP Nationally recognized bond counsel services. Chicago (312) 726-7127 KINGS FINANCIAL CONSULTING, INC. Municipal bond financial advisory service including all types of school bonds; school referenda, county school sales tax; tax revenue forecasts/projections. Monticello (217) 762-4578 SPEER FINANCIAL, INC. Financial planning and bond issue services. Chicago (312) 346-3700;;

Human Resource Consulting BUSHUE HUMAN RESOURCES, INC. Human resource, safety and risk management, and insurance consulting. Effingham (217) 342-3042;;

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

Office Equipment EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENTS BY FRANK COONEY COMPANY, INC. Furniture for educational environments. Wood Dale (630) 694-8800

Superintendent Searches ECRA GROUP Superintendent searches, board and superintendent workshops. Schaumburg (847) 318-0072

STIFEL Full service securities firm providing investment banking and advisory services including strategic financial planning; bond underwriting; referendum and legislative assistance. Edwardsville (800) 230-5151; WINTRUST FINANCIAL Financial services holding company engaging in community banking, wealth management, commercial insurance premium financing, and mortgage origination. Rosemont (630) 560-2120

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

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Achievements Alan Kollmann, a current member and secretary of the Altamont CUSD 10 school board, was elected to serve as president for 2021 of the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA). He is a third-generation farmer from Effingham County where he has a 1,000-head feeder-to-finish contract barn, 40 show pig sows, and a small grain farm consisting of corn and soybeans. He has served IPPA as an officer and on committees for the Illinois State Fair, production tech/research, and committee chair for education and youth. As quoted in National

Hog Farmer, Kollmann said in his acceptance speech, “I am humbled and honored to serve as President of this association for the coming year. I enjoy visiting and brainstorming with fellow producers. I want to be the voice for the countryside in Springfield and spread awareness of the quality protein that we have to offer.” Ogle Count y Sheriff Brian VanVickle was sworn in to serve as president of the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association the organization’s Virtual Winter Training Conference.

Va nVick le is a member of the Rochelle THSD 212 school board. VanVickle has served on the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association Executive Board for six years. The association fosters advocacy and communication and offers training programs for Illinois sheriffs and their support teams. The ISA also sponsors youth-oriented programs and scholarships. “I’m looking forward to continuing with the law enforcement coalition and moving forward to work with legislators going forward,” said VanVickle, according to the Rochelle News-Leader.

In Memoriam Gus Alexakos, 86, died February 5, 2021. He served on the Cary CCSD 26 school board and was the mayor of Cary from 1975 to 1983. Barry Barash, 82, died March 9, 2021. He served on the Galesburg CUSD 205 school board and was an assistant attorney general for the state of Illinois. James L. “Les” Baumgartner, 92, died March 5, 2021. He was a past member of the board for Walnut Grade School in Bureau County. James “JT” Blackburn, 81, died February 6, 2021. He served on the Paw Paw CUSD 271 Board of Education from 1979 to 1983. Carol Brewer, 88, died March 15, 2021. She served on the East Moline SD 37 school board, including her time as president.

34 • Illinois School Board Journal

Geraldine Eve Bugarin, 93, died March 12, 2021. She served as secretary on the Niles ESD 71 school board. Steven A. Buttice, 67, died February 3, 2021. He was a past member of the Robein SD 85 school board in East Peoria. Richard Christensen, 92, died March 1, 2021. He was a member of the DeKalb CUSD 428 school board in the 1980s. Bill Clendenny, 96, died March 2, 2021. He had served on the Calhoun CUSD 40 school board. David Alexander Cooper, 77, died March 3, 2021. He had served on the board for Braidwood Grade School in Will County. Rose Anna Crawley, 74, died March 7, 2021. She was a past member of the board for the Bethany school district in

Moultrie County and an officer for the Bethany Band Boosters. Michael Del Re, 82, died February 18, 2021. He was a past member of the school board for Westchester SD 92 ½. Robert C. Fandel, 91, died February 6, 2021. He was a past member and president of the school board for Metamora CCSD 1. Michael Foley, 63, died February 4, 2021. He served on the board of education for Collinsville CUSD 10 from 1995 to 2003. Paul David Hennip, 73, died February 26, 2021. He served on the McHenry CHSD 156 Board of Education. George Henry Hill Jr., 78, died March 10, 2021. He was a past member of the school board for Maroa-Forsyth CUSD 2. Continued on page 30

Insights “School districts are preparing to seek public input as they determine how to spend a combined $7 billion in federal education aid in the ‘American Rescue Plan.’ [Champaign CUSD 4] school board president Amy Armstrong said the $38.9 million coming to her district ‘opens up the door to opening different programs.’ … with concerns … ‘If you start the program, then how do we take it on in perpetuity as a district, and how do we fund it?’ she asked. ‘It’s onetime money, but it’s not one-year money,’ said Illinois Governor JB Pritzker. ‘It’s really intended to fill the loss of learning that perhaps has occurred for some or many of the kids who didn’t have a chance to be in school together

with their classmates and with the teachers… ‘It’s up to the local school boards … They’re making decisions with teachers, with parents and so on, what’s best for bringing kids up to the standard that they know they want them to be brought up to, and then thinking about what the future will look like once those programs are created.’” — “How Illinois could use ‘American Rescue Plan’ to reimagine education in a post-pandemic classroom,” by Mark Maxwell, WCIA, Champaign, April 5, 2021.

“Q: What advice would you share with a new school board member who may have been propelled to run by a single issue?

A: Your job is to create policy. The superintendent’s job is to run the district. That’s the primary information you give straight up. Then you try to set an example for them by your own actions. You try to give them a bigger overview of what schools are all about. You try to give them information about the role of education in our society as it was designed to do. If you’ve got that kind of situation where a school board member can understand the lay of the land when it comes to schools, that’s even greater.” — Felton Williams, California school board member, as quoted by Denisa R. Superville, “Advice From a LongServing School Board Member,” Education Week, November 17, 2020.

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