TEACHER SALARY BILL UP IN COMMITTEE
The Illinois General Assembly resumes the spring legislative session today (Tuesday) after a two week break. House bills still moving through the process are now in the Senate; Senate bills will be considered by the House of Representatives.
There are a number of bills opposed by the Alliance that have been approved in the chamber of origin. As they are considered by committees in the opposite chamber, a new opportunity exists for school board members and administrators to express their opposition to legislators. It is imperative that local school district representatives weigh in on these matters, explaining the impact the legislation would have on their school districts.
In what would become one of the most costly unfunded mandates on school districts, HB 2078 (Stuart, D-Collinsville) would arbitrarily increase the minimum salary for teachers to $40,000 per year. The House approved the bill earlier this month on a vote of 79-31. Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) is handling the bill in the Senate. HB 2078 is scheduled for a hearing and vote in the Senate Education Committee tomorrow (May 1) at 2:00.
School board members and administrators are urged to call their State Senator and ask for a “NO” vote on the bill. They should also submit a witness slip to officially register their opposition to the Committee. Complete instructions on how to submit a committee witness slip can be found here.
WHAT THE BILL DOES
HB 2078 requires all school boards to increase the minimum rate of salary for teachers in the district, phased in as follows:
- not less than $32,076 for the 2020-2021 school year
- not less than $34,576 for the 2021-2022 school year
- not less than $37,076 for the 2022-2023 school year
- not less than $40,000 for the 2023-2024 school year
Each year thereafter, the minimum teacher salary, subject to review by the General Assembly, must increase from year to year by the rate of the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
Enactment of HB 2078 would bring public schools closer to a standard, statutory salary schedule, as well as consume a significant share of any increase in funding that comes to school districts from the new evidence-based formula. Though the legislative change would require a minimum salary (of which at least half of Illinois’ 850 school districts are now below), there would undoubtedly be a ripple effect throughout the entire salary schedule if the bill were to be enacted into law. More importantly, it usurps the local authority of local school boards and teachers to negotiate salary and benefits based on the resources, wants, and needs of teachers, the community, and the district.
OTHER ISSUES TO WATCH
BUDGET AND REVENUES
Governor JB Pritzker laid out a number of potential new revenue sources to cover his new spending plans for the upcoming fiscal year. Without passage and enactment of each of these, his budget proposal will be out of balance.
SJRCA 1 (Harmon, D-Oak Park) proposes to change the Illinois Constitution to allow for graduated income tax rates. The Constitution currently prohibits anything but a flat rate for all taxpayers.
In order to amend the Constitution, both chambers of the General Assembly must approve the resolution by a 3/5 vote and then place it on the General Election ballot in November of 2020. A 3/5 vote of those voting on the question or a majority of those voting in the election would be necessary to enact the measure.
An initiative of Governor JB Pritzker, the Governor announced his plan for the graduated tax levels in March. The resolution is expected to be called for a vote on the Senate floor this week. Senate Amendment #1 to SB 687, which contains the proposed new tax rates set out by the Governor, was filed today (Tuesday).
Legalizing recreational use of marijuana is estimated to bring in $170 million in revenues to the State. Opposition to the concept has been mounting over the past couple of months, but it is expected that an amendment will be considered this week to jump start the discussion.
Another $200 million is expected to be generated by the legalization of sports betting. The idea of expanding gaming in Illinois is debated every year, but once the wish lists appear from the riverboat owners, horse racetrack owners, and video gaming parlors, the legislation usually collapses from its own weight. Adding sports betting will complicate matters even more. This legislation is likely not ready for unveiling at this point.
HB 3053 (Mayfield, D-Waukegan) addresses forced school district consolidation. Specifically, the bill requires identification, before May 1, 2020, of no less than 25 percent of school districts in Illinois that will be required to hold a referendum to consolidate in the next general election. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives in March and is pending in the Senate.
There are a number of bills introduced regarding the teacher shortage in the State. Two that are garnering a lot of attention address the test of basic skills that candidates for teacher licensure must take while in the education preparation programs.
HB 423 (Scherer, D-Decatur), among other provisions, would temporarily end the test of basic skills as a prerequisite for receiving a teaching license. SB 1952 (Manar) would permanently eliminate the test of basic skills and allow student teachers to be paid. SB 1952 also changes the 3% limitation on end-of-career salary increases back to 6%.
STUDENT DISCIPLINE AND AT-RISK STUDENTS
The following bills were approved by the House of Representatives and are pending in the Senate:
HB 190 (Ford, D-Chicago) requires schools to share information about appropriate or available community-based or in-school support services for at-risk students in need of academic support. These can include tutoring, summer school, mentoring, or academic advisement. School districts are not responsible for any costs or transportation associated with a student’s participation in a community-based service.
HB 2627 (Kifowit, D-Aurora) disallows a student under the age of 18 to be questioned or detained at a school site in connection with criminal charges or allegations without the presence of the student’s parent or guardian. A student 18 years of age or older may request the presence of a parent or guardian and must be notified of that right.
SB 449 (Lightford, D-Maywood) requires that a student who is a victim of gender-based violence must be permitted to transfer schools immediately (either within the district or to another school district) if the student’s continued attendance at the original school poses a risk to the student’s mental or physical well-being or safety. The bill also requires that a student’s status as a parent, expectant parent, or victim of gender-based violence be considered a mitigating factor in all suspension or expulsion proceedings. The bill was approved by the Senate and has been assigned to the House Elementary and Secondary Education – Curriculum & Policies Committee.
TEACHER EVALUATIONS AND PERSONNEL
SB 1213 (Lightford) requires each school district to implement an appeals process for "unsatisfactory" ratings that includes an assessment of the original rating by a panel of qualified evaluators agreed to by a joint committee that has the power to reevaluate and re-rate a teacher who appeals. The bill was approved by the Senate and is scheduled for hearing in the House Elementary and Secondary Education – Administration, Licensing, and Charter Schools Committee.
HB 921 (Stuart) provides that if an educational support personnel (ESP) employee is dismissed as a result of a Reduction In Force (RIF) and the employee accepts re-employment with the same district, the employee maintains any rights accrued during the previous service with the school district.
The following bills were approved by their chamber of origin and will be considered in committee in the opposite chamber:
HB 246 (Moeller, D-Elgin) requires schools to teach about the diversity of our society, including the role and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals in society.
HB 2265 (Lilly, D-Chicago) requires every public elementary school to include in its 6th, 7th, or 8th grade curriculum at least one semester of civics education.
SB 1601 (Sims, D-Chicago), with regard to the instruction on history of the United States, requires that the course must also include instruction on the history of Illinois.
SB 1642 (Peters, D-Chicago) requires the curriculum of a driver education course to include instruction on bicycle and pedestrian safety, which must include, but is not limited to, instruction on how to safely pass a cyclist on the road.