The Illinois Association of School Boards held its Shawnee Division Spring Dinner Meeting at Harrisburg High School Tuesday night. Lobbyist Susan Hilton, director of governmental relations for the association, gave a summary of the top four legislative issues facing school boards in Illinois:
- Unfunded mandates
- Takeovers by the Illinois State Board of Education
- Pension proposals
- Concealed carry for teachers
Unfunded mandates are a huge problem, said Hilton. There have been 111 of these unfunded mandate since the year 2000 and Hilton warned there are more to come.
She said that the area south of Interstate 80 gets treated like a separate state from the Chicago area. She said these mandates are unlikely to stop since the Education Committees of both houses are stacked with representatives from Chicago. To combat this growing problem the association has introduced 25 pieces of legislation this session. She said the two most expensive mandates are driver's education and PE.
One school district in the Chicago area has been taken over by the state board of education. But she said there are 70 other school districts in danger of state takeover.
Pension proposals are too numerous to list. Hilton said that compounding of annual cost of living increases doubles each pension every 16 years.
On concealed carry laws for teachers the association does not take a position since the opinions vary so greatly among school districts throughout the state. Again the disparity between the Chicago area and the southern three quarters of the state is evident. In the south, guns are accepted. In Chicago they are abhorred.
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