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Rauner supporting proposals to shift state’s teacher pension costs to local schools

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Gov. Bruce Rauner calls his plan to shift public retiree costs to local schools and colleges good governance, but the majority of state House members say otherwise in their pledge not to support it.

Rauner spoke to a group of business owners about his budget proposal Monday afternoon at Konen Insurance in Aurora. Part of the governor’s plan is to gradually shift the state’s pension costs to local schools and universities. He said it would give schools an incentive to insist on sustainable benefits for employees.

“You want to put responsibility for paying pensions in line with the folks who determine who gets the pension benefits and at what level, so it’s actually good policy to do that,” Rauner said. “Democrats and Republicans have both agreed that it’s the right policy to do.”

The plan did bring both parties together – but not as Rauner had hoped. State Rep. David McSweeney’s resolution opposing Rauner’s plan has 66 cosponsors.

“It would result in a massive property tax increase,” the Barrington Hills Republican said. “The only thing the governor’s doing is shifting the liabilities to local governments and they’ll be forced to raise property taxes.”

State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, calls the plan bad policy.

“Shifting billions of dollars of additional costs to our school districts would, in effect, be a property tax increase and an unfunded mandate,” she said.

Rauner said he’s proposing $350 million in additional school funding for fiscal 2019 and that would cover the higher costs. The money he’s referring to is tied to the school funding reform legislation he signed into law last year.

Higher education officials panned the plan last week, saying it would lead to tuition hikes.

House Speaker Michael Madigan proposed a similar plan to shift pension costs to local schools in 2012, leading to one memorable outburst.

Article by Cole Lauterbach. For more Illinois News Network content, visit ILNews.org 

Illinois News Network, publisher of ILNews.org, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media company dedicated to the principles of transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility in the state of Illinois. INN is Illinois’ pioneering non-profit news brand, offering content from the statehouse and beyond to Illinoisans through their local media of choice and from their digital hub at ILNews.org. Springfield Daily was granted republishing permission by INN.

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Superintendent Gill to parents – schedule school physicals now

Staff Contributor

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It seems like summer vacation just started, but that doesn’t mean parents shouldn’t be preparing for next year. At this week’s school board meeting, Superintendent Gill advised parents to start scheduling school physicals and immunizations now. Pre-K, kindergarten, 6th grade, and 9th grade students, as well as all new students, need school physicals and updated immunization records. Other grades have requirements as well. Students will need to provide their records to the schools in order to attend. After the 10th day, students will not be able to attend classes without proof of immunization.

Superintended Gill advised parents to make their healthcare appointments now, and not to wait too far into the summer. It can be difficult to get appointments closer to the start of the school year. The dates for the last minute clinics have not been set yet, and Gill stressed that parents should use other community resources if possible.

You can see the full list of requirements on the District 186 website

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School district leaders ask Rauner to veto $40,000 teacher pay mandate

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A group of school district leaders is urging Gov. Bruce Rauner to veto a bill that would require a $40,000 starting salary for teachers by 2022.

The Illinois School Management Alliance said the unfunded mandate would result in layoffs, dismissals and program cuts.

Senate Bill 2892 passed both chambers last month. State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, sponsored the bill.

“If we don’t guarantee a salary for a college graduate, we’re not going to get the right folks to go into the teaching profession in the first place,” he said.

Other supporters of the measure said the minimum salary will help attract teachers to Illinois, which some say has a shortage of qualified teachers. The bill would require schools to pay teachers an annual wage of at least $40,000 by the 2022-23 school year. Starting next year, the minimum salary would be $32,076. Once starting salaries hit $40,000 in the 2022-23 school year, the minimum salary rate would continue to increase yearly at the rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, subject to review by the General Assembly.

The Illinois Federation of Teachers said on its website that the union “was a vocal advocate” of the bill’s passage.

In a letter sent to Rauner on Friday, the Illinois School Management Alliance asked the governor to veto the bill because it would be a costly mandate.

“Though the increase is phased in, it will be a substantial unfunded mandate on local school districts that will consume much or all of any new funding benefit school districts receive from the commitment to the new evidence-based funding formula,” Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance’s Deanna Sullivan said in the letter provided to Illinois News Network.

The Illinois School Management Alliance represents the state’s associations of School Administrators, School Business Officials, School Boards and Principals Association.

The statewide average salary for teachers in Illinois in 2017 was $64,516, according to the Illinois Report Card. Nationally, the average salary for public school teachers in 2015–16 was $58,064, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

While the bill wouldn’t affect many Chicago and suburban-area school districts, many in southern Illinois would have to increase pay for teachers. According to the Illinois State Board of Education, more than 500 schools would have to increase their beginning pay for teachers with a bachelor’s degree, some by more than $10,000 over the next four years.

Before voting against the bill last month, state Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, said the minimum salary requirement would force districts to cut other school offerings, like sports.

“Those are the choices that your school officials back home are going to have to deal with if we say, ‘By the way, you’re going to have to pay everyone at least $40,000,’” Righter said.

Sullivan’s letter to the governor echoed that sentiment.

“A top-down approach to mandate a minimum salary for one group of employees within the school setting, without fully funding the increases, will cause layoffs, dismissals, and program cuts across the board in Illinois schools,” the letter said. “Additionally, programs required to meet state and federal education standards will suffer as there will not be enough qualified staff or programming to meet student needs.”

Asked about the issue at two different events last week, Rauner said he wants to see teachers earn more but “get the mandates off from Springfield.”

“We have too many regulations, too many unfunded mandates, too many restrictions on how our teachers teach,” Rauner said in Belleville last week. “Get the mandates off. Get more local control and we’ll have the money to be able to pay our teachers more.”

At a stop in Urbana, Rauner said locally elected school boards should determine how much teachers are paid.

“Let schools run their districts as they see fit,” he said. “Get the mandates off and that will free up resources as well. That’s the way we’ll get more money.”

The bill could be sent to the governor’s desk by the end of this month. Once he has it, Rauner will have 60 days to either change the bill, veto it outright or sign it into law.

The measure passed the Senate with enough votes for a possible override, but didn’t pass the House with the required super majority needed for an override if Rauner were to veto the bill.

Article by Greg Bishop, Illinois News Network. For more INN News visit ILnews.org 

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Education

Jacksonville to fund scholarship program, host communications equipment

Thomas Clatterbuck

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Which nonprofits deserve city funds? That was the question the Jacksonville City Council grappled with at their meeting last night. The Jacksonville Promise Scholarship program had previously asked the city for $10,000. This scholarship is open to students who went to elementary and high school in the city, and who go on to study at one of the local colleges. Based on other “promise” programs, the goal is to keep local students local.

While no one on the council objected to the program, they had concerns about giving it city dollars for it. Many organizations ask the city for money. Without a set criteria for who gets money and who does not, it was feared that it would be impossible to tell other groups “no” in the future. However, promise programs have been successful in other areas, and there is research suggesting any dollars invested give a strong rate of return for the local government.

After lengthy discussion, the council approved $1,000 for the fund. This level is comparable to the Morgan County CEO program. Alderwoman Oldenettel’s suggestion that a criteria be set for funding request was also well received although no other action was taken on that idea.

Hosting the ITECS

The council also approved the proposal to host the State’s ITECS equipment. The Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System has a number of assets that they store around the state with local governments. This saves the state from having to store the equipment, while giving local governments access to and training on equipment they might otherwise not have access to.

ITECS stands for Illinois Transportable Emergency Communications System. This mobile communication array can be used to restore communications in situations when the main grid is offline. Because it is being stored in Jacksonville, the city would have first rights to the system in a larger emergency. Tentative plans say it will be housed at the new water plant.

In other city business, plans were discussed to remove the bridge at Brooklyn Avenue. The bridge has fallen into disrepair and poses a safety risk.

You can watch the workshop session in the player above, or the full chamber session below:

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