Illinois legislative clock ticks down. The incredibly silent IEA. UPDATED.


The regular session of the Illinois General Assembly ends May 31st.  Nobody I know expects a budget deal with the crazy governor by then.

I was talking with Springfield lobbyist the other day and the conversation about the governor seemed to be more about his psychological state than his political strategy.

“He doesn’t care if he wins or loses,” said the lobbyist.

I’m not a shrink. So I’ll stay focused on the politics of it all.

Conventional wisdom seems to be that some agreement on K-12 funding will get done.

Yesterday I wrote again about SB 231, Senator Manar’s bill to change the funding formula and take money from special education categorical funding and move it to school districts’ general fund. It effectively reduces money for special education.

When Bob Kaplan, IEA retired activist and member of the IEA’s legislative committee asked on Facebook why the IEA was neutral on the Manar bill when the IEA’s Legislative Program opposes both the spending shift and cuts to mandated direct categorical special education  grants, he received a response from IEA President Cinda Klickna.

Cinda Klickna: “You might ask for details.”

Bob: “I have and have gotten no explanation.  I’m asking for details.”

 Cinda Klickna: “Last year the board discussed supporting giving to poorer districts from more affluent. Remember?”

What is odd is that the Manar bill has been around in one form or another for three years. It has been in one legislative committee or another this session. The IEA Representative Assembly met and approved the Legislative Program just about a month ago. They may have “discussed it on the board” last year, but no changes to the Program were presented or voted on.

Characterizing the Manar bill as “giving to poorer districts from more affluent” doesn’t do justice to what they want to do.

The negative impact on special needs students may be devastating.

Here is the language from the IEA Legislative Progam approved a little over a month ago:

“All of Illinois’ students deserve the same access to learning opportunities, level of commitment, and economic support. School funding should be based on a per-pupil amount equal to that of the wealthiest districts in the state (my emphasis).”

That is what an education funding bill should say. I don’t know what was discussed a year ago at a board meeting, but that language is what the members through their delegates at the state IEA Representative Assembly voted for.

The Legislative Program is intended to guide lobbyists and leadership as to what legislation IEA opposes or supports. It is the membership’s voice on these issues.

Some have suggested that the “neutral” position is just a place holder until the language of a bill is finally ready for a vote. Although Klickna’s “we discussed it on the board” comment would suggest otherwise. But even if neutral is a place holder, that wouldn’t prevent the IEA from speaking publicly on what they want. I thought that was what all this “sitting at the table” stuff was about.

There is a new state education spending bill, HB828. It is viewed as an alternative to SB231 which remains in Executive Committee.

According to Bev Johns:

State spending for next school year may be frozen at this years level EXCEPT for $500 to $700 million added to the low income part of General State Aid (perhaps plus pension money for Chicago OR allowing Chicago to raise taxes to pay for pension costs).

The Evidence Based plan (which moves direct aid to special education) is now in legislation as Amendment 1 to House Bill 828 

Adding $500 to $700 million would greatly help schools with concentrated low income students.

According to the current formulas, if a school district has 15 percent or less low income (as determined by the DHS formula) they receive $355 for each low income student. For more than 15 percent, there is a formula. For example, if 30 percent, it is $537 for each low income student; if 50 percent, $969 per student, and if 80 percent low income students, it is $2,022 per student.

ANY combination of money, SB 231 and HB 828 is possible, or NOTHING may be done before May 31. (After that date it takes a 3/5 vote of the Illinois House and Illinois Senate for a bill to be immediately effective.)


Fred – This is a little confusing.

There are 3 entirely separate and independent proposals.

(1) $500 to $700 million in more money for next school year. This is just appropriations with NO change in the school funding formulas.

(2) Senate Bill 231, the Manar bill, which has a Block Grant for special education (changes school funding formulas, but appropriates NO money).

(3) House Bill 828, with Amendment 1, which has an entirely different Block Grant for special education (changes school funding formulas, but appropriates NO money).

Thanks, Bev

7 Replies to “Illinois legislative clock ticks down. The incredibly silent IEA. UPDATED.”

  1. “He doesn’t care if he wins or loses,” said the lobbyist.

    With all due respect, if that were true – Why wouldn’t he cave to Madigan and take the loss?

    The truth is he obviously cares a lot, and doesn’t care if it takes some hard bargaining to get the “W”.

    1. The logic of Akvida: It takes hard bargaining by the Governor to take away the right of the state’s workers to engage in hard bargaining. Keep writing Akvida. You are the poster child for Rauner hand puppets everywhere.

  2. “ANY combination of money, SB 231 and HB 828 is possible, or NOTHING may be done before May 31. (After that date it takes a 3/5 vote of the Illinois House and Illinois Senate for a bill to be immediately effective.)”

    I have two kids currently in CPS, one with an IEP and one with a 504 plan and IEP in process. We have a personal stake in averting cuts to special education services. But my kids will lose a lot more if SB 231 is not passed. My daughter’s school is slated to lose $8 million; my son’s elementary school $800,000. Those cuts will be far more devastating to their eduction than a hypothetical loss of special education services through the use of block grants. How can we risk betting on HB 828 (is there any state senate equivalent? any reason to believe Rauner would sign it?) or NOTHING, when the deadline is next Tuesday. SB 231 seems the most plausible way out at this point, even if it is far from perfect. Madigan and CTU supporters (e.g. Will Guzzardi) have introduced NOTHING. Until something better comes along, I don’t think parents have any choice other than to demand 1. support for SB 231 and 2. that CPS direct all available funds to individual schools (e.g. no new Obama selective enrollment schools, no new hiring at central office etc.).

    1. Marni,
      You and I agree that the part of SB231 which sends about $175 million to Chicago is necessary, although not close to sufficient, funding. It will not prevent the cuts to our schools. It may reduce them. Pass SB231 without paying for it with special ed cuts. And I totally agree with your point 2.

      1. Fred,
        We agree on the problems, but it seems to me that, right now, parents have to demand the better-than-nothing solution when the alternative is, in fact, nothing. Aren’t horrible cuts better than catastrophic cuts? My children have to be in school next year, and I don’t want either of them in class with 40 other students which is what will happen if nothing is done (unless we move to the suburbs, which we are seriously contemplating).

        Parents need direction on what specifically to demand from their legislators right now. We can’t call and say “pass SB 231 without paying for it with special ed cuts?” because 1) individual state representatives don’t even know enough about the bill to understand what this means and 2) individual state representatives are not going to introduce their own bills. It’s not realistic. Also, while I am not discrediting what you are saying, it is not clear from public statements being made about SB 231 that it will result in special education cuts. They don’t mention “block grants” or explain that block grants will allow districts to take those funds from special education services. Also, Raise Your Hand has, in the past, forcefully demanded protection for special education funds but is backing SB 231 as the best option right now.

        It’s unconscionable that we find ourselves in this position. The governor will sacrifice hundreds of thousands of public school children for the long-term objective of defunding public education, declaring it “broken,” privatizing “public” education, and busting the union. At the same time, how can we hold out for a best-case or even better solution when none is in the offing? I saw your exchange with Guzzardi, but he has no practical proposal on the table. I called his office two days ago, and they had nothing to say – no explanation for why he is not supporting SB 231 and no suggestion that he is involved in developing any other solution. Nothing.

      2. I cannot speak for State Representative Guzzardi. I will say that he supports, as we all do, increased funding for Chicago schools.

        The block grants are rarely mentioned because the change does not impact CPS, which already receives special education funding in the form of block grants. So, in that regard, nothing will change for CPS.

        CPS can cut special ed teachers (and has done so) but still get exactly the same amount of money in their special ed block grant. That is what SB231 will do to the rest of the state. 1.0 times the primary grant (the new general state aid) based on the state average as determined by ISBE) of students with disabilities. It is a block grant that can spent for any purpose.

        The Speaker is now calling for a K-12 spending bill which includes $400 million for CPS. I support that.

        I support the Manar bill so far as it provides funds to Chicago and other districts. It is woefully inadequate. I also think we have a moral obligation to provide mandated directed funding to children with Special Needs. Another option? Provide the funding from another source.

  3. Monmouth Roseville which passed after passing a huge pax increase because of fear of a Rauner freeze that never happened admits it’s a poor district and is leaning to not opening at all if there is no budget. I think they are right Only a few ditricts can survive with out state aid so just toss the keys in this give face. At some point they dems need to lead and end his regime.

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