Gov. Pritzker Signs Law Empowering Local School Councils
CHICAGO - Governor JB Pritzker signed legislation empowering local school councils. The law establishes local school councils (LSC) for public small schools, creates LSC seats for 7th and 8th grade students, restores LSC powers for schools on probation for more than five years, establishes binding elections for all student LSC seats, and creates a more transparent vetting process for board-appointed staff members.
"This legislation increases the ability of parents, students, teachers and community members in our state's largest school district to make their voices heard," said Governor JB Pritzker. "I want to recognize the leadership of Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas, Assistant House Majority Leader Jaime Andrade, and their colleagues in the General Assembly for supporting community-driven, democratic solutions at Chicago Public Schools."
"Uplifting Local School Councils means expanding democracy for our youth, restoring powers to our unique schools, and increasing transparency, all important steps in making our student, parent and community voices heard," said State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago). "The signing of this law comes at a great time as we just marked the anniversary of the death of Mayor Harold Washington, whose legacy and work on this legislation is still so evident."
"Ensuring that our student body has an active role in participating in local school councils is crucial to their development as students and members of society," said Assistant House Majority Leader Jaime Andrade (D-Chicago). "I will continue to support initiatives that work to keep our students involved in the decisions that affect their schools and communities."
"This legislation is an important step forward in our quest to create a more equitable system and improve student outcomes across the district," said Chicago Public Schools' Chief Executive Officer Pedro Martinez. "These new changes will empower our Local School Councils and elevate student and community voices so we can improve the quality of education at every CPS school. This is an example of the positive change that can happen when we work collaboratively, and we look forward to working with our communities, our parents, our students, and our partners in Springfield to continue to improve the system."
"This bill will make changes to the 30 year Illinois School Code that governs Local School Councils to further empower Black and Latino parents and students," said Rod Wilson, Executive Director of Lugenia Burns Hope Center.
SB 101 establishes elected local school councils (LSC) for public small schools within Chicago Public Schools. A small school is defined as a school with a specialized educational focus, curriculum, or school design and with an enrollment of 600 students for high schools or 350 students for elementary schools.
Schools will be required to appoint one full-time student member to the LSC. In elementary schools, students enrolled in grade 6 or higher would be eligible to be candidates. Additionally, the legislation requires a school's principal to hold a mid-year binding advisory election to allow their student body to express its preference regarding which students should be appointed to the school's LSC.
The legislation prioritizes transparency and streamlines meeting procedures by clarifying who can call special meetings and providing clarity on procedures when vacancies exist in the LSC. Regarding teacher-members of the LSC, prior to appointing them, the legislation requires the board to make public the vetting process of staff member candidates. This is intended to make the appointment process more transparent.
The legislation allows the LSC to reject or modify any school improvement plan or implementation of the plan. When schools are placed on probation, the LSC will receive the criteria for being relieved of probation status on or before October 31 of each year.
Lastly, the legislation states that any school that has been on probation for five years or more shall have the following powers restored:
- to grant approval of the school improvement plan; and
- to approve the school budget.
With respect to the employment, dismissal, and evaluation of a school principal, the LSC of a school that has been on probation for five years or more will be able to conduct a non-binding poll that must be considered by the network chief. The network chief shall work collaboratively with the LSC throughout the process of employment, dismissal, and evaluation of a school principal.
SB 101 is effective immediately.