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posted: 5/14/2014 5:01 AM

Don't let state board co-opt local schools

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The Illinois State Board of Education is pushing forward with legislation, HB 5537, that will allow it to remove locally elected school board members from office for what it deems to be poor governance or bad behavior. Current law already allows for the removal of school board members for repeatedly failing to meet student achievement standards, for being convicted of a crime, and for failing to perform the duties of the office. If passed, this legislation will allow the ISBE, a body appointed by the governor, to remove officials who were duly elected by the parents, voters and taxpayers of the impacted community.

Under the proposed legislation, if a school district in the pool of "takeover-eligible" schools fails to receive accreditation from a yet unnamed national education organization, the ISBE will remove the entire school board and appoint an Independent Authority to assume all school board responsibilities, including setting tax levies. Even if an individual member of the school board, by the ISBE's own admission, has done nothing wrong, he/she will be removed. As the legislation stands right now, this can impact up to four school boards in the state. The risk exists of allowing any number of impacted districts in the future.

I, and my fellow school board members across the state, have volunteered our service for the sole purpose of betterment of our children's education. We have gladly taken on the recent laws that enhance school board accountability and transparency. This proposal, however, is a gross overreach.

Please allow local community members throughout the state to determine their own school district policy, budget, mission, vision and values by allowing them to elect their own respective school board members -- not an appointed panel in Springfield. Please tell your legislators to vote "no" on HB 5537.

Michael Conway, President

Lake Villa Community Consolidated School District 41 School Board

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