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U-46 Board reviews IASB committee report

By Seth Hancock
  The Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) has released its resolution committee report regarding resolutions to be voted on by member districts at its upcoming November delegate assembly in Chicago.
  The report was presented to the Board of Education in School District U-46 at its meeting on Monday, Oct. 15. U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said the administration’s response to the report’s recommendations in “early November,” will likely be at the Nov. 5 meeting.
  The IASB’s resolution committee made an about-face on one issue it had opposed last year, allowing local control in regards to allowing staff to be armed for student safety and protection.
  Last year, four rural school districts submitted that resolution asking the IASB to lobby the state for local control on the matter. The IASB committee opposed that resolution simply stating: “The struggle for consensus was borne out of the controversy of having guns inside the school.”
  In U-46, the administration and board’s majority agreed with the IASB committee in opposing local control. Board members Phil Costello and Jeanette Ward were the only board members to support local control on the issue.
  This year, three similar resolutions were submitted by three separate sponsor districts along with 10 co-sponsors to one, all mostly rural southern Illinois communities. The IASB committee recommended against two of the resolutions but supporting one stating that all three were “essentially the same.”
  The resolution recommended for approval was submitted by Mercer County CUSD 404 of Aledo, a rural town in western Illinois.
  The resolution asks for local school boards to be able to allow armed staff including “administrators, faculty, and/or other staff” after completion of a “state approved training course above and beyond concealed carry training, who have passed the multiple background checks and qualifications required for a concealed carry license, or have a current concealed carry license issued under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act.”
  CUSD 404 stated that “some schools are unable to employ full time security due to a lack of financial resources,” and the police response time in especially rural districts can be much longer than in suburban and urban areas.
  “As of February, there are at least 18 states which allow armed adults on school property with relatively minor conditions…. Our neighbors Missouri, Indiana, and Kentucky allow districts to decide what is best for their communities,” CUSD 404’s rationale stated.
  As written, CUSD 404 added: “The most misunderstood part of discussion on this topic is that this resolution is about LOCAL CONTROL, one of IASB’s top priorities. This resolution, if adopted, would not compel or require any school district or school board to develop or implement any such trained and armed staff plan.”
  The rationale continues: “Our state is not homogenous north to south, east to west. Our communities and districts differ greatly. Some communities are perfectly comfortable with having their teachers and school staff trained and armed so they can protect the people in their buildings. Other communities are adamantly opposed to the idea. That is OK! The districts in our state should be allowed to determine what is best for them, rather than those in Springfield who do not know or understand communities outside their own.”
  The IASB committee stated that there “were still concerns about having firearms in schools,” but “when the point was emphasized that this was absolutely permissive for each individual school board, and when the submitting districts agreed to amend the proposal to require a statewide training standard (instead of training approved by the school board), the Committee came to a consensus.”
  There was one other new resolution recommended for approval by the IASB committee to lobby for the allowance of “districts to borrow or otherwise obtain money without referendum for the sole and specific purpose of purchasing and installing energy saving equipment relating to the utility usage.”
  There was one new belief statement, two amendments to existing belief statements and one reaffirmation of an existing position all recommended for approval by the IASB committee.
  The new belief statement also pertains to local control regarding safety practices. It states: “Decisions of school safety drills, plans, and procedures should be made at the local level.”
  One of the amended belief statements concerns mental health services with the most substantive change being that the IASB will lobby for more taxpayer dollars to be funneled to local school districts by both the federal and state governments.
  The other amended belief statement, regarding student voter registration, adds language that the IASB “believes in the value of student non-partisan civic responsibility, including the importance of student voter registration.”
  The reaffirmation of an existing position is to have the IASB lobby for a new method for funding charter schools.



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