Springfield, IL…. Responding to outcry from her constituents regarding the financial situation in the Lincoln-Way School District and the decision to close a high school, Representative McDermed has filed several school district oversight bills. In addition to filing House Resolution 808 asking the Illinois Auditor General to conduct an audit of the Lincoln-Way High School District 210 Board of Education, Representative McDermed has now filed House Bills 4309 and 4322.
House Bill 4309 creates an Inspector General position at the Illinois State Board of Education. The Inspector General at ISBE will have the authority to conduct investigations into allegations of, or incidents of, waste, fraud, and financial mismanagement in public education by a school district or its school board or by an employee, contractor, or member of the school board. The position will be appointed by ISBE, but the office will remain independent of the state board.
“In speaking with my constituents I heard a lot of concern that, other than waiting years for the next election, there is little remedy for constituents when possible mismanagement or abuse happens at the school board level” Rep McDermed said. “The state has an inspector general to guarantee that there is accountability in state agencies, it’s time we brought that same accountability to those we entrust with our children’s education.”
House Bill 4322 would impact the process by which school closures occur. School boards would need to appoint a district advisory committee to advise and make recommendations to the school board before they make any decisions on whether a school closes. The bill also outlines the different information that the committee must gather including enrollment projections, capacity and conditions of the district schools, per-student operating costs at each school, and the different programs offered among the schools.
“Many of my constituents had questions as to how a school board goes about making the decision to close a school and what factors are considered” Rep McDermed said. “There are few standards and regulations currently in practice when it comes to the closure process and this is a way to insure that school boards are taking into account all angles of the situation. We need to make certain that careful consideration is given to these big decisions and that there is enough transparency in the process.”
The Chicago School District and the Chicago Board of Education would be exempt from House Bill 4322 and the authority of ISBE’s Inspector General as a similar position already exists specifically for CPS.