The last roadblock to an all-elected Chicago school board is lifted

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But the answer was no, though some changes the mayor wants may be included in a follow-up trailer bill later this year.

“I do believe we should be able to get the required number of votes and get this through tomorrow,” caucus Chairman Rep. Kam Buckner, D-Chicago, told me in a phone call. “I think the votes are there.”

Buckner said the meeting lasted about 45 minutes and Lightfoot, knowing that all 22 members of the caucus previously have backed an elected board, only asked that action be “slowed down” rather than halted.

“Many of her concerns are valid,” Buckner said, adding that he hopes to introduce a trailer bill as early as late this week that would ban compensation for elected board members, put some limits on campaign contributions, and perhaps devise a way for undocumented immigrants with children in Chicago Public Schools to have a greater voice.

But Buckner said his trailer would not alter the core provision of the bill: fully electing a 21-member board by 2026 after a transition “hybrid” board of 10 elected members and 11 selected by the mayor. The hybrid board would be formed after the 2024 general election.

“We had a good meeting,” Buckner said. “It was extremely necessary and appropriate for her to speak to the caucus about this issue.”

Lightfoot’s office had no immediate comment on the 45-minute session.

Final House approval tomorrow—Gov. J.B. Pritzker has indicated he’ll sign the bill into law—would cap a years-long drive by the Chicago Teachers Union and political progressives to remove the mayor’s current power to select the current seven-member board and instead divide the city into 20 board districts. The 21st member, the chair, would be elected citywide.

Business and some other civic groups have strongly objected to an elected board, fearing it would give CTU too much power.

Former Illinois Senate President John Cullerton for years blocked passage, refusing to call elected bills that had cleared the House. But the new Senate President, Don Harmon, had urged a compromise along the lines of the bill now awaiting action.

via Crain’s Chicago Business

June 15, 2021 at 05:18PM

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