Lightfoot, lawmakers hold ‘robust’ but ‘cordial’ meeting on elected school board bill Pritzker is on verge of signing

https://ift.tt/3dc9eFQ

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, left, at a news conference last week; State Rep. Delia Ramirez, right, meeting with the Sun-Times Editorial Board in 2018.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot, left, at a news conference last week; State Rep. Delia Ramirez, right, meeting with the Sun-Times Editorial Board in 2018. | Ashlee Rezin Garcia; Rich Hein/Sun-Times file

“This is obviously something that we’ve never done before,” said state Rep. Kam Buckner, one of the Chicago Democrats who met with Lightfoot. “This is brand new, and new things are scary.” 

Oversight of Chicago’s public schools could soon see its most significant shift in decades after a Thursday morning meeting between Mayor Lori Lightfoot and a group of legislators who passed a bill creating an elected Chicago school board.

Setting up a major check on mayoral power over city schools, the measure is now likely to head to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk “in the coming days.”

“This is obviously something that we’ve never done before,” said state Rep. Kam Buckner, one of the Chicago Democrats who met with Lightfoot. “This is brand new, and new things are scary.”

State Rep. Delia Ramirez said in a tweet that she and the small group of legislators met with the mayor Thursday morning to discuss a “trailer” bill, or follow up legislation, related to the elected school board issue. The additional measures may be taken up during the General Assembly’s fall veto session.

“As I have done for the last two years, I will continue to work with all stakeholders to address issues as we transition to a fully elected board,” the Northwest Side Democrat tweeted. “My bill with Senator [Robert] Martwick to create a fully elected school board, will be sent to the Governor’s desk in the coming days.”

A spokesperson for Lightfoot said in a statement “we were committed to continued negotiations and took some important steps today in a very productive and robust discussion that will continue.”

Neither the spokesperson nor Ramirez responded to requests for further information on the meeting or what the follow-up legislation might entail.

Buckner said the meeting was the start of conversations around follow-up legislation.

While the South Side Democrat didn’t want to get into the specifics of what was said in the room out of respect for the parties involved, he described the meeting as being in “good faith” and “cordial” and said he walked away feeling “optimistic” about making sure the board works for the city’s families.

State Rep. Kam Buckner, D-Chicago, left, talks with fellow state Rep. Curtis Tarver, D-Chicago, on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives on the last day of s spring session.
Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP file
State Rep. Kam Buckner, D-Chicago, left, talks with fellow state Rep. Curtis Tarver, D-Chicago, on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives on the last day of s spring session.

There’s no date currently on the books for the next meeting, but Buckner said he expects there to be a “predictable cadence” to future meetings.

“I do think we can work to make sure that once this school board is stood up that we’ve done all we can to make it the most effective that it can be,” he said.

It’s unclear if anything said in the meeting could have changed Lightfoot’s mind.

The mayor has steadfastly opposed the elected school board bill as “unwieldy,” declaring “what happened in Springfield had nothing to do with democracy.”

In the days just before the bill passed, Lightfoot also ridiculed the prospect of follow-up legislation to address issues such as how undocumented parents could vote.

“We’re gonna vote on a bill that disenfranchises them and then say, ‘We’ll take care of it on a trailer bill?’” Lightfoot said at the time. “Too little, too late. If you know that the bill is flawed, wait. Fix it.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot at a news conference in December 2019.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file
Mayor Lori Lightfoot at a news conference in December 2019.

Shortly after her bill passed the House on June 16, Ramirez put a brick on it, filing a motion to reconsider — a strategic move that would keep the legislation in the House unless, or until, that motion is addressed.

That motion remains as of Thursday afternoon, according to the General Assembly’s website.

Pritzker has said he’ll sign the legislation creating a 21-member board.

Once signed, the legislation mandates that the first elected members would run in the November 2024 general election for a four-year term. Though the mayor would continue picking the board president, the City Council would need to confirm that pick.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks news conference last year.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times file
Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks news conference last year.

The mayor currently appoints a seven-member board, including the president, without any approval process.

Under the pending law, after two years, the seats of the board president and the 10 appointees would also become elected ones in January 2027 through a November 2026 election. Those members would also serve four-year terms.

The city would initially be divided into 10 districts for the 2024 school board elections, then expand to 20 districts for the 2026 ballot. That map would need to be drawn by February 2022.

All elected board members would run in a particular district other than the board president, who would run at large. The vice president would be a member elected by the rest of the board.

The bill also sets a moratorium on school closings, consolidations or phase-outs until the new board members take office in early 2025, and it would move appointment of the Chicago Public Schools inspector general from the mayor’s purview onto the elected board’s plate.

Feeds,News,Region: Chicago,City: Chicago

via Chicago Sun-Times – All https://ift.tt/2xAxGgE

June 24, 2021 at 04:54PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s