District 117 Members Talk About Issues Facing School Boards in the State

By Benjamin Cox on December 29, 2022 at 12:22pm

Jacksonville School District 117 School Board members said they learned a lot about how other school boards in the state operate and sometimes don’t at the Joint Annual Conference of the Illinois Association of School Boards, the Illinois Association of School Business Officials, and the Illinois Association of School Administrators that took place in mid-November.

Teresa Wilson says the conference was a bit eye-opening when it comes to some boards having dysfunction: “I always find it fascinating that no matter what session you go to, it’s listening to other school board members and the issues that they all have that we do not have; such as public comment time could last an hour and there are people lined up waiting to speak, nasty e-mails and text messages. It just makes me feel very fortunate for the district that we’re in. We have our issues but they are not a constant battleground. We have a pretty cohesive group here.”

Board President Noel Beard says he was amazed to hear about outside political money entering into school board races elsewhere: “This year and last year I did a large-unit district round table, which we are the smallest large-unit district, everybody else was suburbs, collar counties. It was the same thing listening to them talk about their issues that they have – the political money coming in from out of state, from PACs, and from everything on their school board candidates running for elections.”

Wilson says she also attended other presentations about how to be a good mentor to newly elected board members. She says she felt that was extremely important with at least one new board member being voted in during the upcoming April consolidated election.

Beard says the delegate assembly did pass a resolution to ask for legislation from the General Assembly to prohibit outside money from entering into non-partisan school board races in the state.

Recognized as one of the nation’s largest state education conferences, the Joint Annual Conference is a training event for school board members, administrators, and business officials held annually in November in Chicago.