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Passing bills in the General Assembly is never easy — as our 10-year fight to win an elected school board shows — but it is an even harder lift during the two-week fall veto session. That is why I am thrilled to report success this year on three pieces of key legislation that your support and advocacy helped pass during the just-completed fall session. Thanks to everyone who called and emailed your state senator and state representative. Give yourself a pat on the back – engaged members move mountains!

COVID administrative leave and paycheck protections (HB 2778)

Thanks to your advocacy, the legislature approved ensuring paid time off for educational employees forced to quarantine because of their own or their children’s COVID illness or exposure. The bill also provides that non-instructional staff are paid for an emergency e-learning day and restores sick days used this school year because of COVID.

Elected School Board trailer bill (SB 1784)

The elected school board bill that passed in June was the result of years of work with community groups, parents, and CTU members. But a bill passed on a tight timeline often needs corrections for better implementation. SB 1784 bill made a series of technical changes to the historic bill passed in the summer. The most important of those is making the school closure moratorium effective immediately upon the governor’s signature. With CPS reporting another round of predictable enrollment losses, this bill protects our school communities from the inevitable calls for more disastrous school closings.

The bill also clarifies when the new elected school board maps need to be drawn, when a required financial review of CPS must be completed, and that the new elected board members will not be paid.

LSC Empowerment Bill (SB 101)

The product of years of advocacy by the LSCs4All coalition, of which the CTU is a member, SB 101 bill makes several important changes to how LSCs operate, including, but not limited to, restoring full authority to all LSCs, even at schools “on probation.” CPS had taken away much of the LSC’s power at those schools. The legislation also adds a student member from 7th or 8th grades to LSCs, changes rules around quorum to ensure vacancies can be appropriately filled and gives LSCs additional oversight on school improvement plans.

As this fall’s veto session proved, our success in the General Assembly depends on you — on your engagement with your legislators and support of our Union’s advocacy in the General Assembly. To do that, we need a strong Political Action Committee (PAC) to help us defend our rights and support our public schools and their communities.

If you already contribute to our PAC, thank you. To learn more about the committee and to make a contribution, visit ctulocal1.org/pac.

Kurt Hilgendorf is CTU’s Education Policy Director.