The Illinois State Board of Education this week granted 29 school districts the authority to borrow more than $495 million through a federal construction bond program. Under the program, schools can use the money for renovations and new construction projects and the interest paid on the loans is reimbursed by the federal government.
A new law in Illinois allows schools to require students to provide their social media login credentials to help reduce aggressive online behavior. Critics of the law and similar proposals and policies cite privacy concerns and argue that educating students about how to use technology safely is more effective than policing their digital behavior.
The Illinois State Board of Education will not consider a proposal that would have allowed school districts to increase class sizes for special-education classrooms or for general-education classrooms that include students with disabilities. The proposal to lift statewide class-size restrictions was criticized for possible negative effects on students with disabilities.
Funding cuts could be on the horizon for schools around the state, according to the Illinois State Board of Education. At a public hearing in Carbondale this week, State Superintendent Gary Chico warned districts in the southern part of the state to expect less state aid. The board must also consolidate some offices to reduce the number of regional superintendents from 44 to 35 under a new state law.
Several changes being considered by the Illinois Board of Education would have an effect on special education, including a proposal to lift class-size limits on self-contained special-education classrooms. The board, which currently is accepting public comment on the proposals, also is considering redefining a "general-education classroom" -- currently considered one that has at least 70% of students without special needs.