Senate Education Committee sends bill reinstating five-hour school day to floor
The Illinois Senate Education Committee recently unanimously approved moving a bill that would reinstate an old rule defining a school day as at least five clock hours.
Sean Denney of the Illinois Education Association (IEA) and Cynthia Reisman Lund with the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) were at the session in support of Senate Bill 28.
Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) said she is committed to working with the people who wanted the change.
"We weren't able to give due diligence before," Bertino-Tarrant said. "This just brings us back to where we were. It doesn't take away waivers that are already in."
Lund said IFT was committed to having conversations with others about the flexibility of the law.
"A minimum standard is needed for guidelines," Bertino-Tarrant said.
Jennifer Figurelli with the Legislative Education Network of DuPage (LEND) said her organization does not support the bill.
"I think if we could all sit down and discuss this, we could find something to benefit our students," Figurelli said.
LEND works to influence legislation and regulations that impact schools in DuPage County.
Donn Mendoza, the superintendent of Round Lake School District 116 said it scared him that passage of the law could mean losing flexibility.
"I understand the request and the idea of having a minimum, but our position is learning shouldn't be tied to seat time," Mendoza said.
Sarah Hartwick with ED-RED said the bill needs to be amended.
"I appreciate the comments that were said regarding the process," Hartwick said. "We want to make sure this is done the right way. It needs to be amended."
ED-RED is an advocacy group that represents school districts in Cook, Lake and DuPage counties.
Bertino-Tarrant said negotiating flexibility will not be easy, but with the bill passed they would at least have a starting point.
"I'm going to move forward with this, but that won’t stop negotiations," she said.
Bertino-Tarrant said she wants negotiations to start soon regarding the bill. Sen. David Koehler (D-Peoria) suggested starting them that very afternoon.
The bill was placed on the calendar for second reading and will now go to the Senate floor for debate.