* Jaclyn Driscoll at Illinois Public Radio…
State Rep. Karina Villa is a 40-year-old Democrat representing West Chicago. She’s one of dozens of fresh faces at the Illinois State Capitol this year and also one of seven lawmakers in the House of Representatives whose election flipped a red seat blue — from Republican to Democrat.
Villa was a school social worker for 15 years — and said that’s actually what prompted her to make a run for the state legislature. Instead of just complaining, she wanted to be a part of “the solution.” […]
Her first piece of legislation, introduced early last month, would require schools to specifically discuss mental health within the health curriculum for all students. The idea is to help children and teens recognize the signs of conditions like depression or anxiety. […]
Those who are opposed to the legislation don’t have a problem with the idea of it, but want to be sure this will not be another unfunded mandate for public schools.
“The way that her bill is written, it’s more goals for what mental health curriculum is doing and we think that will be better placed in the Illinois learning standards,” said Zach Messersmith with the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance. He said if this particular goal is placed within the health curriculum, he’s concerned schools may be forced to purchase new textbooks or other tools.
Villa, who has spent years working in schools, said she appreciated the concern but she did not want this to become a burden on schools and did not have any specific curriculum in mind. The example given with the TIME magazine article would be a sufficient tool for educators.
I’m hearing this a lot about the new freshman class. Very sincere, but not willing to amend their bills to address objections. However, the bill passed yesterday with 107 votes. We’ll see what happens in the Senate.
* Jerry Nowicki at Capitol News Illinois…
A state lawmaker is looking to give voters the authority to force their locally-elected school boards into resource-sharing agreements with other districts for certain administration offices and functions.
While the bill allows for districts to share superintendents, other administrators and services, it exempts principals and assistant principals.
Currently, local school districts have the power to enter into resource-sharing agreements with other districts through the passage of a resolution. State Sen. Sue Rezin’s Senate Bill 1287, which passed by a 9-1 vote out of the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, would allow another avenue to force resource-sharing: approval by the voters via a binding referendum.
Rezin said shared services might not be appropriate for every district, but the bill would be particularly relevant to communities with a K-8 school district feeding into a separate high school district with its own administration.
* School Funding Left Out A Few Thousand Kids: But after more than a dozen meetings, that Professional Review Panel’s committee on ROE funding hasn’t been able to find a way to fit most of those alternative schools into the plan. “And so where that leaves us is having to seek assistance directly from legislators as they craft the bill or bills around this topic that we hopefully can get consideration from them,” Popp says, “just as we did on our supplemental appropriation last year.”
* Illinois Medicaid officials vow to improve services: Eagleson, a former executive director of the Office of Medicaid Innovation at the University of Illinois system, acknowledged earlier in her testimony the agency was “deeply aware” of concerns about denial rates, late payments and other issues in the program. But she also said there are indications managed care is achieving some of its goals. “… We’re seeing anecdotally things like increased assessments of behavioral health needs, decreased hospital admissions, decreased (emergency room) utilization,” she said. “So we do think that the statistics are going in the right direction in most cases, but we’d like to bring more transparency to you around those issues as well.”