* Rachel Hinton at the Sun-Times…
Chicago will soon have an elected school board thanks to a bill passed by members of the Illinois House Wednesday over objections from Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
The House voted 70 to 41 to advance the bill, handing another loss to Lightfoot who has been vocal in her opposition to the prospect of an elected board. The bill will soon head to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who has voiced support for an elected board and is expected to sign the legislation.
The measure was just one piece of legislation state representatives debated and passed during their one-day special session Wednesday.
House Bill 2908 as amended would create a 21-seat board in January 2025, initially split between 11 mayoral appointees — including the board president — and 10 elected members.
* Erik Runge and Tahman Bradley at WGN…
Last-minute pleas from the mayor to stop, make changes or slow down Wednesday’s vote did not prove successful.
* Sarah Karp at WBEZ…
As she made her closing argument for the bill, Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago), the House sponsor, urged lawmakers to take “final action.”
“I invite you to be on the right side of history, by voting … and finally, giving my niece and my nephew and all of us who wished in our public schools, when we were there, [that we had] an elected representative school board that is accountable to us,” she said. […]
Ramirez promised subsequent bills to clean up some outstanding issues, including campaign finance rules. These outstanding issues were raised by opponents of the bill, who said their absence meant it wasn’t ready for passage. But Ramirez said the parents who worked for the elected board for more than a decade deserved this assurance that the city would move to an elected school board.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently reiterated his support for an elected board. But before committing to signing this year’s bill, Pritzker said he is waiting to see whether the House would change it. The bill will not immediately go to his desk because Ramirez placed a temporary procedural hold on it. Ramirez said that was done to protect the bill from opponents and to give Lightfoot an opportunity to negotiate some outstanding issues.
* Mark Rivera at ABC 7…
Gov. JB Pritzker’s office released a statement following the passage of the bill, saying, “When the governor ran for office he supported an elected school board and still does.”
Pritzker will be at Chicago’s Thompson Center Thursday morning to discuss the state’s budget, and he’ll likely be asked about the legislation. CPS has not yet issued a statement on the decision.
* Rick Pearson and Dan Petrella at the Tribune…
Ramirez also said a variety of issues, including the financial entanglement of city and CPS, were raised only in recent days and contended it appeared to be people “playing games” to try to derail the overall legislation.
But Rep. Bob Rita, a Blue Island Democrat, warned about unintended consequences in moving the bill with a number of follow-up issues still needing to be addressed.
“I’m hoping that we’re not going to go forward and that this is going to be something that, down the line, we’re going to say our intentions were right and we did it wrong,” Rita said.
In debate on the House floor before the vote, Chicago Democratic state Rep. Ann Williams said the elected school board issue has been the most talked about topic from her constituents during her decadelong tenure in the General Assembly.
Today’s vote represents the will of the people, and after more than a quarter of a century, moves our district forward in providing democracy and voice to students and their families. This is the culmination of a generation of work by parents, rank-and-file educators and activists, who recognized the shortcomings of mayoral control of our schools and demanded better for our children. This is their legacy. This is Karen’s legacy.
Our union is grateful for the work of state representatives Kam Buckner and bill sponsor Delia Ramirez, Sen. Rob Martwick, and Speaker Chris Welch and Senate President Don Harmon, who were instrumental in bringing this landmark change to Chicago Public Schools. We look forward to Governor J.B. Pritzker’s signature on this bill, and thank everyone who has fought to grant Chicagoans the right that residents in every other school district in the state possess: the right to an elected representative school board.