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Simon's Classrooms First Commission ready to launch 

Public hearings and online survey will be used to enhance citizen input

SPRINGFIELD – September 28, 2011. To promote public participation, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon will hold a series of public hearings and launch an online survey that will allow parents, educators and taxpayers to provide input to the new Classrooms First Commission. 

Simon, who serves as chair of the commission, said transparency and accountability will guide the commission’s work to improve student learning opportunities and reduce duplicative administrative costs at school districts across the state. The commission meets for the first time at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Illinois State Board of Education, 100 N. 1st St., in Springfield.

“We want to make informed decisions about where we can find real savings and make better investments for students,” Simon said. “The transparent process guiding this diverse commission will allow us to build on ideas and expertise from different communities. Together, we will find ways to put students and classrooms first.”

The Classrooms First Commission will hold public hearings beginning in October at community colleges in Carterville, Moline, Normal and Palatine. The hearings will feature invited guests and public comment, allowing participants to provide oral and written testimony. Time for testimony will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Those who are unable to attend can view a live streaming of the hearings online. A survey will also be posted online in October at that will allow citizens to submit ideas to commission members on how to best achieve the goal of improving student performance while more efficiently spending and potentially saving taxpayer dollars.

Illinois has almost 870 school districts, the third highest number in the country after California and Texas, and 220 districts operate a single school. More than 240 districts have spent consecutive years on the state’s academic improvement list.

The 20-member commission features participation from various stakeholder groups that represent teachers, school boards, principals, superintendents, parents and urban, suburban and rural areas. It will examine spending that is far removed from classrooms, to cut bureaucracy and redirect tax dollars toward students.

The law (Public Act 97-0503) creating the commission requires recommendations to be delivered to Governor Pat Quinn by July 2012.  

Public Hearing Dates

October 13, 2011
11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
John A. Logan College
700 Logan College Road, Carterville
O'Neal Auditorium

October 24, 2011
4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Heartland Community College
1500 West Raab Road, Normal
Asthroth Community Education Center

November 2, 2011 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Black Hawk College
6600 34th Avenue, Moline
Building 4, Conference Rooms 1 & 2

November 3, 2011 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Harper College
1200 W. Algonquin Road, Palatine
Wojcik Conference Center, Second Floor, Room W214

Commission Members

Sen. David Luechtefeld, Illinois Senate Republicans
Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, Illinois House Democrats
Rep. Roger Eddy, Illinois House Republicans
Linda Riley Mitchell, Illinois State Board of Education
Jerry Harrison, Illinois Education Association
President Daniel Montgomery, Illinois Federation of Teachers
Director Michael Johnson, Illinois Association of School Boards
Director Jason Leahy, Illinois Principals Association
Ava Harston, Chicago Teacher’s Union Director
Michael Jacoby, Illinois Association of School Business Officials
Director Brent Clark, Illinois Association of School Administrators
Patrick Rocks, Chicago Board of Education
President Jimmy Gunnell, Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education
Jonathan Goldman, Parent PAC
Dr. Paul Swanstrom, High School District Organization of Illinois
Tom Skates, representative from rural school district
Vickie Nissen, representative from suburban school district
Regional Supt. Larry Pfeiffer, Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools

Appointment pending from the Illinois Senate Democrats