Senate Bill 1787


Synopsis As Introduced
Amends the School Code to create the Rural Education Advisory Council. Provides that the purpose of the council is to exchange thoughtful dialogue concerning the needs, challenges, and opportunities of rural districts and to provide policy recommendations to the State. Sets forth the functions and membership of the council. Contains provisions concerning expenses, meetings, and administrative support.

This bill is the culmination of work over the past several years to find the right fit, and right place for the voice of rural and small schools to be heard. The bill was first filed in the senate (SB1819), February of 2021 by Senator Koehler and in a twist of fate the house bill carried the same number HB1819 filed by the sponsor Representative Sue Scherer. The bill made progress in the 102nd general assembly, but did not move to 3rd reading votes. At the request of Senator Koehler, a group from AIRSS and ISBE were directed to meet and begin the work that would mirror the council and find common ground to move forward. These meetings have been ongoing with senior ISBE staff and AIRSS board members since August 2021 and have proved beneficial on both parties’ part and a productive use of time.

The bill was refiled in the 103rd General Assembly by Senator Koehler and is now in the Illinois House. Sponsors – Sen. Dave Koehler, Christopher Belt, Michael Halpin, Paul Faraci, Laura Murphy, Elgie R. Sims, Jr.

# The Rural Education Advisory Council is modeled after national rural education work and adapted to fit the complex Illinois education system.

# This is not a task force or commission as often times is used in Illinois – it is a tool that creates an open line of communication and dialogue to support rural and small schools in the Illinois education system.

# The Advisory Council is designed to support all children who attend rural and small schools that are marginalized and under resourced. These rural communities’ do have diversity and are home to African American and Hispanic children as well migrant children and other families who are leaving their homes for a safer, quieter, supportive environment. They deserve the same education opportunities afforded to other locales.

# This is a state wide matter not just a deep downstate issue. Rural and small schools exist in all counties but one (Cook).

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