State legislation that would create an elected school board in Chicago has a new chief sponsor in the Illinois Senate.
Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) replaced Senate President John Cullerton as the bill's main sponsor on Wednesday. Raoul also announced the legislation, HB 557, will be the subject of "open meetings this summer to hear from the public and work out details of the plan."
Chicago has the only non-elected school board in Illinois, and the state legislature -- which approved the 1995 law that gave Chicago's mayor full authority over the school district and board appointments -- must ultimately change the rules.
"Chicago's children deserve nothing less than full equality with the rest of the state - parity in funding and in democratic governance of their school district," Raoul said in a statement. "It's time to get this right, and I look forward to working with our parents and advocates to give CPS the government our schools so desperately need."
The Chicago elected school board proposal cleared the House in early March and has been pending in the Senate ever since. Cullerton has come under fire from education activists for failing to advance the bill in the upper chamber.
The legislation under consideration would create a 21-member elected Chicago school board starting in 2018. Under the measure, Chicago public schools would be divided into 20 districts. There would be one board chair that runs citywide, adding up to a total of 21 board members.
"The families who trust CPS with their children's futures know our schools have entered trying times, and they rightly demand accountable leadership," Raoul added. "Chicago should be a flagship, not an outlier, and thoughtful self-government can achieve this for the good of our children and our city."
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel opposes switching to an elected school board. He has voiced concerns that the election of school board members could bring more politics into the school system. The mayor also maintains that the city has an elected school board in the form of Local School Councils. Gov. Bruce Rauner has also stated his opposition to elected Chicago school board proposals.