Chicago will soon join the rest of Illinois and have an elected school board by 2027. Previously Chicago Public Schools was the only district in Illinois to have a mayoral appointed school board. New legislation recently signed into law by Governor J. B. Pritzker allows Chicago to join the other districts in the state who currently have elected school boards. The new legislation is set to take effect in January 2022.
In a statement released by Pritzker, he praised the General Assembly for the new legislation. “I applaud the members of the General Assembly for working together on behalf of their constituents to pass legislation that required compromise and thoughtful deliberation,” said Pritzker.
Under HB 2908 the Chicago Board of Education will transition from seven appointed members to 21 elected officials. Chicago will be divided into ten school districts. Elections will then take place for those seeking to represent each district in 2024. Chicago school districts will then be divided into twenty separate districts in 2026. Elections will once again take place. Elected district representatives will serve a four-year term. Each district will have one appointed member who will serve a two-year term.
Each district will be represented by both members from January 2025 to January 2027. Elections for a board president will take place in 2026. Once those terms expire in January 2027 each district will be represented by one elected official. Mayor Lori Lightfoot was not in favor of this legislation for an elected school board. She believed the legislation was rushed and disagreed with the size of the board. Lightfoot felt the board would fair better with both elected and appointed members. Gov. Pritzker proceeded without the mayor’s support saying, “An elected school board will help students and their families have a strong voice in important decisions about the education system in Chicago”.
Paula J. Shelton is a freelance writer and journalist based in Chicago. Find her on social @beboldshineon.