Illinois lawmakers propose having half of Chicago voters select school board members in 2024

School district officials sit behind a glass barrier. School board members are behind them on an elevated platform.
The Chicago Board of Education is currently appointed by the city’s mayor, but will soon be partially elected. (Reema Amin / Chalkbeat)

Roughly half of Chicago voters would get to elect school board members in 2024 and the other half would vote in 2026, according to new language proposed by state lawmakers late Friday. 

Earlier this week, legislators released a new draft map that divides the city into 20 districts. Each district has roughly 137,000 people in it. The new proposal assigns each district a number and says odd-numbered districts would vote in 2024. The state legislature could vote on the proposal during next week’s veto session.

In addition to outlining how Chicagoans would vote in the 2024 and 2026 election, the proposal includes ethics requirements for elected members and a conflict of interest provision that falls in line with state law. 

The proposal also calls for the board of education to create a Black Student Achievement Committee to address the needs of Black students throughout the district and create a strategic plan to close the gap in academic achievement between Black students and their peers. 

Valerie Leonard, of Illinois African Americans for Equitable Redistricting, has pushed during public hearings for the Senate’s committee on the elected school board to create a Black Student Achievement Committee. 

According to state law passed in 2021, 10 members of the school board are to be elected and 10 are to be appointed by the mayor in 2024. The mayor will also appoint a school board president. In 2026, the districts with appointed members will vote and the entire city will vote for a school board president. 

People interested in running for Chicago’s Board of Education must collect 250 signatures from their districts and can begin circulating petitions on March 26, 2024. To get on the ballot, petitions must be filed by June 24, 2024. 

Samantha Smylie is the state education reporter for Chalkbeat Chicago covering school districts across the state, legislation, special education and the state board of education. Contact Samantha at ssmylie@chalkbeat.org

Becky Vevea is the bureau chief for Chalkbeat Chicago. Contact Becky at bvevea@chalkbeat.org. 

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