“I’m not sure what the problems are that prompted this, it seems to be more of a personality conflict that happened when Mayor Lightfoot was elected,” Durkin said. “What’s driving this is not substance, but clearly a personality conflict with the sitting mayor.”
Democratic Rep. Will Guzzardi, of Chicago, pushed back on that criticism, saying that parents, teachers and community activists have been pushing for an elected school board since the Richard M. Daley administration. He noted the proposal had received Republican support in the past.
“We all supported this idea not as some sort of personal petty grievance, but because we believe that the same democracy that’s good enough in every other district in the state of Illinois to govern our schools is good enough for Chicago,” Guzzardi said.
Durkin and other House members, including Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago, raised concerns that the mayor’s office had not been involved enough in the current version of the bill, and argued that additional guidance would be necessary.
“It’s very important that mayor has say in this process, whether she’s late to the game or not,” Ford said. “I hope that moving forward that we and she can get our act together so we can have the best bill that becomes law.”
The Senate Executive Committee passed an elected school board bill as well Wednesday, Senate Bill 2497. According to the Sun-Times, chief senate sponsor Robert Martwick, D-Chicago, said he was open to possible amendments, while Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford suggested continued negotiations with the Mayor’s office would be necessary.