SPRINGFIELD — Legislation aimed at making it easier for the children of military personnel to transfer between schools cleared an Illinois Senate committee on Tuesday.
House Bill 3939, which is supported by Scott Air Force Base, passed the Senate Education Committee by a vote of 11-0 and now goes to the Senate floor. Those voting in favor included Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, who is the metro-east's only senator on the committee.
The legislation was pushed by Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon and sponsored by Rep. Eddie Lee Jackson, D-East St. Louis.
Simon told committee members the measure would allow children of military personnel who move to a new school to "more easily start school at the level they've been at."
In 2010, Illinois joined the Interstate Compact for Military Children and adopted a law covering school transfers for military children.
In the 45 other Compact states, military students enter the same grade level at their new schools, retain previously earned credit and are offered opportunities for extracurricular activities. Illinois' law does not currently offer the same assurances, but Simon said the legislation will change that.
She said the measure is a "significant benefit to military families," who move frequently, and is especially needed when more military bases are possibly being closed.
The legislation would require Illinois schools to enroll the children of active-duty military personnel who move to Illinois at the same grade level they were enrolled in at their previous school. It also would allow the parents to use unofficial records from the previous school to speed up the admission process at the Illinois school until official records are available.
The legislation also addresses placement of the students in special types of courses, such as Advanced Placement classes, when the student transfers mid-school year. It states that the receiving school "shall initially honor placement of the student in educational courses based on the student's enrollment in the school in the sending state ... if the courses are offered and space is available."
The bill also addresses extracurricular activities. It states that schools "shall facilitate the opportunity for transitioning military children's inclusion in extracurricular activities, to the extent the children are otherwise qualified and space is available."