Sports Commentary: Illinois House and the IHSA
WSIL -- Last month, the Illinois House passed Resolution 895 which urged the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education to hold hearings about the Illinois High School Association, including the feasibility of transferring the duties and functions of the IHSA to the State Board of Education.
The result was a hearing Tuesday in Springfield for this committee with the spotlight on the IHSA.
This three hour meeting put on grand display your tax dollars wasted.
Committee members argued about the agenda, argued why they were having the hearing in the first place, argued about needing a bigger room, moving to a bigger room. There was duplicate testimony because chairperson Linda Chapa LaVia had to leave and missed it the first time.
You had ardent IHSA supporters on the committee, and those with axes to grind. You had others that were woefully ill-prepared. This fact finding mission could've easily been completed by email, or as IHSA executive director Marty Hickman suggested, a phone call to set up a meeting with him.
The IHSA is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Some of their decisions especially about scheduling and discipline are real head scratchers. But, and this is a very big but, with all the issues the State of Illinois is facing, high school sports and specifically the IHSA, shouldn't even crack the Top 100 on the "To Do" list for state legislators.
The idea that Illinois State Board of Education could do the job that the IHSA does is laughable. When asked if ISBE could handle it, the representative at the hearing said not at the current staff level.
Translated--we'll need more money for more people. My summary--we'll need tax dollars to try to do the job the IHSA is currently doing--managing 25+ sports and activities without using tax dollars, and then not do it as well. Makes sense, or not.
The only positive talking point and initiative to come out of this hearing was the lack of diversity on the IHSA board and it's employees. Only two of the IHSA's ten board members and one of its 25 employees are black. There are no Latinos. Considering the diversity of the more than 800 schools in the state, that needs fixed.
Otherwise, quibbling over schools not getting enough of the IHSA's 11 million dollars in revenue seems rather hypocritical considering the hundreds of millions of dollars the state has failed to get our schools and the resulting predicaments and cuts so many districts across the state face because of it.
Perhaps instead of grilling Director Hickman about how much he and his staff make, the committee should've been asking him for pointers how the IHSA meets its budgets, including pensions. As Representative John Cavaletto from Salem said to Hickman "You spend less than you take in. I wish we could do that here."
And as if one of these hearings was not enough of a waste, there will be two more of the dog and pony shows--one in Chicago and one "in the south". More of our tax dollars wasted. Also, I hope that "the south" doesn't mean Champaign.
I'm Darren Kinnard. These opinions are mine and not necessarily those of the station.
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HR 895 Bill: http://legiscan.com/IL/bill/HR0895/2013
Link to video of the hearing: http://new.livestream.com/blueroomstream/events/3013448
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