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Gov. Pritzker Signs Legislation To Create Elected School Board For Chicago Public Schools

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker on Thursday signed legislation creating an elected school board for the Chicago Public Schools.

The board will expand from its current seven members to 21 members over the next five years.

"An elected school board will help students and their families have a strong voice in important decisions about the education system in Chicago," Pritzker said in a news release. "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. I look forward to ongoing conversations with the General Assembly and mayor, in particular about the district's finances, board members' compensation and campaign rules."

The legislation will create a 21-member school board starting in 2025, starting with a hybrid board including 10 members elected in November 2024, and 11 members appointed by the mayor, including the board's president. The board will then become fully elected in 2027, with voters electing 11 members, including the president in November 2026.

The Chicago Teachers Union issued a statement lauding Pritzker's move.

"Students, families and educators will now have the voice they have long been denied for a quarter of a century by failed mayoral control of our schools," the statement read in part. "Chicago will finally have an elected board accountable to the people our schools serve, as it should be."

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has opposed the legislation, calling it "ill-constructed," and she had urged the House not to vote on the plan until lawmakers address her concerns.

Lightfoot was outspoken in her criticism of the legislation – in particular, the size of the board, which she calls unwieldy; the lack of campaign spending limits for the elected board seats; and the fact the legislation as it stands would require people to be citizens to either serve on the board or vote for board members.

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