TRS Board Increased from 13 to 15 Members
Issue: A special election for one new “active member” seat on the TRS Board of Trustees has been scheduled for Friday, May 1, 2020. This election has been set to comply with Public Act 101-0610, a new law which took effect on January 1 that increases the number of TRS trustees from 13 to 15.
One of the two new board seats must be filled through an election among “active” TRS members. The other new board seat will be a gubernatorial appointment. With this new law, the TRS Board is now composed of five elected “active” trustees, two elected “annuitant” trustees, seven trustees appointed by the governor and the state superintendent of schools.
Discussion: The new board member elected on May 1 by active members will serve a three-year term that begins on July 15, 2020. Retired and inactive TRS members are not eligible to vote in this election. TRS does not select or endorse any trustee candidates. TRS administers the election and does not get involved in any campaigns.
For the first time in a TRS trustee election, all candidates will be required to indicate on their nominating petitions which statewide teacher organization they have belonged to during the prior five years – if that organization has at least 10,000 members. This new requirement is designed to ensure that no more than four of the five “active” teacher trustees belong to the same statewide teacher organization. The 10,000-member threshold effectively limits the number of organizations governed under this law to two – the Illinois Education Association and the Illinois Federation of Teachers.
So, if four of the incumbent “active” teacher trustees elected to the Board are members of the IEA, the law requires the fifth trustee to be a member of the IFT. Currently, four elected “active” trustees are members of the IEA.
Therefore, as a result of the May election, if the candidate with the highest number of votes belongs to the IEA, that candidate will not be declared the winner. Instead, the candidate with the highest votes who is a member of the IFT will be elected the new trustee; regardless of how many votes that candidate received.
For a candidate to be nominated and placed on the ballot, valid signatures from 500 active TRS members must be obtained for the candidate and submitted to TRS on or before 4:30 p.m. on Friday, January 31.
After the candidates have been certified by TRS, voting is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, April 1.
- Active members will be able to vote online if TRS has their email addresses.
- If TRS does not have an email address for an active member, they will be mailed a paper ballot.
- Any active member can request a paper ballot from TRS up until Tuesday, April 21.
All ballots – electronic and paper – must be received by TRS on or before 10 a.m. on Friday, May 1. The ballots will be counted on May 1 beginning at 10 a.m. The winner will be declared at a later date.
The petition instructions, Candidate's Nominating Petition and Petition for Nomination of Teacher Trustee Candidate are available on the TRS website.