Remarkably, the IASB/IASA/IASBO Joint Conference and Thanksgiving holiday are behind us, and 2015 nears its end.

We begin by thanking each of you who attended our Joint Conference activities and our reception at Millennium Park. We also wish to thank each of our clients and friends who have placed their trust and confidence in HLERK over the past year.

We especially thank the many new school districts and cooperatives who have joined our client family in 2015 and entrusted their needs to us to help them navigate a remarkably complex legal environment.

2015 saw HLERK attorneys again honored by their peers and by your professional organizations for leadership and excellence. Our commitment, however, is always to excellence in serving the Illinois school community. In response to an ever-changing legal environment, HLERK redoubled its efforts in 2015, together with your professional organizations, at the local, state, and federal levels to inform and guide the school community.

HLERK joined with   IASA on the acclaimed state-wide Year in Review conferences, served as general counsel to the Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education, and continues to work with the National School Boards Association on IDEA reauthorization.

As we enter 2016, we will keep a close eye on legislative developments, including school finance reform in Springfield, as well as Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization in Washington. Passage of a new ESEA is expected in the near future.

We also will be working with your professional organizations and our many school district clients regarding implementation of SB100 governing school discipline. Look for upcoming IASA seminars on SB100 implementation.

In labor and personnel, 2016 marks the implementation date for all school districts to fully implement PERA requirements governing student growth in evaluation plans, as well as a host of procedural requirements. Contact any of our labor/personnel group with your implementation inquiries.

While the year will bring us many surprises, one thing is certain:  Illinois schools will continue functioning in a difficult financial environment and a remarkably complex legal and policy environment. Every school district will require highly specialized expertise to successfully manage these environments.

We hope you continue to use the Extra Mile, as well as the ever-growing HLERK in-service and administrator academy programs, to help you manage your legal risk in a time of intense change and financial crisis. In our 26th year, we will intensify our commitment to excellence in service to our clients and the entire Illinois school community.

Of course, with the winter holidays rapidly approaching, we wish each of you a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season.

We look forward to publishing the Extra Mile in 2016 to keep you abreast of breaking legal developments, many of which you will find nowhere else. From all of us at HLERK, Happy Holidays!