cpz microphoneSPRINGFIELD –A longtime champion of worker’s rights and increasing support for education workers, State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas is supporting a measure that would allow principals and assistant principals in the city of Chicago to collectively bargain.

“Workers in all roles can suffer under unfair workplace policies—even those in managerial positions with more power in the workplace than others,” Senator Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) said. “School principals should have the same right to organize and demand change in their working conditions as other employees, and this law will ensure they can do just that.” 

By clarifying which educators are considered qualified “managerial employees”, House Bill 5107 ensures principals and assistant principals in Chicago will have the right to unionize.

“Principals are our school’s leaders. If we trust principals to lead our schools, we should also trust them to try to make changes when an environment is detrimental to their success,” Pacione-Zayas said. “Allowing principals to form unions will allow them to foster a workplace that supports them—allowing them to better support our children on their learning journey.”

If signed, principals and assistant principals could negotiate a work contract to focus time on developing teachers and school culture instead of dealing with problems that fall under the district’s responsibility.

School administrators in New York, California, New Hampshire, Alaska, Connecticut and several other states have collective bargaining rights.

House Bill 5107 passed the Senate Friday and awaits the governor’s approval.

Category: Press Releases

pacione zayas guzzardi tarverSPRINGFIELD – To ensure families with limited economic resources have access to affordable, permanent housing, State Senator Cristina H. Pacione-Zayas is the Senate sponsor of new legislation to provide increased funding for the Rental Housing Support Program.

“Without affordable housing options, folks may lose their jobs, be displaced from their community and separated from their families,” said Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago). “It is imperative that we continue to invest in affordable housing programs so that we increase access all over the state, and this initiative takes the first steps to do just that.”

Since 2005, the Rental Housing Support Program has provided rental assistance to households by subsidizing rental apartments and homes. As a participant in this program, a family with very limited economic resources has their rent subsidized through a contract with private landlords and RHSP to close the gap between what they can afford and market rate rent. RHSP paying the difference allows building owners to offer housing for families with limited economic resources and still meet their ownership costs. The program currently houses over 4,000 families across the state, and with this increase in the funding stream, thousands more could benefit. community land trusts cpz

Under current law, the RHSP’s funds are collected from fees to county clerk offices for requesting real estate documentation. However, these fees and the percentage of the fee that goes to the RHSP, have not been increased since the program’s inception in 2005, limiting RHSP’s impact, especially more so with inflation. The initiative will increase these fees, as well as the amount of the fee that goes toward the Rental Housing Support Program. It will also create a task force to ensure rental housing support funds will be distributed equitably across the state and prioritize communities that historically have not been able to take full advantage.

State Representative Curtis Tarver is the lead House sponsor of the bill. “I think it is reasonable that those of us who are fortunate enough to purchase a home to allot an additional $10 to ensure others have the ability to be housed,” said Tarver (D-Chicago).

“Housing is a human right,” Pacione-Zayas said. “With rising costs of rent and underfunded programs, too many people are not afforded this fundamental need. Increasing funding for the Rental Housing Support Program will increase access to housing and is another tool we have to address the affordable housing crisis across the state.”

House Bill 3878 passed both houses on January 6, 2023. It now goes to the governor’s desk to become law.


Attached photos:  Rep. Tarver, Rep. Guzzardi- commemorates the passage of HB3878 in the House and Senate; Group Photos with Palenque LSNA - group includes Christian Diaz, Director of Housing, and LSNA youth to discuss a campaign for $5 million for the Here to Stay Community Land Trust. This investment is vital for addressing the affordable housing crisis in our state and for supporting the most vulnerable members of our community. 



Category: Press Releases

After the sudden passing of State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign), Senator Pacione-Zayas released the following statement:

"I am heartbroken at the news of Senator Bennett’s passing. As vice chair for the Higher education committee, we worked closely together to increase access and equity to institutions of higher education. His commitment to deep understanding of the issues and solving for problems that limit participation of all communities was something we both shared and lifted up in our committee work. His sense of humor was unmatched, and his love and commitment to his family was even greater. We swapped stories about our kids and how best to support their development, and I’m grateful for his suggestion to take the kids to the amazing indoor ferris wheel at Scheels during one of the times I had them with with me in Springfield. I will always cherish these memories of Scott, and am thankful for how much joy and humor he brought into my life and the lives of so many. We will miss him dearly in the Senate, and we are all sending our deepest condolences to his family."

Category: Press Releases

cpz hb4933SPRINGFIELD – To provide more transparency in the current hiring process for principals in the Chicago Public School system, State Senator Cristina H. Pacione-Zayas in collaboration with Chicago Principals and Administrators Association introduced a new initiative to grant Local School Councils (LSCs) access to the universe of qualified applicants for these vital positions—ensuring viable candidates are not overlooked, and underqualified applicants are not chosen over their peers.  The bill also increases protections and clarity for candidates throughout the process.

“Under the current policy, local school councils do not get the full view of eligible candidates for the role of principal—and with a more narrow view, they often miss out on candidates that may be better suited for one of the most important drivers in school success—the instructional leader,” said Senator Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago). “I am passionate about making systemic change in the currently opaque hiring process to ensure the highest quality of education for our children moving forward.”

With the status quo in Chicago Public Schools, aspiring principals, already meeting rigorous standards to be licensed by the state, must go through a second eligibility determination process. If they pass this additional opaque vetting process, candidates interested in a particular school’s job posting submit their credentials to the entire Chicago Public School system, not the individual schools they are interested in, and are subsequently entered into a universal pool of qualified principal applicants. From there, when a Local School Councils posts a vacancy, CPS sorts and sends interested applicants to LSCs, who then decide on a candidate for the role and often include additional vetting at the school level. However, LSCs do not get to look over the entire candidate pool, and only have access to the group CPS advances, even if other candidates were also eligible. This has led to issues in many schools in the CPS system, including a principal being hired who did not know the language of instruction and unable to evaluate teachers in the language of instruction, when other potential candidates who may be fluent in the language yet not included in the hiring pool given to LSCs.

To address this oversight, this legislation increases transparency for applicants by making public the rubric and scoring threshold for passing each step in the process, allowing for due process when candidates do not advance to the next stage of evaluation, and would give Local School Councils access to the entire eligible pool of candidates. These protections give LSCs a much larger, more diverse pool of candidates to select from—some of whom may be more qualified to be leaders in schools than the narrower pool that CPS may have advanced. Further, it allows greater opportunity for equity by informing candidates of deficiencies and resources for improvement. Senator Pacione-Zayas is confident this change will make the hiring process work better for students, educators and aspiring principals in the CPS system.

“Principals are the primary driver of school achievement,” Pacione-Zayas said. “Students and faculty deserve leaders who are best matched for their school’s unique needs—and that can only be done of the hiring board can review all qualified candidates.”

House Bill 4933 passed unanimously out of the Senate Executive committee on November 30, 2022. It now goes to the Senate floor for further debate.

Category: Press Releases

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