StauntonTour2650

STAUNTON – Smaller class sizes, school safety improvements and more emotional and behavioral support for students are some of the gains Staunton public schools have experienced as a result of school funding reform, State Senator Andy Manar learned during a recent tour of the district.

“Staunton schools are seeing significant benefits from the new school funding formula,” Manar said. “The district is making long-overdue changes and improvements that make good sense for families and students in this community.”
Staunton public schools are seeing more than $770,500 in additional money in the first two years of the new formula. Some of the changes that have been possible as a result of the increased funding:

  • Five new teachers and three support staff hired.
  • Decreased class sizes. For example, the addition of another fifth-grade teacher means there are about 26 students in each fifth-grade class, rather than the 34 or 35 students that would have been in each room otherwise.
  • Addition of a part-time counselor at the junior high and elementary school.
  • Established a peer intervention program that enables students to tutor, coach and mentor other students who are having difficulties
  • Expansion of the district’s agriculture program, which is offered to students in junior high and high school.
  • StauntonTour1350Expanded music education offerings.
  • Addition of a family engagement position for preschool families. Parents can borrow materials from the school district and be connected with available community resources.
  • 1:1 student computer program offered to fifth graders and ninth graders.
  • School safety improvements, including a new website that offers more transparency and better communication with parents, plus the addition of Navigate Prepared, an app that helps superintendents, principals, school staff and first responders know which students are in the building and receive alerts about emergencies.

“Now, for the first time in a long time, as a result of evidence-based funding we are having conversations about where we can drive our dollars to have the greatest impact on student learning versus the discussions of the past where we talked about what programs and services we could cut that would do the least harm,” said Dan Cox, superintendent of Staunton Community Unit School District 6.

The district serves about 1,300 students in the Staunton area.

Category: School Funding Reform

ManarMCRTA

State Senator Andy Manar received several awards recently for his work on school funding reform and his dedication to public education in Illinois.

The Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools presented Manar with its Friend of Education Award for his work in bringing a new school funding formula to Illinois. Manar accepted the award during the organization’s meeting in Springfield.

The association represents leaders of the state’s regional offices of education and intermediate service centers.

09112018 Manar Decatur Schools award 350In Decatur, Senator Manar was presented with a Community Partner award by the board of Decatur Public Schools for his work securing school funding reform. Decatur schools have received an additional $4 million in the first two years of the new formula.

Finally, Senator Manar was presented with a certificate of appreciation from the Macoupin County Retired Teachers Association for his work on the formula overhaul and its positive effects on schools throughout the county.

Manar said he intends to continue being a strong voice for retired teachers to protect the pensions and insurance they worked hard for during their careers.

Category: School Funding Reform

09112018 Taylorville tour 650

TAYLORVILLE – Taylorville students are going places – on an architectural tour of the Golden Gate Bridge, to explore a tomb deep inside an Egyptian pyramid, to experience action on a Civil War battlefield, to a virtual automotive shop to learn how to take apart an engine and to a biology lab to see what’s inside humans and animals.

Students are able to do all of this because of the investment the Taylorville school district is making in 21st-century technology, made possible because of Illinois’ revamped school funding formula.

“This is about stability. Yes, we were able to pick up additional money through the formula. That’s good and we’re able to capitalize on that,” Taylorville CUSD 3 Superintendent Gregg Fuerstenau said. “But the financial stability the new funding formula offers is what really allows us to make investments like these and enhance our ability to do more things with local resources.”

State Senator Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and the driving force behind Illinois’ new school funding formula, toured Taylorville schools Tuesday to observe how the new formula is making a difference.

“I’m elated to see the Taylorville school district leveraging school funding reform to expand students’ exposure to new places, new ideas, new ways of learning and career opportunities they may have never considered before,” Manar said.

“That’s what school funding reform was all about – ensuring students in rural and downstate school districts have the same educational opportunities as students elsewhere in Illinois.”

More than $401,000 in additional money has been pumped into Taylorville schools during the new formula’s first two years on the books. Fuerstenau was a strong proponent of school funding reform.

09112018 Taylorville tour 3 650

At Memorial Elementary School, 101 E. Adams St., new reading textbooks have replaced textbooks that third- and fourth-graders have been using for 20 years. STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) carts – introduced this year – enable teachers to bring technology and outside-the-box learning into the classroom.

In Dana Montes’ third-grade classroom Tuesday, students got their first opportunity to use Google Expeditions for a geography lesson and went on a tour of the Golden Gate Bridge in California. As part of its technology plan, the district has purchased sets of the virtual reality educational tool for use by third- through sixth-graders. Students can take virtual field trips of national landmarks, museums, universities, planets and more.

At Taylorville High School, 815 Springfield Road, technology is being integrated into learning largely through the addition of a STEM lab. Community support and a significant donation to the school district from Bill and Marilyn Hopper have made much of the lab and its contents possible. That private support has freed the district to use state school funding dollars for additional tech-related resources and other needs.

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Inside the lab, students have access to:

  • Z space stations, which are all-in-one computers with augmented- and virtual-reality capabilities for STEM learning, automotive training, welding simulator, and language and literature instruction;
  • Oculus Rift technology that enables students to use virtual reality to explore places and events that no longer exist or otherwise would be available to them only through textbooks and imagination;
  • 3D printers for use with Tinkercad and other programs; and
  • the Anatomage, a 3D medical imaging machine and virtual dissection table that allows students to explore systems of the human body, as well as those of various animals, to complement classroom instruction. Using a touch interface, students can view interactive dissections; learn about cells, tissue and bones; study forensic science; see what’s inside mummies; and more. Only two school districts in Illinois have an Anatomage table, Fuerstenau said.

“These tools help students make connections they wouldn’t be able to make wish a book and a lecture,” Fuerstenau said. “Visualization is so important for students, and these tools help bring their lessons to life.”
Manar agreed.

“These are tremendous educational resources for these students. The sky’s the limit in terms of what they and their teachers will be able to explore and learn,” Manar said.

Category: School Funding Reform

Nearly $4M in new money funneled to Decatur classrooms in just two years

Manar 05252017DECATUR – Decatur public school families will continue to benefit from Illinois’ new school funding formula, which guarantees an additional $1.7 million for the academic year that is getting underway, State Senator Andy Manar said today.

That means the new formula will have pumped nearly $4 million in additional money into Decatur Public Schools during its first two years on the books.

“Long underfunded school districts like Decatur are finally getting the attention and the state support they’ve been starved of for too many years,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and the driving force behind passage of the new school funding formula.

“I am delighted the evidence-based model is working as we expected it would. It’s exciting to learn about the growth and innovation happening in our classrooms because of this new, equitable approach to funding education.”

Read more: Decatur schools capture additional $1.7M in Year 2 of new formula

Category: School Funding Reform

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