05012019CM1088SPRINGFIELD – Two pieces of bipartisan legislation sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar that are designed to help eliminate Illinois’ teacher shortage were signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker this week.

On Tuesday, the governor signed Senate Bill 1952, which contains several provisions that are designed to recruit and retain qualified teachers in Illinois, including:

  • Removing the requirement that teachers must pass a basic skills test to be licensed;
  • Permitting K-12 student teachers and early childhood student teachers to be paid;
  • Creating a refund program for teachers in underfunded, hard-to-staff school districts to recoup the cost of the teacher performance assessment; and
  • Allowing early childhood student teachers to be paid and receive credit.

All of the contents of the bill originated from suggestions made by teachers in Manar’s 48th Senate District.

“It’s well documented that we’re having trouble attracting qualified teachers to Illinois schools and it’s time to change that narrative,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat. “As I drafted this legislation, I heard from teachers around the state about the problems they’re facing and I’m glad that we were able to come together to create this package and address these problems.”

On Friday, the governor signed Senate Bill 1460, which prioritizes National Board certification funding for hard to staff classrooms and creates incentives for National Board certified teachers to work in rural and remote areas.

Illinois’ teaching shortage is more profound in rural and downstate communities, studies show.

“This teacher shortage is creating a major barrier to providing students with the best educational opportunities available, and downstate communities like those I represent are bearing the brunt of this challenge,” Manar said. “These new laws are another step in the right direction as we fight to recruit and retain qualified teachers in Illinois.”

In addition to prioritizing these funds for high-need communities, the General Assembly also included a $500,000 increase to support for National Board certified teachers in the new state budget, on which Manar was a chief negotiator.

Last year, Manar passed a different set of measures to address the teacher shortage crisis, including slashing red tape to encourage educators outside of Illinois to apply for hard-to-fill jobs here, creating a short-term substitute teaching license and allowing downstate retired teachers to substitute in classrooms without jeopardizing their retirement benefits. The packaged was signed into law last June.

Both pieces of legislation will go into effect January 1, 2020.

04102019CW0176SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar issued the following statement in response to the announcement of Mueller Water Products’ plans to build a new, state of the art foundry in Decatur:

“Mueller has been a major contributor to the economic vitality of the City of Decatur since their founding over 160 years ago.  I want to thank Mueller for their continued investment and dedication to this community.

“This new, multi-year project represents new opportunities for the people of Decatur and will create hundreds of jobs both in the construction and operational stages of the facility.

“With low unemployment, cutting edge workforce development, and continued economic expansion, progress is continuing in Decatur and Macon County.”

BooksDECATUR – The Decatur Public Library is the recipient of a $14,600 mentoring grant from the Illinois secretary of state, State Senator Andy Manar announced.

The grant was awarded through the FY20 Project Next Generation program, which is a mentoring program administered through Illinois public libraries. Mentors work with middle and high school students to help them develop skills needed to use technology and find success through project-based learning. Mentors also help with developing life skills, such as effective communication, goal setting and conflict resolution.

Decatur is one of 29 public libraries in the state to receive the grant.

“I’m glad to see that the secretary of state is committed to investing in public libraries and underserved youth in Illinois,” Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said. “This grant will help provide at-risk students in Decatur with the tools they need to be successful both now and in the future when pursue a college degree or prepare to enter the job market.”

In all, the secretary of state awarded more than $464,000 in Project Next Generation grants statewide. The money is provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Grants are awarded to public libraries that serve culturally diverse, low-income and underserved populations.

“I am committed to improving the lives of at-risk youth in Illinois,” said Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. “I established this innovative program when I first became secretary of state to give students an opportunity to receive hands-on experience with the latest technological tools at their local library.”

For more information, visit https://ilsendems.co/2GtOQzP.

Richland Visit 7.24.19DECATUR – State Senator Andy Manar joined Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development Acting Director Erin Guthrie and representatives from the business and labor communities for a tour of Richland Community College’s workforce development facilities Wednesday.

“There’s incredible opportunity in the Decatur area and Richland is doing an excellent job of making sure there are qualified individuals ready to take advantage of those opportunities,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat. “And after touring their facilities today, I’m certain that the EnRich program will be instrumental to the economic growth of the community going forward.”

For the past two fiscal years, Manar has helped secure $1.5 million grants through DCEO to help the college expand its workforce development programs.

The additional funds have helped Richland grow its EnRich program, which provides both technical and essential skills training to individuals to help grow the area’s workforce.

“Equipping Illinoisans with the skills they will need to succeed in tomorrow’s economy is a top priority for the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity,” Guthrie said. “Richland Community College’s workforce development center is ahead of the curve in preparing students for jobs in emerging industries as well as industries that are relying more and more on technology to achieve their goals.”

Data from the Economic Development Corporation of Decatur and Macoupin County currently shows that there are over 1,000 job openings that need to be filled in Decatur.

The workforce development programs at Richland are helping bridge that gap by fast-tracking training for workers to fill these positions.

“Employers in Decatur are struggling to find qualified workers, but, conversely, it hasn’t been easy for workers to gain the skills they need to fill these positions,” Manar said. “The EnRich program is finally changing that narrative and making a needed investment in Decatur’s workforce.”

 

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