About 100 Illinois school districts expected to benefit from state match

01172018 Manar Broadband 350SPRINGFIELD – Illinois school districts that have not yet been able to afford the cost of installing reliable high-speed internet soon will be able to do so under a plan being advanced by a bipartisan group of state senators.

A proposal introduced by state senators Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), Sam McCann (R-Plainview) and Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) sets aside $16.3 million in the upcoming state budget to help school districts foot the cost of installing fiberoptic cable for high-speed internet.

The $16.3 million would be matched nearly three to one by the federal government to cover the installation costs, which often are cost-prohibitive for school districts in hard-to-reach areas of the state. Costs can range from $75,000 more than $420,000 per school.

About 100 Illinois school districts with nearly 90,000 students currently do not have high-speed internet through fiberoptic infrastructure. Fiberoptic is faster, more reliable and more cost effective over the long term.

“There’s federal money on the table that we can take advantage of, and we want to make sure we do that on behalf of school districts that can benefit from this state-federal partnership,” Manar said. “Rural schools need to be a priority in Illinois. The digital divide is another example of the inequities among school districts that we have to work to address.”

When schools lack high-speed internet, students are unable to take advantage of such routine modern classroom activities as streaming educational videos, participating in online testing, browsing the internet, playing educational games, and engaging in remote learning.

“Too many of our schools are unable to obtain reliable, high-speed internet access, leaving their schools on the wrong side of a digital education divide,” McCann said. “This legislation is a promise to students that we will do everything in our power to make sure they have access to the tools they need to succeed.”

The $16.3 million will come from the School Infrastructure Fund.

“Technology in school plays an impactful role in the inequalities we see in our schools. Students lack quality learning experiences simply because of their ZIP codes,” said Bertino-Tarrant, chairwoman of the Senate’s Education Committee. “We need to recognize that tech goes beyond a teaching tool, but allows training opportunities for teachers and expanded course selections for students.”

Category: Latest News

12192017 ManarIDOT Letter 1 55 JPGA series of deadly and serious car crashes near a work zone on Interstate 55 in northern Madison County has prompted Senator Andy Manar to request a review by state transportation officials.

The latest crash on Friday involved 10 vehicles and sent numerous people to the hospital, including a Livingston woman who died from her injuries Monday night.

That pileup was near the site of a grisly November wreck that killed four young women and injured numerous others. Two of the victims were from Staunton and were Manar’s constituents.

Several other crashes have occurred in the area of the construction zone between Hamel and Illinois 143 since late October, according to police and local officials. That’s when traffic was reduced by one lane in each direction for road repairs. The work is expected to last through late September 2018, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

“Clearly, there is a problem that needs to be addressed,” said Manar (D-Bunker Hill), whose district begins just north of the construction zone. “I have constituents who drive this stretch of highway every day, or have loved ones who do, and they are extremely concerned about their safety in light of these crashes.”

Manar sent a letter to IDOT Secretary Randall Blankenhorn today asking him to determine if more can be done to minimize crashes and improve safety on behalf of motorists and construction crews who are working on the highway project.

“I don’t know if drivers need more warnings to slow down and pay attention, if more police patrols are required, or if some other measure is needed to ensure this stretch of I-55 is safe,” Manar said. “I am confident that IDOT will assess the situation responsibly and recommend changes that will help protect drivers and put people’s minds at ease, particularly during this busy holiday travel season.”

Category: Latest News

Manar08132017SPRINGFIELD – Senator Andy Manar’s commitment to public service and his ability to talk openly with leaders on both sides of the aisle earned him this year’s Dawn Clark Netsch “Straight Talk” award from the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

Manar was presented with the award Monday night. It is given annually in honor of Netsch, who was an ICPR board member and public servant who spent decades working on behalf of Illinoisans as a state senator and state comptroller.

The award acknowledges her legacy as a straight talker who was known for her ability to tell it like it is.

A tireless advocate for schools and voter access, Manar was presented with the award because of his outstanding efforts on major legislation this year, including school funding reform and automatic voter registration.

“I am honored to receive the ‘Straight Talk’ award from ICPR, but it must be said that neither of these historic reforms was successful because of the work of one individual,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat. “They each passed because I had the help and support of countless state legislators, passionate advocates and grassroots organizations.”

Sarah Brune, executive director of ICPR, said that, like Netsch, Manar’s approach to government can serve as a model for honesty and openness for leaders today.

“Manar’s commitment to public service and his ability to talk openly with leaders on both sides of the aisle recall the tireless spirit of the late Netsch,” Brune said. “ICPR congratulates Senator Manar on his successes this year, and we look forward to working with him on important initiatives moving forward.”

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform was founded in 1997 by the late U.S. Senator Paul Simon and former Lieutenant Gov. Bob Kustra. Its mission is to initiate reforms and promote public participation in government; address the role of money in politics; and encourage integrity, accountability and transparency in government. Among its areas of focus are campaign finance law, government ethics, judicial selection and voter education.

Category: Latest News

RedFlagsSPRINGFIELD – The cancellation of a no-bid consulting contract inked by the Rauner administration in violation of state procurement law raises other red flags about the state’s Medicaid managed care program, Senator Andy Manar said today.

“In my mind, all this does is raise more questions about the Rauner administration’s handling of the overall $60-plus billion managed care contract. I think taxpayers are owed some explanations,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and chairman of a Senate appropriations committee.

The state’s chief procurement officer on Tuesday voided the multi-million-dollar no-bid consulting contract between the Rauner administration and Chicago-based McKinsey & Co. The contract was for services related to the state’s Medicaid managed care program.

The process of contracting with insurance companies to be part of the state’s Medicaid managed care system has been cloaked in secrecy while costs ballooned without explanation. Manar said he and other state senators will be looking for answers from the administration during a Senate hearing at 11 a.m. Friday in Chicago.

The hearing will be streamed live at www.ilga.gov.

Category: Latest News

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