SPRINGFIELD – More than $16 million in state funds are available for rural and downstate schools to expand internet access and close the broadband gap, State Senator Andy Manar announced today.

The Illinois State Board of Education is accepting proposals from school districts that need to expand high-speed broadband and Wi-Fi access in classrooms. Manar (D-Bunker Hill), chairman of one of the Senate’s two budget committees, ensured money was included in the current state budget to help rural school districts access broadband internet so they can offer a 21st century education to students. The effort had bipartisan support.

“Schools can no longer get by without high-speed internet and digital resources in classrooms,” Manar said. “Students in many rural and downstate areas of Illinois are at a disadvantage because of the lack of reliable high-speed internet in classrooms and at home.”

Applications for funding are available at www.isbe.net/broadband. They are due by 4 p.m. Jan. 25. The Learning Technology Center of Illinois www.ltcillinois.org is offering free assistance to school districts to help with their applications.

In Illinois, 77 school districts need fiber connections, and 31 need bandwidth upgrades, according to Education Superhighway, an organization that advocates for increased connectivity in schools.

The organization reports that more than 650,000 students in Illinois have gained access to high-speed internet since 2015 and that 96 percent of school districts have access to broadband now, up from 71 percent in 2015.

However, more than 400,000 Illinois students remain at a disadvantage when it comes to digital learning.

Fiber optic technology offers fast, affordable network speeds and allows school districts to cost-effectively scale up to meet growing bandwidth needs. The $16.3 million in available state funding will cover the costs of special construction projects for school districts with federal approval to install fiber optic cable lines.

To find out which area school districts are in need of upgrades, visit https://www.compareandconnectk12.org/.

Category: Latest News

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar today was named co-chairman of the education transition committee for governor-elect JB Pritzker, further guaranteeing the needs of downstate Illinois are relayed to the incoming administration.

The 35-member Educational Success Committee is the seventh of several working groups of the transition made up of experts who will advise the new administration.

“Educating our children is a foundational obligation of state government, and that’s why I led the charge to update our antiquated K-12 school funding formula to make it equitable for every child,” said Manar (D-Bunker Hill). “We must build on that progress, and that’s exactly what this committee will do. JB and Juliana are laying the groundwork for a cradle to career success network for every Illinoisan.”

Among those named to the committee were Dale Chapman, president of Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey; Ed Hightower, executive director of the Mannie Jackson Center for Humanities Foundation in Edwardsville; Jennifer Garrison, superintendent of Sandoval CUSD 501 in southern Illinois; teachers’ union leaders; university administrators; state lawmakers; members of child advocacy organizations; and others.

Earlier this month Manar also was appointed to the governor-elect’s budget transition team.

Category: Latest News

11092018 Manar IRTA AwardState Senator Andy Manar received the 2018 legislator of the year award from the Illinois Retired Teachers Association this month.

Manar was presented the award during a ceremony Nov. 9. Present was Dave Jokisch, president of the Macoupin County Retired Teachers Association. Also on hand for the presentation were IRTA president Roger Hampton, IRTA legislative chair Bob Pinkerton and others.

“I am humbled to be recognized as the first IRTA legislator of the year. It is truly an honor,” Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said. “I’ll always fight for teachers and educators, both in the classroom and in retirement, to protect what their hard work has earned. I appreciate this distinction and look forward to working together in the future.”

Manar received the recognition for his work sponsoring Senate Bill 3046, which allows Teachers Retirement System annuitants the ability to opt back into the Teachers Retirement Insurance Program if they had opted out.

“Senator Andy Manar is a trailblazer for retirees and continues to build an impressive record of public service where he put retirees at the forefront,” Hampton said. “He continues to work to use his voice to raise the status quo and improve the conditions under which retirees live.”

Manar also is working to address the teacher shortage problem in Illinois and supported House Bill 5627, an IRTA initiative to increase the amount of time a retired teacher could teach part-time without impairing his or her retirement status.

The Illinois Retired Teachers Association represents 38,500 retired teachers and their families. It is the sole watchdog for retired teachers in the Illinois Legislature.

Category: Latest News

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois physicians will not face discipline for recommendations they make to aggressively treat Lyme disease under a new law supported by State Senator Andy Manar.

The Illinois Senate on Thursday voted to override the governor’s veto of a bipartisan plan that permits Lyme disease sufferers to receive extended regimens of antibiotics under a physician’s care.

The plan clears the way for doctors to prescribe more aggressive treatments for Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses than are currently accepted under industry standards without facing disciplinary action by the state.

“Numerous people in my Senate district suffer from the life-altering effects of Lyme, and I believe this plan is a step in the right direction as we learn more about how to successfully treat the disease,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat who co-sponsored the measure in the Senate.

House Bill 4515 creates the Lauryn Russell Lyme Disease Prevention Act. It requires state officials to form a Lyme disease prevention and outreach program and establish a 12-member Lyme disease task force.

The bill passed in the spring with overwhelming support from both Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly, but Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed it in August. This week lawmakers voted to override the governor – 110-0 in the House and 48-0 in the Senate.

There were 237 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in Illinois in 2016, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Category: Latest News

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