ChildLibrary 350BUNKER HILL – Seventeen local school districts will receive more than $22,000 in grants through the Illinois secretary of state’s School Library Grant program, Senator Andy Manar announced.

The grants, which are issued by the Illinois State Library, are meant to help public schools offer more library books and materials to students.

“I am pleased that so many deserving central Illinois schools will benefit from this year’s library grants,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat. “This support will go a long way toward helping school libraries offer new and updated materials as children hone their reading skills and discover the thrill of picking up a great book.”

Schools receiving school library grants include:

  • Bunker Hill Community School District 8 — $750
  • Carlinville Community Unit School District 1 — $1,073.25
  • Central A&M Community Unit District 21, Assumption — $750
  • Decatur Public Schools — $6,052.50
  • Gillespie Community Unit School District 7 — $939
  • Hillsboro Community Unit School District 3 — $1,195.50
  • Litchfield Community Unit School District 12 — $991.50
  • Mount Olive Community Unit School District 5 — $750
  • Nokomis Community Unit School District 22 — $750
  • North Mac Community Unit School District 34, Girard — $973.50
  • Pana Community Unit School District 8 — $934.50
  • Panhandle Community Unit School District 2, Raymond — $750
  • Rochester Community Unit School District 3A — $1,689
  • Sangamon Valley Community Unit School District 9, Niantic — $750
  • Southwestern Community Unit School District 9, Brighton — $1,041
  • Staunton Community Unit School District 6 — $915.75
  • Taylorville Community Unit School District 3 — $1,775.25

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.”

AWM08132017 350BUNKER HILL – The governor’s veto of a simple trailer bill this afternoon creates potential chaos for every Illinois school that stands to benefit from long-overdue funding reform, State Senator Andy Manar said today.

The last-minute veto of Senate Bill 444, technical cleanup legislation requested by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s own administration and passed quickly by the General Assembly two months ago, boggles the mind, said Manar, the chief Senate sponsor of Illinois’ historic, bipartisan school funding reform overhaul.

“Here’s what Gov. Rauner accomplished today: absolute chaos while undoing all of the equity components in the school funding reform legislation that he takes credit for passing,” said Manar (D-Bunker Hill). “Underfunded schools that have been subjected to an unfair formula for decades will have to continue to wait because of Bruce Rauner’s inexplicable actions today.”

The General Assembly responded immediately in November to a request from the Illinois State Board of Education, part of the Rauner administration, with bipartisan legislation to help the state quickly implement the new school funding formula.

But rather than immediately sign SB444, Gov. Rauner sat on the measure and issued a last-minute amendatory veto this afternoon. That veto now stands to derail implementation of the new formula, which ISBE had indicated it was on track to move forward with immediately.

“Today, Gov. Rauner tossed his own request in the trash by once again unconstitutionally rewriting legislation, just like he did last year with his veto of Senate Bill 1, the school funding reform bill,” Manar said. “I am truly perplexed and puzzled by the motivations of this governor, who claims to care deeply about public education in Illinois. Why would he veto a bill that he sought in the first place?”

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.”


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