SPRINGFIELD – Three Senate education leaders are urging the governor’s administration to expedite its study of the statewide teacher shortage and report its findings to the General Assembly by March 1.

In a Nov. 14 letter (below) addressed to Illinois State Board of Education Chairman James Meeks, State Senators Andy Manar, Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant and Kimberly A. Lightford ask the board to accelerate its inquiry into the crisis so that lawmakers will have enough time to craft and pass legislation that will help to address the matter prior to next school year.

The shortage has caused more than 2,000 current teaching positions to go unfilled statewide.

“We commend you for the effort made thus far by the State Board to address teacher shortages and for further prioritizing the issue by initiating a year of inquiry on the subject,” the letter reads. “However, this is a crisis that deserves even more urgent attention and swift action to provide crucial support to students, administrators, and teachers.”

During a Nov. 6 hearing of the Senate Education Committee in Decatur, lawmakers were told that teachers around the country often skip over Illinois when they’re looking for a job because of low starting salaries, licensure difficulties and other issues.

Manar said schools in the 48th Senate District are among those most affected by the teacher shortage.

“We have schools all over central and southern Illinois relying on retired teachers and permanent substitutes to fill the void of qualified, professional teachers. And when no one answers that call, classrooms go dark. This is no way to educate children,” said Manar (D-Bunker Hill), a member of the Education Committee and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“It is essential that lawmakers and ISBE work together quickly to identify the red tape that can be cut to help get good teachers into good jobs teaching great kids in Illinois schools.”

Read more: Manar, senators urge ISBE to accelerate teacher shortage study

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Gary Wayne Price remembered by family, classmates, veterans, others

GILLESPIE – Dozens of people gathered in Gillespie Monday to remember a Dorchester soldier who was killed in action in 1967 only a month after beginning his tour of duty in Vietnam.

Now, U.S. Army Private First Class Gary Wayne Price, a 1966 graduate of Gillespie High School, will be permanently honored in this Macoupin County community. A section of Illinois 16 from Stagecoach Road to Gillespie is officially designated the Pfc. Gary Wayne Price Memorial Highway, and the Illinois Department of Transportation has installed signage identifying it as such.

A ceremony Monday hosted by State Senators Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and Sam McCann (R-Plainview) and Price’s family brought together those who knew the soldier and wanted to honor his memory, including friends, classmates, relatives and area veterans. The event took place at the Gillespie Municipal Building.

“We take things for granted today in the United States – our freedom, the simple things we enjoy in life each and every day,” Manar said. “We enjoy those things because people put their lives on the line for their country and for people they will never meet and will never know. That’s what Gary Wayne Price did for us. This is a small thing we can do to honor his memory, but I think it’s a fitting thing for state government to do.”

Price was just 19 when he was killed by small arms fire on May 6, 1967, while serving near Plieku in Vietnam as an infantryman with Company B, 3rd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division. He had started his tour of duty on April 6, 1967.

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Born July 28, 1947, he was the youngest son of Vern and Vera Price and was the first serviceman from Macoupin County to be killed in the Vietnam War. He was buried in Bunker Hill Cemetery. More than 1,200 people paid their respects at his services, according to newspaper accounts. A small memorial erected three months later in Dorchester in southern Macoupin County is believed to be the first memorial erected in Illinois for a soldier killed in Vietnam.

Price’s sister, Judy Schwallenstecker, lives in Bunker Hill and attended Monday’s ceremony along with her husband, Ollie Schwallenstecker; her daughter, Pam Monetti; her sister, Betty Craddick; and two of her brothers, Charlie Price and Steve Price. Judy Schwallenstecker said the Price family was touched by the turnout and thanked everyone for their dedication to her brother.

“After 50 years, you still don’t get over it. It’s still very, very hard to take,” she said.

“When Gary left for Vietnam, I don’t think any of us knew what Vietnam was at the time, but believe you me, it was brought home to us very quickly. We are very proud of Gary. He didn’t really want to go, but he did what he had to do at the time. I just want you all to know that we still love Gary, we miss him, and I thank you all for coming.”

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Gary Wayne Price posthumously was awarded numerous medals and commendations, including the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Vietnam Service Medal with one Service Star, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.

Senate Joint Resolution 32, sponsored by Manar and McCann in the Senate, authorizes the memorial highway designation. It was sponsored by State Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) in the House.

Read more: Crowd honors Dorchester soldier killed in Vietnam 50 years ago

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SPRINGFIELD – Danasia Nelson, a freshman at Douglas MacArthur High School in Decatur, joined Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) at the Illinois Capitol Wednesday as his page for the day.

Nelson, 14, is enrolled in honors classes at school and enjoys playing volleyball and following politics. Accompanying her to Springfield was her aunt, Lisa Stanley of Decatur.

Manar talked with Nelson about her interests and her goals for the future in the video below.

Manar Mason Manufacturing Tour 350 1DECATUR – Senator Andy Manar toured Mason Manufacturing in Decatur recently to learn more about issues of importance to the manufacturing industry in Illinois.

Mason Manufacturing produces shell and heat tube exchangers, pressure vessels, columns and tanks that are used in a variety of processing industries, such as refineries, ethanol plants and food production. The company, at 1645 N. Railroad Ave., employs more than 50 people, including highly trained fabricators and welders.

Manar (D-Bunker Hill) toured the plant Nov. 1 with Bob McKinley, president of Mason Manufacturing, representatives of the Illinois Manufacturing Association and State Rep. Sue Scherer (D-Decatur).


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