I’m pleased to report that all Illinois schools are receiving a major boost in funding thanks to the bipartisan education budget passed at the end of June, according to data released by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)
Meanwhile, the Governor and Senate Republicans continue their push to make sure the recent budget actions are just the first step toward a full-year, balanced and responsible budget, along with structural reforms that help grow jobs and improve the state’s economy.
Also during the week, the state’s emergency managers are asking residents to be careful during the heat of summer; the state Board of Education is asking for feedback on the sometimes-controversial PARRC testing program; and nominations are being sought for those who have made great strides toward helping veterans.
Board of Education releases funding info for schools
The ISBE has recently revised its school funding forecast with data from the recent education budget passed by the Illinois General Assembly, showing every single school district receiving a boost for the upcoming school year.
The budget itself represents an historic level of cash for K-12 schools as well as pre-K programs, including ending proration of school funding for the first time in seven years. All schools will receive at least their 2015-2016 school year funding level plus a share of a statewide $250 million equity grant. If the existing formula would have given them more money than that for 2016-2017 school year, then the district will receive that higher level. According to State Superintendent Tony Smith, every single school district in Illinois will receive more money than it did during the previous year.
Rauner and Republicans continue push for full balanced budget
Gov. Bruce Rauner has been touring the state to let residents know how the recent stopgap and school budgets will help keep the state operating through the rest of the year. But the Governor and Senate Republicans agree that the recent action is just one step toward truly undoing the damage done by years of out of balance budgets and mounting debt.
The Governor notes that negotiations held by rank-and-file legislators are close to reaching bipartisan agreements on a number of major issues, including property tax relief for homeowners, workers’ compensation reform, achieving major savings for the nation’s most underfunded pension system, and improving the school funding system to help all schools throughout the state.
The Governor has warned though that he doesn’t think lawmakers from the majority party will be willing to take action on major issues until after the November election.
ISBE soliciting feedback on the PARRC testing program
The ISBE’s State Assessment Review Committee (SARC) is conducting a listening tour to hear from students, schools and families to collect feedback on the second round of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment process, which recently concluded in June.
Superintendent Smith is encouraging residents to share their candid thoughts about the test program. He says the feedback will be included in SARC’s final report and will help guide the effort “to make the PARCC assessment as useful and beneficial for educators and students as possible.”
PARCC surveys are available at the following links:
-Teacher survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BJYKK7K
-Student survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/B5LHMMR
-Parent survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/H2GYWVX
-Parent survey (Spanish): https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/M8FRW5X
Governor acts on clemency requests
Gov. Rauner has recently taken action on 157 petitions for clemency, granting six and denying 150. According to the Governor’s office, approximately 500 clemency petitions remain from previous administrations.
So far, Rauner has taken action on 10 sets of clemency petitions since taking office. Each person granted clemency has recently undergone a criminal background check through the Illinois State Police’s Law Enforcement Agencies Data System. If a petitioner is granted clemency for a pardon, they are allowed to seek expungement of their conviction through the court system.
Veterans Affairs seeks nominations for Veteran and Business of the Year
The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs is seeking help from the public to honor the outstanding work of military veterans and businesses who have made significant contributions to veterans’ causes.
The department is asking for nominations for the Illinois Veterans Patriotic Volunteer and Appreciation Award, which honors the work of an Illinois veteran for the veteran community and local communities, as well as nominations for the Illinois Veterans’ Business Appreciation Award, which highlights and honors the work of any business, organization, or non-profit that has significantly helped veterans.
For more information on the awards and a nomination form, visit http://go.usa.gov/chEmV.
IEMA offers tips to stay healthy during extreme heat
The Illinois Department of Emergency management (IEMA) is reminding people to stay safe during the hottest parts of the summer. The agency notes that heat kills more people per year than other weather related hazards like tornadoes, floods and lightning. According to the National Weather Service, heat accounted for an average of 113 fatalities each year from 2006 through 2015.
IEMA says one of the most important precautions to take during extreme heat is to never leave children, elderly people, adults with disabilities, or pets in parked cars even for short periods of time. Even with the windows slightly open, vehicle temps can rise 30 to 40 degrees in less than 30 minutes. The agency also says to keep doors locked to ensure children don’t get into vehicles without parents’ knowledge and become trapped.
Other tips from IEMA include:
- Stay hydrated by drinking at least 1½ to 2 quarts of fluids daily, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages and drinks containing caffeine.
- Avoid overexertion and strenuous outdoor activities if possible.
- Take advantage of cooling centers, public pools and air-conditioned stores and malls during periods of extreme heat. Even a few hours a day in air conditioning can help prevent heat-related illnesses.
- Don’t forget your pets. Offer pets extra water and place the water bowl in a shaded area if outdoors. Make sure pets have a shady refuge where they can escape direct sun exposure.
- If you or someone around you begins experiencing dizziness, nausea, headache, confusion and a rapid pulse, seek medical attention immediately, as these could be the symptoms of heatstroke.
More hot weather safety tips are available at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.