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Cunningham: Time to deliver fair education funding

cunningham 031517SPRINGFIELD – School districts throughout the southwest suburbs and the state, ignored by Illinois’ worst-in-the nation education funding formula, could soon see an increase in state aid under a reform measure that passed the Illinois General Assembly last week.

“I was proud to stand in support of Senate Bill 1, a measure that will fix the worst funding formula in our country. We needed a real solution that not only properly funded our schools but also delivered property tax relief to high-tax districts—and we have done that with this legislation,” said State Senator Bill Cunningham.

Senate Bill 1 was vetted by multiple organizations throughout the state. It had the support of superintendents, school boards and teachers. If signed by the governor, it would be the first significant update to the funding formula in more than 20 years.

Earlier this week, the Illinois State Board of Education released estimates for each school district and showed that no school district in the state would see less state funding under Senate Bill 1 when compared to the current funding formula.

It also provided extra support for those in need and offered additional property tax relief.

The estimated overall gain that area school districts would experience under Senate Bill 1 based on the current-year funding levels:

  • Chicago Ridge School District 127-5 -- $880,000
  • Community High School District 218 -- $409,448
  • Cons High School District 230 -- $209,950
  • North Palos School District 117 -- $315,924
  • Oak Lawn Community HS District 229 -- $135,174
  • Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123 -- $146,644
  • Worth School District 127 -- $193,129

In addition, Senate Bill 1, high-tax school districts would be eligible for property tax relief up to 1 percent of their EAV. Estimated relief for five area school districts:

  • Chicago Ridge School District 127-5 -- $573,844
  • Community High School District 218 -- $6.62 million
  • North Palos School District 117-- $4.01 million
  • Oak Lawn Community HS District 229 -- $2.51 million
  • Worth School District 127 -- $1.11 million

Senator Cunningham represents portions of Worth, Orland and Palos Townships in the southwest suburbs and the neighborhoods of Mt. Greenwood, Beverly, Morgan Park and Auburn-Gresham in Chicago. 

Cunningham: Time to provide necessary resources to handle mental health issues

DefendantSPRINGFIELD – Custody of defendants with mental health issues could become more streamlined and appropriate due to legislation that passed the Illinois Senate on Monday.

“We need to provide the necessary resources to ensure the mental health of those determined to be unfit to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity be dealt with appropriately,” said State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago). “It will only help to keep our communities safer in the long run.”

The legislation, House Bill 649, would create a formal process for the county sheriff and the Department of Human Services to handle custody of defendants found unfit to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity. It provides requirements regarding the evaluation and transportation of the defendant to a secure facility.

The legislation now moves to the governor’s desk for approval.

Cunningham fights to increase local access to Chicago Ag School

cunningham 050217SPRINGFIELD – Families in Mount Greenwood, Beverly and Morgan Park could soon see increased enrollment opportunities to the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences (CHAS) because of legislation passed by the Illinois Senate on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 447, sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago), would allow for 40 more seats to be opened up to local families and would statutorily authorize the special education cluster that currently exists at the school

“The Ag School is a top-tier school, and anytime it is possible we should be increasing access to schools like these,” Cunningham said. “By doing this we allow more families to have an opportunity to keep their kids closer to home.”

CHAS was created by state law more than 20 years ago. Though the school has provided special education services for years, those programs were not recognized by state law until the introduction of Senate Bill 447.

“Special education services should be guaranteed at schools, like the Ag School, that offer students unique education experiences,” Cunningham said. “This measure helps accomplish that and provides some stability for families in our community.”

The legislation now moves to the House for further consideration.

Measure to allow college savings accounts to purchase computers passes

cunningham 031517SPRINGFIELD – College students needing to buy a new computer for school use or who utilize special needs services could soon be able to use their Illinois’ College Savings Plan to do so due to a measure passed by the Illinois Senate on Thursday.

“Today, computers are just as necessary as textbooks,” Cunningham said. “If you don’t have easy access to a computer your chances of succeeding plummet.”

Senate Bill 1758 would add computers and other technology based expenses to the definition of qualified expenses for the purposes of one’s Illinois’ College Savings Plan. Expenses from special needs services connected with enrollment or attendance would also be defined as qualified expenses.

“The state restricting a student with special needs from using their college savings accounts to pay for required expenses related to successfully attend college is ridiculous,” Cunningham said. “By passing this legislation, we can put every student closer to succeeding in their post-secondary goals.”

The measure passed the full Senate unanimously. It moves to the House for further consideration.

Senator Bill Cunningham

 Cunningham2014

18th Legislative District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Agriculture; Appropriations II; Gaming; Higher Education (Vice Chairperson); Labor; Telecommunications and Information Technology (Chairperson); Transportation.

Biography: Served in the House from 2011-13; full-time state legislator and lifelong resident of the southwest Chicago area; born July 21, 1967; graduate of Saint Barnabas Grammar School (1981), Mount Carmel High School (1985) and the University of Illinois Chicago (1990); former advisor to Cook CountySheriff Mike Sheahan and former chief of staff to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart; youth soccer coach; parent representative on the Sutherland Local School Council; lives in Beverly with wife, Juliana, and two daughters, Madeline and Olivia.