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Late last year congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), replacing No Child Left Behind. On October 5th, ISBE is conducting a listening tour to discuss the state's plan to implement the federal law. ISBE is looking for input from school staff, administrators, parents, and students. To see the questions that State Superintendent Tony Smith is looking to answer, click here. If you would like to view the state's current draft plan, click here

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will begin accepting applications for winter heating assistance for seniors and people with disabilities today. LIHEAP and the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) program are funded as part of the stopgap funding plan signed into law by Governor Rauner.

LIHEAP is a state and federally funded energy assistance program for low-income families, in which heating bill payments are made on behalf of households. Applications are processed through a network of 35 local administering agencies around the state. These agencies will begin accepting applications on a first-come, first-served basis from the elderly and people with disabilities starting today, September 1st.

Congressman Randy Hultgren invited government officials from around the congressional district, including State Representative Bob Pritchard, to a meeting on Tuesday August 30th to discuss federal and local efforts to combat heroin abuse and overdoses. The meeting was to address what federal, state and local governments are doing to combat the exponentially rising heroin and opioid overdose rates in the US. According to the Centers for Disease Control, overdoses from heroin, prescription drugs, and opioid pain relievers surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of injury-related death in America last year. 

Earlier this summer President Obama signed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act in to law. The law establishes grant programs to non profits and state and local governments that would expand prevention and education efforts while also promoting treatment and recovery. Part of the meeting was to make local officials aware of these new grant opportunities. 

Observations and comments about state government by State Representative Robert W. Pritchard.
District Office 815-748-3494 or E-Mail to bob@pritchardstaterep.com 
August 29, 2016
In This Issue:
  •  How to Reform School Funding
  • Another Delay in Obtaining Fair Mapping
  • Illinois Health Exchange Takes Series of Blows
  • Delayed Payments for State Healthcare to Continue
  • Public University Investment and Enrollment Declining
  • Labor Day and Welfare Reform have Something in Common
  • Energy Assistance Now Available
  • Constitution Week; a time to Learn and Celebrate
How to Reform School Funding
The debate about funding our schools adequately and equitably has been ongoing almost from the time our state began.  The recently created School Funding Reform Commission is taking a fresh look at what other states are doing, educational research into best staffing practices and a better way of funding schools. 
There is general agreement that the way Illinois funds elementary and secondary schools is neither adequate (so that 90 percent of students are meeting state education goals) or equitable (so that all districts and students have a similar amount of resources, curriculum offerings, and activities).  
Springfield, IL… A new law spearheaded through the House by State Representative Bob Pritchard (R-Hinckley) will help to ensure that children are ready to learn when the school day begins.  Senate Bill 2393, signed into law today, employs alternative methods to incorporate breakfast in to the school and provide almost complete funding through federal grants.

Pritchard said current Illinois law requires some schools to have a school breakfast program, but many students are still starting their day off hungry.  Traditional school breakfast programs serve breakfast before the start of the school day and require students to arrive to school early, which can be especially difficult for kids riding the bus and other low income students.  

“’Breakfast after the bell’ will reach more children and help them focus on learning throughout the day,” Rep. Pritchard said.  “We need to make sure that the conditions are right for students to have the best chance to study and succeed.” 

Senate Bill 2393, requires schools with 70 percent or more low income students to implement a “breakfast after the bell” program.  According to Rise and Shine Illinois, the state ranks 42nd in the nation in providing students with a school breakfast.  The new law could help capture $42 million in additional federal funding for schools.  


Secretary of State Jesse White announced today that his office has reinstated the mailing of vehicle registration reminder notices to Illinois drivers. To offset the cost of the mailings, White is drafting legislation allowing his office to offer advertising space on the mailings. In addition, White is urging the public to sign-up for email notices to further reduce mailing costs.

The Secretary of State’s office discontinued mailing reminders in October 2015 due to the lack of funding as a direct result of the state budget impasse. The stop-gap budget recently passed by the legislature and signed into law by the Governor allows White’s office to reinstate the notices.

Read more on the Caucus Blog.
Observations and comments about state government by State Representative Robert W. Pritchard.
District Office 815-748-3494 or E-Mail to bob@pritchardstaterep.com 
August 1, 2016

In This Issue:
Ø  Despite Budget, Schools Fear Funding Cuts
Ø  NIU Receives Approval to Resume Stevens Project
Ø  School Funding Reform Commission Faces Large Task
Ø  County Fairs Display Youth Skills
Ø  Struggle for Fair Redistricting Continues
Ø  Bill Protects Children of Military Families
Ø  Summer Readers Rewarded

Despite Budget, Schools Fear Funding Cuts
After years of funding cuts and proration of funding, many school districts don’t trust the state to provide more money towards education this year.  The stopgap budget approved in June appropriated just over $1 billion more for PK-12 education this fiscal year including a $361 million increase in general state aid, $250 million for low resource schools, and $75 million more for early childhood education. 
In my legislative district, every elementary and secondary school is appropriated at least some increase in state funding compared with last year.  Despite this, many local schools are considering budgets that will cut programs and even lay off some workers.  The reason is obvious, they don’t believe the state will have enough revenue to provide the promised funding and operating costs are rising faster than revenue growth.
While the stopgap budget appropriates a full year funding for education, all other areas of the state budget are only provide enough money to operate through December.  The State Comptroller estimates there will be over $10 billion in unpaid bills by December 31. 
So as schools finalize their budgets for the 2016-17 school year this month, many are continuing to tighten their financial belts.  I applaud the difficult job that school administrators and school boards have in providing a quality education for every child, complying with state mandates and trying to estimate what the state will be able to pay.  Despite the Governor’s priority for education funding, there isn’t enough state revenue to fund everything.