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·     Illinois Top 200 survey names Wrigley Field as Illinois’ top building.  Participants in the Illinois Bicentennial’s Top 200 survey were asked to pick their favorite building in Illinois.  The popular choice was Wrigley Field, the century-old Major League Baseball park that became the home of the Chicago Cubs in 1916.  After many generations of mixed results, the storied Friendly Confines became the home of the 2016 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs.

Other Illinois buildings were also supported by survey participants.  Coming in second was a building owned by the people of Illinois, Springfield’s Dana-Thomas House.  The Prairie Style house contains artistic motifs that celebrate Illinois’s ecology and landscapes, and is fitted with more than 100 pieces of Wright-designed furniture, lights, and art glass.  The Wilmette Baha’i Temple, Chicago’s Willis Tower, and Chicago’s Robie House were honored with selection slots #3 through #5.     
Our children’s education remains a top priority for Illinois House Republicans, which is why they have taken action to address the growing teacher shortage in our state. First and foremost, our members are committed to ensuring highly prepared and effective educators are teaching our children. To do that, Illinois must address the teacher shortage.

Background 
The Illinois State Board of Education said the 2017-18 school year began with about 2,000 unfilled teaching positions across the state.* And a recent survey conducted by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools found that school districts were increasingly having difficulty finding qualified candidates to apply for teaching positions.

The results of the survey showed concerns about teacher shortages were more prominent in rural districts in the central part of the state, and substitute teacher shortage concerns were most evident in southern part of the state. The most difficult positions to fill include bilingual, Spanish, special education teachers as well as nurses and school psychologists.

“The reduced candidate pool is likely caused by a combination of factors such as educators leaving Illinois, educators leaving the profession entirely, fewer students enrolled in Illinois approved programs leading to licensure, out-of- state educators choosing not to come to Illinois, and/or out-of-state educators unable to meet Illinois’ licensure standards without substantial delays and additional requirements being met. These issues span across the entire state and are not isolated to rural or urban communities, a particular district type, or geographic location.” **

Legislative solutions
House Republicans have been working closely with educational professionals to devise solutions to increase the number of qualified teachers in Illinois classrooms. Their legislative agenda to address the teacher shortage is outlined below:
  • To address the need for substitute teachers, Rep. Lindsay Parkhurstintroduced legislation establishing a Short-Term Substitute Teaching License. This special provision requires applicants to have an associates degree and allows them to substitute teach in a classroom for a no more than five consecutive days. This provision would allow more qualified individuals to enter the substitute teaching pool.
  • Rep. Bob Pritchard’s measure establishes the Growing Future Educators Program to train qualified high school graduates to become secondary language educators beginning with the 2019-2020 school year. This effort is designed to help meet the need for bilingual and Spanish teachers. 
  • Rep. Pritchard also offered legislation to address the shortage of school psychologists by removing the requirements that those who already hold a valid Nationally Certified School Psychologist credential take additional state-mandated tests for licensure. 
  • To help future teachers complete their education expeditiously, Rep. John Cavaletto submitted legislation that requires Illinois public universities with an educator preparation program to offer those enrolled in it a three-year degree completion program. This is an effort to feed more teachers into the system as soon as possible. 
  • Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer’s legislation will streamline the hiring process for educators at the Illinois School for the Deaf and Illinois School for the Visually Impaired by eliminating the sunset date of which ISD and ISVI employees are exempt from CMS’ grading process.
  • bill sponsored by Rep. Keith Wheeler would eliminate duplicative efforts by state agencies that slow down licensing approval of teachers in the Juvenile Justice System. The provision would eliminate the need for the Department of Central Management Services to verify the State educator license of a teacher employed by the Department of Juvenile Justice if the State Board of Education verifies the license. The bill also ensures that the salary of teachers employed by the Department of Juvenile Justice is comparable to the salary of a teacher employed by a school district in the same geographical area in which the institution or facility is located.
  • In an effort to speak to the shortage of everyday classroom teachers, as well as the scarcity of substitute teachers, Rep. Tom Bennett introduced legislationthat encompasses many of the elements of the previous sponsors and tackles the problem from a number of angles. Among other things it would provide full reciprocity for out-of-state applicants for a Professional Educator License (PEL), thus allowing out-of-state licensed educators to teach in Illinois. Additionally, school districts would be able to hire an individual who already has a PEL or an Educator License with Stipulations to serve as a substitute teacher without that person having to go through the separate application process for a Substitute Teaching License. Lastly, the legislation would adjust the Pension Code to allow retired educators to substitute for more days each year without infringing upon their pension benefits.


Attribution
http://www.whig.com/20180417/teacher-shortage-threatens-harm-to-illinois-education-system#
** http://iarss.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/IllinoisTeacherShortage_12-10-15_kd-2.pdf (pg. 18).

An advertising group in Illinois is providing free advertising space statewide to help promote a new helpline for those struggling with opioids and other substance abuse.

A statement from the state's Department of Human Services says the Outdoor Advertising Association of Illinois has donated some 100 billboards. They will advertise the helpline that offers treatment information for anyone who has questions about opioids and other substances. Several large billboards will appear on tollways.

The Illinois Department of Human Services launched the helpline in December. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's also free and confidential. The number for the helpline is 1-833-2FINDHELP.


WSIL -- Almost a month after Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed the Gun Dealer Licensing Act, the bill sponsor said he plans to file an override. News Three talked with three local Representatives that say, if the override comes up in the House, they won't support it. 
Last month, Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a gun control bill he called "duplicative" of federal laws. 
The bill would require gun dealers to pay for a state license and require further training for their employees on how to do background checks.
Representative Dave Severin feels bills like this are for personal gain.
"This is an election year. So some of these bills are "gotcha bills." Some of them are just trying to get people on record for where they stand or what they stand for or don't stand for. A lot of this is gamesmanship going on," said Rep. Severin. 
The veto is expected to be brought up as early as Tuesday. 
Click here to read the full article on-line and watch the video report at WSIL-TV 3


SPRINGFIELD – Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) is outraged that very important pieces of public safety legislation were not advanced out of the House Judiciary-Criminal committee yesterday. With the committee deadline today, these bills will not advance to the House Chamber this legislative session.

“The message from the House Democrats yesterday is clear – partisan politics are more important to them than protecting the most innocent and vulnerable in our state,” Durkin said. “Our message to them is that the House Republicans will not stand down and will continue to fight for victims of crime, first responders and all the citizens of Illinois.”

Some critical public safety bills that were killed by Democrats in committee yesterday are:

  • House Bill 5649, introduced by Leader Durkin, would deny bail for offenders who commit battery against a police officer while in police custody.
  • House Bill 5079, introduced by State Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale), increases the penalties for human traffickers.
  • House Bill 4586, introduced by State Rep. Tony McCombie (R-Savanna), increases a battery charge to aggravated battery if the victim is an employee of the Adult Protective Services Program, the Ombudsman Program or Department of Child and Family Services and the offender knowingly causes great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement of the victim. This bill was the result of the tragic death of DCFS employee Pamela Knight who was murdered while trying to take an abused child into custody.
  • House Bill 4318, introduced by State Rep. Michael Unes (R-East Peoria), would make it illegal for a sex offender to knowingly reside within one mile of the victim of the sex offense. Currently, the law allows sex offenders to live as close as 500 feet to their victims.

“Our single, greatest duty as legislators is to protect our constituents, and these actions by the House Democrats are appalling, egregious and unacceptable,” Durkin said, who previously served as a felony prosecutor at the Cook County State’s Attorney Office. “These bills are responsible, thought out, and will have an immediate impact in providing protections for innocent victims of crime.”

"Congratulations to Touch of Nature Environmental Center at Southern Illinois University - Carbondale, the Dr. William Freeberg Family, and Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke on your well-deserved recognition for all of your good work to develop programs and help start the Special Olympics in 1968 right here in Illinois!"
--State Rep. Dave Severin



One of the Special Olympic Athletes who led
the opening ceremonies with the
Special Olympics Pledge.
Dr. William Freeberg's granddaughter, Brittany Freeberg,
talks about his life's work here in Southern Illinois and
his impact on Special Olympics.




















IL Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke organized the
first Special Olympics in Chicago in 1968.
State Rep. Terri Bryant, State Rep. John Cavaletto, and State Rep. Dave Severin at the "Gala in the Woods" to celebrate and raise money for the Special Olympics of Southern Illinois and SIU's Touch of Nature Environmental Center.

Congratulations to my colleague, John Cavaletto, for your part in developing activities and programs for children with special needs at the summer camps. To watch some of the ceremony, click here to see the story by Joe Ragusa at WSIL ABC Channel 3.

Click HERE to see the full video.
Pictured (l-r) are State Rep. Dave Severin, Pastor Rick Fowler, and Administrative Bishop Rick Whitter.


This past Sunday, Rep. Dave Severin, joined a host of family and friends as they celebrated 100 years of ministry to Logan and the surrounding area. Special guest was Administrative Bishop Rick & Letha Whitter. Lunch was provided by "some of the best cooks around!" Rep. Severin presented a House Certificate to commemorate the occasion.
CARBONDALE – United States Representative Mike Bost (IL-12) along with Illinois State Senator Paul Schimpf (IL-58), State Senator Dale Fowler (IL-59), Representative Terri Bryant (IL-115), Representative Dave Severin (IL-117), and Representative Natalie Phelps-Finnie (IL-118) urged caution regarding a recent proposal to swiftly move more than $5 million in funds from Southern Illinois University’s Carbondale (SIUC) campus and divert the money to the University’s Edwardsville campus.

“The Carbondale campus is currently working through the first steps of a reorganization that has not really been given a chance to start working,” said Bost. “I’m concerned there is a push to make a quick decision to divert funds from Carbondale to Edwardsville by a Board of Trustees that currently has a vacant seat. We’re talking about moving a lot of money out of Carbondale’s economy. I think we should slow down, study this, and at the very least have a fully-slated Board of Trustees before making such a vitally important decision.”

“Although I support evaluating and potentially updating the funding ratio between the two universities, any such change should only occur after a careful study, conducted in a process that has the support of the full board of trustees,” Schimpf said. “The current proposal is scheduled to go before an incomplete Board of Trustees, without the benefit of outside, impartial study, at a time when SIUC is in the midst of a reorganization. I urge the University President and the Chair of the Board of Trustees to rethink their decision to press ahead with this vote.”

“I do not oppose coming together to take a closer look at where funds are currently being allocated
and exploring the possibility and consequences of adjusting the funding ratio between SIUC and SIUE. However, I will not support pushing through a funding shift that would have lasting negative consequences on SIUC’s future, the community and the region as a whole,” said Sen. Fowler (R-Harrisburg). “This is a decision that will require careful consideration and demands input from the SIUC community, weighing the impact such a cost shift would have on staffing, future enrollment and the surrounding economy.

I encourage the Board to postpone their vote, ensure the community has a voice in this decision and move forward in a cooperative and thoughtful manner.”

“I share my constituents’ concerns that a major diversion of funding from SIUC to the Edwardsville campus will hurt the local and regional economy,” Bryant said. “This move would further downgrade the capabilities of the University to be the world class research facility and economic engine that we need in southern Illinois. The jobs that could be lost due to this funding plan will hurt the Carbondale economy and losing more programs at SIUC will only make the problem of dropping enrollment worse.”

“I have been concerned at the speed with which major step was proposed and brought forward for consideration,” Rep. Dave Severin said. “We are urging that the full Board of Trustees be seated before taking any action on any reallocation plans. I am calling on the Board to slow down and study this from every angle. SIU Carbondale is an economic driver for the region and we need to protect it and continue to work to grow enrollment.”

“Southern Illinois University - Carbondale has been the cornerstone of education and research as well as the economic engine for Southern Illinois for many years. Shifting money to the Edwardsville campus is not the best way forward for the SIU system. Southern Illinoisans cherish the Carbondale campus as a part of their lives and as part of the town’s iconic history, and our entire economy is heavily dependent upon its success. We need to find a better way to increase funding and reestablish SIU-C as the educational beacon that attracts our own students, as well as those from across the United States,” said Rep. Natalie Phelps Finnie, D-Elizabethtown.

Each of the legislators is encouraging their constituents to contact them to share their own opinions on this critical issue for southern Illinois.

Contact:
United States Representative Mike Bost | 202-225-5661
State Senator Paul Schimpf | 217-737-2782
State Senator Dale Fowler | 618-294-8951
State Representative Terri Bryant | 618-242-8115
State Representative Dave Severin| 618-440-5090
State Representative Natalie Phelps-Finnie | 618-253-4189
Benton Lions Club Vice President Terry Swift pictured with
Benton High School ambassadors Makaela Hampton and
Carson Hill. Photo courtesy of Cindy S. Page

According to an article by the Harrisburg Register, the Benton Lions Club, with help from students in Benton, Akin and Ewing-Northern, as well as businesses and area churches, now has collected more than 10,000 pair of used eyeglasses for recycling.

It is not known exactly when the 80-year-old club first started collecting and recording its efforts. It is known that Charles Towle, Dr. John Wooley and Bill Lockin were some of the early leaders of the recycling project.

The collection of used eyeglasses will be ongoing. Glasses may be dropped off at any of the following locations: Spencer, Spencer and Spencer, Marion Eye Care, SSLM Health Medical Group, the Benton Public Library, US Bank, Peoples National Bank, the American Legion, All Stars and Stitches, Leffler Funeral Home, Pate Funeral Home, or one of the following churches: Immanuel Baptist Church, Whittington Church, First Christian Church, First United Methodist Church and First Baptist Church.

If your business, church or organization would like to have a drop-off box, notify any Lions Club member.
The Illinois Bicentennial Commission today released its first video commercial promoting the state’s 200th birthday. The :30 second spot is the center point of a statewide multimedia campaign named after the theme of the yearlong celebration: BORN, BUILT & GROWN in Illinois.

The campaign, which will run from now until the 200th birthday party on December 3, 2018, will showcase Illinois’ influence on the worlds of music, sports, agriculture, literature, commerce, history, technology and innovation, transportation, art and architecture, among others.

The content for the effort is pre-produced and being distributed statewide for carriage on television, radio, digital and social media. The messages can be run as public service announcements by media outlets or packaged by outlets for sponsorship by local advertisers. The Illinois Broadcasters Association is the distributor.

"We're delighted with this creativity and the opportunity it now provides our association's members in seeking local sponsorships," remarked Dennis Lyle, president and CEO, Illinois Broadcasters Association.

The content was produced by Chicago-based AnswersMedia and paid for with private funds.

The Bicentennial program incorporates material supplied by Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Illinois Association of Museums, Illinois Department of Agriculture, and the Illinois State Museum.

To view the commercial, click here.

Congratulations are in order for the sixty-two men and women who graduated on Friday from the Illinois Department of Corrections Academy!

The IDOC Mission Statement:
"To serve justice in Illinois and increase public safety by promoting positive change in offender behavior, operating successful reentry programs and reducing victimization."
Rep. Severin and IDOC Acting
Director John R. Baldwin


Thirty-two men and women will be assigned to the Murphysboro Life Skills Reentry Center and thirty men and women to the Pinckneyville Correctional Center.

Thank you to the Illinois Department of Corrections Honor Guard for the presentation of colors and the Murphysboro High School Drumline for their participation!

Thank you to the Williamson County Soil & Water Conservation District and the information provided by Logan Hollow Fish Farm on suggestions for stocking your pond.


WHAT SHOULD I STOCK IN MY NEW POND?

In the spring:

1-2 inch Bluegill or Hybrid Sunfish - 500 per acre

1-2 inch Redear - 250 per acre

Fathead Minnows - 5 pounds per acre

4-6 inch Channel Catfish - 150 per acre (if desired)

In the fall:

2-3 inch Largemouth Bass - 75 per acre (with Bluegill) or 50 per acre (with Hybrid Sunfish)


WHAT SHOULD I STOCK IN MY EXISTING POND?

Much depends on the existing stock that is already in the pond but suffice it to say you probably need to stock larger fish in order for them to survive.

3-5 inch Bluegill - 100 to 150 per acre
5-8 inch Largemouth Bass - 50 to 75 per acre
6-8 or 8-10 inch Channel Catfish - 150 per acre

For more information call the Williamson County SWCD at 618-993-5396 ext. 3.

Thank you to Aisin Manufacturing in Marion for hosting this program for business owners to learn about the changes in the Federal Government's immigration policy and what is required for federal compliance. The seminar was conducted by Linda Fleener of the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition (IBIC) covering the following topics:

* Contents of President Trump's immigration executive orders, increased immigration enforcement, and impact on employers;

* How to completely and correctly fill out I-9 forms

*The rights of employers in the case of a visit from ICE and how to create a plan of action in case ICE performs an audit or raid at your business

Some of the partners of the IBIC include the Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Hospital Association, Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association, the Landscape Contractors Association, Illinois Science & Technology Coalition, and the Illinois Restaurant Association.

If you were unable to attend this program, please contact my office at 618-440-5090 to learn more.
With an eye towards the Prairie State’s history in the White House, Illinois celebrates President’s Day today Monday, February 19.  General Washington’s victories at Yorktown and other battlefields helped force Britain to officially cede Illinois Territory to the new United States in the 1783 Treaty of Paris, making it possible to create the future state of Illinois thirty-five years later.  Washington’s birthday is the ancestor of what is now President’s Day, and 2018 marks the first President’s 286th birthday.  One of Washington’s veterans, James Monroe, as President signed the bill in 1818 that made Illinois the 21st state.   

The first President who lived in Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, was elected in 1869 when Illinois as a state was only 42 years old.  Lincoln, whose 209th birthday was observed last week on February 12, has become a symbol of the State’s bicentennial celebration.  Ronald Reagan is the only President  actually born in Illinois (Tampico), while Ulysses S. Grant lived in Galena, Illinois. The most recent President who lived in Illinois was former State Senator Barack Obama who lived in Chicago.

Rep. Severin questioning school superintendents recently on the new school
aid formula at an Appropriations-Elementary & Secondary Education hearing.
State Representative Dave Severin (R-Benton) issued the following statement in reaction to the Governor’s budget address today.

“I believe the Governor laid out a realistic look at the State of Illinois’ financial picture in his budget address today. We’ve suffered under the rule of Mike Madigan and the Chicago tax-and spend politicians for decades. Changes need to be made. Long term financial health will only happen in Illinois if we enact conservative fiscal policies, and economic growth is the only way we will ever get a handle on our debt and deficits.

Illinois ranks at the bottom of most lists when compared to other states when it comes to economic indicators and job growth. Our workers’ compensation costs are too high and the regulations on job creators are too burdensome. Today, the Governor stated his desire to ensure that Illinois’ economy grows faster than government spending. I couldn’t agree more.

Another major key to energizing our economy is to unleash the power of the untapped natural resources that sit right below our feet in Southern Illinois. We must get the government off the backs of job creators and entrepreneurs. Our working families can’t take more taxes and our businesses can’t take more regulations. I think the message from today’s budget address was clear. Illinois needs to grow good paying jobs for working families if we are going to survive our long-term financial challenges.”

What: Governor Rauner delivers budget address

Where: Illinois State Capitol – House Chamber

Date: Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Time: 12:00 p.m.

The address will be streamed on Facebook Live and at the following links:

http://www.ilga.gov/houseaudvid.asp





HD Satellite Coordinates: 
Slug: Illinois Budget Address Live
Date: February 14, 2018
Time: 11:45 AM (CT) 1:00 PM (CT) 
Satellite: ECHO105K
Transponder: 07
Slot: A9
Downlink Frequency: 11826.5
Downlink Polarization: Vertical
Bandwidth: 9 MHz
Symbol Rate: 7.5
FEC: 5 / 6
Data Rate: 18.589212
Video: MPEG-4 4:2:0
Modulation Scheme: 8PSK

For technical assistance please call IOCI Media Services at 217-785-5499.


Illinois 34
Franklin County
Thompsonville, Illinois




The Illinois Department of Transportation would like to alert motorists
traveling on IL 34 near Thompsonville in Franklin County
of an upcoming ROAD CLOSURE.

Beginning Tuesday, February 20, 2018 at 8:00 A.M.,
IL 34 approximately 1.75 miles east of Thompsonville will be closed.

This closure is necessary to facilitate the repair of a drainage structure.
The road is expected to be open by 5:00 P.M.
on Friday, March 2, 2018.

Motorists should use the marked detour or seek an alternate route.
Message boards and signs will be in place to alert traffic of the closure.

For IDOT District 9 updates on twitter, follow us at
https://twitter.com/IDOTDistrict9.









Today the Governor will deliver his "State of the State" address to a joint session of the General Assembly at the Illinois State Capitol in the House Chambers. For those who are interested, you may watch the live video or listen to the live audio at the Illinois General Assembly web site (ILGA.GOV) by clicking on the link HERE.

If you have problems connecting at the House link,
the address will also be streamed
on Facebook Live and at the following links:








Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an executive order declaring it impermissible for state legislators to represent clients before the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board, which hears appeals of assessment decisions made in the state’s 102 counties.

Calling the practice a “clear conflict of interest that must end,” Rauner said the order, which is effective immediately, is a key step toward restoring public trust and motivating lawmakers to tackle meaningful property-tax reform.

“We have a deeply flawed and overly complicated property-tax system that recent investigations have shown results in inequitable, disproportionately high property-tax burdens on low-income residents — not to mention our property taxes overall are simply too high,” Rauner said. “For any legislator to profit from this system undercuts the public’s faith that they are in office to do what’s best for their constituents.

“Legislators who make money representing clients who are appealing their property-tax assessments have little incentive to do what’s right when it comes to property-tax reform,” Rauner continued. “Frankly, they have everything to gain from the status quo. The action I’m taking today marks the beginning of the end of a dubious era.”

The order:

*Directs members of the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board to prohibit state legislators from participating in appeals coming before them.

*Directs the board to prohibit legislators from receiving any fee or compensation, directly or indirectly, through any interest in a partnership, limited liability corporation or other business entity representing clients before it.

*Notes a State of Illinois Code of Personal Conduct requirement that government be conducted in a transparent, ethical, accountable and motivated manner.

*Points out that state officials and employees “may not engage in outside employment or activities, including seeking or negotiating for employment, that conflict with their official state duties and responsibilities,” according to the conduct code.

*Directs the board to amend its rules and procedures to reflect the executive order.


The Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board hears about 30,000 appeals a year, approximately three-fourths of them from Cook County.

“Conflicts of interest clearly arise where legislators and regulators receive financial benefits by charging Illinois citizens and businesses through a morass of red tape those same officials created by passing complicated rules and establishing confusing and bureaucratic processes,” the executive order states.

Crippling taxes overall and an onerous property-tax system are eroding the state’s ability to thrive and driving homeowners and small businesses toward insolvency — and increasingly, toward the border.

While property taxes are cited frequently as a top reason for leaving Illinois, the state is duty-bound to take concrete steps to correct the system, Rauner said. He noted the state’s population declined by an estimated 33,700 in 2017, the greatest numeric population loss of any state, and the fourth year in a row that Illinois’ population dropped.

“Illinoisans are tired of a rigged system that allows lawmakers to profit at their expense,” Rauner said. “I’m here to fight on their behalf.”


"Even though there's a budget, we have people that are hurting and that have needs that need to be met," said state Rep. Dave Severin, R-Benton. "So we've got to be realistic and address things that can help people go forward."


Read the story and see the broadcast video from WSIL ABC TV 3 by clicking here.

State Representative Dave Severin (R-Benton) announced that the following school districts will be receiving grant money from the Secretary of State’s School Library Grant Program:

                                          Benton CHSD #103 - $750.00

                                          Benton CCSD #47 - $819.00

                                          Carterville CUSD #5 - $1,571.25

                                          Christopher Unit School District #99 - $750.00

                                           Johnston City CUD #1 - $794.25

                                           Marion CUSD #2 - $2,875.50

                                           Crab Orchard CCU #3 - $750.00

                                           Sesser-Valier CUSD #196 - $750.00

                                           Thompsonville CUSD #174 - $750.00

                                           Frankfort CUSD #168 - $750.00

“The School Library Grant Program is intended to provide more library books and materials for public school students across the state," Rep. Severin said. "I am excited to see so much money is coming to the schools in our district. I know from my experience as a member of the Benton School Board, libraries often times get short changed in favor of other school programs. These funds will greatly help our public schools provide their students with access to quality libraries.”

Statewide, the program awarded $1.2 million to public schools. Qualifying school districts had to apply for the grant and have a functional library in the district. The amount of money each district received was based off of school enrollment from the Illinois State Board of Education.

“As a former public school teacher and administrator, I know our school libraries are very important in helping students learn and prepare themselves for the future,” said Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian, Jesse White. “Illinois was the first state to implement a school district grant program for libraries, and I am pleased that we can continue to provide them with some of the financial resources they need to produce well-educated students.”