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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.

Cunningham: Governor’s inaction equals an attack on teachers

Sen. Bill CunninghamSPRINGFIELD – Chicago teachers and retirees could see their livelihoods be slashed due to inaction from the governor’s office.

“Chicago teachers and retirees are on the front lines every day trying to educate our next generation as best they can with what little resources they have,” Senator Bill Cunningham said. “The state should be doing more to support all teachers including those in Chicago.”

Legislation has been passed multiple times to ensure that Chicago teachers would receive the proper pension that they were promised when they took the job. But each time, the governor has continued to attack their ability to do their job.

Cunningham joins U of I and pushes for higher education accountability

cunningham 022817SPRINGFIELD – On Thursday, Senator Bill Cunningham and officials from the University of Illinois announced a new financial aid program that will be a part of the larger University of Illinois “Investment, Performance, and Accountability Commitment.” The goal of the commitment is to set a tuition cap and increase access to the University of Illinois for Illinois students.

“This new program continues to drive home the fact that universities like the U of I system should be finding ways to bring real results for Illinois taxpayers,” Cunningham said. “This legislation is a step in the right direction to ensure taxpayer money being spent is doing what it is supposed to be doing, helping Illinois.”

The legislation, Senate Bill 222, would guarantee a minimum level of funding for the University of Illinois system in return for the system meeting certain benchmarks including a tuition cap and increased access for Illinois students. The forthcoming amendment looks to help U of I achieve the goals set. If the university system were to fail their expectations the state could withhold a portion of the guaranteed funding.

“This legislation could be a template for other universities throughout the state,” Cunningham said. “It provides stability in university planning and gives the Illinois taxpayers tangible results on how that money is being spent.”

Senate Bill 222 is currently under consideration by the Senate’s Higher Education committee.

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.