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Lightford measure lowers required school age to 5

lightford 041119SPRINGFIELD – Children could soon be required to start school at age 5 under a proposal spearheaded by Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood).

Senate Bill 2075 lowers the compulsory school age from 6 to 5, and was approved by the Senate on Thursday.

Parents could choose to hold their child back a year if they have a birthday after May 31.

“This proposal makes learning a habit for children across Illinois,” Lightford said. “When we get students in the classroom at an early age, especially those from underprivileged communities, they are more likely to continue their education as they grow older.”

In 2006, Lightford established a universal preschool program that helps prepare 3- and 4-year-olds for Kindergarten, a measure that increased the state’s early childhood education investments by $45 million.

Since then, Illinois has continued to invest more in these type of programs with the latest commitment from Gov. JB Pritzker to increase early childhood funding by $100 million.

The legislation now heads to the House for approval.

Lightford seeks to lower required school age to 5

Senator LightfordSPRINGFIELD – Children could soon be required to start school at age 5 under a proposal spearheaded by Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood).

Senate Bill 2075 lowers the compulsory school age from 6 to 5, and was approved by the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday.

“It is vital for students to be in the classroom, especially at an early age,” Lightford said. “This measure allows us to make a strong impact in the lives of our children and increases opportunities for those who come from underprivileged communities.”

The measure seeks to help address chronic absenteeism across the state by establishing a habit of attendance in kindergarten and first grade. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, at least one in five Chicago Public School students missed at least 17 days of school during the 2017-18 school year. The state’s average is about one in six children.

Chronic absenteeism has a wide range of negative effects for the absent students and for their classmates, as instructors often need to go over materials again, Lightford said.

The legislation now heads to the full Senate for approval.

Lightford helps Komarek School secure funds for facility updates

Senator LightfordSPRINGFIELD – Komarek Elementary School District 94 could soon have much-needed funds to update infrastructure under legislation led by Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood).

The $22 million plan includes a new gymnasium, parking lot and green space where 13th Avenue separates the east and west buildings of Komarek School. The sky bridge that currently connects the two buildings would be renovated to include a new library. The west building of the school, which was built in 1955, would be renovated to meet current standards.

“This measure gives Komarek School administration an opportunity to update and revitalize their facilities,” Lightford said. “Our children deserve a learning environment that fosters growth and creativity, and I commend Komarek School for wanting to provide that for their students.”

Senate Bill 2112 allows Komarek Elementary School District 94 to issue bonds up to $22 million should voters approve a referendum during the April 2019 elections.

The measure was approved by the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday.

Lightford vows support for funding early childhood projects

Senator LightfordSPRINGFIELD – Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) is drawing attention to the need for designating funding for early childhood building and renovation projects in the state’s next construction program.

“Our previous construction plan missed the mark on supporting early childhood programming,” Lightford said. “We need to ensure that we dedicate the funding to make sure our families have access to these critical services.”

The state’s last construction plan was implemented in 2009, and included a $45 million appropriation from the Build Illinois Bond Fund for the state's first Early Childhood Construction Grant program. However, the Capital Development Board received 227 applications totaling more than $539 million in requests for these construction and renovation resources, illustrating the unmet needs of early childhood facilities.

Senate Resolution 85 urges the next state construction program to dedicate a minimum of $250 million from state bond sources for the purpose of supporting critical early childhood projects.

“While this is only half of what was needed ten years ago, this is an important first step that puts the need for these projects on the forefront,” Lightford said.

The measure was approved in the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday and is scheduled to move to the full Senate for consideration.

Sen. Lightford

Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford

Senate Majority Leader
4th District


Years served: 1998 - Present (Senate) 

Committee assignments: Assignments (Chairperson); Education; Energy and Public Utilities; Executive Appointments; Executive; Higher Education; Labor.

Biography: Full-time senator; B.A. in communications, Western Illinois University; M.A. in public administration, University of Illinois Springfield; village of Maywood trustee; employee for Secretary of State, Department of Corrections and Central Management Services; longtime champion in the Senate for education, working families and women's issues; lives in Maywood with her son, Isaiah.

Associated Representatives:
La Shawn K. Ford
Emanuel Chris Welch