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Stadelman passes measure to direct federal funds to at-risk students

stadelman 042617SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) secured passage of legislation today that will protect federal funding for the Rockford public school district.

The measure, effective July 1, ensures federal funds meant for Title 1 programs go to help low-income children rather than paying into teachers’ pensions and could free up millions of federal dollars for Rockford public schools.

“Right now, school districts are being required to use federal funds that are meant to go to students to pay down the state’s pension debt,” Stadelman said. “This disproportionately affects at-risk students in the districts that need help the most.”

The legislation allows school districts to pay into federally funded teachers’ pensions at the same rate as all other teachers, cutting the districts’ contribution rate from 45 percent to 7 percent. Individual teachers’ pensions would not be affected.

Dr. Ehren Jarrett, Rockford Public Schools Superintendent, testified in committee in favor of the legislation last month.

“What we’re advocating for is to let those federal dollars go to what the teachers and the principals in those schools say they need most, which is support for struggling students,” Jarrett said. “This is an opportunity for equity for those schools.”

Title 1 funding provides federal assistance to school districts with high percentages of low-income students to make sure their educational needs are met. Schools can use the funds for schoolwide programs or programs targeted at individual students, but they are intended to bring students up to the state’s academic standards.

SB 195 passed unanimously in the Senate and will move to the House for consideration.

Sen. Steve Stadelman

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34th Legislative District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Education; Transportation (Vice-Chairperson); Committee of the Whole; Higher Education; Appropriations I; Commerce and Economic Development.

Biography: Earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Worked as a news anchor/reporter for WTVO-Channel 17 for 25 years, In 2003, his coverage of the state's death penalty earned him an Associated Press award for Best Documentary.