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Lightford responds to Cullerton's school funding reform speech

lightford cps 012016CHICAGO—Senate Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) issued the following statement in strong support of Senate President John Cullerton’s speech detailing the necessity for need-based school funding reform Monday at the City Club of Chicago.

“Just as President Cullerton expressed so eloquently today, we must continue to shed light on one of the grossest injustices setting back Illinois today – the iniquities of our school funding system. Working together is the only way we turn our education system’s regression into progression. It’s the only way we turn systemic disadvantage into education equity. If we don’t act now in the interest of our children’s futures, it will be too late for another generation, and this, we cannot afford.” Sen. Lightford said.

Rauner’s unnecessary hostile takeover

lightford cps 012016SPRINGFIELD – In response to the forthcoming legislation seeking to allow for the bankruptcy and government takeover of the city of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools being pushed by the governor and Republican leaders, Senate Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford released the following statement.

“The Republican administration has gone too far, and the governor has shirked his real duties to the people. If he wants so desperately to restructure Chicago Public Schools, he should start by restructuring the systemic prejudice that continues to permeate our children’s schools.

“Chicago is not a third world country to be seized by a government. This is not our path to success. All of our leaders need to treat Chicago students and teachers with respect, value them as equally as any other student or teacher and be willing to proactively restructure our education system for the next generation.”

New year, better way to prioritize needs of developmentally disabled

lightford 120715SPRINGFIELD – On Jan.1, 2016, students with developmental disabilities will find it easier to get the help they and their families need. Sponsored by Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D – Maywood), a new law that goes into effect the first of the year requires the state to train public school case workers to register disabled students with PUNS (Prioritization or Urgency of Need for Services) database.

The database records information about individuals with developmental disabilities who are potentially in need of services. Experts have argued that due to a lack of awareness, PUNS is under-utilized, and therefore, people with developmental disabilities across the state are not getting the services they need.

“Our education system should be optimized to serve and develop all students to reach their fullest potential,” said Sen. Lightford. “This law is protecting our children and families from being overlooked or neglected through the power of institutional and academic synergy.”

The law will ensure students in Illinois public schools and parents have the information they need to register with PUNS if they so choose.

DHS and ISBE would develop a program for and conduct the training of public school employees so they are as prepared as possible to provide these students and their families with the information and advice they need. The law also requires ISBE to inform parents and guardians about updates with the PUNS waiting list through the school districts.

POINTS OF EMPHASIS

  1. An effort to increase awareness of this valuable resource
  2. New training program for case workers to ensure students and parents in all public schools are well aware of the opportunities afforded to disabled students by signing up
  3. Yearly opportunities for individuals to sign up for the PUNS list to be provided in cases where training is not available
  4. Applies to all public school districts
  5. DHS choosing individuals based on need level and available funding
  6. Passed House unanimously, Senate concurred unanimously


In addition, the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus has a list on its website of 16 pieces of the legislation that will become effective Jan 1.

Lightford: Good work, but more to be done

lightford 120715SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) issued the following statement after she voted to free up $3.1 billion in spending to sustain local communities, including motor fuel tax revenue, which has been held up by the budget impasse in Springfield. The measure passed the Senate and now goes to the governor for final approval.

“Today, my colleagues and I proved our resolve to make sure families and local governments have the money to continue functioning without a true budget in place,” said the assistant majority leader. “Now, we must shift our focus to what remains to be budgeted, prioritizing higher education and crucial community services, such as mental health and homeless programs. We have more work to do.”

The legislation releases motor fuel tax revenue for communities throughout Cook County – communities such as Bellwood, Maywood, North Riverside, Westchester, Oak Park and River Forest – that can be used to prepare for winter storms and repair potholes.

The exact dollar amount of how much communities are owed this year has not yet been released, but communities throughout Cook County received nearly $100 million in gas tax money last year.

Other areas of concern that have yet to be dealt with in the piecemeal budget process include MAP grant funding and other scholarships, services for rape victims, addiction treatment, immigrant language translation services, Teen Reach, epilepsy services and respite care.

Still, the legislation (SB 2039) does include the following components:

•    $582.5 million to IDOT for local governments share of motor fuel gas tax revenues
•    $77 million for 911-related costs
•    $1 billion to the Lottery for prizes
•    $43 million to the Community College Board for career and technical education activities
•    $31 million to IDOT to purchase road salt
•    $2.5 million for breast cancer services and research
•    $165 million for home heating bill assistance

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; Oversight Medicaid Mang. Care, Spec; Supplier Diversity, Special Com. On; Subcommittee on Gov. Operations (Sub-Chairperson); Subcommittee on Charter Schools (Sub-Chairperson).

Biography: B.A. in Communications, Western Illinois University; M.A. in Public Administration, University of Illinois Springfield; former Village of Maywood trustee; former employee at 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 family.

Associated Representatives:
La Shawn K. Ford
Emanuel Chris Welch