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SPRINGFIELD, IL (AP) -   Illinois lawmakers averted a shutdown of schools and avoided further uncertainty in government operations with a partial budget deal that funds education for a year and other areas for six months.

The Illinois Legislature passed a package of bills Thursday to complete an agreement by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic lawmakers after days of negotiations. But the deal means the state will still enter a second fiscal year Friday without a full budget and will likely extend the partisan fighting over a comprehensive spending plan past the November elections. 

The partial budget ensures schools will operate for a full academic year and brings a sigh of relief for districts that wondered whether they could open at all.  Schools will also get $500-million more dollars.  No school district loses money compared with the current year. Districts that serve more low-income students will split a $250 million grant, with Chicago Public Schools receiving about $100 million. 

Lawmakers also allowed the Chicago Board of Education to raise property taxes $250 million to help pay billions in teacher pension debt.

Higher education institutions, social services providers, and government operations will get money for six months. 

     




Centralia High School Superintendent Chuck Lane

Sandoval Superintendent Jennifer Garrison

Representatives from 180 school districts and associations joined a rally in Vandalia Wednesday afternoon calling for equitable school funding and passage of a state budget now.  

Sandoval Superintendent Jennifer Garrison is one of the leaders of the effort.

"This is real.  We are in crisis mode for Sandoval School District, without a k-12 budget, we literally can stay open 30 to 45 days after school starts.  There are other districts can not even open their doors.  Chicago Public Schools are here standing with us today.  This is a state-wide crisis."

Garrison says those joining in the rally has grown rapidly during the past day.

"Numbers kept coming in today we are super excited.  We have over 180 different districts and community groups represented as well as state associations.  One Eight Zero, so here goes the roll call."

Among local districts represented were Centralia High School, Raccoon Grade, Patoka, Iuka, Selmaville, Central City, Odin, Irvington, Willow Grove, Carlyle, Mt. Vernon, Rome Grade, St. Elmo, Brownstown, and Ramsey.  The Regional Superintendent of Schools office and Kaskaskia Special Education District also joined the rally.   

Centralia High School Superintendent Chuck Lane is one of the others spearheading the effort.

"I'm here today because enough is enough.  Our students are suffering and it must stop today.  At Centralia High School we've lost over a million dollars the last five years due to general state aid proration.  That lost of revenue has been devastating for our district.  It has coast us 8 full time teaching positions the last five years.  It's also stopped us from making any type of curriculum enhancements."

Lane says they have wanted to implement a 1 on 1 program for incoming freshmen, but have been unable to do so due to the proration of state aide.  He notes with 70-percent of the students in the district being from low income families, they will continue to be left behind without equitable state funding.  

The group is pushing for an equitable solution that drives more state dollars to the neediest districts across the state by July 1st, the start of the new fiscal year.  The group maintains Illinois has the mot regressive education funding system in the nation.  For every dollar spent to educate a non-low income student, only 81 cents are spent on a low-income student.  They say when our children's futures are at stake, we cannot put politics first.


The Illinois House has approved the first pieces of a stopgap state budget deal aimed at funding education and keeping the state operating.

Lawmakers passed a measure Thursday that allows Illinois not to repay about $454 million previously taken from special state funds, freeing up that money for other uses. The bill also freezes lawmaker pay and per diems for another year and extends online lottery sales. 

The House also approved legislation 73-37 to provide $215 million to Chicago Public Schools to help fund its teacher pensions, as the state does for districts outside the city. 

House GOP Leader Jim Durkin says under a deal negotiated between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic leaders, the bill won't go to the governor for his signature until the Legislature approves statewide pension reform.


Mt. Vernon Police have arrested seven people on drug charges while executing three search warrants on Tuesday.  The search warrants were issued after evidence was developed of drugs being sold from the homes.  

Two men fled a home at 10-18 Warren Avenue when the Mt. Vernon Police Department-Jefferson County Sheriff's Department High Risk Team executed the first search warrant.  One of men, 26-year-old Curtis Booker, and a woman at the home, 23-year-old Gabrielle House, were both arrested for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, possession of cannabis, possession of drug equipment, resisting a peace officer and Child Endangerment.  The second man, 26-year-old Trimail Clay, was charged with possession of cannabis and resisting a peace officer.  A search of the residence revealed quantities of heroin packaged for delivery, in addition to to cannabis, drug equipment and drug proceeds.  The street value of the heroin was set at $3,800.  Two small children were also inside the home when police executed the search warrant.    

Two men were arrested when a search warrant was executed at #5 Bravard Place where quantities of crack cocaine, cannabis, drug equipment and drug proceeds were recovered.   28-year-old Moses Curtis and 26-year-old Theodore Jefferson were both charged with possesion of a controlled substance, possession of cannabis with intent to deliver and possession of drug equipment.  

At the third residence, two occupants were arrested after quantities of cocaine, cannabis, drug equipment, loaded firearms and drug proceeds were located.  63-year-old Larry Mays was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of cannabis with intent to deliver, possession of drug equipment and possession of firearms by a felon.  Yvonne Jones was charged with possession of cannabis with intent to deliver.

Over $5000.00 in drug proceeds were seized from the three locations.  All were taken to the Jefferson County Law Enforcement Center, pending the posting of bond.

All persons arrested are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.


A 43-year-old Wamac man has been arrested by Marion County Sheriff's Deputies on a theft case.  Kelly Hixenbaugh of South Wall Street is accused of taking a $400 thermal tool from the shop of Rob Timmons of Green Street Road in Centralia. Hixenbaugh was an employee who left work with the tool.  The owner later learned it had been sold to another person for $40. Timmons was able to get the tool back and called the sheriff's department when Hixenbaugh did not reimburse him for the $40.

Centralia Police arrested 20-year-old Austin Tibbetts of Belleville for misdemeanor theft.   He remained in the Marion County Jail Thursday.   

27-year-old Bryson Rucker of Caseyville was arrested by Sandoval Police for driving on a suspended or revoked license.  

Salem Police arrested two people following a traffic stop Wednesday night.  The driver, 26-year-old Samantha Chinn of Farside Lane in Salem, was arrested for driving on a suspended license.  27-year-old Jerrod Hunt of West Florida in Sandoval was arrested for obstructing a peace officer.  He allegedly refused to get back in the car after repeated request from the officer to do so.  

Six others were arrested on outstanding warrants.  40-year-old Allen Keebler of North Cherry in Centralia remained in custody on an outstanding Marion County misdemeanor warrant and for driving on a suspended license.  20-year-old Quienton Jolliff of South Locust in Centralia was arrested by Centralia Police on an outstanding felony warrant.  40-year-old Misty Kinsey of Walnut Street in Centralia is being held on an outstanding Marion County traffic warrant following her arrest by sheriff's deputies.  51-year-old Roger Hill of Old U.S. 51 in Sandoval remained in custody after being arrested by Sandoval Police on an outstanding Marion County felony warrant.  23-year-old Trey Nix of Tulsa Street in Salem was arrested by Salem Police on an outstanding Perry County misdemeanor warrant.   23-year-old Nathan Hale of North Hickory in Centralia was transferred to the Clinton County Jail after being arrested on an outstanding Clinton County warrant.




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