GRAYSLAKE – State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) is announcing that school districts in the 31st District will receive more than $90 million in additional funding to help address the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Overnight, teachers were forced to get creative and find ways to connect and guide their students through the ever-changing battles brought forth by the pandemic,” Bush said. “They did so with little guidance and funding, but with a lot of grace and leadership.”

The funding comes as part of the most recent federal COVID-19 relief packages. Schools, students and parents have overcome challenges that no one could have imagined before the pandemic began, including remote and hybrid learning, digital connection issues, new processes for receiving state and federal aid that normally flow through schools, and more.

Local school districts are set to receive the following amounts:

  • Winthrop Harbor SD 1: $799,625
  • Beach Park CCSD 3: $4,449,621
  • Zion ESD 6: $5,249,246
  • Millburn CCSD 24: $546,180
  • Emmons SD 33: $257,950
  • Antioch CCSD 34: $804,130
  • Gavin SD 37: $1,496,092
  • Big Hollow SD 38: $1,470,308
  • Grayslake CCSD 46: $2,966,400
  • Woodland CCSD 50: $5,516,722
  • Round Lake CUSD 116: $21,569,241
  • CHSD 117: $27,085,963
  • Wauconda CUSD 118: $4,504,623
  • Warren Twp HSD 121: $3,520,999
  • Zion-Benton Twp HSD 126: $8,025,622
  • Grayslake CHSD 127: $1,895,910

The majority of the funding comes from the American Rescue Plan, which gives local schools a great deal of flexibility in how they can use the money over the next 3 ½ years. At least 20% of the funding must be used to address learning loss, but beyond that, school districts can use the money to address many different issues and costs. For example, it can be used to better equip schools for safe learning, to prevent layoffs, to address students’ social and emotional needs, to fund summer programs, or to ensure all students have access to reliable Wi-Fi and technology.

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The State Board of Education, in collaboration with other state agencies that address education, has produced a guide for local school districts to help them decide how to best use their resources. While the guide and other state-sponsored services are completely voluntary, the state aims to support local districts during this difficult time.

“While the end of the pandemic is in sight, the educational struggles it provoked may linger,” Bush said. “However, I am confident this additional funding will allow schools to move forward in a way that’s best for all students and staff.”

In total, Illinois received nearly $7 billion to support local school districts.

 

Category: Latest

SPRINGFIELD – When a person with a mental health condition calls 911, they don’t always need the hospital – but are typically taken to an emergency room rather than the mental health facility they require. State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) is leading a measure that would change that by allowing EMS workers to take patients where they’ll most benefit.

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“Imagine going through a mental health crisis, then being taken to an emergency room, rather than a place that can actually help you,” Bush said. “That’s going to cause anger and frustration – let alone waste time that could be used to begin treatment.”

Currently, EMS providers can only take a patient to an emergency room, where a medical professional can then determine if they would be better suited for a mental health facility. To bypass the extra – often unnecessary and costly – step, Senate Bill 693 allows direct transport to proper assistance. 

EMS workers would have the opportunity to request bypass of the hospital if the patient has no immediate life-threatening injury or illness, is not under the influence of drugs or alcohol and does not have an obvious need to be seen by emergency room personnel.

Behavioral health patients are increasingly putting pressure on emergency departments. They often occupy emergency rooms at disproportionate rates due to a limited number of psychiatric inpatient beds, limited community resources or a lack of access to care. Not only does this put a burden on overflowing emergency rooms – especially in the age of COVID-19 – it also can be financially cumbersome.

“Being admitted to the emergency room – no matter if you have insurance or not – can be very expensive,” Bush said. “Let’s work to ensure people can get the fastest treatment possible without unnecessary fees.”

The measure passed the Senate Behavioral and Mental Health Committee Tuesday and heads to the full Senate for further consideration.

 

Category: Latest

GRAYSLAKE – The Zion Park District has been selected to receive $132,800 in state funds to update a popular bike trail through the Illinois Bicycle Path Grant Program, State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) announced Thursday.

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“Trails and bike paths offer residents, families, and visitors public spaces to enjoy the outdoors and be physically active,” Belt said. “This grant will ensure that the Edina Trail is a safe and accessible option for residents to enjoy for transportation and recreation.”


The Zion Park District will use the grant funding to resurface 1.5 miles of the 8-foot-wide asphalt trail. The project also includes updating roadway crosswalks with accessible concrete curb ramps, providing trail entry and crossing signs, adding a bike repair station, and implementing drainage improvements.


The Illinois Bicycle Path Grant Program, which is administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, was created in 1990 to provide grants to eligible local governments for projects that develop, rehabilitate, or construct new bike paths. This year, the program will fund seven bike path projects across the state totaling more than $800,000.


More information about the program, eligible projects, and the application process is available on IDNR’s webpage.

Category: Latest

SPRINGFIELD – Conversations of equity and equality have recently been at the forefront of legislative measures, but Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) realized there was a place it was missing: environmental policies.

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It led Bush to hold conversation on environmental justice in Illinois during Thursday’s Senate and Environment Conversation.

“We cannot have a strong environment unless we have equitable environmental policy,” Bush said. “Today’s hearing was a learning opportunity for all of us so we can best move forward with passing environmental legislation that supports all people and communities.”

Representatives from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, among others, provided their expertise.

Mike Atty, executive director of United Congregations of Metro-East, said communities of color are disproportionally impacted by environmental structures that place toxic industries in their neighborhoods. A common misconception, he said, is that Black and Brown communities don’t care about the environment. Rather, Atty testified it’s the exact opposite and environmental issues are degrading to his community’s way of life.

“When we think of environmental justice and environmental racism, we are committed to working with the Illinois EPA and General Assembly to bring equity and provide resources for jobs and training for communities that have been historically left out of the process,” Atty said.

Eduardo Flores from Clean Power Lake County said people who live in environmental justice communities often are faced with more health issues, including higher rates of birth defects, heart attacks, lung cancer and strokes, just to name a few. In Lake County alone, one out of every three children has asthma or asthma-like symptoms, which have been said to be linked to a lack of clean energy.

“By remaining in my home city [of Waukegan] I know I am jeopardizing my life and health,” Flores said. “Fossil fuel companies have taken advantage of the community, making a profit and leaving behind a toxic mess. Now, Waukegan residents have a life expectancy 15 years lower than someone living just seven miles away.”

Bush said she is committed to continuing conversations about environmental justice and pledges to look through its lens when considering legislation.

“People are fighting for the right to breathe and for their children to have open spaces to play,” Bush said. “People are also breathing contaminated air and living around contaminated land. We must pass fair and equitable legislation to allow people to live comfortably and safely.”

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