Celebrates the positive impact of quality after-school programs
Noting the importance of student learning extending beyond school hours, Gov. Bruce Rauner today proclaimed Oct. 26, 2017, as Lights On Afterschool Day in Illinois.
He was joined by officials from ACT Now Coalition and the Springfield Urban League to recognize the importance of student learning beyond the school day.
“Access to a quality afterschool program can expand learning opportunities for Illinois children and help guide them on the path to a better future,” Rauner said. “Increasing child participation will build stronger communities by helping working families and fostering positive relationships between participants and their mentors and peers.”
Started in October 2000, Lights On Afterschool is a nationwide event organized by Afterschool Alliance that highlights the significance of keeping the lights on and doors open to after-school programs.
An Illinois state senator says there still aren’t proper controls in place to keep tax dollars from being wasted on what some have called politically connected anti-violence programs that had little or nothing to show for the millions of dollars they received from the state.
The Pat Quinn-era Neighborhood Recovery Initiative program doled out tens of millions of dollars to nonprofit anti-violence groups throughout the state over several years before the 2014 election. An investigation found little grant oversight and lots of waste.
A Legislative Audit Commission report in April 2016 found then-Gov. Quinn’s office was tasked with selecting the communities, providers and funding levels of the programs, outside of the normal process. There were also issues with when grant contracts would be signed, how they would be monitored, and whether there were background checks or site visits.
The commission’s report said millions of dollars weren’t recovered and hundreds of thousands of costs were questioned.
“At the end of the community violence prevention program in July and August of 2014, [Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority] received $7.3 million from the Department of Human Services to make payments for the violence prevention grants,” auditor Mike Maziarz said Tuesday. “However, we found that ICJIA already had sufficient appropriations for these programs.”
The mixup left fewer dollars for the DHS programs, Maziarz said.
While the program ended in 2014, state Sen. Jason Barickman, co-chair of the Legislative Audit Commission, said not much else has been done to correct the problem “other than there’s new people in the agencies who wasted all this money before. I think that’s wholly inadequate.”
Barickman, R-Bloomington, said his legislation, Senate Bill 749, would require more legislative oversight of such spending.
“If this legislation would have been law under Gov. [Pat] Quinn,” Barickman said, “I don’t think he would have been able to make the decisions that he made back then on this NRI program.” Barickman said his bill is buried in committee.
ICJIA Executive Director John Maki said he was not in charge of the agency during the Quinn administration. He was on the ICJIA oversight board, but said board members were often confused about how to execute their oversight role.
Maki said one problem with the NRI program was agencies were asked to spend a lot of money in a short amount of time.
“We have to take a more gradual and strategic approach and be sure that the dollars we spend are attached to programs that are researched and have evidence behind them, that have accountability built into it, and are outcome driven,” Maki said.
There are still misspent dollars to identify from agencies that received grants.
Kankakee Community College's Riverfront campus is closed today (Tues) due to a water main break. The closing does not effect the South Extension Campus in Watseka. It remains open for regular activities.
Boil Order Advisory in in Lowell, IN ....
A water main break in Lowell, Indiana Tuesday resulted in lost water pressure and today, there's a boil order advisory until further notice. The water main break drained one of the community's two water towers. The water leak happened about 3 am but wasn't discovered until after 7 am. Repairs to a six-inch line weren't completed until about 1:40 in the afternoon.
An investigation is underway following a deadly crash in the Will County town of Beecher. State police say two vehicles collided head-on yesterday (Tues) morning on Route one, just south of Delite Inn Road. Both drivers were killed. The victims were identified as Robert Lindner of Sauk Village and Thomas Rehmer of Momence.
Police report Lindner was southbound. He passed another vehicle then crashed head-on into the Rehmer vehicle.
Freak accident kills Kankakee woman...
A 50-year-old Kankakee woman was killed in a parking lot mishap in suburban Crete (IL). Carla Arnold was pinned underneath a vehicle at the Amazon Fulfillment Center parking lot. Emergency responders said another driver, looking for a parking space, didn’t see the victim.
PONTIAC — Gov. Bruce Rauner made a stop in Pontiac (Monday) talking about two under-the-radar laws he signed this year. At Pontiac City Hall, Rauner spoke about changes they sought to help police departments hire officers and for first responders to better alert residents while they are on the road. Both laws take effect Jan. 1.
House Bill 0305 enables departments to hire officers who have 60 credit hours toward a bachelor's degree. Currently such candidates can only be hired if they hold an associate's degree or military experience.
Pontiac Police Chief Jim Woolford said "We felt it was important to have highly educated officers, but we also were losing candidates who were in four-year schools who had not yet graduated.”
House Bill 3469 allows a wider variety of emergency officials to use a siren, whistle or bell while driving. Some officials are restricted to flashing lights rather than sounds under current law.