032515CM0148SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) has passed legislation in the Illinois Senate to improve the process of criminal background checks on student teachers. The legislation comes after years of talks between the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Senator Cunningham.

Senate Bill 706 ensures that student teachers will have to go through the same background checks as regular teachers and other school employees. Currently, student teachers are required to get separate background checks for each school they teach at, possibly creating confusion amongst districts and teachers.

“With the many pressures that our educational system is under, I, along with ISBE and the FBI, believe we have found a way to get student teachers doing the job they have been trained to do, while protecting our students from criminals who would prey upon them,” Senator Cunningham said.

Specifically, the legislation requires student teachers to submit to the same safety standards as regular school district employees, including a fingerprint-based criminal history check, a Statewide Sex Offender Database check along with a check of the Statewide Murderer and Violent Offender Databases. State Police and the FBI are required to also furnish any conviction records of prospective student teachers.

“The protection of our students from predators is a priority of ours. In order to keep up with the demand for instructors, I feel we have come up with a plan to not only protect our future leaders, but ensure those who will be their instructors are the best and safest people available,” Senator Cunningham said.

The legislation now goes to the Illinois House for consideration.

Category: Press Releases

020415CM0664Review prompted by recent abuses

SPRINGFIELD — In the wake of questionable executive severance deals at state universities and community colleges, the Illinois Senate’s Higher Education Committee is creating a fact-finding subcommittee to steer reform efforts and ensure tuition and tax dollars are used responsibly.

“Taxpayers are demanding to know how we compensate administrators, why we are compensating them and what safeguards we can put in place to end the type of abuses we’ve recently seen,” said Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago), who heads the new Subcommittee on Executive Compensation.

The issue was thrust into the spotlight after the College of DuPage inked a more than $750,000 severance deal with president Robert Breuder to have him quit early. Nearly a year ago, Illinois State University cut a similar deal worth $480,000 with its president. The lavish deals come at a time when tuition and fees have nearly doubled over the past decade and the average Illinois college student is saddled with more than $28,000 in debt.

"This money could be better spent on providing an affordable, world-class college education for students. It could be used to offer much needed tuition relief for families. Taxpayers cannot afford to pay for six-figure golden parachutes, shooting club memberships and other lavish perks for public servants," said state Senator Dan Kotowski, a Park Ridge Democrat who will also serve on the subcommittee.

The fact-finding subcommittee is the latest effort by Senate Democrats to bring accountability to campus spending. In recent weeks, suburban lawmakers have pushed to rein in severance deals.

“The priorities for state universities and community colleges should be to educate our children, not betraying our constituents by handing out golden parachutes to administrators,” said state Senator Tom Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat. “There is an obvious need for reforms to the way they use taxpayer dollars to ensure institutions are advancing educational opportunities, not administrators’ pockets.”   

Senator Melinda Bush, a Grayslake Democrat, is also sponsoring accountability legislation.“These institutions should be paying people to teach and lead, not paying them to quit,” said Bush.

Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Bill Cunningham is proposing legislation designed to protect homeowners from smoke and noise pollution produced by idling trains on two local railroad lines.
 
Cunningham's proposal was filed after he and other local elected officials received numerous complaints from constituents who live along the CSX Railroad's Blue Island and Elsdon rail lines about air and noise pollution from trains that are often stopped and idling for hours, dozens of feet their from homes. The legislation would allow local municipal and state agencies to fine railroads for the pollution caused by trains that stop near homes and keep their engines running for extended periods of time.
 
"The residents of these neighborhoods are fully aware that living next to railroad tracks means living with the noise of passing freight trains," Cunningham said. "However, they should not have to live with trains that are parked and idling for hours on end, sometimes blocking traffic and often belching diesel fumes and smoke into their homes."
The two rail lines in question run through the communities of Evergreen Park, Mount Greenwood, West Beverly and Auburn-Gresham, between Western and Kedzie Avenues. During the past two years, area residents have reported a big increase in the number of times trains stop and idle on stretches of track that cut through densely populated neighborhoods. On many occasions, the trains idle for several hours, sometimes throughout the night, before moving again. The trains rarely turn off their engines while stopped, which means smoke, fumes and noise from their roaring diesel engines fill the surrounding neighborhood.   

Cunningham has joined with State Representatives Fran Hurley and Kelly Burke, Chicago Aldermen Matt O'Shea and Lona Lane, and Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton to pressure CSX address numerous problems associated with increased rail traffic in the area.
 
“We view filing legislation as a last resort because we don't want to restrict the rights of a business, but at the very least we want to start a conversation to reach a compromise to end a potential environmental hazard. I look forward to working both with the rail companies and the effected neighborhoods to achieve the best outcome for our community,” Cunningham said.
 
Cunningham’s proposal would ban diesel locomotives from idling for more than 30 minutes within 1,000 feet of a residence, business, school or hospital. A railway that leaves a train idling in these areas for more than 30 minutes would be fined at least $200, and the amount increases the longer the train is left idling.  
 
Cunningham filed his initial proposal this week and will continue to pursue the issue when the General Assembly convenes next month.

Category: Press Releases

Cunningham-crime-prevEVERGREEN PARK – State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) and Rep. Kelly Burke (D-Evergreen Park) are hosting a workshop Monday, Sept. 15 to increase awareness about burglaries and educate residents about how to minimize risk.

Local law enforcement officials and a reformed burglar will discuss steps people can take to reduce the chances of burglary.

The seminar will take place at the Evergreen Park Library. It is open to members of the public and the press.

Attendees should RSVP by calling Cunningham’s office at 773-445-8128.

DATE:

Monday, Sept. 15

TIME:

7-8:30 p.m.

LOCATION:

Evergreen Park Library

9400 S. Troy Ave.

Evergreen Park, IL

Cunningham will host a second burglary seminar Oct. 2 at Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences.

Category: Press Releases

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Contact Info

Springfield Office:
Senator 18th District
307 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-5145
(217) 782-2115 FAX
 
District Offices:
10400 South Western Avenue
Chicago, IL 60643
(773) 445-8128
(773) 672-5143 FAX

16033 S. 94th Avenue
Orland Hills, IL 60477
(708) 233-9703