Online Staff Report
A public-private partnership initiative increasing higher education opportunities, co-sponsored by state Rep. Chuck Jefferson, D-Rockford, advanced out of committee last week.
“Our children are competing for jobs on the global market where, many times, a high school diploma will no longer be sufficient,” Jefferson said. “This bill will provide another resource for our high school students who cannot afford to pay tuition on their own. It also serves as an incentive for high school students to do well and graduate.”
House Bill 194 will allow the city councils of Rockford, Aurora and East St. Louis to each create a temporary “promise zone” pilot program. The program includes the formation of a Lincoln Promise Zone Authority composed of unpaid board members and a review committee. The board will solicit and use privately-donated funds to pay eligible students’ tuition for an associate degree or its equivalent from a local community college. Eligible student recipients of this scholarship must reside within the promise zone and graduate from a public high school located within that promise zone.
“As we collaborate on how we can strengthen our state, we must put education at the forefront of our discussions,” Jefferson said. “If we can increase the size of our educated workforce, then more companies will see Rockford as a place to move to and grow, and our economy will consequently improve.”
H.B. 194 now awaits action on the House floor. The bill’s primary sponsor is state Rep. Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora, a fellow military veteran and chairman of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee. The bill also allows for promise zone programs to be created in Aurora and East St. Louis.
For more information, contact Jefferson’s full-time constituent service office at (815) 987-7433.
Posted Feb. 27, 2013