Members of the Illinois State Board of Education heard from those in the trenches as they convened the first budget hearing of the year.

“I was so nervous that I was not going to graduate,” said Dakota Rubin of Brownstown, “so I begged and pleaded (with) my mom to let me go to the alternative (school), and if it wasn't for them, I probably wouldn't still be in school.”

She was advocating for the programs offered through the regional office of education in Vandalia. She says she needed a second chance, because she was kicked out of her regular school for having drugs on campus.


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Illinois' outgoing Teacher of the Year said his employers in Palatine made substitutes available for him to carry out his duties. Many districts are not as fortunate. Still, for the dedicated auto shop teacher, it's difficult to be away, as – in some cases – he's the only adult who believes in the kids.

“I had twins whose father passed away about a week and a half ago,” said Steve Elza. “I had to miss the wake and the funeral because I was at the (teacher of the year honors) banquet this past weekend. I got a call on my way down here that another student lost his father. For me to only be able to make a phone call is a tough thing.”

Elza and Rubin were among those providing witness to ISBE members of what good comes of spending money on public education.

Other budget hearings are Nov. 12 in Granite City and Nov. 20 in Chicago.

Gov. Rauner signed K-12 spending bills this year even though the rest of the budget was vetoed. ISBE spokeswoman Laine Evans says the board will make its funding request for FY 17 in January.


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