Education & Schools
Branstad, Reynolds, Iowa HSEMD Share Guidance for Developing School Safety Readiness Plan PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Office of the Governor of Iowa   
Monday, 17 December 2012 15:50

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds were joined today at a press conference by Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division (HSEMD) Administrator Mark Schouten to share guidance for developing a school safety readiness plan in wake of the senseless tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.

“The thoughts and prayers of all Iowans are with the families and friends of the innocent victims of this senseless tragedy,” said Branstad. “While it is difficult to understand such an evil act, we do know our children and grandchildren remain our most precious gifts and ensuring their safety in our communities is absolutely critical.”

Earlier this year, Iowa HSEMD put in place a new school safety guide to assist schools in making plans and establishing procedures to make their facilities, students and staff safer.  This guide covers a variety of emergencies, including how to respond to an intruder with a gun who enters their school intending to do harm.

VIEW THE 2012 SCHOOL SAFETY GUIDE 

“Schools serve as society’s pathway to upward mobility and growth,” said Reynolds.  “It is our responsibility to keep students, teachers and school administrators safe. We applaud all those whose quick action saved children, including those teachers and school administrators and staff who acted as first responders and preformed heroic deeds.”

The school safety-planning guide covers a number of threating events and helps schools plan how to respond.  The planning guide was prepared by HSEMD in conjunction with the following:

§  The Iowa Department of Public Safety’s Intelligence Fusion Center

§  Iowa Department of Education

§  School Administrators of Iowa

§  The Iowa Association of School Boards

§  The Iowa State Education Association

§  Heartland Area Education Agency

§  State of Iowa Fire Marshal’s Office

§  Des Moines Police, School Resource Officers

VIEW IOWA HSEMD SCHOOL SAFETY FLIP CHART 

“The State of Iowa through its Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management has worked with Iowa schools over the past ten years to ensure the safety of their students,” said Iowa HSEMD Administrator Mark Schouten. “Our office oversees a program through which we work to increase the security and safety of our state’s critical infrastructure and facilities. One of the areas we have done a work in great deal of is in educational facilities.”

VIEW 2012 IOWA SCHOOL SELF ASSESSMENT 

HSEMD has also worked closely with the Iowa Central Community College’s Homeland Security Training Center to offer active shooter classes to law enforcement and other first responders for the past three years.  The training center has taught some 41,000 first responders through their active shooter and other classes over the past nine years and is currently the recipient of an HSEMD grant to continue active shooter training for smaller law enforcement agencies.

Some 500 copies of the school safety planning guide have been distributed to school administrators, school nurses, emergency management coordinators, and first responders over the last few months.  Electronic versions are available at the HSEMD website: www.homelandsecurity.iowa.gov or can be obtained from your local emergency management coordinator.

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Simon - Make affordable higher education a higher priority PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Kara Beach   
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 13:56

Colleges call for a vote on Choice Reports bill

CHICAGO – December 12, 2012. Calling for a vote on a key college affordability and transparency bill, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon marked her 12th and final College Affordability Summit today with a visit to Northeastern Illinois University.

Simon said that transparency is one of three basic tenets that will help students afford and complete college. She is backing legislation requiring all degree-granting institutions to publish an annual College Choice Report. The report would help students compare information, such as total costs and completion rates, across all degree-granting institutions in the state and make more informed decisions about where to spend their college dollars.

All 12 public university presidents and the Illinois Community College Board presidents' council submitted letters recently to the House calling for Senate Bill 5248 to be released for a vote before this session ends.

“College Choice Reports will be easy to access and easy to use, helping students find the facts they need to make an informed decision about an institution that will best fit their needs,” said Simon. “I appreciate the great support we have received for Senate Bill 5248, and I look forward to working with Speaker Madigan to bring this bill to the House floor for a vote.”

While increased transparency will help students discover more information about the state’s higher education institutions, Simon has outlined two additional ways stakeholders can work together to make college affordable:

·         Targeted assistance: To better use state resources, Simon wants to strengthen the Monetary Award Program and insure MAP grants promote college attendance and completion, and reduce the achievement gap between low-income and higher-income students. MAP grants are currently awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to students based on financial need, but that means state funding reaches only about half of eligible students. Simon currently serves on a MAP Eligibility Task Force that is evaluating ways to improve distributional equity and encourage timely degree completion. A task force report to the General Assembly is due Jan. 1, 2013.

·         Tax credits for tuition payments: More than 9 million students and families are taking advantage of the American Opportunity Tax Credit, saving them up to $10,000 over four years of college. Simon supports making this federal tax credit permanent and preventing it from expiring at the end of this year.

“Cutting investments directly related to economic growth doesn’t make sense. We should work together on policies that prioritize education and employment, not shortchange Illinois students and quality employers,” Simon said."Together we could stabilize the cost for public universities and community colleges, following tuition and fee increases that have outpaced inflation, family incomes and available aid over the past 20 years."

According to a College Board trends report published in October, costs at public and private universities nationwide increased more than 4 percent this school year, while the cost of community college increased more than 5 percent since last school year. Compounding the burden on students, federal aid declined for the first time in three years.

“In order to retain and attract high-wage and high-skill jobs in Illinois, we will need 60 percent of our working-age population to hold a college credential by 2025,” Simon said. “We cannot expect students to complete college if they cannot afford college. I urge our state, federal and higher education leaders to work together to ensure college is not only accessible to the privileged, when it will be a prerequisite for a good job in our state.”

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Governor Quinn, College Students Discuss Impact of Pension Squeeze on Financial Aid for Higher Education PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Erin Wilson   
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 13:53

Higher Education, MAP Grant Funding at Risk without

Immediate Pension Reform

CHICAGO – December 12, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today was joined by Illinois college students to discuss how inaction on pension reform is threatening Monetary Award Program (MAP) college scholarships and access to higher education in Illinois. One after one, the students made clear how access to higher education changed their lives and prepared them for a job and career. Today’s event is part of the governor’s ongoing effort to educate and activate the people of Illinois to push for pension reform as he continues to work with legislators on the issue.

“A college degree gives students the foundation they need to launch a successful career,” Governor Quinn said. “Nobody has more at stake in pension reform than the students of Illinois. We must make sure every student has the chance to pursue their dreams and the degree of their choosing, and that’s why we must work together to enact comprehensive pension reform by January 9.”

MAP grants are need-based college scholarships that provide students with merit who are in need across Illinois with the opportunity to attend a higher education institution. These grants help cover tuition and fee costs at approved universities and colleges in Illinois, and do not need to be repaid by the student. 18,000 students lost their MAP grant scholarships this year because of budget reductions to education. Currently, only half of eligible MAP grant applicants are able to receive the aid they need to attend college.

According to the Pew Center for the States, Illinois has the worst-funded pension systems in the nation. As Illinois’ $96 billion unfunded pension liability grows, it squeezes out more and more funding for crucial services such as health care, road repair and MAP college scholarships from the state budget. Unless comprehensive pension reform is enacted, taxpayer dollars that would otherwise be spent on ensuring that deserving students have the opportunity to pursue a degree will instead continue to cover ballooning pension costs.

In April, Governor Quinn proposed a plan that would rescue Illinois’ public pension systems, ensure employees have access to benefits and prevent skyrocketing pension costs from squeezing out core services such as education, health care and public safety. The governor’s plan would fully fund the pension system by 2042. The governor also launched an Internet campaign-Thanks in Advance- to boost public awareness about the “squeeze” caused by soaring pension costs and the urgent need for pension reform. Since launching, more than 34,000 unique visitors have gone to ThisisMyIllinois.com and a video featuring “Squeezy the Pension Python” has been viewed almost 25,000 times.

The legislature is scheduled to work January 3 - 8.

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Lt. Governor Simon: College Affordability is Key PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Kara Beach   
Tuesday, 11 December 2012 16:15

Final Affordability Summit to be held at Northeastern Illinois

CHICAGO – Lt. Governor Sheila Simon will convene her final College Affordability Summit on Wednesday at Northeastern Illinois University. Throughout the fall, Simon has met with students, faculty, staff and administrators at each public university campus in Illinois to urge state, federal and higher education leaders to keep college affordable for all students.

Simon says that transparency is key to helping students afford and complete college. She is backing legislation requiring all degree-granting institutions to publish an annual College Choice Report. The report would help students compare information, such as total costs and completion rates, across all degree-granting institutions in the state and make wise choices about where to spend their college dollars. Each of the 12 public university presidents recently signed a letter of support to House Speaker Mike Madigan, requesting the bill’s release from the House Rules Committee. 

An October report from the College Board indicates that public and private universities nationwide have increased costs more than 4 percent this school year, with community college costs up 5 percent. To make ends meet, students have taken on more debt, carrying an average of $26,682 in student loans in 2010 according to the Pew Research Center. 

“As a state, we want to increase the proportion of working-age adults with a college degree or credential to 60 percent, up from 41 percent, by 2025. The only way we can achieve this goal is if college is affordable,” said Simon, a former Southern Illinois University law professor and a member of a state task force evaluating MAP Grant eligibility. “We must work together to rein in the costs of higher education.”

DATE: Wednesday, December 12

TIME: 10:15 a.m.

PLACE: Golden Eagle room, Northeastern Illinois University Student Union, 5500 St. Louis Ave., Chicago

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2013 Robert D. Blue Scholarship Application is Available Online PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Karen Austin   
Tuesday, 11 December 2012 09:09

DES MOINES, IA (12/11/2012)(readMedia)-- State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald announced today that the application for the 2013 Robert D. Blue Scholarship is available online at www.rdblue.org. All Iowa residents who plan to attend college in Iowa for the 2013-2014 school year are eligible to apply.

Awards are based on financial need, an original essay, academic achievement and written recommendations. "These scholarships not only help Iowa students financially, but also honor the achievements and potential of the young people of our state," Fitzgerald stated. "Last year, six outstanding students representing six counties were chosen to receive awards. Each of the recipients went on to attend a different Iowa college or university."

The Iowa Centennial Memorial Foundation awards the Robert D. Blue Scholarship to Iowa students attending college in Iowa. Governor Blue created the Foundation in 1949 to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of Iowa's acceptance into the union. At that time, a scholarship fund was established to encourage the youth of the state to attend Iowa's fine colleges and universities. In 1990, the Foundation officially named the scholarship to honor the late Governor Blue.

Robert D. Blue Scholarship applications are only accepted online through May 10 at www.rdblue.org. The winners will be announced during the summer. Those who would like more information on the Robert D. Blue Scholarship should visit the website, or call the treasurer's office at (515) 242-5270.

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