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Unit Five Recognizes Outgoing Members, Stresses Need For State Funding

Mike Miletich

The Unit Five School Board is starting a new journey without two long-term members.

The board is recognizing Gail Ann Briggs and John Puzauskas for a combined 65 years of service.

Superintendent Mark Daniel said he appreciates the institutional knowledge and commitment of both members.

"John is always about the details. Gail is always about history," said Daniel. "But, I'm also pleased with the new board coming on. They're eager to serve our community in the best needs of all of our children."

Daniel said he can't ask for a better group moving forward into strategic planning.

New members Taunia Leffler and David Fortner took their oath office Wednesday night. The board also selected Jim Hayek Jr. as Board President and Barry Hitchins as Vice President.

Speaking about budget issues, Daniel said state legislators need to fund schools as soon as possible. 

Daniel said he will join many superintendents and State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington in Springfield to jump start discussion of a proposed new way to fund schools, but a budget should come first.

"You can't really do anything with the model if you don't have revenue. The budget is the first piece, but the evidence-based model revising that to ensure schools are adequate funded is the next major step," said Daniel. 

Daniel said the state is ten million dollars behind in grants for Unit Five transportation costs, free and reduced lunch, and special education.

Daniel said he hopes lawmakers will pick a funding model that will help every district instead of schools in specific areas of the state.

Mike joined GLT's staff as a student reporter in February of 2016 having worked previously as a reporter at Illinois State University's student radio station, 103.3 WZND. He acted as a director for the WZND newsroom for two years. Mike was also seen as a reporter, producer, and anchor at TV-10 News. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism in May of 2017 before starting his post-graduate career with the Public Affairs Reporting Masters Program at University of Illinois Springfield.
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