WashingtonCo.5401.C.360600

CENTREVILLE – Each year, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources selects schools across the state to receive grants for      field trips. This year, Senator Christopher Belt (D-Centreville) is congratulating St. John the Baptist School in Smithton on being selected as a winner.

“I am incredibly grateful that the students at St. John the Baptist School were chosen for this opportunity,” Belt said. “This program offers students an excellent chance to expand their learning      outside of the classroom.”

The program allows schools to take students to state parks, museums, and other natural resource locations to gain hands-on experience with nature and conservation in Illinois.

Students at the St. John the Baptist School, from Kindergarten to 8th Grade, will take a trip to the Washington County State Recreation Area, a 900-acre state park. At the State Recreation Area, students will have the chance to experience some of what they are learning about Illinois’ natural resources and biodiversity outside of the classroom.

More information about the Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grant Program is available from the IDNR Division of Education at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 217-524-4126. The 2022 application form will be available here.

Category: Press Releases

kid mask

CENTREVILLE – In efforts to address the inequalities in Black      youth education, State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Centreville) is highlighting legislation signed today that will provide Black children equal opportunity in the classroom and workforce. The legislation is part of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ plan to rid Illinois of systemic racism.

“Quality equitable education is imperative for the development of Black children and children living below the poverty line across Illinois and the nation,” Belt said. “Access to a quality education is one of the most effective tools we can use to combat poverty in Illinois’ Black communities.”

The measure addresses disparities in Black students’ education. To ensure all students, especially Black students have access to the highest quality courses available, schools will now automatically enroll students in the next level of advanced coursework if they meet or exceed state standards in that subject matter – including Advanced Placement courses.

To make sure Black history stays a part of American history, the legislation creates an Inclusive American History Commission to reform the Black history curriculum and curriculums regarding other minority groups.

In order to help Black students meet universities’ acceptance requirements the legislation requires school districts to add two years of laboratory science and foreign language. It also requires one year of intensive computer literacy in high school curriculum and for high schools to offer at least one elective computer science course.

“Accessing higher education remains difficult for Black students, especially at four-year institutions,” Belt said. “Requiring schools in this state to provide the necessary courses to get into these colleges and universities helps all students, regardless of race.”

House Bill 2170 was signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker on Monday, March 8. Various provisions of the law will take effect over coming years.

Category: Press Releases

Cahokia Mounds

COLLINSVILLE – With Cahokia Mounds Interpretive Center once again open to visitors, State Senator Chris Belt (D-Centreville) is encouraging residents to reserve an appointment before visiting the center.

“Cahokia Mounds is a historic staple of the Metro East and St. Louis area,” Belt said. “With spring just around the corner, now is a perfect time to plan a safe trip to one of the area’s oldest attractions.”

The Cahokia Mounds Museum Society is a not-for-profit organization created in 1976 to support the historic site. Within the more than 2,000-acre site lies the preserved archaeological remains of the most sophisticated prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico.

Often referred to as the Cahokia Mounds Museum, the Interpretive Center highlights the archaeological and anthropological research that has taken place since the site’s discovery, with the goal of informing and educating the public through its exhibits, programs and special events.

“If you haven’t visited Cahokia Mounds, you’re missing out,” Belt said. “We have the remains of an ancient civilization right here in our backyard, not many people can say that. Just remember to wear comfortable shoes. You will do a lot a walking when you visit.”

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources operated site is located 7 miles from East St. Louis in Collinsville and is open seven days a week from dawn until dusk.

Visitors should call 618-346-5160 to schedule an appointment time for free admission to the site’s Interpretive Center. Appointment times are available each Thursday through Sunday beginning at 9 a.m. with the last appointment time at 4 p.m.

For additional facts and information on the state historic site, visit cahokiamounds.org.

Category: Press Releases

Belt JB

EAST ST. LOUIS – State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Centreville) was joined by Governor JB Pritzker Thursday to speak about the comprehensive criminal justice reform package signed into law last month.

“Although these reforms should have happened long ago, this is still a remarkable first step in creating fundamental change in our state,” Belt said. “I’d like to thank the governor for visiting the 57th District to show his support for this landmark legislation in communities that will feel the effects of this legislation most.”

Following months of public testimony in numerous Senate committee hearings, the new law was written in the months following the tragic death of George Floyd and in response to the nationwide calls to address structural racism in the United States.

Belt, along with other members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, created a four-pillar policy approach to address the issue. The four pillars resulted in legislation to address criminal justice, health, education, and economic access– which was sponsored by Belt.

“This law will lead to increased accountability and transparency for law enforcement,” Belt said. “I’m proud that Illinois has taken this step toward justice and progress.”

The provisions of the law include better police training and accountability, a ban on the use of chokeholds, increased training in crisis intervention and more mental health screening for officers. “The law also replaces Illinois’ cash bail system, which often traps the poor in jail, with a pretrial detention system based on risk of flight and danger to the community.”

The measure was signed into law late last month. Many provisions will phase in over time or be enacted after a transitional period in the coming years. Body cameras for law enforcement will become mandatory by 2025. Additionally, bail reforms take effect January 2023.

Category: Press Releases

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