Daily dose returns: School consolidation, Danville casino, Victor Gruen & Lincoln Square, UI tuition aid
School consolidation, 50 years ago
In 1961, sponsors of legislation to spur lagging consolidation of school districts in Illinois have pushed the bill to passage stage. As many as six of the 11 high schools in Champaign County and seven grade schools would be affected. The plan provides that districts must have at least 350 students in high school and 200 in elementary school. High schools under the proposed 250 minimum in Champaign County are Homer, ABL, Ogden, St. Joseph, Mahomet and Fisher. But Mahomet and Fisher may exceed the minimum in a few years.
Danville tea party opposes Danville casino
From a press release ...
The Illiana Tea Party, with headquarters in Danville, IL is urging Governor Quinn to veto SB 744. This bill would expand gambling at existing casinos and an additional five casinos would be built, including one in Danville. Chuck Nesbitt, spokesman for the 296 members of the Illiana Tea Party says, “The membership opposes this bill, and in particular the Danville casino for a number of reasons.”
Gambling in Illinois has not been the moneymaker lawmakers had hoped for. The Illinois Lottery was to help fund state schools. The result is that schools are months behind on getting their state funds for education and many schools may not get the rest of their transportation funding.
Twenty years ago when Illinois legalized casinos, other states like Virginia rejected gambling proposals. In 2011, Illinois joined Nevada and California as the three states with the worst budget shortfalls. In comparison, Virginia has a balanced budget with no gambling revenue.
This year, the General Assembly has been praised for passing a budget that was $2 billion dollars less than Governor Quinn’s budget. The State of Illinois will only take in $27 billion this fiscal year, and the General Assembly passed a budget of $33 billion, a nearly $6 billion shortfall. Even if SB 744 passed, the $ 5billion upfront money from the five new casinos, leave Illinois with a $1 billion deficit.
Danville city leaders have constantly inflated the number of jobs this casino will bring and the economic impact to the city. Studies show that people who gamble at Illinois casinos eat at the casino restaurant, sleep at the casino hotel, and when they’re done gambling, they go home. Danville will not be a destination city; it will be a city that just happens to have a casino.
Victor Gruen, creator of Randhurst and Lincoln Square
From The New York Times ...
MOUNT PROSPECT, Ill. — Like many people approaching their 50th birthday, the Randhurst Mall is having a little work done.
Brett Hutchens, chief executive of Casto Lifestyle Properties, which is redeveloping the one-million-square-foot mall into an open-air shopping center.
Randhurst, which opened in this inner-ring Chicago suburb in 1962, was the first enclosed mall in the Chicago area and, for a brief period, the largest enclosed mall in the world. The original architect was Victor Gruen, a Viennese immigrant with a socialist bent who, improbably, became the father of the modern enclosed mall.
Now, after a long period of decline, Randhurst is undergoing a $190 million overhaul that involves demolishing most of the original center and replacing it with an open-air street of shops and additional anchor tenants. The developer is Casto Lifestyle Properties of Sarasota, Fla.
(Gruen also was the architect for Urbana's Lincoln Square, the first downstate Illinois retail mall, which opened in 1964.)
UI and tuition
From the Chicago Sun-Times ...
Our first thought when we read that the University of Illinois is trying to raise $100 million for scholarships was: Good for them.
If successful, the three-year effort could make college a bit more affordable for a large number of students.
Our second thought was: Anyone who thinks even a huge fund-raising effort like this can offset the tsunami of rising college costs is kidding himself.
As the Legislature keeps cutting back support year after year, public higher education will continue to get farther out of reach for middle-class families.
The belief — once common in government circles — that college should be available to all students who were smart and worked hard, and that it is in everyone’s bests interests for such students to go to college, is sounding more and more quaint these days.
A scholarship of a few thousand dollars may make the difference for some families, but it won’t bring tuition within reach for many others.
It’s those other families who are being left out in public higher education’s march to privatization.
We’re glad to see the U. of I. recognizes this problem and is doing something about it.
At the same time, we hope the Legislature won’t see this as an opportunity to further renege on its responsibility to higher education in Illinois.