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School safety issues get attention

CHAMPAIGN – Parents attending Monday's school board meeting said they want aggressive action to improve safety at Champaign high schools, especially Central.

But some parents and school board members said they have reservations about one administration proposal, hiring police officers to work as full-time school resource officers at Central, Centennial High School and Columbia Center.


Parkland's greenhouse work heating up

CHAMPAIGN – Parkland College's long-planned greenhouse complex is finally under construction.

Groundbreaking for the project, which will cost more than $400,000, started this month, said Bruce Henrikson, chairman of the business and agri-industries department.


Proposals on school safety top Champaign agenda

CHAMPAIGN – School officials want to send a clear message to potential troublemakers in Champaign high schools: break the rules and you're out.

They're proposing changes to be discussed at Monday's Champaign school board meeting that could include putting police on high school campuses during the school day, requiring students to wear identification badges and even closing the campuses at lunch.


Roger Adams Lab work on agenda

URBANA – Outdated chemistry labs with no central air-conditioning and insufficient electrical systems have hurt efforts to recruit faculty in biochemistry, says Charles Miller, director of the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology, which includes the Department of Biochemistry.

"It's almost impossible to recruit in competition with institutions with good, new space," said Miller, who believes the University of Illinois has lost some potential faculty members because of the condition of the labs in Roger Adams Laboratory.


Kids cleaning out toy chests for charity

PAXTON – A Vietnamese-born professional musician, storyteller and photographer who makes his home near Loda is asking Paxton-Buckley-Loda schoolchildren to give up their used toys to raise money for schools in Vietnam.

Tinh Mahoney, who prefers to go by the name Tinh, and his wife, Jodi, have raised enough money through their Village School Foundation since 2002 to build one school in Ninhthuan, Vietnam. Tinh, 42, plans to spend two weeks there later this month getting another school started.


Panel: No new reductions, for now

SPRINGFIELD – In a report released on Wednesday, the Advisory Commission on Pension Benefits declined to recommend specific benefit reductions for new teachers, university workers, state employees, judges and lawmakers.

Last spring, Gov. Rod Blagojevich pushed for higher retirement ages and smaller annual cost-of-living increases for new hires in all five state retirement systems as a way to help reduce the state's future pension liability.


Union, district approve teacher contract

CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign School board voted 5-0 Tuesday evening to approve a teacher contract, shortly after the teachers union also voted for the agreement.

Under the new three-year contract, teachers will receive average annual raises of 3.5 percent, 4.5 percent and 4.5 percent.


Keeping classrooms stocked takes big chunk of budgets, time

URBANA – It takes a blizzard of white paper, truckloads of pencils, pens, crayons and markers and masses of other classroom supplies to keep schools in business.

And the costs of keeping kids and teachers in paper and pencils add up. Paper, especially, is right at the top of the list of supply-and-demand headaches for all districts.


Parkland takes on leading role

CHAMPAIGN – Sean Morrison pretended to be a civilian who'd come in contact with anthrax.

"I played a patient, and I went through seven times, changing my symptoms each time," said Morrison, a working emergency medical technician who's upgrading his skills by studying at Parkland College to work as a paramedic. He was part of a recent disaster drill at Parkland.


Library fines painful for all

CHAMPAIGN – Indigo Frank loves to read.

The 17-year-old Champaign resident has assembled a minilibrary at home from browsing used-book sales. And she used to be an avid library user.