Teachers, Champaign school board hope to reach deal next week

CHAMPAIGN – Representatives of the Champaign school district and its teachers met with a mediator for about 10 hours Tuesday, and both sides are hopeful they could reach a settlement next week.

Tuesday's session was the second with a federal mediator. The mediator also met with the union and the district last week for about five hours.

Carle donates $100,000 to Parkland to help elder care

CHAMPAIGN – Carle Foundation Hospital is giving $100,000 to Parkland College to improve the health care of elderly residents.

Kris Young, Parkland's vice president for academic services, announced the gift to Parkland's board of trustees at their Wednesday night meeting.

Report of man with weapon near schools deemed not credible

Two Champaign schools briefly locked down Tuesday morning after police got a report that a man with a weapon might be in the neighborhood.

At about 9 a.m., Champaign police contacted school officials about a report that a suspicious-looking white male had been seen near Jefferson Middle School and Centennial High School. He had been carrying either a weapon or a walking cane, McFarland said.

Ministry, Danville schools team to help fight bullying

DANVILLE – The teasing begins on the school bus, then continues at school.

Kassidy Baird said two boys seek her out and call her names. They make fun of her name, her looks. Sometimes, they poke her. Sometimes, they make noises when she speaks in class.

It always makes her feel bad.

"Sometimes, it makes me not want to come to school," said Kassidy, a shy, soft-spoken seventh-grader at South View Middle School.

Kassidy usually tries to ignore the bullying.

But school officials want her to take a different approach.

This year, they have teamed up with New Life Ministries in Danville to teach middle school and elementary students how to recognize bullying and give them the tools to know what to do if it happens to them or their classmates.

Carryover funds keep GCMS finances in black

GIBSON CITY – The Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley school district's budget envisions even more deficit spending for the upcoming fiscal year than projected last month, but Superintendent Chuck Aubry told the school board Monday that the district remains fiscally sound.

The district's overall finances remain in the black because of carryover funds. However, those funds are being spent down as the district annually spends more than it receives. The budget passed Monday night shows the district's total fund balances are expected to decrease from $7.765 million to $7.111 million.

Villa Grove school board OKs $5.8 million budget

VILLA GROVE – The Villa Grove school board approved an estimated $5.8 million budget for fiscal year 2009 at its meeting Monday evening.

Superintendent Steve Poznic said the budget was unbalanced, but there is no need for a deficit reduction plan at this time.

Study: Ethanol supporting rise in grain prices

CHAMPAIGN – A study released Monday by two University of Illinois farm economists shows that grain prices are likely to remain high as a result of ethanol, marking the first sustained increase in corn and soybean prices in Illinois in more than 30 years.

Second civil suit seeks $30 million in sex-abuse case

URBANA – A second civil suit was filed today in Champaign County Circuit Court in connection with Jon White, the former Urbana elementary teacher convicted of 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse – eight in Champaign County and two in McLean County.

The latest suit contains 30 separate allegations, each with a request for $1 million in compensation, plus court costs.

Champaign school board OKs plan to expand 2 elementaries

CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign school board approved a plan Monday night to increase the size of both Garden Hills and Washington elementary schools, and now voters will decide whether the district will get the money to do so.

The plan calls for rebuilding Washington and increasing it from a two-strand to a three-strand school. A strand is a continuum of classrooms from kindergarten through fifth grade. The plan also calls for adding a wing to Garden Hills, increasing its size from three strands to four.

Danville middle schools seek exercise equipment, instruments

DANVILLE – Wondering what to do with that exercise equipment you keep promising yourself you will use but haven't in months?

You know, the elliptical machine that's collecting dust in the basement. The treadmill in the corner of your bedroom on which you hang clothes.

You might want to consider donating it to South View or North Ridge middle schools. This year, the schools opened fitness centers as part of their physical-education program.