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Districts more careful about who comes in contact with children

Since former teacher Jon White's arrest and subsequent conviction for aggravated criminal sexual abuse for acts involving 10 children, both of his former school districts – Urbana and McLean County Unit 5 – have altered their hiring practices and training for mandated reporters.

In Urbana, potential hires are checked against both state and national registered sex offender Web sites. The national-level check is new this school year, said Gayle Jeffries, the district's assistant superintendent for human resources.

2002 case strikingly similar to White case

If the case of Jon White feels eerily familiar to some East Central Illinoisans, there's a good reason.

In 2002, Gerald Scott Huddleston, then a teacher at Chatsworth Elementary School in Livingston County, was charged with committing oral sex acts against young girls.

Urbana getting bigger legal bills

URBANA – From the day Jon White was charged back in January 2007, the legal bills in the Urbana school district started piling up.

Using Freedom of Information Act requests, The News-Gazette obtained legal bills from the Urbana school district, which denied a request to identify which bills were related to the White case.

Topics varied in talks of Mahomet-Seymour policy manual

MAHOMET – The topics of school attendance, teachers' salaries, single-gender classes and expulsions don't seem like closely related topics.

But each garnered plenty of discussion Thursday at Mahomet-Seymour's final study session for recommending changes to the district policy manual.

PBL students surveyed on drugs, alcohol, school security

PAXTON – The Paxton-Buckley-Loda school board learned from a student survey about the exposure some of their students have had to drugs and alcohol and their experiences with bullying.

The Illinois Youth Survey is given each year to students in the sixth, eighth, 10th and 12th grades. The focus of the survey is to follow student trends – this year, those concerning drugs and alcohol. The school added questions about school security, too.

Centennial extends its principal search

CHAMPAIGN – Champaign school administrators are looking at other candidates for principal of Centennial High School, after one of the finalists withdrew from consideration.

Orlando Thomas was one of two finalists who spoke to parents and teachers at a community forum on June 5. But he withdrew his candidacy the next day, deciding to remain at Stratton Elementary School, where he just completed his first year as principal.

Oakwood hires new principal

OAKWOOD – A Champaign school administrator has been named principal of Oakwood Grade School, where she'll replace the man who was hired as principal for her Champaign elementary school.

Jean Henigman will lead Oakwood Grade School. The Oakwood school board hired her at its meeting Wednesday night.

Catlin school misses annual progress goal for the first time

CATLIN – Principal Dennis Buesking said that although Catlin Grade School students performed well on last year's standardized state testing as a whole, the school did not meet its annual yearly progress goals.

Buesking reported on the results of Catlin Grade School students' standardized tests at Thursday's Catlin School Board meeting.

Report: Efforts to boost Danville's state test scores paid off

DANVILLE – Danville school officials say efforts that were put in place this year to increase Danville High School's state standardized test scores are already yielding results.

They said preliminary 2008 ACT scores show the junior class scored a composite average of 19.64 on the nationwide college-entrance exam, which they took in April.

More than 30 apply for Eastlawn principal spot in Paxton

PAXTON – The Paxton-Buckley-Loda school board plans to review more than 30 applications received for the principal's position at Eastlawn School – a job vacated by the resignation of Tara Tighe last month.

Superintendent Cliff McClure said a committee will likely be formed tonight to select applicants for interviews.