Iraqi woman relates tale of her 'rebirth' in America

So many lights!

Champaign district beefing up administrative staff

CHAMPAIGN – Principals in Champaign elementary schools will have a new No. 2 in command next fall.

The Champaign school district is replacing student service coordinators, who now help manage the buildings, with assistant principals.

Champaign County residents, brace for tax bills

Dan Welch insists that he enjoys taking phone calls from irate Champaign County citizens on the first business day after property-tax bills have been mailed out.

"As far as I'm concerned, it's one of the best days of the year," said Welch, who has been Champaign County treasurer for 11 years and has worked in the office for 36 years. "I get a chance to talk to a lot of people and explain why we do what we do. You get a chance to make an impression. So we want to do this right.

School district measure would ensure use of local laborers

CHAMPAIGN – Contractors who successfully bid on construction projects of $35,000 or more for the Champaign school district will be required to use local labor for the work, under an agreement the school board will consider Monday.

It is scheduled to vote on a project labor agreement with the East Central Illinois Building & Construction Trades Council. The school board meets at 7 p.m. Monday at the Mellon Administrative Center, 703 S. New St., C.

Danville High school club part of effort to help feed the hungry

DANVILLE – The Danville Area Food Pantry's shelves could be a little fuller next week, thanks to some area students.

Ebert gives his alma mater a million reasons to cheer

CHAMPAIGN – Roger Ebert just gave a big thumb's up to his alma mater, in the form of a $1 million gift.

Ebert, class of 1964, and his wife, Chaz, gave the University of Illinois $1 million toward creation of the Roger Ebert Program for Film Studies Fund – a program that didn't have a counterpart in his undergraduate days.

Danville personnel chief moving over to school district

DANVILLE – A City of Danville department head is heading over to the school district in May.

On Wednesday, Sherri Johnson was tapped as Danville schools' human resources manager for the 2009-2010 school year. She will succeed Dianna Kirk, who will take over as associate superintendent.

Champaign's consent decree monitor praises changes

CHAMPAIGN – In his last visit to the Champaign school district before a federal consent decree is scheduled to expire, court monitor Robert Peterkin said the district has made changes in the last couple of years that have made a difference for students and that have "enormous potential" for the future.

"I think they are in the best position they've been in to attack the problems brought up in the consent decree," Peterkin said, "but they can't claim total victory."

Heritage school board will use new funds to pay off debt

HOMER – Heritage school board members have committed a third of the district's new sales tax money to pay off debt.

The board on Monday passed a resolution requiring that at least one-third of the district's revenue from the new countywide sales tax be used to pay down existing debt.

GCMS moves forward with grade school expansion plans

GIBSON CITY – A major expansion planned for Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Elementary School remains on track as board members reviewed a set of "working plans" prepared by the district's architects.

New construction will include 8,550 square feet for classrooms and about 4,000 square feet for additional conference and storage areas. The plan also calls for enclosing the front entrance's overhang to create a lobby, plus occupational and speech therapy rooms, and converting current board meeting and unit office storage space to two preschool classrooms.