New deal increases benefits, pay for workers

MAHOMET – The Mahomet-Seymour Education Association's new contract will give certified teachers a 5 percent raise each year, or a 15 percent raise over three years, and increase the district's personnel costs about $800,000.

The Mahomet-Seymour school board unanimously ratified the three-year contract with union members Monday morning.

Champaign school district wants public involved in planning

CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign school district may be looking at buildings, but school board members say they hope their long-range facilities plan will result in a school district that is integrated into the community, and a public that feels ownership in the district.

The board talked about how to go about the planning process in a special meeting Monday night.

Some Champaign schools out early

CHAMPAIGN – Champaign schools without central air-conditioning will be released one hour early Tuesday due to the heat.

Schools that will release students one hour early are: Bottenfield, Washington, Carrie Busey, Dr. Howard, Garden Hills, Robeson, South Side and Westview elementary schools; Edison, Franklin and Jefferson middle schools; Central High School; and Columbia Center. Buses will follow the early release schedule at these schools and the Kids Plus after-school programs will begin one hour early.

Teachers get pep talks to start new year

URBANA – The old saying still, and always, rankles: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."

Say it to a gymnasium of teachers and you get hundreds of practitioners eager to prove it wrong.

Governor cuts nearly 20 percent of Illinois Ventures' budget

Illinois Ventures, the University of Illinois subsidiary created to support start-up companies, has had its budget cut by almost 20 percent.

Using his amendatory veto power to trim $463 million from the state budget, Gov. Rod Blagojevich vetoed a $750,000 grant to Illinois Ventures, appropriated through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. University officials have vowed to try to recover the money.

New grade school library makes its debut to cheers

BISMARCK – Jenna Russell has always looked forward to visiting the library at Bismarck-Henning Grade School. She's even more eager to do that now that she can read in a "tree house."

"It looks fun," the third-grader said.

Urbana school board will consider retirement policy

URBANA – On Tuesday evening, the Urbana school board will be looking at a teachers' retirement policy that would move the district into accordance with state guidelines.

Teachers in their final year of service also will not earn more than 6 percent more than their regular pay unless the district pays part of that retirement income – meaning those teachers will be discouraged from taking on extra coaching or continuing education to avoid the district paying out extra retirement money, said Gayle Jeffries, the district's head of human resources.

Tardy tax bills compound schools' budget problems

TUSCOLA – The Tuscola school district is owed $3.9 million this year in property taxes.

But the district hasn't seen a penny yet, because Douglas County's tax bills haven't been mailed. The real estate tax bills usually go out in May or June.

Special meeting called to craft long-range plan

CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign school board will talk about how to develop a long-range facilities plan at a special meeting Monday.

The board will meet at 6 p.m. at the Mellon Administrative Center, 703 S. New St., C.

New teachers learn the ropes

DANVILLE – South View Middle School Principal Jason Bletzinger has 13 new teachers this year, so he decided to try something new to get them acquainted with the school.

He held a special orientation last Friday, just for those new to the building, so they could learn the procedures at South View, from how to submit a purchase order to attendance procedures, from handing discipline issues to the e-mail system.