CHAMPAIGN – Teachers union members Wednesday resoundingly voted in favor of authorizing union leaders to call a strike if contract talks continue without progress.
But Illinois Federation of Teachers district representative Jon Nadler said that doesn't necessarily mean after 10 days pass, teachers will walk out.
ST. JOSEPH – Tom Mathis of Ogden says he is amazed at how fast the St. Joseph-Ogden school district is growing.
"Every time you turn around, there is a new housing development going up here or a new subdivision going up there," said Mathis, a member of the high school board.
With the price of diesel fuel at more than $3 a gallon, many rural school districts might have to consider cutting back on field trips or other extracurricular activities to save fuel.
Keven Forney, superintendent of the Oakwood school district, said more than 800 of the 1,100 kids in the district are bused, and between May and Sept. 1, diesel fuel prices increased 45 percent. He hasn't checked for the last two or three weeks but knows it's even higher.
CHAMPAIGN – Parents and students say they won't let administrators downgrade foreign language programs without a protest.
More than 120 parents and youths jammed the school board meeting room Monday to express concern about the discontinuation of German studies at the middle schools and other changes they said penalize students who want to learn languages early.
URBANA – The federal government has granted almost $1 million more to a history project planned by Urbana school district teachers.
The money will enable the teachers to continue their work, which started in 2003 with a $719,999 federal grant, until 2008, said Don Owen, a district staff development specialist, and Kathy Barbour, program coordinator.
CHAMPAIGN – Sue Davis will focus her students' attention on farming to teach them lessons about mathematics, social studies and economics.
Hands-on lessons help Davis introduce concepts of geometry to second-graders. And she said thinking about farming also helps her young students understand their community.
CHAMPAIGN – Mija Wells matter-of-factly pulls out pictures her mother took of their home in New Orleans – pictures of watermarks on walls, her trashed bedroom, the family's moldy furniture and overturned appliances.
"I miss my home," said Mija, 16, who evacuated her uptown neighborhood with her family before Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, breaking levees in New Orleans and inundating 80 percent of the city.
CHAMPAIGN – Contract talks with Champaign teachers stalled Wednesday, and the two sides have called for a mediator.
Greg Novak, president of the Champaign Federation of Teachers, said a 4 p.m. meeting Oct. 12 with union members is "definitely on." No more negotiating sessions are scheduled because of the mediation process, and teachers are expected to take a 10-day intent-to-strike vote at that meeting at Centennial High School.
CHAMPAIGN – Lisa Baer is proud of her "interesting" ancestry. A Tolono resident and University of Illinois junior, she's half Korean and also has Jewish ancestors who came to this country from Lithuania.
That heritage is helping Baer pay her UI bills. She started attending Parkland College in 2003, graduated last spring and plans to return to teach at the Champaign community college after she earns her master's degree. That return will fulfill a promise she made when she received a Parkland PROF scholarship, designed to diversify the college's future faculty.
CHAMPAIGN – Parkland College board members have picked a North Carolina firm to help them find a new president for the college.
At a special meeting Thursday, the board selected Hockaday-Hunter and Associates of Broadway, N.C., to assist with a national search to replace President Zelema Harris, who will retire July 1, 2006.