Champaign schools' budget formula aims for equal payouts

CHAMPAIGN – Next year's building budgets for Centennial and Central high schools will be determined, for the first time, by a formula developed by the district to ensure money is allocated fairly.

The formula, similar to an approach already being used for the elementary and middle schools, takes into account the number of students in each school, as well as the number in honors classes and special education, those who are English-language learners, and those who qualify for free or reduced price lunch. More students in those categories means a school gets more funding, said Chief Financial Officer Gene Logas. The goal, he said, is to provide the money needed to serve a diverse population of students, some of whom need more support than others.

Two area credit unions investing in student loans

CHAMPAIGN – Two area credit unions are among 12 statewide that have collectively pledged to invest nearly $100 million in securities to support student loans.

CHAMPAIGN – Two area credit unions are among 12 statewide that have collectively pledged to invest nearly $100 million in securities to support student loans.

The University of Illinois Employees Credit Union and Rantoul-based Credit Union 1 plan to buy securities issued by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.

Assistant dean takes over UI's entrepreneur academy

CHAMPAIGN – John F. Clarke has assumed responsibility for the Academy of Entrepreneurial Leadership and the Illini Entrepreneur Center Network at the University of Illinois.

Clarke, an assistant dean for strategic initiatives at the UI College of Business, took over the duties previously handled by the academy's executive director, Tony Mendes.

Great Pumpkin Patch near Arthur now offering seeds

ARTHUR – The Great Pumpkin Patch south of Arthur is offering pumpkin, squash and gourd seeds for the garden.

The seeds are being offered online through The Homestead Seeds store at

Unit 4 donates old records to county archive

CHAMPAIGN – In the basement of the Mellon Administrative Center, on shelves in the back of the mechanical room, lies a glimpse of the history of the Champaign school district.

Scores of leather-bound ledger books hold the handwritten records of students attending school here from the late 1800s to the 1950s. The oldest dates back to 1886.

Plaintiffs' lawyer makes case for consent decree hearings

CHAMPAIGN – The judge overseeing the Champaign school district's consent decree case should provide a public forum in which to consider whether the district has complied in good faith with the decree, says the lawyer for the plaintiffs in the case.

Carol Ashley, representing the district's black families, filed her reply on the question of the hearing late Wednesday afternoon.

Unit 4 leader named to advisory board

CHICAGO – Champaign schools Superintendent Arthur Culver and the heads of the Illinois Education Association and the Illinois Federation of Teachers are among five people named by Gov. Pat Quinn to an advisory board with a controversial past.

Counseling now available for students who served in military

CHAMPAIGN – Free counseling for military veteran students is now available twice a month at Parkland College.

The Veteran Service Office is different from academic or financial aid counseling at Parkland, said Kristina Taylor, Parkland's veterans' certifying official and financial officer. She is also an instructor at the college.

Environmental education center's future brightens

DANVILLE – The Vermilion County Conservation District was $400,000 closer on Wednesday to building a 32,000-square-foot environmental education center at Kennekuk County Park, after the state announced $21.2 million in grants for 59 park and land acquisition projects across the state.

Madoff whistleblower saves vitriol for SEC in UI talk

URBANA – A fraud investigator who tracked Bernie Madoff's dealings for years said he believes the Ponzi scheme perpetrator had more victims outside than United States than in, and more non-Jewish victims than Jewish.

Harry Markopolos, who repeatedly tried to warn the Securities & Exchange Commission about Madoff, called the rogue investor "a monster," but saved some of his toughest invective for the federal agency that failed to stop Madoff.