Champaign school district needs new board to build with

The to-do list for the Champaign school district looks something like this:

– Look at building needs, develop a plan for a bond referendum, including how to add 200 seats in north Champaign, and rally public support before the 2008 primary election;

– establish an alternative school program to start this fall;

'I'm happy because I'm here'

Antonio Aguas is not griping about much these days. In fact, he's just downright happy to be alive.

"I say, 'Thanks, God, for the second opportunity to be around,'" said the 43-year-old husband, father, brother, son and business owner.

Late last summer, Aguas lost six days of his life to kidnappers looking to be handed a chunk of the money that he's worked so hard to earn in the last 20 years.

Essays allow Korean students to learn culture

CHAMPAIGN – Sometimes it's the little things that are most surprising when you experience a new culture.

For Ki-Seong Lee, a seventh-grade student at Edison Middle School who experienced American culture for the first time a few months ago, it was what he saw while riding in a car. Drivers waiting patiently as children boarded a school bus or an elderly woman crossed the street. People waiting their turn at a four-way stop.

Traffic stop prompts bid to seize cash

TUSCOLA – A routine traffic stop along Interstate 57 has Douglas County prosecutors attempting to seize $26,950 in cash.

Illinois state trooper Chris Owen stopped James S. "Mae Mae" Staples of Chicago on Jan. 19 for a minor traffic violation, according to documents filed by Douglas County State's Attorney Kevin Nolan.

Regional chief called on to solve Mahomet board impasse

MAHOMET – Richard Broudy's resignation has split the Mahomet-Seymour school board right down the middle – over his replacement – and the clock is ticking.

Regional Superintendent Judy Pacey said school officials contacted her about breaking the impasse and picking a new board member herself if the board fails to pick Broudy's replacement by the April 12 deadline.

Principal leaving Champaign district

CHAMPAIGN – A popular Champaign principal will be leaving the district this summer.

Barb Daly, principal of Bottenfield Elementary School, has accepted the position of assistant superintendent at the Champaign/Ford County Regional Office of Education. She'll start her new job in July.

Proposal calls for enlarging Urbana schools' athletics site

URBANA – Architect Vic Isaksen on Tuesday unveiled a proposal to add more outdoor space to the crowded Urbana High School and Urbana Middle School athletics complex.

That proposal, made by Isaksen and members of the district's land use committee, calls for putting artificial turf in the high school athletic stadium. It carries a price tag of about $800,000.

Champaign school board candidates offer their ideas at forum

CHAMPAIGN – One of the first issues new Champaign school board members will face is how to add classrooms in north Champaign and formulate a building referendum to go before voters next spring.

Candidates for the school board discussed how they would proceed at a forum Tuesday night at the Urban League of Champaign County. The forum was sponsored by the Coalition for Action on Racial Equity and Excellence in Education.

Danville group to honor teachers with help from Van Dyke

DANVILLE – The Danville Community Public School Foundation will honor four teachers, showcase the musical talents of five show choirs and unveil a new initiative with the help of legendary performer and Danville High School alumnus Dick Van Dyke.

All of that will take place at an event called "An Evening of Singing and Dancing." It will be held April 13 at the high school auditorium.

Students live black heroes' history

URBANA – Ask just about anyone for the names of heroes in the black community and you might get Martin Luther King or Oprah Winfrey or Willie Mays.

But who knows anything about Benjamin Banneker or Phillis Wheatley or Dr. Ben Carson? Phyllis Peete's fifth-graders at Thomas Paine School, that's who, and they shared their knowledge at the Urbana school Friday, living their heroes' histories.