Orpheum Children's Science Museum dealing with fire damages

CHAMPAIGN – The Orpheum Children's Science Museum hopes to reopen Wednesday after cleaning up damage from Friday's downtown fire.

Burning embers from the now-destroyed Metropolitan Building blew onto the Orpheum's roof during the fire, melting the rubber membrane in at least 10 places and burning two holes through the roof.

Parkland College trustees vote to issue $25 million in bonds

CHAMPAIGN – The Parkland College Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday night to issue $25 million in debt certificates for construction and remodeling at the college, saying the work is urgently needed.

The board held a special meeting to talk about its $86 million campus master plan and how it would pay for the first phase of improvements, which will cost an estimated $33.7 million.

Deadline near for school board candidacies in Vermilion County

DANVILLE – Prospective candidates for area school boards have a little more than two months to gather signatures on their nominating petitions.

Vermilion County election officials said people who are thinking about running in the 2009 consolidated election could begin circulating petitions on Oct. 28. However, they asked them to refrain from doing so until after the Nov. 4 election to cut down on confusion.

Lack of state money hurting Georgetown-Ridge Farm schools

GEORGETOWN – Money owed to the district by the state is causing financial problems to the schools' transportation fund, Superintendent Kevin Tate said Monday.

While the state is sending its general state aid and Title 1 reading, math and writing support program payments to the district on time, Tate said the district has yet to receive the first quarterly $106,000 payment for the 2008-09 fiscal year that the state was supposed to send weeks ago.

UI black alumni mark Project 500's 40th anniversary

CHAMPAIGN – How time flies.

Forty years ago, Letti Burt-Butler scrambled down the halls of the University of Illinois, a girl of 17 from Chicago, a black student in the UI's pioneering Project 500, which brought minorities to campus in an effort to give all Illinois students access to equal educational opportunities.

When Burt-Butler left campus, she said, she was a woman. In her years at the UI, she had grown up. Those years weren't always easy, but they were so valuable, she said. They gave her the education to become a teacher herself, and she put that education to work in Chicago's inner-city schools.

"It was wonderful," she said. "Just to have the opportunity to come here. It was wonderful, but it was traumatic, too."

Students learn about geothermal energy project

CHAMPAIGN – The problem: Explain geothermal heating and cooling so elementary school students can understand it.

The solution: Start with a cartoon.

Levy hike of almost 10 percent proposed

CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign school board will hear about a proposed increase of nearly 10 percent in its 2008 property tax levy when it meets Monday night.

Villa Grove excited about playoffs

VILLA GROVE – Greeted by cheers of students, Villa Grove High School Principal Sheila Greenwood joined the hairstyle craze started by the school's state playoff-bound football players by sporting a fake Mohawk hairdo at a pep assembly Thursday.

The undefeated team is on their way to a second-round game in Pawnee on Saturday.

Spokesfamily for Tree of Hope thrilled with help that they got

CHAMPAIGN – Bouncing around the auto showroom, tussling with his big brother over their toy cars, Mark Davis is the epitome of a busy 3-year-old.

Champaign school district files plans for reform

CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign school district will assign staff members to students who are failing a class or missing school, use MySpace to contact truant students, provide more cultural training to teachers and give more information and support to parents of black special-education students.

Those measures are a few outlined by the district in a plan to speed up its progress on meeting consent decree goals at the high schools and in special education. The "acceleration plan" was filed earlier this week with the federal district court.