Ikenberry touts benefits of 'accelerated program'

CHAMPAIGN – A shorter college career could save money for students, families and the University of Illinois itself, the interim president said Wednesday.

Stanley Ikenberry told the UI Board of Trustees an "accelerated program" that could be in place for fall 2011 would raise revenue for the university while cutting tuition and letting students enter the work force earlier.

Urbana school board focuses budget cuts on trims, not eliminations

URBANA – As Urbana school board members pored over possible cuts Tuesday to trim another $700,000 from next year's budget, they suggested cutting back several programs, rather than eliminating them altogether.

"We have significant dollars left to cut," said school board member Steve Summers. "I am afraid to get to the number we are looking at, we have to either wholesale cut some programs or spread some of the suffering across the whole district if we are going to save some pieces."

UI's new ethics committee meets for first time

CHAMPAIGN – The investigation of admissions abuses at the University of Illinois last summer led to reforms in admissions procedures, resignations of the UI president and chancellor and a revamped board of trustees.

The state commission that investigated the "Category I" list – politically connected applicants who received special consideration and were sometimes admitted ahead of more qualified candidates – also suggested changes in board governance and ethics training to prevent abuses from recurring.

UI's budget teams eye Graduate College, small units for cuts

URBANA – A second round of budget-review teams will examine for possible savings the University of Illinois Graduate College, small units on campus and programs that support teaching.

One panel will also look at how the campus can generate new sources of money – possibly through more out-of-state students or online learning – to cope with a half-billion-dollar state funding backlog and potential budget cuts down the road.

Georgetown-Ridge Farm board cuts $600,000 from budget

GEORGETOWN — School officials cut $604,000 in staff, programs and materials from the upcoming school year on Monday in an effort to prepare for a drop in state funding.

Superintendent Greg Irwin said he was preparing for a $620,000 reduction in general state aid next year — a “worst-case scenario” that he said was entirely possible.

According to Irwin, from July 1, 2009 to Jan. 31, 2010, the state has fallen behind $351,858 in payments to the district. The state also still owes the district about $500,000 from the previous fiscal year.

Champaign school board cuts jobs, other expenses

CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign school board on Monday night approved cutting the equivalent of four full-time high school teachers next year – two at Central and two at Centennial High School – in addition to other jobs and expenses.

The goal of the district for making budget cuts for next year was to keep the cuts as far from the classroom as possible, said board member Sue Grey.

Public hearing, vote set on proposed cuts

DANVILLE – Danville resident Chris Clapp said he understands the need to cut personnel expenses from the local school district's upcoming budget.

But he doesn't understand why administrators are proposing to cut so many positions from the teaching ranks and so few from their own.

Beautification agency seeks applicants for community projects

DANVILLE – Keep Vermilion County Beautiful is accepting applications for community beautification grants.

"At this point, we don't know exactly how much money will be available, until we see the results of our raffle April 24th," said Lynn Wolgamot, volunteer director of Keep Vermilion County Beautiful, in a news release.

But now is the time to organize ideas and finalize plans to submit for consideration by the grant committee, she added.

Some oppose cuts proposed for Mahomet-Seymour schools

MAHOMET – More than 100 people came out for the school board's study session Thursday night concerning the Mahomet-Seymour school district's proposed budget cuts.

And more than a fourth of them spoke at the meeting.

The proposed class reductions include layoffs and elimination of intramural sports, the chess club and the enrichment program.

Joan Jordan, co-president of the Mahomet-Seymour Education Association, said the union's position is that the cuts, which would go into effect next school year, are not warranted.

UI, SIU leaders speak out against budget cuts

SPRINGFIELD — The presidents of the two largest public university systems in Illinois pleaded with lawmakers Wednesday to not cut their budgets by another 10 percent.

The hearing before a Senate committee was part of a strategy by Democrats to point out the impact of budget cuts proposed by Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady, a state senator from Bloomington.

Brady was not present at the hearing.