'Fresh start' at high school doesn't mean lax security

MONTICELLO – Although Monticello High School has taken a "fresh start" approach to security with the start of a new school year, Principal Tip Reedy said that doesn't mean things are lax around the high school.

"We've always been concerned about school safety," Reedy said. "There's always been a concern for school safety and there always will be."

Two Urbana school programs put in financial pinch

URBANA – Kids skipping school may see cuts in the hours of truant alternative program outreach workers as a boon, but several members of the Urbana school board are outraged at program cuts made due to the lack of immediate state funding.

"It's this evil, stupid thing that keeps happening every year that there's not enough money to take care of our children," said board member Ruth Ann Fisher, adding that "the beginning of the school year is the absolute wrong time" to cut hours from the program.

Meeting to focus on iffy Urbana schools budget

URBANA – In Urbana, school doesn't stop for a state budget.

While the school district, like so many public organizations, waits to find out its state funding status, employees must be paid, children must be taught and – funding or no – budget deadlines must be followed.

Filmmaker studies bullying at Franklin Middle School

CHAMPAIGN – It's a middle school cliche – the quiet, nerdy student being picked on by the big bully, who takes his lunch money or knocks the books out of his hands in the hallway.

That's not exactly how it happens in real life, say some students at Franklin Middle School. It's more likely a group of kids who make fun of another student because of how he acts or how she looks.

Group will address Monticello class size problems

MONTICELLO – With first-grade classes fluctuating as much as 10 students – four classes at Lincoln Elementary averaging 23 students and two at White Heath averaging 13 – the Monticello school district is looking into ways to regulate class sizes.

Superintendent Vic Zimmerman is organizing a study group that will look into ways to fix this and other class size problems.

$5,000 Lowes grant to go for sprucing up school courtyards

DANVILLE – Three courtyards at East Park Elementary School will get a much-needed face-lift thanks to a $5,000 Lowe's grant and some "elbow grease" from parents.

"Right now, the courtyards are kind of rundown," said Tina Kinser, a family council member and president of the parent-teacher association. "We want them to be a place where the kids can go outdoors and experience the environment, see the different types of flowers or sit on a bench.

Literacy grant to boost preschools in Danville

Four preschool programs in Danville will benefit from a $4.06 million grant, aimed at boosting 4- and 5-year-olds' literacy skills and their readiness for kindergarten.

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded an Early Reading First grant to the University of Illinois. Over the next three years, the university will run the program at the Danville School District, Danville Area Community College's Child Development Center, the Center for Children's Service's Early Learning Center and the East Central Community Action Agency's Head Start program.

Champaign school district faces busing hurdles

CHAMPAIGN – Champaign school officials aren't making any changes in procedures after a kindergarten student was dropped off at the wrong stop after his first day of school.

The child, who attends Garden Hills Elementary School, got on the correct bus to go home, said Joe Davis, interim business manager who oversees the school district's transportation department.

Urbana schools retirement policy goes into effect immediately

Like sprinters, the Urbana school board bounded through its first business meeting of the academic year, clocking in at only 12 minutes.

The meeting was long enough to approve a retirement policy backed by state law. The policy, which goes into effect immediately, states that teachers in their final year in the schools cannot earn more than 6 percent more than their regular pay unless the district pays part of that retirement income.

Vendors go all out to get farmers to look at their exhibits

DECATUR – Vendors use all kinds of gimmicks to lure farmers who love power to their exhibits at the Farm Progress Show.

Gimmicks like the 1981 DeLorean parked at the Liberty Renewable Fuels display. And the 1968 Aston-Martin that's soon going to be racing around the world. And at the same display, a souped-up Chevy truck with a Corvette engine that attracts the young crowd, said David Skjaerlund, a Liberty representative who came to talk to potential investors in the Michigan plant now under construction.