Villa Grove board moves to build up working cash fund

VILLA GROVE –The Villa Grove school board agreed to move money from one fund to another Monday, but this time it was a positive move to build up the working cash fund to $455,000.

"In a sense we are paying ourselves back for the loans we had to make in the beginning of the year," said Superintendent Steve Poznic, referring to the delay in state aid payments in the fall.

Towns reflect on their investments in FutureGen

Millions of dollars and countless hours have been spent locally in efforts to land the $1.8 billion FutureGen coal plant in Illinois, a project that has now been abandoned by the Department of Energy.

"I wouldn't want to speculate about a specific figure, but millions of dollars have been invested in our site," said Angela Griffin, president of Coles Together.

Flexible schedule approved for Danville middle schools

DANVILLE – Rhonda Ellis said her son, Tyler, has had enriching educational opportunities through a gifted program at North Ridge Middle School. She only wishes he had a chance to take more electives.

"He's definitely had an interest in taking a foreign language or some type of hands-on technology class," said Ellis, who thinks those classes would challenge her son, who's a seventh-grader, and her daughter, Taylor, who will be a sixth-grader next year. "If the opportunity were there, he would definitely take it."

Danville board OKs purchasing school bus cameras

DANVILLE – Pass a stopped school bus that's picking up or dropping off kids in Danville, and you may be caught by the bus driver.

Do that in the near future, and you'll be caught by video surveillance.

Board to begin Culver's evaluation

CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign school board will begin its evaluation of Superintendent Arthur Culver on Thursday evening, but it won't be extending his contract any further this year.

The board will meet in closed session at 6 p.m. at the Mellon Administrative Center, 703 S. New St., C, but it will not formally evaluate Culver at the meeting.

No future for FutureGen?

MATTOON – The proposed $1.8 billion FutureGen clean coal power plant scheduled to be built in Mattoon may not be built after all, and politicians are claiming it's a victim of partisan politics.

Department of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman told much of the Illinois congressional delegation Tuesday morning that his department plans to disband the FutureGen Alliance and move in a different direction.

Governor blasts Department of Energy's plans

Gov. Rod Blagojevich released an angry statement Tuesday after learning of the Department of Energy's plans to "restructure" the FutureGen plans.

"Only after it became clear that an Illinois site would be chosen over a Texas site, the department suggested the project be delayed and now today, that it be dismantled," said Gov. Rod Blagojevich in a written statement.

Mentoring helps unify students

DANVILLE – If St. Paul's eighth-grader Joe Cahill felt a little nervous taking over teacher Laura Hensgen's computer class on Tuesday afternoon, you'd never know it.

When third-graders filed in to the Catholic elementary school's computer lab, Joe wasted no time directing them to their workstations and helping them open a software program. Then he administered a keyboarding test, calling out letters with authority.

Legislator sponsors bill for education

An area congressman is throwing his support behind a bill that creates partnerships between rural schools and colleges and employers.

U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, announced recently he was a co-sponsor of the College and University Rural Education Act (HR 4139).

Local ministers urge students to work hard in school

CHAMPAIGN – The Rev. Charles Nash was standing at a table full of boys in the Central High School cafeteria Monday, struggling to be heard over the din.

Nash talked about college, what the students need to focus on in high school, and what happens to those who don't take education seriously. The boys laughed and joked with each other. But they listened too.