State board evaluators want info on plan oversight

URBANA – The Illinois State Board of Education has spoken, and it has said ... maybe.

At the Urbana school board meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Urbana High School restructuring plan will again be on the agenda, after the state board "gave comments back to have the board address," said Don Owen, Urbana's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

Forum to focus on needs for work, economy, education

DANVILLE – The public is invited to discuss Illinois' economic, work force and education needs at a forum at Danville Area Community College on Thursday.

The forum – one of 17 that's being held at community colleges across the state – will be held from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Vermilion Hall's Rooms 302 and 306, on DACC's campus, 2000 E. Main St.

Project to involve kids documenting life in Rantoul

RANTOUL – Young people enrolled in a summer learning project will use cameras to record the different aspects of daily life in Rantoul, while becoming more involved in the community.

It's part of a PhotoVoice project that will be included in a five-week Succeed, Organize, Advocate, Reflect program, called SOAR for short.

Districts more careful about who comes in contact with children

Since former teacher Jon White's arrest and subsequent conviction for aggravated criminal sexual abuse for acts involving 10 children, both of his former school districts – Urbana and McLean County Unit 5 – have altered their hiring practices and training for mandated reporters.

In Urbana, potential hires are checked against both state and national registered sex offender Web sites. The national-level check is new this school year, said Gayle Jeffries, the district's assistant superintendent for human resources.

2002 case strikingly similar to White case

If the case of Jon White feels eerily familiar to some East Central Illinoisans, there's a good reason.

In 2002, Gerald Scott Huddleston, then a teacher at Chatsworth Elementary School in Livingston County, was charged with committing oral sex acts against young girls.

Urbana getting bigger legal bills

URBANA – From the day Jon White was charged back in January 2007, the legal bills in the Urbana school district started piling up.

Using Freedom of Information Act requests, The News-Gazette obtained legal bills from the Urbana school district, which denied a request to identify which bills were related to the White case.

Topics varied in talks of Mahomet-Seymour policy manual

MAHOMET – The topics of school attendance, teachers' salaries, single-gender classes and expulsions don't seem like closely related topics.

But each garnered plenty of discussion Thursday at Mahomet-Seymour's final study session for recommending changes to the district policy manual.

PBL students surveyed on drugs, alcohol, school security

PAXTON – The Paxton-Buckley-Loda school board learned from a student survey about the exposure some of their students have had to drugs and alcohol and their experiences with bullying.

The Illinois Youth Survey is given each year to students in the sixth, eighth, 10th and 12th grades. The focus of the survey is to follow student trends – this year, those concerning drugs and alcohol. The school added questions about school security, too.

Centennial extends its principal search

CHAMPAIGN – Champaign school administrators are looking at other candidates for principal of Centennial High School, after one of the finalists withdrew from consideration.

Orlando Thomas was one of two finalists who spoke to parents and teachers at a community forum on June 5. But he withdrew his candidacy the next day, deciding to remain at Stratton Elementary School, where he just completed his first year as principal.

Oakwood hires new principal

OAKWOOD – A Champaign school administrator has been named principal of Oakwood Grade School, where she'll replace the man who was hired as principal for her Champaign elementary school.

Jean Henigman will lead Oakwood Grade School. The Oakwood school board hired her at its meeting Wednesday night.