February 2020 Leading News

In today’s Leading News, a national investigation on snow days concludes “If you swear that kids were tougher in your day and you had to walk to school through 3-foot snowdrifts, uphill, both ways, we cannot prove you wrong.” Keeping them on track, Oregon CUSD 220 offers mentors to freshmen. A co-teaching pilot program in Kaneland CUSD 302 elementary schools is being expanded. Massac CUSD 1 considers a new elementary school. Also in the news, states join to investigate the marketing practices of Juul, maker of vaping products.
Snow days: Is school canceled more often now?
John Ismay, Chicago Tribune/The New York Times, February 26
Oregon High School program helping freshman stay on track to graduate
Kristin Camiliere, WIFR, Rockford, February 25
All Kaneland elementary schools to use co-teaching model in classrooms
Chris Walker, Kane County Chronicle, February 25
Unit One hears details of proposed new elementary school
Michele Longworth, Metropolis Planet, February 27
‘A world of hurt’: 39 states to investigate Juul’s marketing
Dave Collins and Matthew Perrone, AP/State Journal-Register, Springfield, February 25

In today’s Leading News, as the CDC warns that the coronavirus is “inevitable,” school districts are taking note. Decatur SD 61 says a mediation session with its teaching assistants union was productive but no agreement was made. Also in the news, bills are introduced regarding sex education curriculum and the early childhood education teacher shortage.

State says it has taken proactive approach to coronavirus
Jerry Nowicki, CNI/The Southern Illinoisan, Carbondale, February 26

Suburban school officials prepare for anticipated arrival of coronavirus: ‘This is probably the calm before the storm’
Karen Ann Cullotta, Pioneer Press/Evanston Review, February 26

Decatur school district, teaching assistants fail to reach agreement
Analisa Trofimuk, Decatur Herald and Review, February 26

Sex ed for all K-12 students in Illinois ordered in proposed bill
Rebecca Anzel, CNI/The Telegraph, Alton, February 27

Legislation seeks to address early childhood teacher crisis
Matt Hopf, Herald-Whig, Quincy, February 25

In today’s Leading News, a difficult series of negotiations continues for Decatur SD 61 school board and its teaching assistants. CPS responds to an investigation finding irregularities in some test scores. The Canton Union SD 66 school board hears from its schools on improvement plans. Also in the news, a Springfield-area program for students entering medical professions has 14 new graduates.

Teaching assistants “Pack the Board” ahead of negotiation meeting
Jennifer Jensen, WCIA, Champaign, February 25

From ‘attempts to game the test’ to reports of ‘outright cheating’: Probe of CPS standardized tests finds troubling irregularities, watchdog says
Hannah Leone, Chicago Tribune, February 25

CPS agrees to overhaul standardized test practice after OIG finds ‘unusual patterns’
Lauren FitzPatrick and Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, February 21

School improvement plans shared
Larry Eskridge, Canton Daily Ledger, February 21

Pipeline Program graduates 14 area high school students
Steven Spearie, State Journal-Register, Springfield, February 25

In today’s Leading News, the Pantagraph reports on school districts’ adjustments to restrictive disciplinary practices. The state’s western school districts and ROE discuss the teacher shortage. Palatine-based THSD 214 has agreed to a settlement in a widely-reported discrimination case regarding the use of locker room facilities by a transgender student. Vermillion County students explore health care and engineering careers. Also in the news, a candidate’s claim of bringing a gun into a suburban school is investigated and proven unfounded.

Central Illinois schools adjust to emergency rules for 'time-out' rooms
Lenore Sobota, Kelsey Watznauer, Bloomington Pantagraph, February 22

Meixner presents on teacher shortage
Tabi Jozwick, McDonough County Voice, February 21

District 211 settles transgender discrimination lawsuit
Eric Peterson, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, February 13

Area high school students learn about careers
Carol Roehm, Danville Commercial-News, February 22

Police end investigation after US Senate candidate backs away from claim she brought a gun inside Hinsdale Central High School
Kimberly Fornek, Pioneer Press/The Doings, Hinsdale, February 21

In today’s Leading News, the Charleston CUSD 1 school board votes to support a TIF district extension. THSD 225 (Glenview) discusses rising transportation costs. Dunlap CUSD 323 school officials consider traffic flow. Rantoul City SD 137 is on pace for administrative transition. Also in the news, the Tribune looks at “uncertainties” for school districts after the governor’s budget address last week.

Board votes in support of Charleston TIF district extension
Dave Fopay, Journal Gazette and Times Courier, Charleston/Mattoon, February 20

Glenbrook SD 225 facing steep increase in bus service costs, board looking at how to blunt the impact on students’ families
Anna Kim, Pioneer Press/Glenview Announcements, February 21

Traffic concerns lead to discussion amongst Dunlap School Board leaders
Darront├ę Matthews, WMBD, Peoria, February 18

Lengthy transition for top job at Rantoul City Schools intentional
Dave Hinton, Rantoul Press, February 22

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s plan to link education funding increase to his graduated income tax plan could leave some school districts in the lurch
Jamie Munks, Dan Petrella and Antonia Ayres-Brown, Chicago Tribune, February 20

In today’s Leading News, read additional reporting on Governor J.B. Pritzker’s budget address. A lawsuit over a Waukegan CUSD 60 building purchase is dismissed. Geneseo CUSD 228 prepares for possible ransomware threats. Also in the news, Western CUSD 12 sows the seeds for a new agriculture program.

GOP: Pritzker tying school funding to tax vote ‘shameful’
John O'Connor, AP/ Daily Chronicle, DeKalb, February 20

Pritzker's Budget Hinges On Voters' Tax Decision
Brian Mackey, Illinois Issues, WUIS, Springfield, February 19

Lake County judge dismisses lawsuit challenging Waukegan District 60’s controversial building purchase
Emily K. Coleman, Lake County News-Sun, February 19

Geneseo schools ready for ransomware threat
Lisa Hammer, Quad Cities Dispatch-Argus, February 14

Western School Board at "starting point" to offer ag classes
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, February 20

In today’s Leading News, Governor J.B. Pritzker’s budget address proposal includes a $350 million increase in funding for K-12 education and relies on a tax structure to be voted on in November. Champaign CUSD 4 looks at the factors that affect which students go to which schools. Crescent-Iroquois CUSD 249 marks its calendar. Also in the news, Big Hollow SD 38 (Ingleside) fourth-graders supported a solar energy proposal to the school board last fall, and guess what’s being built?

Pritzker proposes $42B budget: Plan includes $1.4B from yet to pass progressive tax
Jerry Nowicki and Peter Hancock, CNI/The Telegraph, Alton, February 19

Pritzker budget would hike spending, amount hinges on voters
John O'Connor, AP/Belleville News-Democrat, February 19

Tough choices: Unit 4 looking to even out ratio of high-poverty students among schools
Anthony Zilis, News-Gazette, Champaign, February 16

District #249 board sets graduation, tentative calendar
Kim Rabe, Iroquois County Times-Republic, February 10

How fourth-graders provided the spark for solar panels at Big Hollow campus
Mick Zawislak, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, February 16


In today’s Leading News, ISBE approved permanent rules on the use of seclusion and restraint. Hinsdale THSD 86 faces a lawsuit over public participation. Decatur SD 61 and its teaching assistants have scheduled a negotiation session. Also in the news, that’s history: Lincoln and Douglas visit Quincy SD 172’s Lincoln-Douglas Elementary School.

Permanent rules approved limiting how students in Illinois are secluded and restrained
Jennifer Smith Richards and Jodi S. Cohen, Chicago Tribune, February 18
Seclusion-room violations found in six Illinois school districts, but parents say investigations didn’t go far enough
Jennifer Smith Richards and Jodi S. Cohen, Chicago Tribune, February 14
In new lawsuit, Hinsdale School District 86 residents claim school board violated their rights to freedom of speech
Kimberly Fornek, Pioneer Press/Hinsdale Doings, February 11
Decatur school district, teaching assistants union to bargain later this month
Analisa Trofimuk, Decatur Herald and Review, February 14
Lincoln, Douglas visit namesake school
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, February 19
In today’s Leading News, widespread flu cases continue to cause some districts to cancel classes. Urbana school resource officers return to the district after completing a 40-hour training course. Lincolnshire-Prairie View District 103 plans to begin an elementary school expansion in March, while Stevenson High School will begin work on stadium and classroom improvements this summer. Finally in the news, Coffeen elementary will transform into a school serving only pre-K students starting next year.  
Flu still packing a punch and causing some schools to close
Steven Spearie, State Journal-Register, Springfield, February 13

Urbana SRO’s return to work after training
Courtney Bunting, WCIA, Champaign, February 13

Construction crews coming to Daniel Wright Junior High
Russell Lissau, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, February 13

New stadium turf, scoreboard highlight $7.8 million summer improvement plan at Stevenson
Russell Lissau, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, February 13

Coffeen School Transitions To Pre-K
Mike Plunkett, Hillsboro Journal-News, February 13
In today’s Leading News, Bloomington high school students will continue to have an Advisory Period during the 2020-2021 school year. Galesburg District 205 is considering a plan to eliminate drug testing for secondary school athletes. Chicago Public Schools will dedicate $10-15 million more in funding to remedy past cuts to special education services. 50 people that are looking to switch careers and enter the teaching profession will have an opportunity to earn a full-ride through the Golden Apple Illinois Accelerators Program. Retirement isn’t for everybody. After retiring as a service dog, Zephyr has transitioned into his new role as a therapy dog for a Normal elementary school.
D87 votes to extend program that’s helping building teacher-student relationships
Munashe Kwangwari III, WMBD, Peoria, February 12

D205 may end student drug testing
Matt Koester, Galesburg Register-Mail, February 12

CPS offers millions in added support for special ed students illegally denied services
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, February 12

Why Golden Apple is offering 50 students a full ride to earn a teaching certificate
Madhu Krishnamurthy, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, February 1

Rejecting retirement: Service dog finds new job at Normal elementary school
Sierra Henry, The Pantagraph, Bloomington, February 8
In today’s Leading News, a report opens a new discussion on the outcomes, efficiency, and necessity of active-shooter drills. Joppa-Maple Grove #38 details its work and plans to its local business community. Algonquin-based Community Unit School District 300 hears pushback on proposed changes to its dual-language offerings. Also in the news, Yorkville CUSD 115 considers CBD products in fundraising prizes.
Active shooter drills are now required in Illinois schools, but a new report says they can traumatize students:
‘We may be doing more harm than good.’
Peter Nickeas and Elyssa Cherney, Chicago Tribune, February 12
Is it time to rethink school shooting drills? Suburban districts say yes.
Pat Eaton-Robb, AP/Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, February 12
Unit 1 Superintendent talks on assets, future challenges
Herb Meeker, Press Mentor, Newton, February 12
District 300 parents in opposition of dual-language changes pack school board meeting in Algonquin
Drew Zimmerman, Northwest Herald, Chicago suburbs, February 13
Yorkville SD115 officials voice opposition to permitting CBD product sales at fundraisers
Katie Finlon, Kendall County Now, February 10
In today’s Leading News, Illinois residents polled by the Illinois Education Association teachers union give their local public schools As and Bs, while they give schools statewide a C-minus. North Greene USE 3 seeks to replace outdated HVAC systems. Waukegan CUSD 60 considers a task force in the wake of an altercation at a basketball game. Also in the news, a longer day means more exploratory electives for St. Charles CUSD 303.
Illinoisans give public schools a poor grade
Steven Spearie, State Journal-Register, Springfield, February 11
Survey finds pessimism toward Illinois public schools
Peter Hancock, CNI/Effingham Daily News, February 11
North Greene Working on New HVAC Units, Wrapping Up Contracts
Benjamin Cox, WLDS, Jacksonville, January 31
Waukegan High School principal proposes task force in wake of fight at basketball game involving Zion-Benton
Emily K. Coleman, Lake County News-Sun, January 29
'Explore, create, design': District 303 to roll out elective as part of longer elementary day
Lauren Rohr, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, January 27

In today’s Leading News, Elk Grove Village’s Community Consolidated SD 59 plans to issue bonds: "Nobody wants to spend it, but nobody likes leaky roofs." Maroa-Forsyth CUSD 2 brainstorms replacing a 90-year-old middle school. Quincy SD 172 has approved contract extensions with teachers and staff. Morris school districts share services. Also in the news, CHSD 128’s Libertyville High School football field took the screen during the Super Bowl, and girls soccer received a surprise visit out of the occasion.

Elk Grove Twp. schools to borrow $30 million to fix leaky roofs, replace HVAC units
Christopher Placek, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, February 11

Forsyth offered incentives for middle school to be located in village
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, February 9

School Board approves contract extension
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, February 10

Morris school districts benefit from shared services
Craig Ortiz, Shaw Media/Morris Herald-News, February 4

Libertyville High School takes center stage in NFL’s own Super Bowl commercial:
‘It was a really cool moment for us all.’

Mark Perlman, Pioneer Press/Libertyville Review, February 9

In today’s Leading News, the reporting on seclusion practices continues. School districts discuss referendums on the March 17 ballot with their communities. Also in the news, a forum at West Aurora forum brings students and candidates together to discuss political issues.
'They Need To Be Allowed To Scream:’
How School Districts Use Controversial Seclusion Rooms

Peter Medlin, Illinois Issues, NPR Illinois, January 30
$147M school referendum draws support, criticism from Barrington community
Kaitlin Edquist, Chicago Tribune, February 3
Language set for Oswego school district referendum question
Shea Lazansky, Kendall County Now, February 6
Forum canceled but other opportunities available to learn about school referendum
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, February 5
Candidates talk climate change, health care at Aurora student-organized forum
Linda Girardi, Aurora Beacon-News, January 31

In today’s Leading News, Edwardsville CUSD 7 considers renovations. Fallout continues from CPS investigations into a series of allegations of misconduct involving the athletics program and administration. Decatur SD 61 elementary students read on the level. “Challenge Day” offers social and emotional skill-building opportunities at LaSalle-Peru schools. Also in the news, a panel of “celebrated chefs” will devise student meals prepared and served by CPS.

District facilities committee proposes $2 million renovations
Tyler Pletsch, The Telegraph, Alton, January 28

Lincoln Park High School leaders address growing safety concerns after day of student protests and some altercations as another misconduct claim surfaces
Hannah Leone, and Jessica Villagomez, Chicago Tribune, February 7

I like reading: Leveled reading guides Decatur students and teachers
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, February 3

L-P brings back emotional, social Challenge Day
Ali Braboy, LaSalle News Tribune, February 4

Renowned chefs to spice up food at CPS cafeterias thanks to new Chef Council
Maudlyne Ihejirika, Chicago Sun-Times, February 3


In today’s Leading News, a bill addressing the teacher shortage is introduced that would make it easier for retired teachers to reinstate their licenses. A school district reaches out to calm concerns of coronavirus. THSD 225 in Glenview plans for the closure of an alternative program. DeKalb CUSD 428 officials seek additional district funds for cybersecurity. Also in the news, Oak Park-River Forest HSD 200 students propose and develop an equity course.
Caulkins proposes bill to reduce fee for lapsed teaching licenses
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, February 4
Lincolnshire-Prairie View district family who recently returned from China sparking concern among some parents over coronavirus
Kaitlin Edquist, Chicago Tribune, February 4
Glenbrook high school district ending longtime evening program, which alumni remember as a ‘safe place’
Anna Kim, Pioneer Press/Glenview Announcements, February 4
DeKalb school district's cyber security team says they need more funding to keep district safe
Kelsey Rettke, Daily Chronicle, DeKalb, February 3
At OPRF, an equity course, for students by students
Michael Romain, Wednesday Journal, Oak Park, February 4

In today’s Leading News, potential “guest teachers” in Decatur SD 61 gather info. Officials and families discuss the future of Chicago Virtual Charter School. A Freeport CUSD 145 school deals with flooding. Litchfield CUSD 12 adds career exploration to its curriculum. Also in the news, the state legislature has bills to consider that would offer potential bilingual teachers some financial aid.

Decatur recruits guest teachers with one-stop shop
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, February 1

Fight is on to save Chicago Virtual Charter School, Illinois’ first and only remote learning public school…
Hannah Leone. Chicago Tribune, February 4

Freeport School Board creates Taylor Park Task Force to combat flooding issues
Brittany Karlin, WIFR, Rockford, February 3

Litchfield Curriculum to Explore Careers
Mary (Galer) Herschelman, Hillsboro Journal-News, January 30

Garcia, Ortiz pitch legislation aimed at recruiting bilingual teachers of color
Carlos Ballesteros, Chicago Sun-Times, February 3

In today’s Leading News, the CPS inspector general has resigned. Space, time, and cost explain why St. Charles CUSD 303 will continue to hold graduation ceremonies on weekdays for the near future. Morrison CUSD 6 looks at a summer driver education option. Amboy CUSD 272 looks at changes to its daily high school schedule. Also in the news, DeKalb CUSD 428’s board discusses policies covering medical use of cannabis.
CPS Inspector General Nicholas Schuler quits, says ‘proud of the work we have accomplished’
Hanna Leone, Chicago Tribune, February 3
Why District 303 graduation ceremonies are moving to weekdays
Lauren Rohr, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, January 31
Morrison High School considering adding summer school driver's ed
Cody Cutter, Sauk Valley News, February 2
School board supports switch to 7-period schedule at AHS
Bonnie Morris, Amboy News, January 28
DeKalb County school districts talk medical marijuana policies
Matthew N. Wells, Daily Chronicle, DeKalb, January 27
In today’s Leading News, Governor J.B. Pritzker in his state of the state, and local legislators in response, discuss property taxes. In other news, state grants announced last week help selected school districts ease property taxes; others discuss raising them.
Illinois governor’s annual address focuses on property taxes and ethics reform. Here’s what local lawmakers say he missed
Marissa Sulek, WQAD, Quad Cities, January 29
Kifowit acknowledges disparities in property taxes, calling problem 'epidemic'
Shea Lazansky, Kendall County Now, January 30
Homeowners could see property tax cut thanks to Illinois education grant
Kelsey Landis, Belleville News-Democrat, January 28
Why some schools get state grants to cut property taxes
Jake Griffin, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, February 2
School districts in Lake Bluff and Lake Forest increase property tax levies
Daniel I. Dorfman, Pioneer Press/Lake Forester, January 30

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