December 2023 Leading News

In today’s Leading News, a variety of celebrations at Illinois schools feature reading, art, music, ag, and more.

Mrs. Claus reads to Parsons School students
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, December 8

Cookbook project highlights 'how people eat at junior high'
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, December 13

DePue elementary students create van Gogh mural
Shaw Local News Network, December 12

Obama surprises South Shore pre-K class with presents and a story
Mohammad Samra, Chicago Sun-Times, December 12

Teacher's Scooby Doo Christmas tree entertains students
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, December 19

Officials scramble for instruments, uniforms as Proviso East band program enrollment doubles
Amaris E. Rodriguez, Forest Park Review, December 11

Illinois' future ag teachers shine at National FFA Convention
Erin M. Henkel, FarmWeek/metropolis Planet, December 21
In today’s Leading News, threats lead to the closure of Illini Central CUSD 189 schools and suspension of a board meeting. Tuscola CUSD 301 hears concerns from paraprofessionals about contract issues. School District U-46 (Elgin) looks at possible school closures. An O'Fallon THSD 203 coach and administrator resigns over student residency issues. Also in the news, public officials are keeping an eye on winter viruses.

Illini Central closes for police probe amid multiple school threats of guns, violence
Chris Sims, Peoria Journal Star, December 20

Tuscola paraprofessionals protest cancellation of Christmas bonuses at school board meeting
Dave Hinton, Champaign News-Gazette, December 18

Major restructuring: Elgin U-46 considering closure of six elementary schools
James Fuller and Alicia Fabbre, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, December 19

O’Fallon football coach resigns after allowing out-of-district athletes on team
Mike Koziatek, Belleville News-Democrat, December 15

Public health officials urge caution around respiratory illnesses
Effingham Daily News, December 19
Today’s Leading News starts with statewide stories: Another look at what to expect from the state’s education budget, a grant for school libraries, and news from IHSA about the proposed district format for high school football. Also int eh news, conversation continues on the future of CPS and school choice.

Pritzker urges ‘careful’ approach as current fiscal year's surplus could be followed by deficit
Jerry Nowicki, CNI/Champaign News-Gazette, December 15

Giannoulias announces $1.4 Million grant for Illinois public school libraries
Alton Telegraph, December 19

IHSA Football District proposal fails, High School football in Illinois to stay in current format
Jake Siegel, WSIL, Carterville, December 19

Chicago Public Schools leaders want to move away from school choice
Reema Amin and Becky Vevea, Chalkbeat Chicago, December 12

Activists praise Board of Ed’s push toward neighborhood schools, away from school choice
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, December 14
In today's Leading News, District 211 building construction house takes shape, Illinois'
education budget tightens in the coming years, and Barrington CUSD 220 students work to bring peer juries to schools. In other news, Rock Island-Milan's facility upgrades.

D211 Building Construction students get generous boost as house takes shape
Erin Holmes, Daily Herald, December 17, 2023

Illinois’ education budget might be tighter over the next several years, say officials 
Samantha Smylie, Chalkbeat Chicago, December 13, 2023

Barrington High students working to bring peer juries to suburban schools
Madhu Krishamurthy, Daily Herald, December 18, 2023

Sales taxes, federal relief support $65 million in Rock Island-Milan school facility upgrade
Olivia Allen, Rock Island Argus-Dispatch, December 14, 2023

In today's Leading News, Geneva CUSD 304 seeks input for strategic plan, Mount Prospect SD 57 meets on full-day kindergarten, and a book vending machine debuts in Decatur. In other news, the Oakwood CUSD 76 community helps a student with leukemia.

Geneva D-304 school officials seek public input for strategic plan 
Brenda Schory, Kane County Chronicle, December 12, 2023

Dist. 57 Held Meeting On Full-Day Kindergarten Legislation 
Richard Mayer, Journal and Topics, Chicago suburbs, December 12, 2023

Inchy the Bookworm Vending Machine debuts at South Shores School 
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, November 30, 2023 

Oakwood High community chips in to help student with leukemia 
Dave Hinton, Champaign News-Gazette, December 7, 2023

In today's Leading News, new education laws taking effect in 2024, how a refugee found her voice in Chicago and Williamsfield replaces their entire bus fleet. In other news, freshmen in North Chicago use art to adjust to high school. 

New Illinois Laws: Here are 18 key education bills taking effect in 2024
James Neveau, NBC 5, Chicago, December 13, 2023 

How a young, deaf refugee from Afghanistan found her voice in Chicago 
Elly Fishman, WBEZ/Chicago Sun-Times, December 14, 2023

A local school goes green with transportation 
Sandra Chapman, WMBD, Peoria, December 8, 2023

North Chicago freshmen use art to adjust to high school; ‘It helps them to understand a lot about themselves’ 
Steve Sadin, Lake County News-Sun, December 8, 2023

In today’s Leading News, Illinois and its school districts consider developing paths to learning for students.

New law spurs anticipation more teens will pursue honors, other advanced courses
Michele Steinbacher, WGLT, December 11

Brandon Johnson’s Board of Ed looks to move away from school choice, toward neighborhood schools
Sarah Karp, WBEZ and Nader Issa, Sun-Times, Chicago, December 12

‘Do you like school?’ Stagg Vocational Fair offers options to students who say no
Jeff Vorva, Daily Southtown, Chicago and suburbs, December 13

'I can’t wait to be in my own classroom'
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, December 9

Dual credit courses growing in Illinois, but students of color less likely to take them, report says
Samantha Smylie and Kae Petrin, Chalkbeat Chicago, December 8
In today’s Leading News, school boards discuss proposing the county school facilities sales tax. Also in the news, Morris THSD will extend its discussion of a new mascot.

Hancock County school officials again look at potential for penny tax on ballot
Dylan Smith, WGEM, Quincy, December 12

Rockford Public Schools could seek 'Walmart' tax to pay for construction, mental health
Jeff Kolkey, Rockford Register Star, December 11

PBL school board to consider formal resolution for sales-tax referendum
Will Brumleve, Ford County Chronicle, December 8

Rochelle schools to consider supporting county schools facility sales tax ballot item
Jeff Helfrich, Rochelle News-Leader, December 8

Morris High School holds off on mascot vote to re-evaluate options
Michael Urbanec, Morris Herald News, December 12

In today’s Leading News, planning for the future: Metro East and Will County districts consider teacher diversity and the teacher shortage, Lincoln-Way CHSD 210 engages on strategic planning, Decatur SD 61 will keep modular classrooms at its Dennis campus for three years, and Quincy SD 172 makes financial projections.

Why is teacher diversity important and how is it being addressed in metro-east schools?
Kelly Smits, Belleville News-Democrat, December 8

Will County educators get in-depth look at teacher ‘shortage’
Bob Okon, Joliet Herald-News, December 9

Lincoln-Way District 210 looks for community input in mapping strategic plan
Mike Nolan, Daily Southtown, Chicago and suburbs, November 23

Dennis Lab School modulars lease extended to three years
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, November 15

QPS five-year financial projections offer 'some breathing room'
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, November 25
In today’s Leading News, from planning to building to the future of architecture, school districts consider facilities.

Why $380M won't be enough to complete all of U-46's construction work
James Fuller, Daily Herald, December 8

Bloomington District 87 hears from public about buying building
D. Jack Alkire, Bloomington Pantagraph, December 6

American Dreamer students visit new Dansby Magnet School
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, December 6

District 186, city officials meet to hash out traffic concerns around SHS
Steven Spearie, Springfield State Journal-Register, December 5

Chicago Architecture Center and City Colleges building a path for youths to find careers in architecture
Darcel Rockett, Chicago Tribune, December 1
In today’s Leading News, Urbana SD 116 reconsiders a grading system. Mundelein High School District 120 postpones a potential referendum. Metamora CCSD 1 looks at ways to fix financial issues. Briana Morales, East St. Louis SD 189’s 2003 Illinois Teacher of the Year develops a nonprofit. Also in the news, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program grows in Illinois.

Urbana pauses implementation of new grading system
Samuel Lisec, Champaign News-Gazette, December 7

'It's important that we get it right': Mundelein High School won't seek facilities referendum in March
Mick Zawislak, Daily Herald, December 6

Metamora Grade School is facing a financial crisis
Jack Bozikis, WMBD, Peoria, December 5

Bond with former student inspired East St. Louis teacher’s program for girls of color
Kelly Smits, Belleville News-Democrat, December 6

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library expands in Illinois to provide all kids under age 5 with free books
Mohammad Samra, Chicago Sun-Times, December 6
In today’s Leading News, the DeKalb CUSD 428 community talks tax levy. Teachers authorize a strike at a Chicago charter school. Morris CHSD 101’s next mascot is up for a vote next week. Brown Co CUSD 1 discusses facilities projects. Also in the news, an investigative report by Politico assesses who benefits  from school voucher programs.

DeKalb residents turn up by dozens to urge School District 428 to lower property taxes
Megann Horstead, DeKalb Daily Chronicle,  December 5

Teachers authorize strike at Instituto charter schools
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, December 5

Morris High School Board to decide new mascot next Monday
Michael Urbanec, Morris Herald-News, December 5

Brown County plans high school addition, upgrades
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, November 28

GOP states are embracing vouchers. Wealthy parents are benefiting.
Andrew Atterbury, Politico, November 22
In today’s Leading News, keeping an eye on COVID in Illinois, and programs developed in the wake of the pandemic continue to grow. In tech-related news, Meredosia-Chambersburg CUSD 11 recovers from a cyberattack and Effingham CUSD 40 aims to add computer science classes. Also in the news, reformatting IHSA football is in the works.

As COVID-19 hospitalizations rise in Illinois, Chicago kids get their COVID, flu shots
Rebecca Johnson, Chicago Tribune, December 3

Born of the pandemic, District 214 program for student needs expands reach
Christopher Placek, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, November 20

Meredosia schools recovering from computer hijacking
Shirley Bilyeu, Jacksonville Journal-Courier, November 24

Unit 40 to ‘beef up’ computer science course offerings
Nick Taylor, Effingham Daily News, November 30

IHSA considering new district high school football playoff format. Here’s what we know
Jonathan Duncan, Belleville News-Democrat, November 30

In today’s Leading News, Illinois school districts seek solutions to recruit and retain teachers. Also in the news, grants provide field trip opportunities.

Teacher Vacancies in Illinois Disproportionately Impact Students of Color: Report
Acacia Hernandez, WTTW, Chicago, November 29

RPS 205 and ISBE join forces to support and retain educators of color
Samantha Soto, WREX, Rockford, November 29

Arlington Heights District 25 board says no to plan that would give teachers more training, development time but have kids out of school more: ‘We need an alternative’
Elizabeth Owens-Schiele, Pioneer Press/Arlington Heights Post, December 5

What are schools in Illinois and the metro-east doing to fill the teacher pipeline?
Kelly Smits, Belleville News-Democrat, November 22

A southern Illinois school will benefit from IDNR grants for field trips to state historic sites
Brad Palmer, WSIU, Carbondale, November 29
In today’s Leading News, read more media coverage of levy-setting season. Also in the news, the race is off in Homewood-Flossmoor CHSD 233.

Central High School’s Board of Education proposes preliminary tax levy
Kelly Jo Ross, Breese Journal, November 29

Crystal Lake-based High School District 155 proposes property tax levy increase
Michelle Meyer, Northwest Herald, December 2

QPS expects steady, or slightly lower, tax rate in 2024
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, November 15

Elementary School Board: 8 percent tax levy increase proposed
Jeff Helfrich, Rochelle News-Leader, November 17

Dropped insurance means no racing car for H-F High students
Marilyn Thomas, Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle, November 22
In today’s Leading News, a new dashboard offers insights on how Chicago kids are doing academically and financially. Quincy SD 172 aims to improve support for English Learners. Urbana SD 116 offers bonuses to new teachers. Naperville CUSD 203 collaborates on emergency response and preparedness. Also in the news, are report cards enough?

New Chicago dashboard tracks how youth are faring in every corner of the city
Sarah Karp, WBEZ/Chicago Sun-Times, November 30

QPS working to meet needs of ELL students
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, November 30

In search for teachers, Urbana raises the stakes
Luke Taylor, Champaign News-Gazette, November 29

Naperville D203 agrees to be part of mutual aid system in cases of natural or man-made disasters
Michelle Mullins, Naperville Sun, November 22

Many parents don’t know when kids are behind in school. Are report cards telling enough?
Annie Ma, Associated Press, November 15