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October 26, 2009

An expansion of the number of classes for the 28th annual Robert M. Cole Awards competition for 2009 resulted in 17 newspapers winning awards in a competition that is part of the Illinois Press Association's "Excellence in News" contest.

The Cole Awards are sponsored by the Illinois Association of School Boards and conducted by the IPA to recognize newspapers that are doing an outstanding job of covering local school boards and emphasizing the community's connection with local public school districts.

Winning papers' reporters, stories and judges' comments were:

  • Josh Adams, Forest Park Review: Good explanation from start to finish of a school restructuring plan. Well-written and easy to follow; explains key board governance decisions, community discussion. (Division A)
  • Lyle Rolfe, Ledger-Sentinel, Oswego: Good ledes and explanations throughout. A veritable primer on school governance concerns in a context of the recession. (Division B)
  • Mark Malone, Morris Daily Herald: Comprehensive, well-written look at a variety of issues and how the school board handled them for the community. Explained the board's goals in light of action and informed the community about the board's vision/future. (Division D)
  • Sarah Owen, Sauk Valley Newspapers, Sterling: Probably the best lede of the entire class. Very clever, but to the point. Good explanation of what was asked of the board and how it responded, as well as a look at when taxpayers could expect a review of the $$ spent. (Division E)
  • Amy Reiter, The News-Gazette, Champaign: Good reporting on the impact of NCLB on Champaign-area districts and how school boards are stepping up to the challenges of increasing student achievement in the face of restructuring. (Division F)

Named in memory of the first executive director of IASB, the Robert M. Cole Award recognizes outstanding coverage of education issues that emphasizes the community's connection with its local public school district.

Winners were announced Friday, October 9, at the annual convention of the Illinois Press Association. Linda Dawson, IASB director/editorial services, presented plaques to first place winners.

Members of the IASB communications staff judged the contest.

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