Education

Education and learning

NIU

A Northern Illinois University expert on education says the state’s new school funding reform bill marks a paradigm shift in how Illinois treats public schools.

Dr. Kristine Kiracofe is Professor of Educational Administration at NIU. She says the funding reform bill is a really significant change. It means Illinois will no longer have one of the most -- if not the most -- regressive system of education funding in the country. 

Lincoln Land Community College

Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield is addressing the issue of African American male underrepresentation in the workforce. The college launched the Open Door Mentorship Program a year ago, which has so far helped 25 male students get a head start in gaining professional experience.

Local businesses committed time and resources to offer internships, while program coordinator Michael Phelon offers year-round support and guidance. 

Latest School Funding Deal Fails In Illinois House Vote

Aug 28, 2017
state of Illinois

An education funding overhaul failed in the Illinois House, leaving money for more than 800 districts uncertain.

The legislation filed Monday provides a tax credit worth 75 percent of a taxpayer's annual contributions to a scholarship fund, with a maximum credit of $1 million annually. The money may be donated to a specific school, but not to a specific student. 

Students receiving the scholarships must have a total household income of less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level. 

Teacher unions oppose the tax credit.  

   

state of Illinois

A day after praising a tentative deal in Illinois' school funding fight, Gov. Bruce Rauner is giving it mixed reviews.

Bipartisan legislative leaders say they've outlined an agreement to fund schools, but details are being worked out.

On Thursday Rauner applauded leaders' efforts on "historic" funding reform. But on Friday he said there's still too much money for Chicago and he'll try to fix problems with "subsequent legislation."

AFSCME Wins Advisory Ruling Against NIU Parking Hike

Aug 25, 2017
niu.edu / afscme.org

An Illinois state labor board has ruled that its General Counsel should side with a Northern Illinois University employee union regarding the raise of parking pass prices. But the office says it’s not the final word on the case.

The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board office says the legally-binding decision is expected to come later next month.

NIU raised the price of parking permits by $19 in July 2016. That was after NIU and the newly-formed AFSCME bargaining unit – which includes clerical and administrative professionals – entered negotiations in February 2016.

Flickr user / alamosbasement "old school" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois legislative leaders say they've reached a tentative agreement in the state's school funding fight, but details have not been released.

Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin issued a statement Thursday saying there's "agreement in principle," but wording won't be released until "drafts have been reviewed."

Democratic leaders Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan said in a statement that they've reached "agreement in concept."

NIU Campus Prepares For Student Move-In Day

Aug 24, 2017
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

More than 3,600 Northern Illinois University students are expected to move into campus housing on Friday.

Most of them will be coming into DeKalb between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Friday -- 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. being the busiest point in the day.

“It’s kind of the – it’s literally the kick-off for the school year,” NIU spokesman Joe King said. “I like to say it’s like the start of the baseball season – everybody’s undefeated when they come to campus on move-in day. So it’s one of the best days of the year.”

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Passions ran high at a DeKalb School Board meeting Tuesday night. Residents packed the room to show their opposition to a proposal to hire a company that would check whether students really live in the district.

Brian Mackey/Illinois Public Radio

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza said it's likely she will have to skip another payment to the state’s public school districts as the result of a political fight between Democrats in the legislature and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Mendoza said schools are expecting another payment from the state on Sunday.

"Every single child across the state of Illinois is being attacked right now because of nonsensical politics at play from Governor Rauner," Mendoza said.

Schools are not receiving state money while elected officials debate how best to distribute state money.

Courtesy of Elgin School District U-46

Gov. Bruce Rauner has been drumming up opposition to the Democrats' school-funding plan, known as Senate Bill 1, by touting how much more money each district would receive under his plan.

He points to Elgin School District U-46, the state’s second-largest school district, as the biggest winner: That Kane County city would gain about $15 million if lawmakers approve Rauner’s amendatory veto

So that district's CEO, Tony Sanders, must be rooting for Rauner's plan, right?

Wrong.

House Democrats called a vote Wednesday on legislation that incorporates the changes that Gov. Bruce Rauner wants in a new formula for financing public schools. Democrats said they wanted to gauge support for Rauner's ideas.

The governor issued an amendatory veto to a school-funding model he says unfairly favors Chicago schools and hinders state funding flexibility.

State Rep. Bob Pritchard, R-Hinckley, says he is optimistic that lawmakers can reach bipartisan agreement.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ News

Northern Illinois University’s Acting President said it’s time to repair the damage done by the state budget impasse.  That includes addressing employee compensation.

After more than 700 days without, Illinois has a budget and Northern Illinois University has funding for a full year.  Acting NIU President Lisa Freeman said the school must now work to make up ground that was lost during the budget impasse.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

Schools are still waiting on their main payment from Illinois government, as Democrats and Republicans continue to fight over how to divvy up the money.

The state Senate has announced it’ll take up the matter Sunday, but Illinois already missed a deadline.

That came and went Thursday, when state Comptroller Susana Mendoza said for the first time in Illinois history, her office could not send schools their first round of funding.

It’s the first time in Illinois history that K-12 schools did not receive a General State Aid payment. That’s because the legislature hasn’t yet decided whether to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill One.

But Comptroller Susana Mendoza did issue nearly $429 million in Mandated Categorical grants.

Flickr user Brent Hoard "ECU School of Education Class Room" (CC BY 2.0)

Local school districts would have to pay pension costs for all newly hired teachers if the General Assembly upholds Gov. Bruce Rauner's rewrite of the school funding plan known as Senate Bill One.

 

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

DeKalb County Judge Bradley Waller granted a temporary restraining order on Friday that bars Northern Illinois University from taking further action regarding former President Doug Baker’s severance package after his June resignation.

The university already paid Baker more than $600,000 on July 15.

DeKalb resident Misty Haji-Sheikh sued the NIU Board of Trustees in June for allegedly violating the Open Meetings Act. Waller ruled that NIU cannot take further action regarding Baker’s severance package before the next hearing on Sept. 8.

Illinois Republicans are pushing for a new program similar to school vouchers as part of negotiations over the education funding formula.

The impasse over the school funding overhaul is jeopardizing nearly all state money for schools.

Negotiations are continuing after Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed part of the bill.

Though Republican State Senator Jason Barickman accuses Democrats of changing their position.

Democrats Send School Funding Bill To Rauner

Jul 31, 2017

After some delay Monday, legislative Democrats sent the bill to fund K-12 public schools in Illinois to Gov. Bruce Rauner.

It came after hesitancy, since the Republican Governor vowed to use his veto power to strip some money for Chicago Public Schools. Democrats warned that would put funding for all of Illinois's roughly 850 districts at risk.

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza is pushing back against accusations that she has withheld money schools need to open.

It comes as Education Secretary Beth Purvis appeared on Chicago radio station WGN to echo demands made by her boss, Gov. Bruce Rauner. He wants Democrats to allow their school funding bill to be partially vetoed. 

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

The Northern Illinois University STEM Read program is designed to get pre-college students interested in the sciences through compelling literature. While the program has a wide variety of selections, its director is reaching out toward the younger crowd through a stuffed bunny, particularly in local libraries.

Jenna Dooley

After the first day of a special session on education, Democratic lawmakers and the Republican governor appear no closer to resolving the dispute that could hold up money for school districts.

    

 

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner continues to demand Democrats send him the funding plan so he can change it and remove additional money for Chicago teacher pensions. 

 

"There is no education funding available for our children, and unless we fix that our schools will not open on time," he said. 

 

Turnout Strong At Rockford Public Schools Job Fair

Jul 25, 2017
Austin Hansen

Rockford Public Schools held a job fair Monday for anyone who was qualified and interested in teaching positions.

 

Executive Principal for Jefferson High School Don Rundall was very excited about the applicants who attended.

“I think we’ve had a pretty good turnout this morning," Rundall said. "I’ve actually already filled a couple of positions I’ve needed filled, so I’m very excited with the turnout we’ve had; and the level of applicants is pretty high.”

 

State of Illinois

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is calling lawmakers back from their summer vacation to deal with a new school funding plan in special session starting Wednesday.

The state cannot send money to schools until a funding plan gets signed into law, which could jeopardize whether schools will start on time.

Rauner wants to veto parts of Senate Bill 1 because he says it takes money from low-income children to pay Chicago teacher pensions. 

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The Rockford Public School District is hosting a teacher job fair for those looking to move forward in their careers in sculpting young minds.

Some specific areas of teaching will be special targets, but Mercedes Brain – the Director of Talent Acquisition for Rockford Public Schools – says that shouldn’t discourage anyone from attending the fair.

Flickr user / alamosbasement "old school" (CC BY 2.0)

The state schools superintendent says in a memo to local administrators that the state will issue $5.2 billion it controls even if there's no revised financing system signed into law.

The Democratic Legislature approved a state budget that requires Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to distribute general state aid through a new “evidence-based'' method to ensure money gets to the neediest schools. But the method is in separate legislation it hasn't sent to Rauner.

Kishwaukee College Board of Trustees

The Kishwaukee College Board of Trustees and the faculty union have reached an agreement for their five-year contract, starting this academic year.

College and union officials came to an agreement after four months of weekly meetings. Some terms of the contract include annual salary raises of 2.5 to 3 percent over five years, starting salaries based on certain credentials, and changes to health insurance benefits. 

"Cap and Diploma" by Flickr User bluefieldphotos bp / (CC X 2.0)

Adults in Illinois who failed to graduate from high school still can earn a General Educational Development certificate, also known as a GED.

But legislation approved by the General Assembly would provide what some consider to be a better alternative.

Students leave high school for a variety of reasons. Some drop out because of family obligations, financial pressures, or lack of motivation. Some are pushed out due to disciplinary problems. Once they reach age 21, their only option is to get a GED.

niu.edu / afscme.org

A state employee union has filed a new charge against Northern Illinois University for not bargaining in good faith.

The AFSCME Council 31 charges that NIU refused to bargain with the newly certified unit over mandatory subjects like holidays and sick time. AFSCME spokeswoman Sara Dorner says NIU suggested that the bargaining unit should withdraw proposals for language that appears in the university’s contracts with its other two units.

Flickr user Brent Hoard "ECU School of Education Class Room" (CC BY 2.0)

A northern Illinois community college is taking steps to make textbooks more affordable for students.

McHenry County College said the school could save the student body an estimated $400,000 on textbooks per school year.

This follows a week-long Textbook Cost Reduction Camp held for faculty members in all areas of study.

The camp set out to educate faculty members on textbook alternatives and prepare them to introduce new technology into the classroom.

The faculty-led initiative analyzed 13 courses to find high-quality resources for students at a lower cost.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Lawmakers approved a state budget more than a week ago, but that legislation requires enactment of a new school-funding plan.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner held news conferences Monday to “demand, not request” that the bill be sent to his desk so he can change it as he sees fit. Democrats have delayed sending it along.  

Democrats have passed such a plan through both chambers, but Rauner says he’ll veto parts of it because it gives too much money to Chicago Public Schools.

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