WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Education

Rich Egger

The West Prairie District 103 Board of Education is working to address challenges and create a vision for the coming years, and it is asking for help from the public.

Illinois’ new school funding plan — approved in August and hailed as a historic change — relies on the legislature to give every school the same state aid it got last year, plus push another $350 million through a new formula. That $350 million is crucial because it’s the part designed to address the inequity that has plagued Illinois schools for decades.

 

State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, a Democrat from Shorewood, wants to make sure lawmakers don't skip that step.

NPR Illinois

Many students and teachers across Illinois are settling into their new routines as the school year gets underway. But some classrooms remain in flux due to a shortage of teachers.

Rich Egger

The superintendent of the Macomb School District told Tri States Public Radio that a new middle school will be built with or without the Community First project.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has been drumming up opposition to the Democrats' new 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 U-46, the state’s second largest school district, as the biggest winner: That northwest suburban district 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.

Carter Staley/NPR Illinois

Between a new state pension plan and Governor Bruce Rauner's amendatory veto of the Democrats' school funding plan, some school districts would be in for a big hit in July 2020. The two changes would have a particularly significant impact on districts with high rates of teacher turnover and declining enrollment.

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

Illinois school districts are due to receive state funds Aug. 10, but that can't happen until lawmakers either override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of Senate Bill 1 or come up with some other plan he will sign.

The future of state funding for Illinois schools is still up in the air Monday afternoon. The fight over Senate Bill 1 — legislation that would overhaul the way Illinois supports k-12 schools — has such high stakes and such slim vote margins that it has turned into a parliamentary chess game. Now, the next move belongs to Gov. Bruce Rauner.

After the first day of a special session on education, Democratic lawmakers and the Republican Governor Bruce Rauner appear no closer to resolving the dispute that could hold up money for school districts. Rauner continues to demand Democrats send him the funding plan so he can change it and remove additional money for Chicago teacher pensions.

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

Schools in rural districts often don't have the budget or the teachers to offer students all of the courses they would like to take. One rural district in a Missouri county decided to offer credit for online classes in an effort to give its students the educational opportunities it can't otherwise afford.

Two school funding plans progressed in the Illinois legislature Wednesday. A plan sponsored by Sen. Andy Manar was approved in the Senate, while in the House, a very similar plan sponsored by Rep. Will Davis made it through committee. Does that mean lawmakers may have finally found a way to cure the state's infamously unfair school funding structure?

T.J. Carson

For most high school seniors, the month of May is all about preparing for graduation and the future.  It's also a time to reflect on the past dozen years of school. In Galesburg, those memories include a trip back to the school where their education started.

Plant a Seed Media

The psychologist and author spent a couple days in the Macomb School District talking to teachers, staff, and students about strategies for achieving success.  He also gave a public presentation geared to parents.

 

Comptroller Susana Mendoza says she’s not sure when school districts will receive state money owed to them for the rest of this school year. Mendoza’s office is in charge of paying the state’s bills.

Ann Comerford

As the spring semester sprints to an end, I find myself preparing to travel again.  First, back to Germany with students to spend two weeks immersed in an ever-changing culture.  The second group of students will be traveling to rural Puerto Rico to do a month long internship with WIU alumni as part of a Department of Education grant titled "Communities as Agents of Change". 

Rich Egger

A Western Illinois University administrator said the school has enough money to make it through the Spring semester. But he's not saying much about the contingency plan WIU is developing in case the ongoing shortfall of state funding continues.

Dusty Rhodes

A Chicago law firm representing a group of mostly rural school superintendents sued the state of Illinois Wednesday. They're asking Governor Bruce Rauner and the state board of education to come up with a funding formula that would help schools meet the state's learning standards.

Dusty Rhodes

The Grand Bargain is a package of interlocking legislation designed to break the state budget impasse in Illinois. How important is school funding to that deal? Important enough that leaders titled it Senate Bill One.

Rich Egger

I am a proud product of public schooling. I learned how to read in public schools. I was encouraged to explore the world around me, find books that I loved and learn about a variety of different people and cultures.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

This story is part of the special series United And Divided, which explores the links and rifts between rural and urban America.

The bell signals the start of second period. A trio of young women take seats in English class, their attention quickly drifting outside the walls of the high school in Fort Morgan, Colorado, eager to talk about what they're working toward.

Courtesy of Jim Melvin

Jim Melvin is finally fulfilling a lifelong dream. He's a rookie in the classroom but a seasoned veteran at real life. At age 59, he's in his first full year of teaching social studies at V.I.T. High School.

Gov. Bruce Rauner is apologizing for saying half of Chicago public school teachers are “virtually illiterate.”

Kate Mishkin

For an entire 10-week term, some Knox College students willingly give up wifi, dorms, and life at school. Their classes aren’t in buildings... they’re outside.

For a term, students take biology, geology and art at Knox College's Green Oaks biological field station.

Rich Egger

When we moved to Macomb 5½ years ago, Jack was getting ready to start kindergarten and Lucy wasn't even walking yet. Now, I have a child at Edison and a kindergartener at Lincoln (who once she started walking never looked back). On National Teacher Appreciation Week, I want to thank all the Macomb teachers who have touched the lives of my children.

Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Department of Education is commending 13 public and 13 private colleges and universities from across the nation for excelling in their efforts to help students from low-income families attend college and graduate.  Those schools include Western Illinois University and Monmouth College.

The Illinois Senate President is encouraging Governor Bruce Rauner to rethink his priorities on student aid legislation, but the governor was quick to repeat his promise of a veto.

Senate President John Cullerton says he'll hold onto legislation for a couple of weeks, to give the governor time to "cool off," then he'll send it to Rauner for action.

Changing how Illinois funds its schools is Senate President John Cullerton's top priority as a new legislative session gets underway. Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, says Illinois shouldn't fund schools at all next year until it comes with a more equitable way to do it. John Cullerton says the way Illinois funds schools "crushes dreams" and "stifles growth."

PARCC Test Results Released In Illinois

Dec 14, 2015

Illinois schools got results for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers -- or PARCC -- test late last week. That’s the standardized test aligned with the Common Core. Scores were low across the state.

Tony Smith is the state superintendent of schools. He says that’s because it’s not comparing students to each other, but to what they should know.

Rich Egger

Carol Kilver grew up in central Illinois and spent most of her professional career in the region.  So after a couple years of working in Indiana, she jumped at the chance to become the new superintendent of the West Prairie School District.

Rich Egger

Superintendent Mark Twomey said the middle school was combined with the high school about a quarter-century ago with the idea that it was just a temporary fix. So he feels a change is long overdue.

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