Sunday, May 31, 2009

Belvidere facility set to be part of new Chrysler - - BusinessRockford.com

The [Belvidere Chrysler] plant also is the biggest property-tax contributor to Belvidere schools, with $488772 due this year. “If that goes down in value, the other community members pick up the burden,”

Belvidere facility set to be part of new Chrysler - - BusinessRockford.com

Friday, May 29, 2009

Clout goes to college -- chicagotribune.com

University officials delayed admissions notifications to weak candidates until the end of the school year to minimize the fallout at top feeder high schools.

image image

Since 2005, about 800 undergraduate students have landed on the clout list for the Urbana-Champaign campus. It's unknown how many would qualify for entry on their own, but their acceptance rate is higher than average. For the 2008-09 school year, for example, about 77 percent were accepted, compared with 69 percent of all applicants.

Click on he following for the rest of the story:  Clout goes to college -- chicagotribune.com

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Belvidere Daily Republican. - More than $164,000 in community scholarships awarded to deserving graduates

 

Click on the following for the names of the recipients:  The Belvidere Daily Republican. - More than $164,000 in community scholarships awarded to deserving graduates

Turning Around Troubled Schools - US News and World Report

Reopening a school with a new staff—a central idea of the No Child Left Behind law—is considered a last resort for several reasons.

unprecedented $5 billion in federal funding he (Secretary Arne Duncan) can commit to the effort. His goal is to rehabilitate the nation's 5,000 lowest-performing schools in the next five years

States and local districts can seek these funds to completely or partially replace the faculty at a school, bring in a charter school operator, or try another strategy to improve student performance.

Turning Around Troubled Schools - US News and World Report

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dr. Michael Houselog’s salary and contract: 2007-8--$205,318; 2008-9-- $210,000 plus

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A recent Illinois Supreme Court Case regarding Wheaton-Warrenville School District required the public release of  superintendent’s salary and contract.  Below is District 100 superintendent’s salary and contract.  I am glad to report that this only required a freedom of information request (FOIA) rather than a court case.

For the last year which audited statements were available (July 2007-June 2008), Dr. Houselog’s  total compensation was  $205,318  and consisted of $164,790 in salary, $29,828 in benefits and $10,700 in performance pay. This cannot be obtained simply by the audited statements; a subtraction of the salary and benefits of the other member of the superintendent’s office must be obtained. (See the letter below:)Houselog 1

For the current school year (2008-9) Dr. Houselog’s salary portion of his compensation increase 2.88%, from $165,000 to $169,752.[See Board minutes shown below, for % increase and performance pay]  The District pays Dr. Houselog’s Teachers’ Retirement employee contribution therefore the total increase in benefits and salary is approximately $5,000.  Assuming a similar performance based pay is granted, total compensation will exceed $210,000, for 2008-9.Houselog 2

The only way to determine the value of Dr. Houselog’s 2008-9 benefits is another FOIA request for the value of his District-paid family insurance and other insurance benefits.  These benefits should be considered as “real monetary benefits” because as shown on page 5, Section 8,(below) Dr. Houselog can elect to receive a tax deferred annuity in lieu of the health benefit.

 

The following are the twelve pages of the current Superintendent’s Contract:  (Click on the photocopy to enlarge)

 

Houselog Contract 1 Houselog Contract 2

Houselog Contract 3 Houselog contract 4

houselog contract 5

Houselog Contract 6 Houselog 7

houselog contract 8 Houselog Contract 9

Houselog 10 Houselog contract 11

Houselog contract 12

Wheaton Warrenville school board to release records, Illinois Supreme Court rules -- chicagotribune.com

 

The 16-page opinion written by Chief Justice Thomas R. Fitzgerald rejected the board's claim and ordered that the contract "must be disclosed in its entirety."

The ruling follows more than four years of legal wrangling by the board to keep the contract private. Disclosure was initially requested by a former school board candidate in 2005. It cost school district's taxpayers more than $62,000 in legal bills to fight the case.

Click on the following to read the rest of this Chicago Tribune story:  Wheaton Warrenville school board to release records, Illinois Supreme Court rules -- chicagotribune.com

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Energy drinks banned from Belvidere schools - Rockford, IL - Rockford Register Star

 

Students attending all schools within the Belvidere School District now are prohibited from purchasing or consuming energy drinks on school property during regular school hours.

Energy drinks banned from Belvidere schools - Rockford, IL - Rockford Register Star

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Finnish teacher unlocks music for special-needs students | csmonitor.com

Figurenotes, a system of notation and teaching, has been developed and tested over the past decade

Students learn to play by matching the symbols to keys on a piano or frets on a guitar. Colors indicate notes, shapes show the octave, and arrows show sharps and flats. It's a simple way to convey all the information in traditional notation.

Click on the following for the rest of the story:  Finnish teacher unlocks music for special-needs students | csmonitor.com

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Genetic Clue to Why Autism Affects Boys More

 

The newly discovered autism-risk gene, identified by authors as CACNA1G, is more common in boys than in girls (why that's so is still not clear), and the authors suggest it plays a role in boys' increased risk of the developmental disorder. CACNA1G, which sits on chromosome 17, amid other genes that have been previously linked to autism, is responsible for regulating the flow of calcium into and out of cells. Nerve cells in the brain rely on calcium to become activated, and research suggests that imbalances in the mineral can result in the overstimulation of neural connections and create developmental problems, such as autism and even epilepsy, which is also a common

Click on the following for the rest of the story:  A Genetic Clue to Why Autism Affects Boys More

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

End Is Near in a Fight on Teaching of English - NYTimes.com

After 17 years of litigation, the United States Supreme Court will decide whether Arizona is complying with federal laws requiring public schools to teach children to speak English

With five million school-age children nationwide who do not speak proficient English — one in 10 of the nation’s students — the Supreme Court’s ruling could affect spending on English language learners in many states.

The case stems from… Mrs. Flores and other parents sued under a federal civil rights law, charging that non-English-speaking children were being denied equal educational opportunity.

End Is Near in a Fight on Teaching of English - NYTimes.com

Buc stops here for Belvidere Central mascot - Rockford, IL - Rockford Register Star

 

Officials estimate the cost of replacing sports uniforms will be around $58,000. Administrators say the change will be phased in over several years as uniforms need to be replaced.
District funds and money raised by the booster club are expected to pay for the new uniforms, Houselog said.

Buc stops here for Belvidere Central mascot - Rockford, IL - Rockford Register Star

Quinn: Hike tax or slash spending 37% | Crain's Chicago Business

 

dire message to a downtown civic club Monday: If he doesn’t get his budget, state spending will have to be cut 37%.

Quinn: Hike tax or slash spending 37% | Crain's Chicago Business

The Capitol Fax Blog » Governor Quinn’s full “slash and burn” explanation

 

Cut school aid by $568 million, causing more than 9,300 teachers to lose their jobs.
• Eliminate preschool for 100,000 children, causing more than 5,000 teachers to lose their jobs.

Click on the following for the full story:  The Capitol Fax Blog » Governor Quinn’s full “slash and burn” explanation

U46 study: Filled to brink, still growing :: The Courier News :: Local News

“Growth” is that something that really is happening since the economic collapse?  How fast will growth return or will it really return until time soon? 

an advisory group is urging School District U46 [Elgin-Barlett] to develop a plan to address the influx -- whether that means buying more land for future school sites, changing program locations or adjusting boundaries.

Click on the following for the rest of the story:  U46 study: Filled to brink, still growing :: The Courier News :: Local News

The problem with property taxes | Daily Chronicle

Here is a “letter to the editor” regarding legislation to alter tax caps.  Malta is over in DeKalb County however I am sure there are many people with a similar feeling here in Boone County.

While many workers in the private sector are forgoing pay increases or taking cuts to save their jobs, teachers keep making more and more year after year.

This is why your property taxes are likely to never go down, no matter what happens to property values or the rate of inflation

The problem with property taxes | Daily Chronicle

Monday, May 18, 2009

Belvidere Central backing out on Bucs? - Rockford, IL - Rockford Register Star

$58,000 is quite a bit of money in these economic times—a little more than a full time teacher for a whole year. 

Officials estimate the cost of replacing sports uniforms will be around $58,000

Click on the following for the rest of the storyBelvidere Central backing out on Bucs? - Rockford, IL - Rockford Register Star

Friday, May 15, 2009

Grants for retraining extended - - BusinessRockford.com

The grants were set to expire June 30, but they will run until June 2010, which should see the plant past Chrysler’s bankruptcy and merger with Italian automaker Fiat Group SpA. Indications are that the Belvidere plant will remain open post-bankruptcy, but there’s been no news about how many of the 2,700 employees still will have jobs.

Grants for retraining extended - - BusinessRockford.com

New GI Bill too popular for the Pentagon's own good? | csmonitor.com

 

Since May 1, more than 25,000 veterans have signed up for the new GI Bill, which will pay 100 percent of in-state college tuition, housing, and other expenses

when the new one kicks in on Aug. 1, the federal government will pay all [the University of Nevada] veteran’s tuition, as well as a living allowance of as much as $1,400 per month – in a city where he now pays $600 per month to live.

New GI Bill too popular for the Pentagon's own good? | csmonitor.com

Boone County Journal criticizes District 100 and other governmental entities for bad conduct

“…removing candidates from the ballot is a means to ensure
the result and to sustain the elitism of incumbency. That
appeared to have been the goal of the board of education
above any consideration of ethical behavior.”

Click on the photocopy to enlarge:

Journal 5-15-2009

D300 may hire Munson as lobbyist :: The Courier News :: Town Talk

Why does a school district need a lobbyist? 

 Springfield - Illinois State Capitol Building in Fall by myoldpostcards.

Board President [District 300] Joe Stevens said the district's biggest concern is whether it can get $30 million for construction projects that the state promised in 2003.

Click on the following for the rest of the story:  D300 may hire Munson as lobbyist :: The Courier News :: Town Talk

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Illinois teachers have been ‘stiffed’ by the state | Daily Chronicle

Every teacher had to pay into the pension. Big problem. Illinois, beginning with Gov. Jim Thompson, skipped the matching state payment of their agreed-upon half. This was done, repeatedly, and continues as you read this. Guess what, Illinois has run the teachers pension fund into a $45 billion dollar hole.

Illinois teachers have been ‘stiffed’ by the state | Daily Chronicle

Friday, May 8, 2009

Searching for open records -- chicagotribune.com

Here is good primer on Freedom of Information Requests—Remember they can charge you only $ .10 to $.25 per page.  And if you only ask to inspect the records, there is no charge.

9. Do what you can to make it easy for public officials to comply. If you don't need copies of the records, don't ask them to go to that trouble. If possible, ask only to inspect the records and set up an appointment to view them. Unless they are specifically exempted from the law, such as the courts, public agencies can charge you only for the "actual costs" involved in photocopying - usually somewhere between $.10 and $.25 per page. It is against the law for them to charge you for staff time, or the time it takes to review records for redaction.

Click on the photocopy to enlarge the sample letter:

FOIA

Click on the following to read the rest of the Tribune article:  INTERACTIVE: Searching for open records -- chicagotribune.com

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

How swine flu closings affect schools’ calendars - Rockford, IL - Rockford Register Star

Looks like Belvidere need not make up days-- 

district can apply for “act of God” days through the Regional Office of Education, which then sends the request to the state Board of Education for approval.
The “act of God” days don’t have to be made up or tacked on to the end of the school year, and they also wouldn’t affect the district’s total attendance average for the month because they’re not factored

How swine flu closings affect schools’ calendars - Rockford, IL - Rockford Register Star

Monday, May 4, 2009

CDC: Belvidere boy, girl have swine flu - Rockford, IL - Rockford Register Star

Lab results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that an 11-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl from Belvidere have tested positive.

CDC: Belvidere boy, girl have swine flu - Rockford, IL - Rockford Register Star

Margaret Spellings - Rising Scores Show Why We Can't Retreat From 'No Child Left Behind' - washingtonpost.com

Former Secretary of Education speaks of No child Left Behind and the future trends.

Improvement has been greatest for African American and Hispanic students and those students who are lowest-achieving.

Margaret Spellings - Rising Scores Show Why We Can't Retreat From 'No Child Left Behind' - washingtonpost.com

Swine flu keeps SC school closed until Thursday :: St. Charles Sun :: News

Illinois Department of Public Health said that as of Sunday morning, the majority of cases were in Chicago and its suburbs.
Health officials say Illinois has enough drugs to treat more than 1 million people.

Haines Middle School will remain closed until Thursday

Starting Monday, any Chicago Public Schools student who has a fever and cough will be sent home and expected to stay there for seven days.

Swine flu keeps SC school closed until Thursday :: St. Charles Sun :: News

Quinn administration praised for handling of flu outbreak - Springfield, IL - The State Journal-Register

 

the state epidemiologist for the public health department, said intense planning means state and local officials were ready when swine flu emerged. They knew what trouble signs to look for, such as a sudden increase in a school’s absentee rates, and what to do to minimize spread of the disease

Quinn administration praised for handling of flu outbreak - Springfield, IL - The State Journal-Register

Illinois' Bright Start college fund loses $85 million, buys hybrid for treasurer -- chicagotribune.com

This article indicates that Mr. Giannoulias maybe be personally using this Bight Star car and other specially purchased green cars for his yet unannounced bid for the U.S. Senate.

Alexi Giannoulias noted that the money for the SUV didn't come from parents' investments, but from a fee the firm that handles the investments pays to the treasurer's office to offset the cost of running the program.

Illinois' Bright Start college fund loses $85 million, buys hybrid for treasurer -- chicagotribune.com

Saturday, May 2, 2009

St Charles’ School close as swine flu count rises

Ex-District 100 Superintendent, current superintendent of St. Charles District 303, Don Schlomann has one school closed because of swine flu and has some information on the incubation period of swine flu.

Schlomann said the student [with probably swine flu] who has been out of school since Monday, is feeling better and wants to return to school. She has two siblings in two other district schools who have been taken out of school also as a means to stop progression of the flu, though neither have symptoms, he said.
The school would be closed that long because the virus' incubation period is seven days. Any students exposed to the girl could have similar symptoms by next Monday, he said.

For further details, click on the following: The Chronicle | Schools close as swine flu count rises

Friday, May 1, 2009

All Belvidere District #100 Schools Closed Until Further Notice

All District #100 Schools Closed Until Further Notice

May 1, 2009 (4:00 p.m.) - District #100 recently received notification that a person affiliated with District  has a probable, but unconfirmed, case of H1N1 Swine Flu.  While this person has not been in the building since Monday, April 27, in order to reduce the risk of exposure to students and staff, all District #100 buildings will be closed until the District has been notified by the Centers for Disease Control of the test results.  All after school activities and athletic events throughout the entire district, as well as Third Base, are also cancelled until further notice.

District #100 is working closely with the local health departments, and will follow guidelines to ensure all buildings are safe before allowing students and staff to return.

You will be contacted through the District's emergency notification system with a date the buildings will re-open.

DISTRICT 100 WEB SITE--

Additional information regarding H1N1 Swine Flu can be found at http://www.idph.state.il.us/swine_flu/index.htm

Belvidere School District 100 Announcement

This announcement was posted on the District website.  I had trouble loading it,  so I thought someone out there might also be having trouble.  Here is the message from the Administration:

 

Cancellations for Thursday, April 30

Belvidere North High School:
Varsity/JV/Freshman Soccer
Varsity/JV/Freshman Baseball
Tennis (rescheduled for May 4)

Belvidere High School:
Tennis (rescheduled for May 4)

Swine Flu Information for Parents/Guardians

April 30, 2009 - Letters will be sent home with all District #100 students today regarding the recent swine flu outbreak.  This letter includes a list of good health habits which, if followed, will help prevent the spread of germs. 

Cal Skinner questions accounting practices, as a $100,000 loss only comes to light years later in Carpentersville

The following is taken from Cal Skinner’s blog:  http://www.mchenrycountyblog.com/

 

District 300 Secretary Arrested for Stealing $100,000 at Dundee-Crown High School

Daily Herald reporter has written an article saying a secretary who is alleged to have stolen over $100,000 over a two year period from student activity funds has been arrested at a traffic stop.
She was indicted two weeks ago, the story says, but the police couldn't find her.
It certainly has taken a long, long time.
Back in January I asked School Board President Joe Stevens what was happening and he sent me this email:

“Regarding the $100,000 suspected lost from the student activity fund, we have now completed our forensic audit and it does validate such a loss occurred.
“We fully expect to recover all of the money through our insurance provider.
“The matter now rests with the States Attorney awaiting further action.
“You may feel free to use this in your blog.”
The 46-year old woman who was arrested is Lisa Burkhart-Foster and she lives in East Dundee.
The money disappeared from 2004-2006.
In an August 6, 2007, letter to Daily Herald reporter Emily Krone, District 300 School Superintendent Ken Arndt releases a timeline which includes
  • 2005 : Central Office employees identified concerns with student activity accounts and began pursuing answers to their concerns
  • September 2006 (after the rate hike and bond referendums, I would note): D300 launched a series of proactive steps to research, define, and correct the root cause(s) of the bookkeeping problems.
  • July 2006: D300 filed a police report on the matter with after determining that embezzlement was probable.
  • July 2007: D300 filed papers in Kane County Circuit Court seeking financial documentation to help answer the remaining questions, which are relevant both to District’s insurance claim and possible criminal charges.

Click to enlarge.

The theft was discovered in 2007 while the 55-cent tax hike and $185 million bond referendum was on the front burner.
A forensic auditor was brought in...to prove up the case, I guess.
The regular District 300 auditor found nothing amiss.