Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Some have recouped millions from risky type of debt that plagues CPS - Chicago Tribune


A Tribune analysis published last month in the newspaper's "Borrowing Trouble" series found that CPS will likely pay $100 million more in interest costs than it would have if school officials had used traditional fixed-rate bonds instead of auction-rate debt paired with derivative contracts.

"What we see across the country is that issuers were lied to about the risks of these transactions," said attorney Peter Mougey of the firm Levin Papantonio Thomas Mitchell Rafferty & Proctor, based in Pensacola, Fla. "Internally, in the summer of 2007, these firms knew about the probability of these transactions failing and they didn't tell the issuers. And there was no way (the issuers) could have figured it out."

Beginning in 2003, CPS entered four auction-rate deals worth a total of $1 billion — more auction-rate debt than any other school district in the country and more than many of the governments filing claims.

Three weeks before CPS closed its final deal in 2007 with Bank of America, a senior BofA official warned of a potential market "meltdown," according to a federal complaint brought later on behalf of investors. CPS officials say BofA never shared those concerns with the district.

That 2007 bond issue, in combination with the associated derivative contract

Click on the following to read the entire article:   Some have recouped millions from risky type of debt that plagues CPS - Chicago Tribune

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Why Are Finland's Schools Successful?- page 1 | Innovation | Smithsonian


It was the end of term at Kirkkojarvi Comprehensive School in Espoo, a sprawling suburb west of Helsinki, when Kari Louhivuori, a veteran teacher and the school’s principal, decided to try
Read more:
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12!
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

something extreme—by Finnish standards. One of his sixth-grade students, a Kosovo-Albanian boy, had drifted far off the learning grid, resisting his teacher’s best efforts. The school’s team of special educators—including a social worker, a nurse and a psychologist—convinced Louhivuori that laziness was not to blame. So he decided to hold the boy back a year, a measure so rare in Finland it’s practically obsolete.

From This Story

Finland has vastly improved in reading, math and science literacy over the past decade in large part because its teachers are trusted to do whatever it takes to turn young lives around. This 13-year-old, Besart Kabashi, received something akin to royal tutoring.

“I took Besart on that year as my private student,” Louhivuori told me in his office, which boasted a Beatles “Yellow Submarine” poster on the wall and an electric guitar in the closet. When Besart was not studying science, geography and math, he was parked next to Louhivuori’s desk at the front of his class of 9- and 10-year- olds, cracking open books from a tall stack, slowly reading one, then another, then devouring them by the dozens. By the end of the year, the son of Kosovo war refugees had conquered his adopted country’s vowel-rich language and arrived at the realization that he could, in fact, learn.

Years later, a 20-year-old Besart showed up at Kirkkojarvi’s Christmas party with a bottle of Cognac and a big grin. “You helped me,” he told his former teacher. Besart had opened his own car repair firm and a cleaning company. “No big fuss,” Louhivuori told me. “This is what we do every day, prepare kids for life.”

This tale of a single rescued child hints at some of the reasons for the tiny Nordic nation’s staggering record of education success, a phenomenon that has inspired, baffled and even irked many of America’s parents and educators. Finnish schooling became an unlikely hot topic after the 2010 documentary film Waiting for “Superman” contrasted it with America’s troubled public schools.

“Whatever it takes” is an attitude that drives not just Kirkkojarvi’s 30 teachers, but most of Finland’s 62,000 educators in 3,500 schools from Lapland to Turku—professionals selected from the top 10 percent of the nation’s graduates to earn a required master’s degree in education. Many schools are small enough so that teachers know every student. If one method fails, teachers consult with colleagues to try something else. They seem to relish the challenges. Nearly 30 percent of Finland’s children receive some kind of special help during their first nine years of school. The school where Louhivuori teaches served 240 first through ninth graders last year; and in contrast with Finland’s reputation for ethnic homogeneity, more than half of its 150 elementary-level students are immigrants—from Somalia, Iraq, Russia, Bangladesh, Estonia and Ethiopia, among other nations. “Children from wealthy families with lots of education can be taught by stupid teachers,” Louhivuori said, smiling. “We try to catch the weak students. It’s deep in our thinking.”

The transformation of the Finns’ education system began some 40 years ago as the key propellent of the country’s economic recovery plan. Educators had little idea it was so successful until 2000, when the first results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a standardized test given to 15-year-olds in more than 40 global venues, revealed Finnish youth to be the best young readers in the world. Three years later, they led in math. By 2006, Finland was first out of 57 countries (and a few cities) in science. In the 2009 PISA scores released last year, the nation came in second in science, third in reading and sixth in math among nearly half a million students worldwide. “I’m still surprised,” said Arjariita Heikkinen, principal of a Helsinki comprehensive school. “I didn’t realize we were that good.”

Read the entire story by clicking on the following:  Why Are Finland's Schools Successful?- page 1 | Innovation | Smithsonian

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Two St. Charles East students expelled for months-long attack on D-303 network | Kane County Chronicle


The students were removed from their classes for the rest of the year after a Nov. 17 expulsion hearing. They will be allowed to re-enroll next school year and in the meantime are enrolled in an online school, Schlomann said.

Once confronted by the district, the students admitted to using their cellphones and the district’s IP address to issue a denial-of-service attack, which involved overloading the school’s system with data and page view requests, Schlomann said.

They learned the technique through a fellow online gamer named “Swag” to bump some of their opponents offline, and they decided to try the method out on the school Internet, he said.

“I don’t think they ever recognized that they were impacting the whole district,” Schlomann said of the students.

District officials at first thought it was some sort of virus in their network, then they realized the attack always occurred during weekdays when school was in session, Schlomann said.

Working with the Secret Service, FBI, St. Charles police, district Internet provider Comcast, a school district in Wisconsin that faced a similar attack and other outside consultants at a cost of $9,000, school officials were able to trace the attacks to St. Charles East, then specific areas of the school, Schlomann said.

The attacks were not easily traceable – they could only be researched as they were happening, he said.

The district finally was able to catch the students after word of mouth about their attack spread among other students, who told school officials what they heard, Schlomann said.

Two St. Charles East students expelled for months-long attack on D-303 network | Kane County Chronicle

Thursday, December 18, 2014

North Boone proposes “backdoor referendum” to finance stadium


BOONE COUNTY (WIFR) -- A backdoor deal, that's what a group of taxpayers is calling the North Boone School Board's decision to use money from a sales tax referendum, to build a new sports stadium. The group is pushing an effort to let voters decide.

Pages of signatures sit in front of former North Boone school board members Glen Gratz and Tom Kinser. They're part of a group that's trying to collect nearly 500 signatures to get a referendum put on the April 7th ballot.

"My philosophy on the school board was when you went for major capital improvements, that it should be done by voter referendum," said Kinser.

Kinser believes taxpayers should vote on using $4.5 million dollars to build a new sports stadium. The school board has already approved the move.

Money from last year's one percent sales tax referendum would pay for the stadium and that's a concern for some people. In 2013, the district said those funds would likely be used to pay down debt.

Kinser said, "It could either keep property taxes from going up as much, it could keep them flat or it could keep them low."

Kinser and Gratz both admit the old stadium needs work, but they think taxpayers should make the call; a new stadium or more property tax relief.

"At least not do it in a rush without the public voting on this amount of money," said Glen Gratz.

The district will use about $116,000 every year, of the $450,000 they get from the sales tax every year, to pay off debt.

The board also just voted to use a $12.5 million state grant for debt. The district says that $12.5 million was a game-changer and they didn't expect to get that money so soon, when they were initially discussing using the sales tax revenue for debt.

If you're interested in signing the petition to get a referendum on the ballot, you can visit Curves in the Countryside Square Mall in Poplar Grove, Northern Illinois Computer Exchange at 142 W. Main St. in Capron, and Angie's Salon at 115 S. 4th St. in Capron. Group members will also come to your location if you can't make it to any of the above businesses.

Click the attached link for more information from the taxpayer group.

Taxpayers Want Voters to Decide on New N. Boone Schools Stadium

Voter's Information Guide

North Boone Consolidated Unit School District 200

Voter Information Guide: Board of Education’s Decision to Issue $4.5 million in New Bonds


At the November 24, 2014 meeting of the North Boone Unit School District 200 (NBCUSD 200) Board of Education (BOE), a resolution was passed by a vote of 5-2 to “Declare the intention to issue $4,500,000 Working Cash Bonds for the purpose of increasing the District’s Working Cash Fund.”  The BOE intends to use the majority of these funds to finance a new sports facility with the remainder funding unidentified repair projects.  The specific amounts that would be designated towards the expenses were not identified nor were specific repair projects.  It was estimated that the expected interest rate on this money would be 4% with a term of 20 years.   Based on standard amortization tables, total Bond and Interest (B & I) repayment totals would be approximately $6,500,000.

The BOE was able to pass this resolution and begin this process because of the recently enacted 1% Sales Tax Increase for Boone County Schools that has resulted in a new revenue stream of approximately $450,000 annually for NBCUSD 200.  Based on the discussion among the BOE during this meeting, there seemed to be a consensus to use approximately $100,000 of that revenue for property tax relief (abatement of taxes for annual payments on the Transportation/Administration Building) with the remaining amount to support the repayment of these new bonds totaling $4,500,000.

According to Illinois State Law, the BOE may proceed with this action unless 10% (498) of the voters within NBCUSD 200 sign a petition that this decision should go to all of the voters of NBCUSD 200 at the April 7, 2015 election.  These petitions must be filed within 30 days of the BOE publishing their intentions.  Since the notice was published on November 30, 2014, the petitions would need to be submitted by December 29, 2014.


The District 200 voters that have provided this information see this issue as neither “for” or “against” the construction of a new stadium or unidentified building repairs.  The issue is one of tax payer rights – who should commit NBCUSD 200 to major capital projects – 5 members of the BOE or a majority of the nearly 5,000 registered voters of NBCUSD 200. At an estimated price tag of $6,500,000, this proposal would add $1,300 of debt to every voter in the taxing district.   This decision will affect property tax rates for the next 20 years and will minimize the flexibility future BOE’s will have.  We believe that all voters should have a voice to vote “yes” or “no” to major capital initiatives within NBCUSD 200.  We also believe that the expression of these rights should not divide the community, but strengthen it as decisions become “owned” by the voters because everyone was a part of the process.


If you agree that decisions of this magnitude should be decided by the all of the voters, then help us by either signing an existing petition or help us circulate them.
Reboot Illinois

North Boone to issue taxes for stadium improvement

Below is from the November 24, 2014 District 200 School Board Meeting.  SEE:

Resolution declaring the intention to issue $4,500,000 Working Cash Fund Bonds for the purpose of increasing the District’s Working Cash Fund, and directing that notice of such intention be published in the manner provided by law
Dr. Baule said after the Business Committee meeting, we were asked to come up with a method of working with PMA and Baird to identify a way to gather about $4.5M in working cash for limited tax bonds. He said at this time we had no outstanding limited bonds. Mrs. Balsley asked how the money would be used. Dr. Baule said they were asked to present what it would take to build an athletic complex. Mrs. Balsley asked how we would repay the bonds. Dr. Baule said they would be paid via a portion of the sales tax revenue received monthly. Ms. Bobert said the first step for the resolution is an announcement of intent, required by law. She stated bonds would be sold against the debt service extension base, and noted the amount doesn’t have to be decided tonight. Mr. Ward asked if the process were to move forward, what the date would be for the first bond payment. Ms. Bobert said it would depend on when the bonds were sold. If we were to sell bonds in January 2015, they could go on tax rolls this levy year or next year and the first payment would be January 1, 2016 or January 1, 2017, depending on the tax roll. Ms. Bobert said either way, we would have at least one year before the payment was due. She said once we decide to do this and the amount to be sold, Baird would work with us. Dr. Baule said if we move forward, the next step would be to meet with the architect identify the exact scope of work and meet with the Boosters to discuss what they would like to add to the process. The Board would then make a decision whether to move forward, and would need to determine the amount it would take to build the project. Ms. Bobert stated the resolution doesn’t require us to sell bonds, it is an intent only.
Mr. Ellingson asked why we wouldn’t put this to referendum. Mrs. Morris said the project was within the scope of what the sales tax money can be used for, and if we aren’t going to do it now, we need to come up with a plan for when we will build a stadium. She suggested we take this opportunity to take care of facilities that desperately need care. Mr. Ward said this was a little different than a lot of referendums in the past in that this is not expected to be funded by property taxes. He said because it is a sales tax that is community generated across the county, including those outside the county, this is a type of project that this is meant for and will benefit families and students in the district. He felt it was a good use of the funds that are available. Mr. Ward said because we are accruing sales tax as we go along, next summer we would have a pool of approximately $350K of unencumbered money. He noted the Booster Club had invested a lot of time and $22K into this project, in addition to purchasing bleachers. Dr. Baule said this project was identified as one of the significant facilities issues four years ago. Mrs. Morris said she didn’t know how many students we’ve gained over the years, but knows we lose students because of athletics. She’s heard people separate athletics and education, but she feels they coincide, not just for the athletes, but for the community.
Minutes of Regular Board Meeting
November 24, 2014 Page 7 of 8
She mentioned we have an opportunity to better market our school by building something that will upgrade our entire school district and will hopefully bring new families into our District. Mrs. Morris felt this could inspire incoming families based on the full academic and athletic package and increase community pride. Mr. Ellingson asked if Mrs. Morris felt new families would base their decision more on a football field than their property taxes. Mrs. Morris said she thinks it makes a big impact on families with children. Mrs. Morris said every day she hears first hand parents and students talking about it and she feels athletics make a huge difference in school selection. Mr. Ward said part of receiving the CDB money allows us to cut the bond portion of the property tax by one-third, allowing sales tax to possibly go to a community project. Mr. Ward doesn’t feel like we can keep the Booster Club waiting forever, and feels the Board needs to give them an answer. Mr. Ward said we have been accruing money since May, and we still have a sizeable pool of unencumbered funds, which could go to projects or a future levy. Ms. Bobert said they would help us structure the bonds.
Mr. Reininger asked about the term of the bonds. Ms. Bobert said it depends on the amount we decide to sell and the how much is used to retire the debt. She said she would show us different retirement schedules. Mr. Ward asked if the bonds were callable. Ms. Bobert said they are specified to be sold as current interest bonds, with a typical call date of an eight-ten year range. She said sometimes it is more cost effective to call and restructure if interest rates change. Mrs. Balsley asked if it was approved tonight, when the Board could expect to receive information, including different price points, from the architect. Dr. Baule said we would likely receive information between the January and February meetings. Ms. Bobert clarified that the $4.5M figure came from how much we could borrow from our debt service extension base. This is the figure if we amortized $317K over 20 years. She said Baird produced that number, not the Board. Mr. Ward said the Board has the flexibility to sell less than the $4.5M. Mr. Reininger asked for the typical interest rate and was told by Ms. Bobert we could expect 4% over 20 years as a conservative estimate. Ms. Bobert said if this passed, we would need architect direction and Baird will then run amortization schedules. In January, Baird will provide the Board with various scenarios. Dr. Baule said the next step would be to meet with the architects, Mr. Purvis and the stadium committee to discuss the scale of the options for the Board’s consideration.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Concussion lawsuit threatens high school football programs: IHSA - Chicago Tribune


igh school football could cease to exist in some towns if a concussion lawsuit filed against the Illinois High School Association succeeds, officials with the organization said Friday.

IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman said some schools would not be able to afford on-call doctors for practices, computer-based concussion screening and other changes sought by the former prep quarterback who is suing the group.

Ex-prep quarterback files concussion suit against IHSA

Ex-prep quarterback files concussion suit against IHSA

John Keilman

On the final day of the state's high school football season, a former prep quarterback filed a lawsuit against the Illinois High School Association, claiming the organization has failed to do enough to protect athletes from the potential damage of concussions.

On the final day of the state's high school football season, a former prep quarterback filed a lawsuit against the Illinois High School Association, claiming the organization has failed to do enough to protect athletes from the potential damage of concussions. ( John Keilman )

"If this lawsuit is successful, it will present challenges to high school football programs that are ... so far-reaching for many schools, they will undoubtedly adversely affect high school programs, and could eliminate some programs in Illinois," he said at a news conference.

The organization's public push-back came less than a week after Daniel Bukal, who played football in the early 2000s at Notre Dame College Prep in Niles, filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court, alleging the IHSA doesn't do enough to stem the potential damage from concussions.

Read the entire article by clicking on the following:  Concussion lawsuit threatens high school football programs: IHSA - Chicago Tribune

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Illinois universities asked to explore budget cuts - News - Rockford Register Star - Rockford, IL


Executive Director James Applegate sent an email to the presidents, obtained by the Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers ( ), saying the schools should be prepared for possible funding cuts of up to 30 percent over the next 18 months. He described it as “bad budget news.”
“They have asked us to prepare a budget recommendation for (fiscal year 2016) involving a 20 percent reduction. We may also be asked to create spending reserves of 5 percent or 10 percent out of our existing budget for the remainder of (fiscal year 2015),” Applegate wrote.
Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf told The Associated Press on Monday that the Republican’s transition team was not ordering budget cuts but seeking information on how a rollback of the state’s temporary income tax would affect state agencies.
Schrimpf said the team met with officials from many agencies — not just the universities — as part of Rauner’s own budget preparing process. He said the agencies were asked to “be prepared to talk about” budgets without the extra spending “as a starting point.”….

Read more:  Illinois universities asked to explore budget cuts - News - Rockford Register Star - Rockford, IL

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Real Hero Teachers | Public School Shakedown#.VHDGO99dRqI.twitter#.VHDGO99dRqI.twitter


By Russ Walsh
November 22, 2014 - 11:21 am CST


While the corporate education reform movement is waiting for Superman and beating the bushes for non-educators who will “teach like a champion”, every day in thousands of classrooms across the country the real heroes of public education are working to provide the best possible education they can to children with widely varying backgrounds and preparedness for learning, often in over-crowded and under-resourced classrooms and under the cloud of a slanderous public relations campaign that seeks to make them out as the villains in a reform fantasy.

Of course, the real heroes I am talking about are the classroom teachers, building principals, and curriculum supervisors who have studied education, who are certified to teach and who are not looking for a quick exit to a more lucrative career, but are in the game for the long haul because it is their life’s work.

I am thinking about these real heroes today for two reasons. First, I read a research report in the Teacher College Record that at first I thought I was going to like, but in the end made me angry. The study, by Stuart S. Yeh, looked at charter school programs like Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) and Harlem’s Children’s Zone (HCZ) under the premise that  they “may potentially be very effective in closing the academic achievement gap.”

Yeh concluded that these programs were simply unsustainable when “scaled up and implemented nationwide.” The reason? This is where I started seeing red, so get ready. “The vast army of unemployed, highly dedicated teachers that is required to implement KIPP and HCZ on a nationwide basis simply does not exist.”

Not a flawed educational design. Not ignoring the harsh realities of poverty. Not hiring unqualified temporary teachers. Not skimming the student population to eliminate students with disabilities and English Language Learners. Apparently the numbers of available teachers who have the “right KIPP stuff” doesn’t exist. Especially considering that three year attrition rates in KIPP and HCZ schools approach 50%.

So, not enough hero teachers. That’s the problem. What constitutes a hero teacher for KIPP and HCZ? According to Yeh, a “highly dedicated teacher in these programs” works long hours, teaches Saturday make-up classes, gives students a cell phone number where they are available 24 hours a day, visits student homes regularly, fosters students’ college aspirations and dedicates a large portion of instructional time on test preparation. I wonder why attrition is so high.

For me a real hero teacher in a KIPP school would be a teacher who refused to drink the KIPP Kool-Aid, refused to abuse children with hours of skill and drill test prep, refused to implement the draconian KIPP discipline policies, resigned his position, walked out of the building and then started a blog to expose charter school abuses. I am thinking maybe Gary Rubinstein.

The second reason I am thinking about hero teachers is because I had a chance to spend some time with some true hero teachers this week. In my capacity as a literacy consultant, I often get a chance to observe teachers at work. I never cease to be amazed at these dedicated, hard-working professionals who are always striving to improve their practice.

I am thinking of Ms. C, who works with a population of English Language Learners. She knew that her guided reading instruction was helping these third graders, but she fretted that they would not perform well on the new PARCC tests. The concern was clear in her eyes and her voice as we discussed the challenges that ELLs have in comprehension as they continue to work on their fluency in English. I tried to reassure her that her work was making a difference no matter what the PARCC tests might report.

And then there was Ms. F, working in a lively classroom of 28 kindergarteners. The joy of learning was readily evident from the enthusiasm the children showed for every task and also from the noise level that Ms. F struggled mightily to contain. It was a happy room and there was great literacy instruction happening. I saw one group of students taking some early tentative moves to apply sight words they had learned to real reading situations.

After school and after her challenging 6 hours with her troop of 5 year-olds, I happened across Miss F. as she held a hushed and concerned conversation with the school nurse about a child who was often sent to school unbathed and unkempt and arrived in class on this bone chilling November day with no coat.

And then there was Mr. M, one of those rare male kindergarten teachers I have a special affection for. I observed as he directed his little ones to a variety of literacy centers and then sat down for an outstanding literacy lesson with a group of children who were about to take off in reading. Every comment Mr. M made was supportive and on target to help the children develop both the skills needed to read and a sense of the joy of reading. As the lesson ended Mr. M said to the children, “You guys are so smart. I want you all to kiss your brain.” With that the children all kissed their hand and tapped themselves on the forehead.

These folks are the real hero teachers. The real hero teachers show up, day after day, year after year after year. The real hero teachers are certified to teach. The real hero teachers studied education in college and they apply that knowledge to the real, often difficult learning situations they encounter. The real hero teachers seek graduate degrees in education that will help them refine their teaching and they are open to the kind of professional development that can help them hone their craft.

Ms. C, Ms. F, and Mr. M are heroes, but they are not exceptions to the rule. They are typical of the teachers I have known and worked with over the past 45 years. Good, honest, hard-working, intelligent professionals doing the best they can. And the best they can is very good indeed.

The notion that there are not enough heroic teachers to replicate the KIPP or HCZ models is stupid. There are not enough of those teachers because the model is fundamentally flawed and it seeks to draw people from outside the profession, who may have a temporary commitment, but no desire to stay the course. These are not dedicated teachers, they are temps. You cannot build a lasting educational program with temp workers. You just need all the Ms.Cs, Ms. Fs, and Mr. Ms you can find. You’ll find them in public schools.

For more go to:

Teachers | Public School Shakedown#.VHDGO99dRqI.twitter#.VHDGO99dRqI.twitter

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Education in Illinois making slow progress, according to report | The Rock River Times


Online Staff Report

CHICAGO — Illinois is making slow progress in the face of daunting challenges in preparing students to succeed after high school, according to a new report.

“The State We’re In: 2014,” released by the nonprofit education advocacy organization Advance Illinois, tracked state performance on 55 measures of early childhood, K-12 and postsecondary education going back over a decade.

This year, for the first time, half of all Illinois public school students come from low-income families and will require additional resources and support to achieve. This comes as the state has cut millions from education over the last several years. In the face of such demographic changes, Illinois is making some headway in student achievement, high school graduation rates, and postsecondary enrollment. However, the college completion rate is stuck in neutral.

“Even in these difficult times, our most important investment must be to educate our students. This is vital for the state’s economic and social future,” said former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar, chairman emeritus of Advance Illinois. “We must be clear about what is at stake for all of us.”

The report is issued on a biennial basis and tracks student outcomes, leading indicators, and learning conditions as well as comparing Illinois’ performance to that of other states.

Early education: Long a national leader in early learning, Illinois is now losing ground. Hard-won access to early childhood programs has been largely erased because of shrinking resources, and there is little time in preschool for children who need it the most. As it did in 2012, Illinois receives an “Incomplete” pending the statewide roll-out of a well-regarded measure of kindergarten readiness. The state’s ranking on other measures slipped from 14th to 15th.

K-12: Despite bright spots of progress — notably in eighth-grade math performance, the number of students taking Advanced Placement courses, and high school graduation rates — other states are outpacing our gains in the critical measure of fourth-grade reading. And we have made little progress growing college readiness among high school students.

Achievement gaps persist among minority and white students, and gaps by income exist across all racial groups. One notable change is the narrowing of the achievement gap between white and Latino students by 5 percentage points.

Illinois ranks 30th among the states for a grade of C-, the same grade earned in 2012.

Postsecondary: Increasing college enrollment rates show young people are getting the message that earning a college credential is now critical. But college completion rates remain stagnant. Rising college costs and inadequate support for students, both financial and academic, are major factors in the lack of progress. On our combined postsecondary metrics, Illinois now ranks 25th among the states for a grade of C, slightly lower than the C+ earned in 2012.

The progress made by the Chicago Public Schools was featured in the report as an example of how obstacles can be overcome. With roughly one-third of the state’s low-income students, Chicago managed to outpace the rest of the state in gains made in fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math — both significant milestones in academic preparedness.

Chicago has also seen an increase of 22 percentage points in its graduation rates over the last decade. Due in part to a focus on supporting freshmen success, more than two-thirds of the CPS senior class graduated last year.

“Real improvement in education requires a plan, talented educators, and time,” said Robin Steans, executive director of Advance Illinois. “It is up to us to provide the supports necessary to get every student world ready.”

For more information on “The State We’re In: 2014,” visit

Posted Nov. 21, 2014

Education in Illinois making slow progress, according to report | The Rock River Times

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

20th President - University of Illinois


The University of Illinois Board of Trustees on November 19  named
Timothy L. Killeen
the 20th president of the University of Illinois.

Timothy L. Killeen, 20th president of the University of Illinois.

President-elect's Reaction

“The University of Illinois, with its three distinctive world-class campuses, stands poised to build on its tremendous and ongoing history of accomplishment to envision and define the future of public comprehensive higher education. I will devote myself to this noble enterprise with every ounce of my energy and thank the Board for their confidence in me.”

University of Illinois names 20th president

SUNY Research Foundation President Timothy L. Killeen selected;
Acclaimed researcher also served as top administrator at NSF

CHICAGO, Ill. — Timothy L. Killeen, vice chancellor for research and president of the Research Foundation of the State University of New York (SUNY), was named the 20th president of the University of Illinois on Wednesday, pending formal approval by the Board of Trustees at its Jan. 15 meeting in Chicago.

Killeen, 62, who would succeed retiring President Robert Easter, brings the experience of more than three decades as a teacher, researcher and administrator in public higher education and in top leadership positions with national scientific research agencies.

His work at SUNY mirrors core missions of the University of Illinois – supporting pioneering research and scholarship across disciplines, and taking it to the marketplace to drive economic growth.

As president of SUNY’s Research Foundation, Killeen is chief executive officer of the largest, most comprehensive university-connected research foundation in the nation, administering about $900 million annually across SUNY’s statewide network of 29 state-supported research campuses. Combined with his role as vice chancellor for research, he is at the center of SUNY’s strategy for research growth and works with campus leaders to increase basic, clinical and translational research.

He also chairs SUNY’s Patent and Inventions Policy Board, which seeks to promote economic development by turning research discovery into new businesses, products and services.

Killeen spent more than 20 years on the faculty and in administration at the University of Michigan, and served as assistant director for geosciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF) before joining SUNY in 2012. The independent federal agency provides nearly a quarter of federal research funding for U.S. colleges and universities, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ranks third among U.S. universities in NSF funding.

A leading researcher in geophysics and space sciences, Killeen earned his Ph.D. in atomic and molecular physics from University College London at the age of 23. In 2007, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, which honors the world’s most accomplished engineers.

About the President-elect

Timothy L. Killeen has served since 2012 as vice chancellor for research and president of the Research Foundation at the State University of New York, one of the nation’s largest higher education systems with 64 campuses, 465,000 students, 88,000 faculty and more than 7,600 degree and certificate programs.

As president of SUNY’s Research Foundation, Killeen heads the nation’s largest, most comprehensive university-connected research foundation, administering about $900 million annually across SUNY’s 29 state-supported research campuses. In his dual role as vice chancellor for research, he is at the center of SUNY’s strategy for research growth and works with campus leaders to increase basic, clinical and translational research.

Before joining SUNY, he served for four years as assistant director for the geosciences at the National Science Foundation. He also has served as Lyall Research Professor at the University of Colorado, as director and senior scientist for the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and spent more than 20 years as a faculty member and researcher at the University of Michigan, where he also served as associate vice president for research.

He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2007, and also is a member and past president of the American Geophysical Union, and a member of the American Meteorological Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the New York Academy of Sciences.

A leading researcher in geophysics and space sciences, Killeen received his bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. at University College London, where he earned his doctoral degree in atomic and molecular physics at the age of 23.

His research has earned three achievement awards from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and he has received awards for teaching and research excellence from the University of Michigan College of Engineering. He has authored more than 150 publications in peer-reviewed journals, along with more than 300 other publications and papers.

Killeen’s wife, Roberta M. Johnson, is executive director of the National Earth Science Teachers Association and a clinical professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at the State University of New York at Albany. They have three children.

20th President - University of Illinois

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Thank you to all my supporters


We tried very hard to get our message across.  But it was perhaps the wrong time.  Congratulation to Mr. Larson and Mrs. Giesecke.  Please do represent all of us.



Results from Boone County Election



Number of Precincts

Precincts Reporting
100.0 %

Vote For

Total Votes




On a happier note here are the results of two county wide referendums; these results are identical my vote on the issues.



Sunday, November 2, 2014

District #100 Proposition for Nov. 4th, 2014 ballot - YouTube

This presentation is from PASS  Parents Advocating for Students and Staff


Click on the following to view the “YOU Tube” clip:  District #100 Proposition for Nov. 4th, 2014 ballot - YouTube

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Letter: Vote ‘no’ on District 100 ballot question - Opinion - Rockford Register Star - Rockford, IL


Posted Oct. 29, 2014 @ 8:00 am

The Nov. 4 District 100 proposition to change school board elections is familiar to few people.
Please note: the proposition — the last question on the ballot — must receive the majority of votes in each township. If passed: all seven board seats will be up for election in April 2015; three members elected in April 2015 will serve two-year terms; all seven board members could live in the same neighborhood; there will be no guaranteed board seats for small townships; and board composition based on statistical representation of District 100 population will no longer be guaranteed.
Presently, two of the seven board seats represent Belvidere High School and its feeder schools. At this time, those are two of three seats guaranteed to townships outside Belvidere Township.
Currently, Belvidere Township (the largest populated township) is guaranteed 57 percent (four board seats) and the smaller townships are guaranteed 43 percent (three shared board seats). The current board is an accurate representation (58 percent to 42 percent) of the District 100 population.
If passed in future elections, candidates from Belvidere Township could potentially dominate and garner more votes than those available in smaller townships.
Vote “no” on Nov. 4 to ensure all township voices are represented and not silenced.
— Allison Reid-Niemiec, Belvidere

Letter: Vote ‘no’ on District 100 ballot question - Opinion - Rockford Register Star - Rockford, IL

Belvidere could change way school board is elected - News - Rockford Register Star - Rockford, IL


By Ben Stanley
Rockford Register Star
Posted Oct. 29, 2014 @ 8:00 am
Updated at 10:23 AM

BELVIDERE — A proposition to change the way Belvidere Board of Education members are elected will be on the Nov. 4 ballot.
As it stands, four of the board’s seven members must live in Belvidere Township and three must come from the four remaining townships in the district. The proposition is to elect all board members at-large, which means it wouldn’t matter where board members live as long as they reside within the school district.
Ten of the 13 school districts in Boone and Winnebago counties elect school board members at-large, according to Boone Winnebago Regional Office of Education Office Manager Tom McCullough. Belvidere, Durand and Rockford school districts are the only three that elect board members differently. Voters in Durand will also be asked this election whether or not all school board members should be elected at-large.
Superintendent Michael Houselog said that one reason the Belvidere School District decided to pursue at-large elections is to make it easier to appoint board members in case of a resignation.
Currently, the district must fill a vacancy with someone who meets the same residency requirement.
“For vacancies, it’s made it very difficult,” Houselog said of the district’s current school board election system. “In the past, we haven’t had people to fill those positions. We had people ready and able but they weren’t from the right township.”
Boone County Board member Bill Pysson said that he suggested the district pursue at-large elections for Belvidere Board of Education members nearly two decades ago, but has since changed his mind and would rather keep the current election system in place.
“I find it very surprising that the board is trying to do this,” Pysson said. “There’s an overrepresentation of board members that reside in the Belvidere North high school subdistrict ... Belvidere High School does not really have a representative on the board.”
According to Pysson, the current township residency restrictions were put in place more than 50 years ago when several subdistricts in School District 100 merged.
“When they merged, some of those townships really wanted to make sure that their voice would be heard, so the requirement that there be some non-Belvidere Township representation was put into the merger requirements,” Pysson said.

Belvidere could change way school board is elected - News - Rockford Register Star - Rockford, IL

District 100 School Referendum

If the proposition passes on Nov. 4th, ALL school board members COULD live within a 1 mile radius of each other. Do you feel communication, consistency, and compliance would be compromised if this was to happen?




Above are from PASS—Parents Advocating Students and Staff.  SEE:

Monday, October 27, 2014

Football Across Boone County

Belvidere Daily Republican

7 hours ago

Congratulations to Belvidere North, Belvidere and North Boone. All three teams won this weekend and are advancing to post-season play.
In case anyone is wondering why there has been a lack of coverage for Belvidere North or sports other than football, the cold harsh reality is that I was not able to find anyone to cover the games. My budget for reporters is EXTREMELY limited. Unless parents (or g...randparents or super fans) offer to write about a team, it pretty much leaves me to cover sports by myself and I cannot be all things to all people.
And after working close to 80 hours a week seven days a week, I am exhausted. I literally collapse by Friday evening and I struggle to stay awake while tucking the four year old into bed. One more than one occasion in the last few months, I have awakened to the sensation of the four year old putting a blanket on me and kissing my cheek because I fell asleep mid-song.
If any parents (or grandparents or super fans) would like to cover the team of their choice, I would happily welcome it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Belvidere Board of Education finalizes new teacher contract - News - Rockford Register Star - Rockford, IL

Ben Stanley

BELVIDERE — The Belvidere Board of Education approved a new three-year contract with the teachers’ union on Monday night, ending around four months of negotiations.
“We have a contract,” Belvidere School Board Superintendent Michael Houselog said, relieved.
The new contract takes effect immediately.
Among the highlights of the new agreement are a 3 percent base salary increase over the next three years and an agreement to cap class sizes at 24 students. The Belvidere School District will also hire two additional counselors.
“It feels wonderful,” Houselog said. “I thought it was a really cooperative endeavor between the teacher’s association and the board.”
The Belvidere Education Association voted overwhelmingly in favor of ratifying the contract on Oct. 16, but the deal needed final approval from the Board of Education.
According to Houselog, four Board members voted in favor of the new contract, one voted against and one abstained.

Click on the following to read the entire article:  Belvidere Board of Education finalizes new teacher contract - News - Rockford Register Star - Rockford, IL

PASS Responds to District 100 Referenda

Dear Community Representatives and Community Members:

We, the executive board of PASS (Parents Advocating for Students and Staff), would like to request a few minutes of your time to review the following information. It is our intention to equip community members from all townships with the tools to make well-informed decisions when voting in the Nov. 4, 2014 election. Our main focus is the proposition/referendum which could significantly change the way in which school board members are elected as it directly correlates to fair representation for our students and staff of District #100. 

The proposition will be listed on the ballot as follows: Shall the members of the Board of Education of Belvidere Community Unit School District 100 be elected at large and without restriction by area of residence within the District?

The proposition, if passed, has the potential to eradicate school board representation from smaller, outlying townships and the current guaranteed 3 seats would no longer exist. PASS is significantly concerned with this potential change. We feel the views and concerns of community members living outside the City of Belvidere and Belvidere Township may be quite different as they may relate to other impactful issues such as school start/end times; curricular programming; school closures; and building sites/usage. We do not want to lose your input on issues such as these.

The following information is being provided to increase awareness as it pertains to the proposition/referendum:

1. It must receive the majority of votes in EACH township to pass.

2. It is the last question on the ballot.

3. If the proposition passes, ALL of the following will happen: 

a. ALL 7 school board seats will be up for election in April 2015.

b. 3 of the 7 board members elected in April 2015 will serve a 2-year term.

c. ALL 7 board members COULD live within the same neighborhood and/or township.

d. There will be no unopposed campaigns.

e. There will be NO guaranteed board seats for the smaller, less populated townships.

f. Board composition based on statistical representation of the Belvidere population will NO longer be guaranteed.

g. Guaranteed representation for each of the two high schools will cease to exist.

4. If the proposition does not pass, the following will happen:

a. 3 of the 7 school board seats will be up for election in April 2015.

b. 2 of the 3 seats up for election will be representatives outside of Belvidere Township (those two seats are currently filled by Jason Colson and Dan Wilson).

c. 1 of the 3 seats up for election will be a representative from Belvidere Township (that seat is currently filled by President Mike Rathbun).

d. The 3 members elected in April 2015 will serve a 4-year term.

In the previous 2013 election, 2 of the 5 board seats up for election were guaranteed to townships outside of Belvidere Township. The 2 candidates ran unopposed. Those two seats, currently filled by Kelly Diamond and Jason Colson, are the only two seats currently representing BHS and its feeder schools.

In order to obtain the information regarding the upcoming proposition/referendum, the following individuals have been contacted with their stated purpose and/or involvement:

1. Mary Steurer, Boone County Clerk,for number of registered voters.

2. Michael Houselog, District #100 Superintendent,for district rationale for proposition.

3. Regional Office of Education for Winnebago and Boone Counties for information regarding District #100's process for proposition recommendation to the board.

Please see attachments as we have included the compiled information for your review.

We would encourage you to -

1. Review this email and all attached documents.

2. Contact us through email or Facebook with any questions.

3. Get to know PASS at

4. Share this email with fellow voters and community members.

5. Vote in the Nov. 4th election.

Thank you for your time and attention to this concerning matter. We support the true meaning of Belvidere Community Unit School District and are committed to consistency in township equality for board representation.

Thank you,

Lisa Whitcomb, PASS President

Racheal Morse, PASS Vice-president

Allison Reid-Niemiec, PASS Secretary/Compliance Officer


EMAIL and I will send the attachments.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Teachers’ and Administrators’ Salaries and Benefits

Note the teachers’ salaries are under the old contract because this regulatory filling was made in September before the new contract.

To see the list go to:

Here are some of the noteworthy administrative salaries.

220,929 Salary with paid TRS


Associate Superintendent Student Serv.


Assistant Superintendent - Grants/Assess


ECKMANN, MARC   Page 3 of 18
Principal High School


Principal Middle School


Principal Middle School


Director Special Education

Highly Paid Non-Certified District 100 Employees

The following is a regulatory disclosure of the total benefits of IMFR workers and can be found the District 100 website at:

Mr.Bell, Mr. Blake, Mr.Brown and Mr. Commare’s salaries and benefits are shown.



District 100 CPA AUDIT June 30, 2014

The 77 page audit report is now available on-line at:$file/2014%20Financial%20Statements.pdf


Monday, October 20, 2014

Belvidere head football coach Chuck Leonard will lead tonight's - – Rockford’s News Leader



Belvidere High School's head football coach Chuck Leonard will lead tonight's practice after being placed on leave late last week.
According to a news release from Belvidere School District, allegations were made against the football program, which prompted an internal investigation by the district and an external investigation by the Belvidere Police Department.
"Student safety is our number one priority," Superintendent Dr. Michael Houselog said. "We received information indicating a student's safety was at risk, and the district took steps necessary to conduct a thorough investigation."
As a result, three students were arrested. Leonard was placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the investigation, according to the district.
The district says the police matter is ongoing, but the internal investigation is complete and Leonard will return to the field for Monday afternoon's practice.

13 News will bring you more information on this story as updates become available.

Above is taken fromBelvidere head football coach Chuck Leonard will lead tonight's - – Rockford’s News Leader

Former Belvidere North teacher pleads guilty to criminal sexual - – Rockford’s News Leader


Former Belvidere North teacher Jenee Blackert has been sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to criminal sexual assault.
Blackert is accused of having sexual relations with a 17-year-old student. The incidents with a female student occurred in 2013, according to investigators.
She was sentenced Monday to four years in prison and three years to natural life of supervised release. Blackert must also register as a sex offender.
Three other charges were dropped against Blackert after she agreed to a plea deal. Blackert has been taken in to custody and will begin serving her sentence.
The Boone County State's Attorney's Office says they take the matter very seriously, especially when someone is entrusted to take care of students.

Read more by clicking on the following:  Former Belvidere North teacher pleads guilty to criminal sexual - – Rockford’s News Leader

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Belvidere teachers ratify contract by huge vote - News - Rockford Register Star - Rockford, IL


By Ben Stanley
Rockford Register Star
Posted Oct. 15, 2014 @ 8:26 pm


BELVIDERE — After about four months of negotiating with the school district, the Belvidere Education Association voted 387-62 in favor of ratifying a new three-year contract on Wednesday night.
The contract was tentatively agreed on by both the Belvidere School District and the union during negotiations on Tuesday.
The Belvidere Board of Education will vote on Monday to finalize the deal.
“I feel we did the best we could,” Union President Mark Luthin said of the negotiations. “Our team agreed to it, and that’s always a good thing when you can get the seven people sitting at the table to agree to it.”
The school district and teachers union each submitted final contract offers on Sept. 25. Neither Luthin or District 100 Superintendent Michael Houselog revealed specific details of the contract.
“There were changes, a number of them,” Houselog said. “We’re not at liberty to discuss those.”
More information will be available after the board votes on Monday.
However, it is likely that teachers will receive raises.

Click on the following for more details:  Belvidere teachers ratify contract by huge vote - News - Rockford Register Star - Rockford, IL

Sunday, October 5, 2014

District 100’s and BEA’s Final Offers

The final offers are available at:


For your convenience click on the following for each item:

Board of Education Last and Final Offer:

Belvidere Education Association Last and Final Offer:

Answers and Clarifications (Prepared by District 100 Administration):

Welcome to the Rockford University business school that alum Sunil Puri built

ROCKFORD — About 250 people, including educators and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, celebrated at a reception Friday for the grand opening of Puri Business School at Rockford University.
The 28,000-square-foot structure built in 1993 at 5100 E. State St. has been remodeled over the past few years and 5,000 square feet of classroom space added to serve as the hub for business, economic and accounting classes at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Sunil Puri, who received a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1982 from Rockford College (the school became Rockford University in 2013), donated the building and contributed more than $5 million to support the university’s business offerings. The building is the first named school at the university.
Puri is founder and president of First Rockford Group, which employs about 220 people and has developed about 10,000 lots over 30 years.
The company owns and manages about 4 million square feet of retail, office and industrial space in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Puri also is a Rockford University trustee.
His family members and business leaders were among the guests. Attendees munched on bacon-wrapped scallops, drank wine and listened to Nanette Felix, a Rockford Symphony Orchestra member, play harp.
Students from all disciplines take business-related classes in the Puri Business School, in addition to 80 graduate and 80 undergraduates pursuing business degrees. The building houses nine classrooms and computer lab space; faculty offices are in the lower level.
The nursing program has the highest number of students, but business and education are runners-up, and business degrees consistently remain a popular choice for students. Enrollment reached a 20-year high this year: 878 full-time undergraduates.
Puri said the business school will produce “entrepreneurs and business leaders who assist in the economic revival of our region.”
RU President Robert Head said the Puri school will “provide our students a superior educational experience that prepares them for success.”
Durbin is the majority whip, the second-highest position in the Democrats’ leadership in the Senate. He said honoring Puri, a financial contributor to the Democratic Party, by naming the business school for him is “entirely right.”

“Sunil Puri is an American success story, an immigrant who came to Rockford College and has stayed in the community and became a force for new business and so many jobs, as well as so many civic efforts.”

Read more:

Friday, October 3, 2014

Forbes on-line: $26 Million Selfie at Illinois Jr. College


COD (College of DuPage)  made liberal use of this imprest accounting scheme: $26,100,000 on over 21,000 transactions to 5,613 vendors flowed through 467 separate fund accounts. Recently, COD Treasurer Thomas Glaser told the board during a special budget meeting in June that all financial transactions were listed in the board packet and posted online, but that just wasn’t the case.
The Bureau of the Fiscal Service of the U.S. Department of the Treasury defines imprest funds as “pretty cash funds” and accounting associations warn that weakness in accounting control could result from the use of imprest funds. For instance, only the Board Chairman Erin Birt got to review the line-by-line transactions of these specially tagged payments before the board “approved” the aggregated total total amounts.

So what did COD payout via this accounting scheme? Here’s a snapshot:
1.         Over $110,000 spent purchasing wine and alcohol described in the register as “instructional supplies.”

2. President Breuder’s private membership dues to the Max McGraw club ($3,800) and three global satellite phones used on Breuder’s exotic hunting trips were not disclosed. Total payments into Max McGraw club were $6,693- including an overnight senior management retreat.
3.         COD President and senior managers double dipped their car allowances and collected over $3,600 of in-district mileage reimbursement.

4.         Even the accountants and lawyers gleaned non-disclosed payments: Crowe Horwath, $56,029; Robbins, Schwartz $178,652; and Franczek Radelet, $71,780.
5.         Legat Architects- the lead architect for the Homeland Security Education Center at COD (which will bear Dr. Robert Breuder’s name after his retirement) was paid-out $164,421.

6.         Other connected vendors include COD Foundation Board members- lobbyists and construction companies- received large non-disclosed payments. i.e. Herricane Graphics ($227,157); Roger Marquardt & Co ($85,000); Wight & Company ($31,431); Fuchs & Roselli, Ltd. ($14,698); Power Construction ($5,000); Bison Gear & Engineering ($4,064)
7.         Designated ‘petty cash’ funds were hardly used, only $1,774 in payments, while ‘imprest funds’ handled 21,000 transactions.
8.         Although President Breuder recently said ‘imprest payments’ were only used on amounts under $15,000, the data shows 106 payments exceeded that threshold and totaled $2.327 million.

9.         Over $300,000 paid-out in newspaper and magazine advertising/subscription expense including $140,000 to the Daily Herald Paddock Publications and $139,000 to the Chicago Tribune companies.
U.S. Senator Tom Coburn frequently asks, “Is the spending for the public interest or the special interest?”
Transparency coupled with technology makes it possible for citizens to audit public spending. Starting in September, thanks to COD Vice Chairman Kathy Hamilton’s recent transparency effort, all COD imprest payments will finally be online and subject to scrutiny.

Read more by clicking on the following:

Sunday, September 28, 2014

District 100 Union Negotiation Status

  •  imageimage

  • image

    • image

    • image

    • image

    • image

    • image

    • Above is available on-line at:

    • image



    • Posted Sep. 24, 2014 @ 10:41 am

      BELVIDERE — Mediated negotiations between the Belvidere School District and teachers’ union Tuesday night failed to produce a new agreement.
      Superintendent Michael Houselog said that the district offered teachers a 12 percent salary increase over a three-year contract around 4:20 p.m. and were informed through a mediator that the union was preparing a counter-proposal.
      By 6:45 p.m., Houselog said that the union still did not have a fully-formed proposal and the district decided to end negotiations for the night.
      “We felt they needed a lot more time, and we wanted to honor that,” Houselog said. “They did not give a proposal, they gave us a draft of ideas.”
      Houselog said that before district representatives left for the evening, they notified union members about the building’s alarm system so that it would not be accidentally set off.
      Around 8 p.m., the union posted this message on its Facebook page:
      “At 6:55 after three hours of bargaining the mediator informed the BEA that we had until 7:05 to vacate the building. The alarms would be set and police would be called. Our main issues remain: Special Ed teacher workload, safe lab class sizes, an appeals process for evaluations, Reduction in Force (RIF) language, and the ability to attract and retain quality teachers.”
      An attempt to reach union president Mark Luthin this morning was unsuccessful.
      Final offers from the District and the union will be presented during negotiations Thursday.
      — Ben Stanley

      Read more:

    • Friday, September 19, 2014

      Belvidere teachers make it official and file intent to strike


      By Rebecca Klopf

      The possibility of Belvidere teachers going on strike becomes even more real today. Thursday afternoon, union reps went to the school district office to file their letter of intent to strike.

      About a dozen teachers helped hand deliver the letter to the Belvidere School District headquarters. What that means: no one is walking off the job, yet. But 28 days from now teachers legally are allowed to.

      That first strike day would be October 16th.

      In the meantime, the teachers and the district must turn in their last, best offer. They have seven days to do that. That will be after their next bargaining session which is scheduled for Tuesday.

      Despite all this, the teachers union says the focus at school will remain on school and not this situation.

      "We encourage them not to discuss this with students in class. Were still doing a job and that's educating our students. Of course there's always questions of what's going on. We tell them we are not on strike and that we are working on avoiding that," said Mark Luthin, Belvidere Education Association president.

      The Belvidere Schools superintendent Michael Houselog says he doesn't think the board and the teachers are that far apart on the issues and they will continue to negotiate.

      Sunday, September 14, 2014

      2015: Belvidere High School becomes a Vocational Magnet School? And District 100 schools go year around?

      The following is PASS’s analysis of this coming Monday’s District 100 School Board meeting.  Note what maybe discussed and be voted on in October.



      Special Note—Changing BHS to a magnet school for 2015-2016 school year.  Year around school for the district???


      PASS is on Facebook;  see more recent comments there:

      SIU: Offers BA in Actuarial Mathematics

      CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Some say being an actuary means having “the best job in the United States.” And now you can train for that career at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
      Actuaries are the folks who plow through mountains of data and numbers, spotting trends and estimating probabilities, costs and savings. They work in many industries as well as for various governments.
      The Illinois Board of Higher Education recently gave SIU’s Department of Mathematics the nod to create a new specialization in actuarial mathematics within its existing Bachelor of Arts degree starting in fall 2015. Greg Budzban, professor and chair of the department, said the move is “a big deal for both the Department of Mathematics and university.”
      “We will be one of only three state institutions that offer a bachelor's degree or specialization in this area,” Budzban said. “Students will have evidence of their actuarial specialization on their transcripts, making them even more marketable in their field.”
      Budzban said the department began pursuing the new program last year, around the time an article appeared in the Wall Street Journal, citing a survey by, which identified the job as the best job in the country.
      “Our interest in developing the program really emerged from several sources,” Budzban said. “One of our faculty members, Professor David Olive, came to me with the idea of starting the specialization at roughly the same time as the article from the Wall Street Journal came out. These things, in addition to the flux in the insurance industry, indicated to me that this would be a growth field and an opportunity for new math majors at SIU.”
      The Department of Mathematics, which is part of the College of Science, offers Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. It also offers Master of Arts, Master of Science and doctoral degrees in mathematics.
      The new specialization curriculum will include 50 semester hours, including 20 hours from four courses in actuarial areas. Five existing faculty members will be responsible for the specialization.
      Another factor in the IBHE approving the “reasonable and moderate extension” of the existing Bachelor of Arts program is SIU’s Morris Library, which it states “has more than enough library materials to support (the new specialization), as well as a designated science librarian to support students and faculty.”
      The IBHE approval letter also states jobs in the actuarial science and related fields will grow by about 20 percent in coming years. State and federal government labor statistics place the median salary for those with a bachelor’s degree in the field at more than $87,000 per year.
      With these trends, SIU officials expect an increase demand for such a program, Budzban said. And the university has a track record in the field already.
      “Probability and statistics have always been a strength of our department, and this provides us a way to market those strengths to new students,” Budzban said. “This new specialization fits SIU's mission of providing a quality education perfectly, since it will provide our students the high-quality computational and technical skills needed to thrive in one of the top careers in the country.”