Some school superintendents have begged for years for a fix to Illinois' school funding distribution, saying it shortchanges schools with more low-income students.
But now they say that can wait. They just want a state budget.
Elgin Area School District U-46 CEO Tony Sanders says a two-year budget standoff between Gov. Bruce Rauner and the legislature threatens U-46's ability to open for a new school year in August.
Sanders told me he and leaders of Aurora-based Indian Prairie District 204 and West Aurora District 129 are spearheading a campaign to plaster the message "Pass Illinois' budget" on thousands of school marquees.
The campaign launched Monday and has grown to 411 districts across the state.
Even though the state approved stopgap aid to schools, it's months behind on payments for services like transportation, bilingual and special education. U-46 is owed $20 million. West Aurora is owed $10 million.
Email server overload
Working on the campaign, Sanders said, he was startled to learn he was sending so many emails to education contacts that U-46's server couldn't handle it. "I was told I exceeded my email allotment for the year," he laughs. "I had to take a picture of the screen and send it to our technology people."
2.7 percent turnout?
You've read much here recently about dwindling voter turnout and participation in local races, a point that was punctuated by Cook County Clerk David Orr's release of town-by-town turnout in the April 4 election. Rates ranged from 36 percent turnout in Rosemont all the way down to 2.7 percent in Deerfield. Yikes.
Dred Scott and abortion?
An Illinois House debate on legislation that would expand taxpayer funding of abortion to state employees and those on Medicaid turned heated this week when state Rep. Tom Morrison, a Palatine Republican, compared unborn children to former slave Dred Scott, who in 1857 was declared by the Supreme Court not to be a legal person. State Rep. Christian Mitchell, a Chicago Democrat who grew up in suburban Westchester, responded that Morrison's comment was the most "ignorant and possibly racist" comment he'd heard in the chamber.
House Bill 40, sponsored by Chicago Democrat Sara Feigenholtz, now heads to the Senate, where it is expected to pass. But GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner has said he'll veto it.
Actors lend a hand
Actors Donnie Wahlberg and Jenny McCarthy of St. Charles were guests Saturday at the Red Tail Ball Tuskegee Next fundraiser at the DuPage County Airport in West Chicago.
The program, founded by DuPage Airport Authority Chairman Steve Davis and named after the Tuskegee Airmen, the pioneering black military pilots who fought in World War II, aims to give at-risk youths a path to careers in aviation -- and a pilot's license in the process.
Cadets forego other summer activities and live apart from their families for the two-month stretch. They rise early in their dorms at Wheaton College and rarely quit studying before 11 p.m. Instruction is half in the classroom, with lessons on plane mechanics and flight patterns, and half in the air, first with an instructor, then solo.
Former Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady of St. Charles, who also supports the program, notes the couple made a "very generous" contribution.
Science teacher joins march
Award-winning Elgin High School Science Teacher Deb Perryman, who you've read here has been downloading federal climate change data for fear it will disappear from government websites, was one of the thousands who took to the streets of Washington last weekend for the March for Science.
Perryman describes the event as "a lot of fun," noting "the rain was nothing more than a nuisance ... the energy was high!"
Perryman says she and fellow teachers spent time networking and participating in workshops provided by scientists.
Bone marrow drive for Emily
A bone marrow registry drive in support of nursing student Emily Kmiecik is set for Wednesday at Harper College.
Kmiecik, a third-semester student from Arlington Heights, is fighting cancer for the second time. The drive is organized by the Harper College Student Nurses' Association in partnership with Be The Match.
Kmiecik's battle, which includes an effort to freeze her eggs, has been supported by Chicago Cub Anthony Rizzo, among others.
The bone marrow drive is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 3 at Harper College's Avanté Center concourse, 1200 W. Algonquin Road, Palatine. The event is free and open to the public, and those between ages 18 and 44 are eligible. Participants have their cheeks swabbed, to start. See www.bethematch.org.