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Tag: D300

Students, parents reminded about school bus safety (Sun-Times Media)

Last school year, a preschooler picked up at the Independence Center for Early Learning in Bartlett was left on a bus for two hours before an Elgin School District U46 bus driver discovered the boy at the district garage.

In 2009, a 7-year-old boy was run over by a bus while it was unloading in front of Neubert Elementary School in Algonquin.

And earlier this month, a Kane County judge decided not to dismiss a lawsuit filed against Community Unit School District 300 and its transportation provider, Durham School Services, by a woman whose daughter was injured on a school bus in 2010.

Despite those incidents, school buses continue to be the safest way for students to travel, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

And National Express Corporation released a reminder as school buses return to area roads, that “everyone plays a role in school bus safety.” Durham, along with Stock Transportation and Petermann all are part of National Express Corporation, headquartered in Warrenville.

“At Durham, Petermann and Stock, we are focused on one thing, and that’s transporting children to school safely,” said Michele McDermott, senior vice president, safety and human resources at National Express Corporation.

“We take this responsibility seriously and have been preparing all summer for the new school year.”

For the rest of the story, read Students, parents reminded about school bus safety (Sun-Times Media).

Photo credit: Michael R. Schmidt for Sun-Times Media.


Biweekly Wrap-up: Back to school 2012-13!

The 2012-13 school year started this week with a bang.


I got rear-ended on the way to Jacobs High School in Algonquin on Monday, the first day of school in Carpentersville-area Community Unit School District 300.

I was sitting in my car at a red light in Carpentersville. It was raining, and I heard tires squealing, and I glanced up into the rearview mirror and thought, “The first day of school!” I ended up halfway across the intersection. Luckily, the light just had turned and nobody had started into the intersection yet. Not luckily. Miraculously.

The other driver was terrified and apologetic. She’d never been in an accident, much less caused one before, she said. I hugged her and said it was OK, it was raining, it was slick, it was just my bumper, accidents happen. And, hey, usually when my car gets hit, and this isn’t unusual with all the miles I drive between work in the suburbs and home in the city, it gets totaled and I end up in the hospital. When the very kind Carpentersville policewoman arrived, she asked if I wanted her to write the other driver a ticket. My car just had spun out on some rain on top of oil on the expressway the week before, so I had a lot of grace for this sort of thing. And I said, no, I didn’t want to put her through that; I just wanted her insurance to fix my bumper, cracked and dented and hanging off one side of my car. The policewoman wrote her a warning. I still made it to school before the back-to-school assembly I’d planned to cover for the newspaper.

For a delirious moment, it felt like the Kingdom of Heaven had arrived on earth. Things were working as they ought, with honesty and grace and forgiveness and humor. This was salvation — not just in eternity, but in the here and now, salvation from the trouble she could have caused me and unglued reaction I could have had. And then the other driver’s insurance let me know yesterday they won’t be sending me the full price to replace the bumper. There was a small dent already in the bumper, so they don’t have to, they said. I looked this up, and they’re right: in Illinois, at least, they don’t. Which seems unfair. And also like a great deal of money I would rather not spend.

I’m not sure what the moral of this story is, other than the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, may the Name of the Lord be praised (Job 1:21). And while we join Christ in the work of His new creation, a new heaven and a new earth, we ain’t yet perfect and it ain’t yet here (2 Corinthians 5:17, 2 Peter 3:13-15).

Also, there is no owl.

Hopefully, the start of the school year next week at Elgin Community College and School District U46, the second-largest in Illinois, will be a little quieter. Here’s what I’ve written the past two weeks leading up to that:

Photo credit: Michael Smart for Sun-Times Media.



Starting a new year, new schedules in School District 300 (Sun-Times Media)

ALGONQUIN — Take time to laugh. Take time to think. Take time to feel.

And lower your expectations. Although that probably doesn’t mean what you think it means.

Those were the messages delivered by heavily tattooed motivational speaker Jeff Yalden, who has been a coach on the MTV show “Made,” to students during an all-school assembly Monday at Jacobs High School.

“Our expectations are too high. What if we go through life and we go through the year and we lower our expectations and focus on the objective?” Yalden said.

“If you do that, you can take control of your life, you can take control of your attitude, you can take control of your choices.”

That assembly came on the first day of the 2012-13 school year, as Jacobs set its objective — the same three points of “Eagle Pride” it stresses every year, according to Associate Principal Bo Vossel: “Be respectful. Be responsible. Be ready.”

It also came as Community Unit School District 300 remakes the schedule this school year for its three high schools, which also include Dundee-Crown High School in Carpentersville and Hampshire High School in Hampshire.

For the rest of the story, read Starting a new year, new schedules in School District 300 (Sun-Times Media).

For some of students’ personal objectives and Superintendent Michael Bregy’s objectives for the Carpentersville-area school district, read Students, staff share some goals for new school year (Sun-Times Media).

Photo credit: Michael Smart for Sun-Times Media.

Changes in the driver’s seat for student program (Sun-Times Media)

Recent new rules for driving — from outlawing texting to allowing disabled students to get a license — are leading to some equally major changes in driver’s education programs in Illinois.

And not all of those changes are being welcomed by the schools and their instructors.

No one seems to have a problem with regulations addressing the dangers of texting while driving, nor new technology that allows students with various disabilities to drive.

But there also are new requirements for driver’s ed teachers in public schools. Plus, a new Illinois law that could impact private, or commercial, driving schools went to Gov. Pat Quinn at the end of June. (See accompanying story.)

Added to that are severe financial strains in Illinois, all making some school districts rethink how they’ve offered the program.

“I think just the unfunded mandates and the schools being in a numbers crunch — that’s a big change for everybody,” said Jeff Bral, divisional head of driver’s education, physical education and health — as well as athletics director — at Bartlett High School.

For the rest of the story, read Changes in the driver’s seat for student program (Sun-Times Media).

For the accompanying story about changes that could impact commercial driving schools, read Commercial schools favor putting the brakes on pending bill (Sun-Times Media).

Photo credit: Michael Smart for Sun-Times Media.

U46 big-district status doesn’t equal big salaries (Sun-Times Media)

If you want to take home Illinois’ top dollar in teacher pay over time, don’t head to Chicago, where beginning salaries start out strong but fade in the stretch.

Don’t even head to tony Winnetka or Lincolnshire — nor even the state’s second-largest district, Elgin’s School District U46.

Instead, head straight to the near southwest suburbs. Blue-collar Burbank. Working-class Summit. Middle-class Oak Lawn.

A pocket of suburbs southwest of Chicago — some of them kissing the city’s border — have a blue-chip salary schedule that rewards starting teachers as well as the most veteran, highly credentialed ones with some of the steepest teacher pay in the state. Their beginning and ending teacher salaries are among the top 15 in Illinois.

The compensation surpasses even what is paid in Winnetka and Lincolnshire, where bottom and top scales are nothing to weep about, coming in among the top 25 in the state.

The starting salaries for teachers in U46 don’t even reach the top 25 percent. A starting teacher with a bachelor’s degree made $39,349 last year, a salary that ranked No. 228 among the 868 school districts in Illinois.

But with more education comes not only better salaries but some better rankings for the Elgin-based school district among the salaries that comparable teachers earn in districts across the state.

A starting teacher with a master’s degree netted $46,430 in U46, ranking 134; and a veteran with the same degree was paid $83,903, ranking No. 187 in the state. Top salary for a U46 teacher was $96,114, ranking somewhat higher at No. 163.

U46 Chief of Staff Tony Sanders noted the district’s teachers union, the Elgin Teachers Association, had agreed to a one-year pay freeze last school year. They since have emerged from lengthy negotiations with “a very reasonable salary agreement,” Sanders said.

“The teachers union and our teachers understand the economy in which we live,” he said.

Comparatively, new teachers earned a bit more in nearby Community Unit School District 300.

A beginning teacher in the Carpentersville-based district with a bachelor’s ranked 140 ($41,581) in Illinois, and top salary at No. 125 ($101,517). A beginner with a master’s in District 300 came in close to his or her peers in U46, at No. 192; but a veteran with the same degree fell off to No. 357.

Chicago Public Schools, meantime, starts out strong for beginning teachers but falls over the long haul — a “front loading” phenomenon one expert said risks turning Chicago into a “farm system” for districts that pay better long term.

A starting CPS teacher with a bachelor’s degree pulled down a salary that ranked No. 16 statewide this past school year, at $50,577. Not bad. A rookie with a master’s: No. 30. But top salary for a veteran with a master’s: a drop to No. 140.

The big surprise: The top amount a Chicago teacher can earn is only $95,887. That’s a further tumble to No. 167 statewide, below both Districts 300 and U46.

For the rest of the story, read U46 big-district status doesn’t equal big salaries (Sun-Times Media).

To find out how much teachers in your school district make and compare that to other Illinois school districts, search Database: llinois teacher salaries: How school districts compare (Sun-Times Media).

To search for salaries by teacher or administrator’s name or by school, search Database: Search for Illinois teacher and administrator salaries (Sun-Times Media).

Photo credit: John J. Kim for Sun-Times Media.