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  • Parent Category: News

Barickman: Local Schools Pay ‘Corruption Tax” for Chicago

SPRINGFIELD, IL – A scathing report on the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has raised concerns that area school districts are paying a "corruption tax" that subsidizes waste, mismanagement and fraud and shortchanges schools in the 53rd District and across Illinois, State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) says.

Barickman joined other downstate and suburban lawmakers on Thursday, in a renewed push to prioritize education funding and eliminate a special block grant which allows CPS to end-run the school aid formula.

"Schools in my area are owed more than $16 million in backlogged payments, while circumventing the state's allocation formulas allows Chicago schools to get at least $230 million in 'extra' funding from the state," State Senator Barickman said. "At the same time, a recent report from the Chicago Board of Education Inspector General exposed a disturbing pattern of waste, abuse and even outright fraud.

Barickman said the unequal treatment between Chicago and other schools districts "amounts to a corruption tax, because local school districts get shortchanged while the Chicago schools are allowed to go around the allocation formula and that helps offset the money the school district wastes through abuse and fraud."

Barickman explained that the Chicago Board of Education Inspector General's Annual Report for 2013 came to light recently during the Senate's state budget review process.

That report found cases of school administrators faking data and even creating 'ghost students' to pad enrollment and secure more funding.

The waste and fraud identified by the Inspector General was particularly disturbing, Barickman said, because many school districts in the 53rd District and surrounding areas are still owed money by the state, primarily for "mandated categorical" programs such as transportation, special education and free lunch programs for poor children.

According to figures supplied by the Illinois State Board of Education, school districts in the 53rd District, including Pontiac CCSD 429 and Township High School District 90, McLean County District 5, Central CUSD 4 in Iroquois County, El Paso-Gridley, Prairie Central and others are owed just over $8 million, while other area school districts, including Bloomington, Kankakee and Danville are also owed more than $8 million. (Itemized lists attached)

"School districts that are owed thousands of dollars in back payment should be justifiably outraged that they aren't getting the payments they deserve, while the kinds of abuse outlined in the Inspector General's report are occurring," Barickman said.

Earlier this year, a special bipartisan Education Funding Advisory Committee, which Barickman served on, recommended eliminating the Chicago schools block grant.

Barickman said as the committee studied school funding, they found that the special Chicago block grant serves as a separate funding stream granted to Chicago Public Schools that allows the school district to bypass funding formulas used for every other school district in the state.

  • Parent Category: News

Gibson City hospital’s Robin Rose named Champion

PEORIA — Lt. Governor. Sheila Simon named Robin Rose, the chief operating officer of Gibson Area Hospital & Health Services, the 2014 Rural Illinois Champion. The honor came Wednesday (March 5) at the 25th annual Rural Community Economic Development Conference in Peoria.

Rose is the first woman to win the award, designed to honor those working to make a difference in rural Illinois. This is the third year the award has been extended by Sheila Simon, chairman of the Governor's Rural Affairs Council.

The Lt. Governor said "I am excited to recognize Robin for her hard work and tireless efforts to improve the quality of life in our rural communities. She has gone above and beyond to make sure the residents of her area have access to top-notch health care and services."

Rose joined Gibson Area Hospital & Health Services (GAHHS) as chief nursing officer in 2004 and has been instrumental in the recruitment and employment of physicians for GAHHS and the communities it serves. Under her leadership, GAHHS has increased the number of its rural health clinics to nine, which led to an increase in the number of family practice/OB physicians and orthopedic care.

Illinois residents working to bring about change in rural Illinois communities were considered for the Rural Illinois Champion Award. Themes of service included: economic development and community revitalization, agriculture, education and empowerment, sustainability, public service, community and/or public health.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

4-H Foundation Auction Saturday in Iroquois County

The Ford-Iroquois 4-H Foundation Action is set for Saturday in Woodworth. The dinner-auction is at St. Paul's Lutheran School. There's a 4 pm dinner followed by the "live" auction at 5 pm.

The event was postponed back on January 26th due to adverse weather conditions.

Proceeds benefit the 4-H programs in Ford and Iroquois counties. Those interested in donating or helping the 4-H program in any way can contact local leaders or call the Extension office in Onarga 815-268-4051.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Farmers bagging groceries

Vermilion County farmers are joining in the celebration of Illinois agriculture by bagging groceries today. They're doing at local Vermilion County Market Stores.

Farm Bureau members are bagging groceries from 10 am until noon at the County Market Stores at the Village Mall, in Towne Centre and at Tilton.

Mark Willard, Marketing Chairman for the Vermilion County Farm Bureau, says ''this is a great opportunity for us to meet with consumers, and let them put a face to the people who grow their food.''

Vermilion County Farm Bureau and local farmers invite the public to join in the celebration of Illinois Farming Month by taking a peek at improvements farmers are making every day. Videos are available at www.watchusgrow.org.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

76-year prison term for convicted killer DuShawn Johnson

A botched drive-by shooting that took a life has landed a Kankakee man in prison for 76 years. DuShawn Johnson was sentenced Wednesday in Kankakee Circuit Court.

Judge Clark Erickson imposed the sentence for the shooting death of Maria O'Connor four years ago. The young woman was killed by gang crossfire while walking home from a job interview.

The 76-year prison term comes after two trials and a conviction on all charges. Johnson's co-defendant was convicted earlier and received a 58-year prison term.

94.1 WGFA