Education and Family

Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

The future of Planned Parenthood across Illinois is far from certain. But its services don't appear to be under immediate threat from a recent directive from President Trump.

That measure would allow state and local governments to withhold Title X family planning funds from health facilities that also provide abortion services.

McLean County's sole Planned Parenthood clinic would not be affected because it doesn't perform abortions. Additionally,  all Planned Parenthood clinics statewide receive Title X funds as a direct grantee of the federal government and not through the state, said Julie Lynn of Planned Parenthood of Illinois. 

However, women's reproductive services, especially for low income residents, remain a target of many federal and state officials, Lynn said.

Prairerth Farm

A farmer and an extension agent agree there are a number of issues hurting small organic farmers in Illinois and one of them is that a growing number of people don't know how to cook. 

Baylee Steelman

District 87 schools Superintendent Barry Reilly said he could not be more proud of the success stories from Bloomington High School students. 

Illinois State University

In an incident that shocked the nation, the apparent gang rape of a 15-year-old Chicago girl was broadcast live on Facebook  last month. Dozens viewed the assault before it was taken down. No one apparently notified authorities.

The incident is part of a growing phenomenon in which assailants brazenly post video or images of sexual assaults on social media sites. 

Baylee Steelman / WGLT

A local organization is working to add South Asians living in Bloomington-Normal to the conversation on equality and acceptance.

Evans Jr. High School

The new Principal at Evans Jr. High school is a familiar face around Unit 5 schools. 

Chris McGraw currently serves as the Associate Principal and Athletic Director at Evans.

District 87

Unit Five Schools are updating policies to deal with student concussions and head injuries. 

School Board Member Barry Hitchins said the new procedures will also cover injuries that happen during recess, P.E. courses, and after school activities such as marching band. 

McLean County Unit Five

Normal Community High School's new principal is a familiar face in Unit 5 schools.

The school board announced Trevor Chapman as the next principal during Wednesday night's meeting. Chapman has served as the head of Evans Junior High School since 2014.

Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

The Children's Home and Aid Regional Office in Bloomington received rare good news late last year when it received a $577,000 grant from the Illinois Board of Education. The money was targeted to expand the agency's "Preschool For All" and "Prevention Initiative" programs that combined serve children from birth to age 5. 

Korn Unews / Flickr via Creative Commons

Editors Note: Last spring during our interview series Stretched Thin, we reported on the impact of the state budget impasse on local social service agencies. There's still no budget. In our new series Stretched Thinner, we check back with those social social service agencies. 

Staff / WGLT

District 87 Schools in Bloomington say they will ask the city for money to improve the high school and junior high.

Superintendent Barry Reilly said both buildings are old enough to be considered for upgrades. Reilly said large improvements could be new roofs and HVAC units.

Baylee Steelman

Unit 5 Business Manager Marty Hickman said the state's ongoing budget impasse brings uncertainty to the school district. 

Twitter

Illinois State University students, faculty, and staff will have a new place to remember Ben Allison this spring.

The Board of Trustees unanimously approved the naming of a bench at last week's meeting to honor Allison, who was the victim of a hit-and-run incident in January of 2015.

His parents, Tim and Melissa, were acknowledged by President Larry Dietz when he announced the naming of the bench that will be a part of Redbird Plaza.

Mike Miletich / WGLT

Illinois State University's Board of Trustees recognized three outgoing long-term members during their quarterly meeting Friday.

Trustees Jay D. Bergman, Anne Davis, and Betty Kinser will leave the Board when their terms expire on January 16.

CASA of Peoria County

CASA of Peoria County is aiming to help a growing number of neglected children in 2017 with the "I Am For The Child" national campaign.

Court Appointed Special Advocates has been an active organization in the county since 2005. CASA is a not-for-profit, volunteer organization advocating for the best interests of abused children within the Juvenile Abuse and Neglect Court system. 

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

An Illinois State University scholar helped to conduct a study that shows gender doesn't have as big an impact in job performance evaluations.

Mike Miletich / WGLT

The Unit Five School District in McLean County is the latest local taxing body to approve Rivian Automotive's tax incentive package.

Rivian CEO R.J. Scaringe spoke to board members Wednesday night about the educational opportunities Unit Five students could have with his company's technology.

Bloomington-Normal Jaycees Christmas Parade

Dec 3, 2016
Emma Shores / WGLT

Early morning on December 3, Jaycees Christmas Parade made its way from Kingsley Jr. High in Normal, to W. Jefferson St. in Bloomington. The parade consisted of many community members supporting businesses, elected officials, non-profits, music and more. The Parade has been a tradition for 85 years and has had Santa ride with a local Bloomington or Normal fire truck as a long held tradition. 

Emma Shores / WGLT

Two not-for-profit organizations are hopeful a new fundraiser will get people on their feet to bid on chairs decorated by area artists. 

The auction on Nov. 4 will benefit Recycling Furniture For Families (RF4F) and the YWCA's Labyrinth Outreach Services for Women. RF4F has provided furniture to 15,000 people since 2003.

Emma Shores / WGLT

Transportation provider First Student has less than a week to fix the multiple busing issues affecting students in Unit 5 schools. The school board voted Wednesday night to give the company until November 1 to reach an agreement with concessions for the problems, including financial compensation.

Superintendent Mark Daniel said there can't be inconsistency on the definition of late buses between Unit 5 and First Student. 

So far, a Bloomington-Normal couple doesn't think there is much they would do differently on their year-long RV trip. However, there have been a couple of bumps in the road. Jeff and Marci Pritts, kids and pets headed out in their RV named "Someday" on June 13. 

Mindfulness, meditation, non-violence, non-attachment. These are all key practices of Buddhism.

In fact, Buddhism has been described as a practice rather than a religion.

In Bloomington- Normal, there are are not Buddhist temples where people can go to practice their faith in community. But individuals manage to practice the principles of the faith on their own, said Illinois State University Professor Pruthikrai Mahatanankoon.

Emma Shores / WGLT

Bus contractor First Student has named a new location manager for McLean County. Mark Bohl was introduced to the Unit 5 School Board during Wednesday night's meeting. 

Eric Avarado

It’s a colonial-style brick church with tall pillars and Georgian windows in downtown Leroy.

Seated on a stool in the church basement, Pastor Emeritus Sharon Bianchi answers questions about the spirit world from visitors and congregation members. Are there guardian angels? Is there such a thing as a bad spirit? And this one, about why a heated room might suddenly feel cold.

Illinois State University

A high school history teacher in Seattle who led a successful revolt against standardized testing under Common Core initiatives says the education system perpetuates racism.

Jesse Hagopian speaks at ISU Friday night, September 30. He says studies show standardized tests themselves fail miserably.

Emma Shores / WGLT

Unit 5 Schools is giving bus contractor First Student one month to prove they are reliable.  The school board voted last night to give the company a November 1 extension to fix transportation problems that have plagued the company since the beginning of the school year.  If First Student declines, Unit 5 will terminate the contract for the 2017-2018 school year. 

Dept. of Education

The Illinois State Board of Education is drafting a plan to implement the federal law that’s replacing No Child Left Behind. Educators have hailed the flexibility in the Every Child Succeeds Act.

But Illinois state superintendent Tony Smith says the federal Department of Education is undermining the law's intent by writing regulations that limit that flexibility.

“The Department is continuing to legislate No Child Left Behind, and take an approach that really deeply distrusts states," Smith said.

Domestic Violence Advocates Seek Greater Community Action

Sep 26, 2016
McLean County YWCA

"Stand Up With Me" is the theme of a new effort in McLean County to help eradicate domestic violence.

Violence prevention groups are asking members of the community to publicly show their support for domestic violence survivors.

Emma Shores / WGLT

Unit 5 school board members say the district's bus contractor needs to increase its supply of drivers as soon as possible. Driver absenteeism has frequently made students up to two hours late to class. 

Superintendent Mark Daniel said he knows contractor First Student is struggling to find drivers, but the company should have been thinking about this since the school year began. 

Wikimedia Commons

Gathering accurate numbers and determining the true scope of homelessness is difficult. The people are transient, sometimes don't identify as homeless, or may be hidden as the person is couch surfing instead of sleeping on the street. Trying to track subsets, like homeless youth or LGBTQ youth homelessness is even more difficult. 

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