Education and Schools | WGLT

Education and Schools

Exterior of Unit 5 offices
Emily Bollinger / WGLT

Ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded Unit 5’s credit rating as part of a new grading system that is affecting hundreds of school districts across the country.

Pritzker Urges Schools To Target COVID Relief Funds

Apr 5, 2021

Gov. JB Pritzker took to the road Monday to urge local school districts in Illinois to carefully target the roughly $7 billion in federal funds they will soon receive in order to help students overcome the learning loss they may have suffered during the pandemic.

Commission To Call For Overhaul Of Early Childhood Education Funding

Mar 15, 2021
Will Davis

A commission that Gov. JB Pritzker appointed in 2019 will soon issue a report calling for a complete overhaul in the way the state handles its budget for early childhood education along with a massive increase in funding for early childhood programs.

Pritzker Signs Education Equity Bill Into Law

Mar 8, 2021
Pritzker signs

Gov. JB Pritzker joined members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus on Monday to sign a measure aimed at advancing equity in education in the state.

Breanna Grow / WGLT

From the police killings of Black Americans to the storming of the U.S. Capitol, the events of the last year have forced Americans to grapple with some difficult questions. 

Posters and bulletin boards for Black History Month

Teachers have encountered many challenges during the past 12 months, and the craft has been evolving because of the pandemic. Now it is Black History Month, and for many teachers Black history is more than just a one-month exercise.

Students wearing masks
Illinois State University / Facebook

Illinois State University plans for a “more traditional campus experience” starting next fall after the coronavirus pandemic pushed most classroom instruction online since last March.

Kristen Weikle
Staff / WGLT

Flat funding for Illinois schools is effectively a cut. That's Unit 5 Superintendent Kristen Weikle's thought on Gov. JB Pritzker's budget proposal.

U.S. Attorney's Office

A former technology employee for the Blue Ridge Community School District in Farmer City has admitted to a computer parts fraud scheme in federal court.

Panel Approves 'Culturally Responsive' Teaching Standards

Feb 17, 2021
Andre Thapedi
Peter Hancock / Capitol News Illinois

A legislative panel on Wednesday allowed the Illinois State Board of Education to move forward with new rules that call on colleges and universities in the state to change the way prospective teachers and administrators are trained in order to make them more accommodating to diverse students.

Barry Reilly wearing facemask at desk

After more than 30 years at District 87 schools, superintendent Barry Reilly can see the finish line.

A restorative justice dialog circle of people.
Project Oz

Two Twin City nonprofit agencies will expand services in areas of high need after being awarded state grants funded by marijuana tax money.

Unit 5 district offices
Staff / WGLT

Unit 5 students made a good transition back to hybrid learning after the holiday break, according to district administrators.

District 87 headquarters
Eric Stock / WGLT

About half of District 87 students plan to stay in remote learning when the district resumes in-person instruction next week.

Kristen Weikle
Staff / WGLT

The Unit 5 school district said it is seeking guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education before deciding whether to require vaccinations for staff and students.

The Unit 5 school voted Wednesday night to formally dismiss a teacher charged with sexually abusing his students. Those charges were later dropped.

Heartland Community College campus
Facebook/Heartland Community College

Heartland Community College has hired an architect to design an agriculture complex on campus, but school officials say the size and scope the proposed complex will depend on available funding.

Exterior of NCHS signage
Staff / WGLT

UPDATED 5:35 p.m. | Unit 5 schools will move to all-remote learning starting next Wednesday because of rising coronavirus infection numbers.

Performers on stage
University High School

Actors act, even in a pandemic. But what high school students are doing now is more subtle than the way they usually tread the boards.

Olympia High School entrance
Eric Stock / WGLT

Not long after District 87 and Unit 5 started to bring students back to the classroom, several other McLean County districts had to pull their kids out of school as coronavirus cases surged.

Emily Bollinger / WGLT

Bloomington-Normal schools need substitute teachers—and they need them bad.

Kristen Weikle
Staff / WGLT

Unit 5 schools have resumed part-time classroom instruction at a time in the pandemic that is not really a low-risk period. Cold and flu season is coming. Neighboring states are contributing to a rise in coronavirus infections in Illinois and recent record high daily numbers of new positive tests.

Some say the surge might even be worse than the peak in July. But Unit 5 Superintendent Kristen Weikle said she's not unduly worried about Bloomington-Normal schools.

Brandon Thornton
Lyndsie Schlink

An Illinois Board of Education Teacher of the Year honor has landed in the hands of a Bloomington High School favorite. The Illinois State Board of Education named special education teacher Brandon Thornton its top teacher for the east central region of Illinois. 

Exterior of Unit 5 offices
Emily Bollinger / WGLT

Some Unit 5 and District 87 students going back to school in-person will have a different teacher than they’ve been learning with since August.

Exterior of Unit 5 offices
Emily Bollinger / WGLT

Even with COVID-19 case numbers falling in Bloomington-Normal in recent weeks, a lot of Unit 5 school district parents don't want their kids returning to the classroom.

The district has reported parents of 22.6% of students have chosen to stay with remote learning when Unit 5 goes back to a hybrid class schedule starting Oct. 19. That's about 2,829 students roughly evenly distributed across grade levels.

Barry Reilly seated at desk wearing a mask
Eric Stock / WGLT

District 87 parents have said the remote learning experience has generally been good, except for those with young children.

Exterior of Kingsley JHS
Emily Bollinger / WGLT

Unit 5 students will return to hybrid learning starting Oct. 19.

Georgia Nugent
Breanna Grow / WGLT

Education has been deeply impacted by both the COVID-19 pandemic and rising pressure to end racism. 

Local education administrators detailed how they’re responding to the concurrent issues during a virtual Bloomington-Normal NAACP town hall Thursday night.

Karen with her students
Facebook / Irving Elementary School

Remote learning presents unique challenges for students from low-income families, though the principal at one such school in west Bloomington says so far they’ve managed quite well.

Sarah Nardi/WGLT

Unit 5 Superintendent Kristen Weikle announced Wednesday night a planned return to in-person learning, saying the district hopes to bring students back to the classroom beginning in October “assuming that the metrics are such that we’ll be able to do so.”