State board wants lawmakers to increase budget for public education

The Illinois State Board of Education will recommend that the General Assembly increase the public education budget by $266.4 million.

Its budget request for fiscal year 2018 includes the following recommendations:

▪  Full funding of general state aid

▪  An increase of $50 million for early childhood education

▪  An increase of $38.4 million to fully fund bilingual education programs

▪  Increases in funding to support special education; arts and foreign language programs; agricultural education; broadband expansion and other digital technology enhancements; career and technical education; teacher mentoring and diverse educator recruitment; advanced placement exam fees for low-income students and more

Educators, students and community members previously had the chance to offer their feedback and ideas about the fiscal year 2018 education budget, which informed the state board’s budget recommendations.

All of the recommendations total $7.7 billion for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education in fiscal year 2018, which is an increase of 3.45 percent over fiscal year 2017 levels. The state board will submit its recommended budget to the Illinois General Assembly before Feb. 17.

Educator returning to school district that taught him

Today, Jim Mourey is an author, researcher, consultant and teacher. But he used to be a student in Belleville classrooms.

Mourey will return to a Belleville school as the keynote speaker at Belleville District 118’s Young Authors Conference. The event recognizing students’ talent for writing will take place from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 11 at Central Junior High School.

Mourey has more than a decade’s worth of experience working, teaching and consulting on the topics of marketing and relationship development; he delivers speeches and workshops on these subjects across the country, according to a new release from District 118.

He was a student at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, West Junior High School and Belleville West High School before beginning his undergraduate studies at Washington University in St. Louis. He later earned his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Mourey currently works as an assistant professor of marketing at DePaul University in Chicago and as a visiting professor of marketing at IÉSEG in France.

He has written two books, including “Urge: Why You Really Want What You Want (and How to Make Everyone Want What You’ve Got) “and “Fusion: A Modern How-To Guide for Integrated Marketing Strategy (From Creative Spark to Synergistic Explosion).”

Help children under the care of state child welfare agency

The School Association for Special Education in DuPage County is looking for volunteers to help those under the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Volunteers would serve as educational surrogate parents to ensure children, especially those who have disabilities, have appropriate school services, the association stated in a news release.

Children might need a surrogate parents because they don’t have parents available to make decisions about special education.

Volunteers would become familiar with student records and attend special education meetings where an individualized education program is developed once or twice a year. But they would not be involved in day-to-day educational decisions, like attendance, field trips and parent-teacher conferences.

A mandatory training will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 17 at the Catholic Children’s Home, 1400 State St., in Alton. All volunteers would be reimbursed $60 for the full-day training, which includes lunch, as well as $50 per semester for each student for which they agree to be a surrogate.

For more information, contact Jim Even of the Educational Surrogate Parent Program at 630-955-8055 or send an email to

Company brings free school supplies to local teachers

Ten teachers at Caseyville Elementary School recently received free packages of school supplies for their students.

The donation came from business consultant Culture of Good, Inc. and was delivered by co-founder Ryan McCarty and nearly 20 TCC-Verizon employees. The Caseyville school is one of 30 stops in the company’s nationwide bus tour distributing school supplies, including glue, pencils, markers, erasers and more. Each package is valued at $50.

For more information on Culture of Good, Inc., visit

Student gains attention for project she says can change the world

Emma Murphy is still in high school, but she’s already working to change the world.

The Althoff Catholic High School junior is trying to create an inexpensive method of purifying contaminated water to help people who don’t have access to clean drinking water.

This school year, Emma has been working on an algae-based filter that could feed on the natural toxins found in wastewater and produce up to 10 gallons of water per day, the high school stated in a news release.

Emma first got the idea over the summer when she attended an international event called World Leadership Congress, which encourages young people to become leaders. It was there that she learned about the issue of access to clean water.

Emma has even been contacted by a university professor who wants to partner with her on the research, according to Althoff.

She has also recently gained the attention of the National Catholic Educational Association.

An association representative recently traveled to Belleville from Washington, D.C., to recognize Emma’s effort to change the world. She is one just of 10 students in the United States to receive the Youth Virtues, Valor and Vision Award.

Area robotics team earns award; two others are finalists

Three Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois robotics teams competed among 64 teams in the Central Illinois State Tournament on Jan. 28.

Teams had to program their robots, conduct a research project and demonstrate the core values of the FIRST Lego League, including collective learning, active participation and gracious professionalism.

One of the Girl Scouts teams, GIR! from Staunton, won the research award. The other Girl Scouts teams, SWAT from Troy and Purple Robot Penguins from O’Fallon, were finalists for the project award and core values award, respectively.

Math team members are champions in Belleville competition

The student math team at West Junior High School in Belleville recently won first place at the Belleville East High School feeder competition.

The team, Westerner Math Wizards, took home the overall championship at the Jan. 19 contest. Seventh-graders Claire Howell and Noah Stuckel also earned individual honors — fourth- and second-place finishes, respectively.

Xander Van Horn was tied for the high score among eighth-graders, taking second place in a tie breaker.

Other team members included: Kylie Buckman, Quinn Van Horn, Mikayla Randall, Natalie Brannaman, Katie Showmaker, Eladge Diouf, Jamin McBride, Olivia Wilkes and John Cline.

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes