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November 2011 Archives

Thumbnail image for danahey2 copy.jpgNOTE: In a revival of this "classic" Friday feature, Courier-News reporter Mike Danahey guesses how much beer (or other beverage of choice) it might take him to pay money to see a recently-released movie. His opinions are based on trailers, ads and advance hype.

Here are some of the movies playing this weekend...


Hugo



Martin Scorcese makes a kids' movie, which on the surface seems like a pretty funny premise for a skit. It's shot in 3D and a period piece set in Paris to boot. This has "Oscar" written all over it. Heck, I might even go if just to see what all the fuss is.

Beer rating: Let's go for wine, a glass of Beaujolais Nouveau.


A Dangerous Method, My Week With Marilyn, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgThis is the first Thanksgiving my husband and I are doing all the cooking for his family -- together, at least.

He's cooked Thanksgiving dinner for his family once before. My prior Thanksgiving dinner cooking experience involves my parents dressing me up as a pilgrim in a costume I'd made from construction paper at preschool and letting me stuff the turkey. I was 4.


Emily at Thanksgiving 1987


We froze about 50 acorn squash-stuffed pierogi earlier this week and pulled a loaf of French bread out of the oven late last night. Now we're debating slow-roasting the turkey vs. roasting it kamikaze-style at, like, 600 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour. Because there are all kinds of food safety things to keep in mind, what with raw meat and the stuffing cooking inside.

Foodborne illnesses -- with symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea and flu-like symptoms that can appear anywhere from hours to days after eating contaminated food or drinks -- usually only last a few hours or days, according to the Kane County Department of Health. But they can be severe or even life-threatening to:



  • Older adults

  • Infants and young children

  • Pregnant women

  • People with HIV/AIDS, cancer or any condition that weakens their immune system

  • People who take medicines that suppress the immune system; for example, some medicines for rheumatoid arthritis


Some tips for food safety, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for danahey2 copy.jpgNOTE: In a revival of this "classic" Friday feature, Courier-News reporter Mike Danahey guesses how much beer (or other beverage of choice) it might take him to pay money to see a recently-released movie. His opinions are based on trailers, ads and advance hype.

Here are some of the movies playing this weekend...


Jack and Jill



Not going out on a limb here by saying this looks like one of the worst movies of the year. Thinking he's Martin Lawrence, Flip Wilson, Eddie Murphy or Tyler Perry, Adam Sandler plays his typical character and his twin sister, doubling your comedy pain. Who would pay to see this? I want to meet that person.

Beer rating: All the beer in Wisconsin, all the wine in Italy, all the heroin in Afghanistan and all the meth in Iowa.


Immortals and J. Edgar, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgSeveral parents have wondered on the School District U46 Facebook group why the Elgin district called a lockdown last week at South Elgin High School but not last month at Elgin High School.

You've probably heard about the lockdown at South Elgin by now. If not, I went over it again in today's cover story, "Secure schools: Lockdowns just one way to make them -- and students -- safer." The short version is police had received reports of an armed and intoxicated man at the high school.

But you may not have heard about the incident last month at Elgin. I asked U46 Safety Coordinator John Heiderscheidt about it while researching today's story. Here's what he said happened:

On Wednesday, Oct. 19, a caller told police he had overheard another man talking about a bomb at Elgin High School, according to Heiderscheidt. It wasn't a "bomb scare." It wasn't a very credible threat. But it was "suspicious," he said.

Credible or not, district officials still searched the building, assisted by Elgin police. But no doors were locked, and no message was sent home, according to the safety coordinator.

That's because, he said, "The difference between the two is pretty dynamic."

Parents were alerted to the incident at South Elgin High School because it was "a major disruption" -- the school was locked down for nearly an hour and surrounded by police, Heiderscheidt said. ConnectEd messages are sent by the district in an emergency, he said, whereas a call about the incident at Elgin High School would have been "informational."

There wasn't a lockdown, he said, because there was no threat inside the building to hide from, like the rumored gunman at South Elgin.


-- Emily McFarlan, Readers' Reporter

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgCommunity Unit School District 300 is back in Springfield today, trying to meet with legislators to ensure a bill set to replace Senate Bill 540 would be fair.

But district representatives also may discuss House Bill 3793, according to District 300 CFO Cheryl Crates.

That bill would affect how much schools collect from property taxes in tax-capped counties, like Kane County, as well as how much all Illinois school districts receive in General State Aid. (More about how that would work here.) Crates has not yet calculated how much less the district would take in if that bill were to pass, she said, but local revenue now is $170 million -- even a 1 percent drop would mean more than $1 million.

Elgin School District U46 has said the bill would cost it $3.7 million it already has budgeted for its current school year.

"We will (discuss House Bill 3793) ... but the whole state is down here talking about it, and nobody is here backing us up because it's a one-district issue," Crates said.


-- Emily McFarlan, Readers' Reporter

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgDo you know how many public high schools there are in Illinois? 688.

That's why I'm forever indebted to the Illinois State Board of Education for pulling just the chronic truancy rates for those schools into a single spreadsheet for The Courier-News. That's how I learned Dundee-Crown High School in Carpentersville had one of the 10 worst truancy rates in Illinois. (I had an inkling it was up there.) That's all in today's cover story.

Here's how all Elgin School District U46 and Carpentersville-area Community Unit School District 300 high schools rank in terms of truancy:

  • 10. Dundee-Crown High School, Carpentersville (Community Unit School District 300)
  • 93. Larkin High School, Elgin (School District U46)
  • 94. Hampshire High School, Hampshire (Community Unit School District 300)
  • 117. Elgin High School, Elgin (School District U46)
  • 121. Jacobs High School, Algonquin (Community Unit School District 300)
  • 160. South Elgin High School, South Elgin (School District U46)
  • 231. Streamwood High School, Streamwood (School District U46)
  • 361. Bartlett High School, Bartlett (School District U46)


What were the Top 10? Where did my school rank? After the jump.

Thumbnail image for danahey2 copy.jpgNOTE: In a revival of this "classic" Friday feature, Courier-News reporter Mike Danahey guesses how much beer (or other beverage of choice) it might take him to pay money to see a recently-released movie. His opinions are based on trailers, ads and advance hype.

Here are some of the movies playing this weekend...


A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas



You could call a movie like this a crime, a guilty pleasure, but really it's more like a misdemeanor, provided you only get caught watching a little bit of it at any one time.

Beer rating: Six Red Stripe.


Tower Heist, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgThere are few things more complicated than property taxes. Except maybe how the state of Illinois calculates general state aid for its school districts.

Which maybe is why opposition to House Bill 3793 has been slow to build: It involves both.

But that bill would impact the property tax dollars all Illinois school districts would receive, and it could come to a vote when the Illinois General Assembly's veto session resumes next week in Springfield. That's why Elgin School District U46 put out a call to action opposing the bill on its website Thursday.

You can read all about that in my article, "U46 issues call to action vs. property tax legislation."

Here are a few more resources to help break it all down for you as you contemplate how to respond to that call (and puzzle through property taxes and GSA and the legislation itself):




UPDATE (10:14 a.m. Friday): While we're on the topic of our local school districts opposing legislation, here's a message Community Unit School District 300 shared with district residents Thursday night regarding its continued opposition to Senate Bill 540. The Carpentersville-area district plans to fill the gallery of the Senate and House chambers during the veto session next week. That's to voice their opposition to an amendment to that bill, which extends the economic development area around Sears, sending about $14 million in property tax money from the district instead to the EDA each year.


-- Emily McFarlan, Readers' Reporter

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgThe Illinois State Board of Education released its State Report Cards this week.

I wrote broadly about those report cards Monday in my article "Illinois applies for waiver as no Fox Valley schools make AYP again." This week, I'm taking a closer look at one piece of information in those report cards: Truancy. You can read more about that in Sunday's Courier-News.

But meantime, what about your school?

Sadly, you won't be seeing 104 articles about how each of the schools in Elgin School District U46, Carpentersville-area Community Unit School District 300, Burlington Central Community Unit School District 301 and St. Charles Community Unit School District 303 performed. But you can search for your school in this database, compiled by our sister paper, the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Sun-Times also has created its own exclusive ranking system for Illinois schools, which include lists of the Top 50 elementary, middle and high schools in the Chicago area.

Did any of our schools make the cut?


Find out, after the jump.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from November 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

October 2011 is the previous archive.

December 2011 is the next archive.

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