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BHS Path

Barrington officials say a new path linking the village’s downtown with Barrington High School will provide bicyclists and pedestrians with safety as well as convenience. (Brian Hill | Staff Photographer)

Walkers and bikers in Barrington soon will be able to use a new eight-foot-wide multiuse path on Main Street and Hart Road near Barrington High School.

The path will provide a new connection between existing sidewalks in downtown Barrington and a new sidewalk and path constructed as part of the recent Hart Road and Route 14 intersection improvement project, which included a new bridge over Flint Creek.

Work on the path reached its final stages this week with the placing of asphalt pavement. That will be followed by minor grading and concrete work. The goal is to have the path open by winter.

Barrington officials are thrilled at the prospect of the project’s long-awaited completion.

More here.

National Lampoons Christmas Vacation lights

Give it your best Griswold effort!

One or two strings of lights just won’t cut it. To contend for the Daily Herald’s annual holiday lights contest, you have to think big. We’re talking lights, music, fake snow, candy canes, inflatables, Santa, Frosty, Rudolph, toy soldiers and, well, you get the idea.

Entries will be accepted from Thursday until noon Dec. 9 at events.dailyherald.com. The grand prize winner will be determined by online votes. Voting will start Dec. 11 and end Dec. 14.

The grand prize winner and Editor’s Choice winners from DuPage County, the Fox Valley, Lake County and the Northwest suburbs will appear in the Dec. 21 edition of the Daily Herald.

Entries must be residences within the Daily Herald coverage area. Previous grand prize recipients are ineligible to win again.

The grand prize winner will receive a $100 gift card from Ala Carte Entertainment. The Editor’s Choice winners each will receive a $50 Ala Carte Entertainment gift card.

Daily Herald report

Ardea herodias

Standing motionless or slowly wading in shallow water, great blue herons patiently wait for their food. With a swift thrust of the bill, they snap up small prey or stab larger fish—then swallow them whole. Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), Photo by: Edward Boe

In this Issue:

  • Nature Wins: Clean Air, Clean Water and Wildlife Habitat Protection Referendum Passes
  • Major Renovations Begin on the Des Plaines Trail
  • New Accessible Canoe, Kayak Launch at Schuth’s Grove
  • Latest News: 2023 Picnic, Special Event Permits Now Available; Learn Five Fun Facts about Owls; Don’t Miss: Sand Ridge Heritage Day; Explore Jurgensen Woods; Forest Preserve Foundation and Conservation Corps Members Express Gratitude
  • Upcoming Events, and
  • Volunteer Opportunities

Click here to view the latest.

IL Unemp

Illinois only added 3,600 jobs in October, a drastic drop in job growth coming amid persistent inflation and rising recession fears. Unemployment led the nation.

Illinois’ unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth of a percent to 4.6% in October, the highest in the nation for a second month and nearly a percentage point higher than the national rate of 3.7%

Illinois added just 3,600 jobs in October, significantly fewer than in September and the fewest jobs added during 2022. Job growth continued for the 17th consecutive month.

Leading the month’s job growth was the trade, transportation and utilities sector with 2,800 jobs added; leisure and hospitality added 2,300 jobs; both professional and business services along with manufacturing added 1,800 jobs each; the educational and health sector added 1,100 jobs; construction and other services gained 900 and 800 jobs, respectively; while financial activities added 300 jobs for the month.

. The main driver of the state’s lackluster job growth for October was the government sector, as it saw a monthly decline of 8,100 jobs. The information sector was the only other sector to lose jobs, declining by 100 for the month.

Mining payrolls remained unchanged for the seventh consecutive month.

Despite nearly a year and a half of sustained job growth, Illinois’ unemployment rate remains the highest in the nation, tied with Nevada. The state tends to struggle to recover from economic downturns compared to the rest of the nation, as it did after the Great Recession.

Read more here.

NYT

A pre-calculus class in San Francisco in 2021. Jim Wilson/The New York Times

By Sarah Mervosh

Behind the declines

Months into the current school year, most American students are still trying to make up for what they lost during the pandemic. This fall, we saw some of the clearest evidence yet of the extent to which the pandemic — and the school closures that came with it — hurt children’s education.

Nine-year-olds lost the equivalent of two decades of progress in math and reading, according to an authoritative national test. Fourth and eighth graders also recorded sweeping declines, particularly in math, with eighth-grade scores falling in 49 of 50 states.

The data comes from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a rigorous exam that evaluates thousands of children across the country and is overseen by a research arm of the U.S. Education Department.

Today, I’ll break down the factors that drove these declines and explain an important trend that helps show why these results are so sobering.

Remote learning’s role

First, to address one of the most common questions I hear as an education reporter: To what degree is remote learning responsible for these setbacks? The answer is both simple and complicated.

At a basic level, there is good evidence and a growing consensus that extended remote learning harmed students. Some state test results from 2021 help show the damage. In Ohio, researchers found that districts that stayed fully remote during the 2020-21 school year experienced declines up to three times greater than those of districts that mostly taught students in person.

More recently, the national test results capture both the initial academic declines and any recovery, and they offer some nuance. While there was a notable correlation between remote learning and declines in fourth-grade math, for example, there was little to no correlation in reading. Why the discrepancy? One explanation is that reading skills tend to be more influenced by parents and what happens at home, whereas math is more directly affected by what is taught in school.

So remote learning does not explain the whole story. What else does? In a sophisticated analysis of thousands of public school districts in 29 states, researchers at Harvard and Stanford Universities found that poverty played an even bigger role in academic declines during the pandemic.

“The poverty rate is very predictive of how much you lost,” Sean Reardon, an education professor at Stanford who helped lead the analysis, told me.

Comparing two California school districts, one wealthier and the other poorer, illustrates this point. Cupertino Union, a Silicon Valley school district where about 6 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch (a marker that researchers use to estimate poverty), spent nearly half of the 2020-21 school year remote. So did Merced City in the Central Valley, where nearly 80 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch, according to the Harvard-Stanford analysis.

Yet despite spending roughly the same amount of time attending classes remotely, students in the wealthier Cupertino district actually gained ground in math, while students in poorer Merced City fell behind.

High vs. low performers

While the overall declines in student achievement were stark, the averages mask even deeper divergences between student groups. For example, Black and Hispanic students, who had started out behind white and Asian students in fourth-grade math, lost more ground than those groups during the pandemic.

Notably, the gap is also growing between the country’s highest-achieving students and low-performing students who struggle the most.

That gap — driven by declines among lower performers — was most clear for younger students and in reading. (Middle-school math declines were more significant across the board.)

In fourth grade, the average reading score on the national exam fell three points. But results for students in the top 90th percentile did not fall at all, while those for students in the bottom 10th percentile plunged six points, double the overall average.

In other words: The students who had the least ground to lose lost the most.

There may be a twofold explanation. Recent research from NWEA, a nonprofit academic assessment organization, found that students at the bottom of their classes both experienced sharper setbacks at the start of the pandemic and showed less improvement last school year.

I am sometimes asked: If the pandemic affected all students, how much does it matter? Isn’t everyone behind?

What the latest data affirmed is that while the pandemic affected all students, it did not affect all students equally. That was true with remote learning, and it is playing out now in recovery. The students who had the greatest needs coming into the pandemic have the steepest challenge — and will need the most help — in the future.

Related: On “The Daily,” I explained what schools can do to help students recover.

Source

Ten Year Smoke

A new state law going into effect will require smoke alarms installed in Illinois homes after January 1 to have a ten-year sealed battery, officials said.

Public Act 100-0200 was passed by lawmakers in 2017 to update the Illinois Smoke Detector Act. The updates reflect “advances in technology.”

Beginning January 1, any new smoke alarm that is installed in a single or multi-family home will be required to have a 10-year sealed battery.

Smoke alarms that were installed in single or multi-family homes prior to January 1 may remain in place until they exceed 10 years of being manufactured or until they malfunction.

Exemptions to the law include homes built after 1988 that already have hardwired smoke alarms and homes with wireless integrated alarms that use low-power radio frequency communications, Wi-Fi or other Wireless Local Area Networking capability.

All residences in the state have been required to have smoke alarms since 1988.

Many fire departments throughout the state offer residents free 10-year concealed battery smoke alarms through the “Be Alarmed!” program.

Read more here.

Long Grove 2

A postcard from 1908 shows Long Grove’s one-lane iron truss bridge above Buffalo Creek. It was built in 1906 by Joliet Bridge and Iron Co. A wooden covering, designed by the village’s then-Mayor Robert Parker Coffin, was added to it in 1972. (National Register of Historic Places/National Park Service)

For almost 200 years, Long Grove’s residents have been like the village’s infamous covered bridge — charming with an unexpected steely foundation hidden beneath the surface.

Developers of railroads, major housing developments, expressways, hotels, churches and even a golf center named for Bulls legend Michael Jordan have all underestimated this community’s ability to defend itself against “improvements.”

And, as a result, each of these ideas failed to proceed, just like more than 40 tall vehicles that unsuccessfully attempted to squeeze through the low-clearance bridge in recent years.

Residents love their bridge so much it’s hard to get anyone to say anything negative about it.

“The collisions are not due to the bridge; it does not move,” Mayor Bill Jacob said. “Rather, the collisions are the result of drivers being inattentive to the numerous warnings regarding the bridge’s height limitations who also disregard the traffic restrictions in an effort to find a shortcut.”

Long Grove Fire Protection District Chief Paul Segalla says the bridge’s 8-foot, 6-inch clearance makes it impossible for his department’s vehicles to use, but their emergency response time stays the same using other routes.

To an outsider, this complacency may appear confusing. Why not just make the bridge opening taller?

The second Chicago Tribune article published today about the Long Grove bridge continues here.

Long Grove

A school bus damages the Long Grove covered bridge in 2020. (Long Grove Village President Bill Jacob)

When motorists travel along Robert Parker Coffin Road in north suburban Long Grove, they become subjects in a fascinating psychological test.

Before them sits a charming covered bridge that would fit right into a Robert James Waller novel. The only difference is the large yellow sign affixed to the wood that reads “8-foot-6,” a height significantly shorter than the average school bus or box truck.

Do the drivers of such vehicles heed the numerous warning signs before arriving at the bridge? Do they take a last chance to turn onto a side road? Or do they size up the opening and take their chances?

Roughly twice a month, a driver makes the wrong bet.

The top of their vehicle grinds along the steel skeleton that reinforces the bridge, gouging the roof, knocking off ladders and smashing overhead lights. Or, far worse, the vehicle gets wedged inside and needs a tow truck to yank it free.

“I thought I would make it,” a box truck driver who momentarily got stuck last summer told the Tribune. “I seriously went 2 mph through there.”

Read more of the in-depth Chicago Tribune report here.

portablepowerstation-2048px-0956

Our favorite: Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station — Top Pick Amazon deal price: $770; street price: $1,100

Updated November 26, 2022, 9:31 a.m. ET

“Black Friday may be in the rear-view mirror, but the deals are still rolling in. Our deals experts have already sorted through thousands of on-sale items—and these are discounts that offer the biggest value on products that meet (or surpass) our rigorous standards. We’re keeping this list continually updated, so keep checking back for the real deals. You can also check out the Wirecutter deals page, which always had the latest list of vetted discounts on Wirecutter picks.”

See the list here.

Gas Prices

A bill in Springfield proposes delaying the Jan. 1 state gas tax hike. If it fails, drivers will see two gas tax hikes in 2023, expected to take the tax to over 45 cents a gallon.

State lawmakers are debating a bill to push back the New Year’s Day gas tax hike.

Instead of the scheduled gas tax hikes on Jan. 1 and July 1, 2023, House Bill 5829 pushes back the next inflation adjustment to July 1, 2023. Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s election-year budget put off the July 2022 gas tax hike until after the election on Jan. 1.

Illinois’ average gallon of gas costs $3.94 as of Nov. 23, 33 cents higher than the national average of $3.61. Even though Illinois gas prices are down from a month ago, they’re still the highest in the Midwest and 10th highest nationwide, according to AAA.

Gas prices nationwide are going down, but gas taxes in Illinois aren’t going down anytime soon. Even without upcoming gas tax hikes, Illinoisans already pay the second-highest gas taxes in the nation behind only California.

Gas tax hikes disproportionally hurt lower-income residents, who give up a larger percentage of their paycheck to pay for gas.

In Pritzker’s first year as governor, he doubled the per-gallon tax from 19 cents to 38 cents, plus added automatic annual hikes.

More here.

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