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Aldi's set to open Bourbonnais store

BOURBONNAIS — Kankakee County’s third Aldi’s grocery store’s grand opening has been set for Oct. 8, store officials confirmed.

The approximate 21,000-square-foot store, of which 12,500 square feet will be devoted to retail space, joins the stores located at 2051 N. State Route 50, Bradley, and 2705 S. Schuyler Ave., Kankakee.

Store hours at 950 Main St. NW will be 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

The newest location along Illinois 102 between the Bourbonnais Post Office and the Burger King restaurant will be the largest of the three.

Aldi opened its first Kankakee County store in 1983 in the 300 block of South Schuyler Avenue in downtown Kankakee. The company closed that first store in 2009 when it construction the new 17,000-square-foot store at 2705 S. Schuyler.

The company had a store in Bradley at 1300 Locke Drive, opened in 1991, before it opened its second new store — also 17,000 square feet — in March 2015 along Illinois 50 near the St. George Road intersection.

Construction on the third store here began with a March 2020 groundbreaking.

The newest store, located on a 3.5-acre parcel, will likely capitalize on the growing Bourbonnais population in that area as well as shoppers traveling along Illinois 113 and the Warner Bridge Road and Career Center Road regions.

The store will employ 15 to 20 people.

The company has more than 1,900 stores in 36 states and employs more than 25,000. By the end of 2022, Aldi expects to be the third-largest U.S. grocery retailer in terms of store count.

The third Aldi stores only further demonstrates the company’s success in Kankakee County and intensifies the battle for grocery shoppers in the Bradley/Bourbonnais area. In addition to Aldi, there is a Jewel store also located along Main St. NW as well as a Kroger store only a short distance away along Armour Road near the Convent Street intersection.

There is a Super Walmart store only across the street from the Bradley Aldi store as well as the popular Meijer grocery store along Route 50, just north of the Lowe’s hardware store. The Target store in Bradley also has an expansive grocery section.

While on the subject of grocery stores, Kankakee Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong stated at last week’s Kankakee City Council meeting that the Jewel store, 446 S. Washington Ave., is in the process of getting a building permit and will be starting a $500,000 upgrade to this store this fall.

Thank you, Jewel.

The store will have significant interior upgrades completed. In addition, some departments will be moved around, but specifics on this were not available. Work is already underway and the project is expected to be finished before the end of the year. The store will remain open during the rehab project.

Once the dominant grocery destination within the metro region, this store — which employs about 100 — has for far too long been ignored by its corporate leadership and its appearance — inside and out — is a reflection of its deferred maintenance.

At the most recent council meeting, Wells-Armstrong said Jewel management stated they want to be good partners with the city. Let’s hope that statement is true and that the planned upgrades prove it.

The Daily Journal’s Lee Provost writes about local business rumors, comings and goings and other notes of interest. Anyone with information to share should contact Provost at lprovost@daily-journal.com or 815-937-3364.

Children enjoy the ride during the lighted golf cart parade through downtown Manteno on Saturday night. Around 80 carts took part in the event hosted by the Village of Manteno and the Manteno Chamber of Commerce that combined the village’s annual Oktoberfest lighted parade and annual golf cart parade.

The Scooby-Doo gang rolls out in the Mystery Machine as part of the parade. More than $750 in prizes are up for grabs for participants, with winners being announced today for the top three best lighted and decorated carts.

Lighted Golf Cart Parade Manteno

Dorothy and the Tin Man catch a ride during the lighted golf cart parade Saturday evening through downtown Manteno.

Lighted Golf Cart Parade Manteno

The lighted golf cart parade cruises through downtown Manteno Saturday night.

Local schools receive grants to improve remote learning

Daily Journal staff report

The Illinois State Board of Education has announced grant allocations that school districts can use to improve students’ access to technology during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 14 school districts within the 40th Illinois Senate District — which includes much of Kankakee County and portions of Cook, Grundy and Will counties — are set to receive a combined $2 million in Digital Equity Formula Grants, according to a news release from State Sen. Patrick Joyce, D-Essex.

Districts in Kankakee and Grundy counties will receive more than $894,000 of those funds. Kankakee School District 111 will receive the highest amount in the 40th District with its $293,195 allocation.

The grants are being funded through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“E-learning is a new reality for many students during the pandemic,” Joyce said in the release. “This funding will assist schools in giving students the resources they need to take an active role in their studies.”

The funds are intended to help schools expand connectivity and provide students with devices like computers or tablets. Funding was distributed using a need-based formula.

Grant amounts for local districts include:

Kankakee County

Bourbonnais Elementary School District 53: $164,063

Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School District 307: $143,067

Bradley Elementary School District 61: $103,252

Iroquois/Kankakee ROE School District: $37,324

Kankakee School District 111: $293,195

Safe Schools, Iroquois/Kankakee ROE School District: $30,594

St. Anne Community High School District 256: $46,676

Grundy County

Gardner School District 72C: $38,845

Gardner-South Wilmington Township High School District 73: $40,390

Lawmakers discuss lowering compulsory school age

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois lawmakers may soon consider legislation to lower the state’s compulsory attendance law to include 5-year-olds, a measure advocates see as a way to expand access to early childhood education opportunities, especially among Black and low-income families.

That was just one of the issues discussed Thursday during a virtual joint hearing of the Illinois Senate Education and Higher Education committees, and it’s one that has the strong backing of the Illinois State Board of Education.

“We firmly believe that lowering the compulsory school age to 5 will ensure that all children have a better opportunity to receive a strong foundation of literacy and reading skills that will set them up for success in all aspects of their lives,” Brenda Dixon, ISBE’s chief research and evaluation director, said during the hearing that was conducted via Zoom.

Currently, Illinois only requires children between the ages of 6 and 17 to attend school, which effectively makes kindergarten optional. Currently, Dixon said, about 130,000 children attend kindergarten in Illinois public schools, but lowering the compulsory attendance age to 5 could boost that number by as many as 3,000, or 2.3 percent.

“We believe lowering the compulsory school age to 5 will support more equitable educational opportunities for our youngest learners, and build on the state’s investment in early childhood education,” Dixon said. “Kindergarten for all will strengthen the learning continuum for Illinois students.”

Thursday’s hearing was just one in a series of hearings that the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus has called to discuss issues surrounding racial inequities. Earlier this month, the ILBC said it was developing a legislative agenda for racial equity that would be based on four “pillars.”

Besides education and workforce development, which was the subject of Thursday’s hearing, the other pillars include criminal justice reform; economic access, equity and opportunity; and health care and human services.

Dixon noted that students who don’t start school until the first grade are at an immediate disadvantage with their peers who went to kindergarten, and they rarely get the opportunity to catch up.

“There is no catch-up time built into our school calendar for children who enter the public school system underprepared,” she said. “Once established, gaps in school readiness skills are difficult and costly to remedy, leading to pronounced gaps in achievement. We firmly believe that lowering the compulsory school age to 5 will ensure that all children have a better opportunity to receive a strong foundation of literacy and reading skills that will set them up for success in all aspects of their lives.”

Christopher Span, a researcher and associate dean at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s College of Education, said that for most of America’s history, Black children were specifically excluded from access to public education, even after the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court case Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education.

“One thing that I was able to kind of show in my research is that as schooling became more compulsory, you saw African-Americans close the gap in what we call gaps of achievement in school communities,” he said. “And we also see it with regards to the closing of the gap in terms of educational attainment — so, gaining access to high school, gaining access to college degrees.”

While there appeared to be broad support among educators for lowering the mandatory school age in order to expand access to kindergarten, there was much less support for the one of the other proposals being considered — a requirement that students be held back in the third grade if, by the end of that year, they still are not meeting state standards for reading and math skills.

It is often said among educators that from kindergarten through third grade, students learn to read, and from fourth grade on, they read to learn. That means students who enter fourth grade without the reading skills needed for fourth-grade work are likely to fall further and further behind for the rest of their time in school.

But Dixon and others said mandatory retention policies have been shown to do more harm than good.

“In fact, studies have long shown that mandatory retention increases dropout risk,” Dixon said. “Now, while there are some recent studies that associate mandatory retention policies with short-term academic gains, those effects disappear by middle school, again suggesting that there are no lasting positive impacts of mandatory retention policies.”

Dixon said if that policy were in place today, based on the most recent state assessments, 85,000 to 90,000 third-graders, or 72 percent, would be held back from going on to fourth grade. Of those, roughly 80 percent are Black and brown students, and 85 percent are from low-income families.

“What is most important when it comes to the policy on third grade retention is what we do the years preceding third grade,” Dixon said.

The two committees are scheduled to hold another joint hearing on Wednesday, Sept. 30. The subjects of that hearing will be COVID-19 responses in K-12 education and equitable funding.{span class=”print_trim”}

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