Monday, April 6, 2009

Illinois schools: Controversial grant program cut

A just posted a more condensed version of this over at The 6th. Here's the full article from the Tribune:
It took a mammoth budget crisis and the arrest of Rod Blagojevich, but state leaders are shelving a dubious after-school grant program that a Tribune investigation found included many handouts that rewarded one lawmaker's political supporters.

The Illinois State Board of Education deleted $9.7 million for the controversial program from next year's budget proposal, and new Gov. Pat Quinn backed up that decision.

The decision comes after the Tribune reported last year that state Sen. Rickey Hendon (D-Chicago) helped at least 21 campaign workers and donors get the grants, some totaling $20,000.

Nearly half of the 48 grant recipients the Tribune investigated were found to be running dubious programs or declined to show how the money was spent.

In one case, a church sat darkened and padlocked during after-school hours even though it was presented as a tutoring center. In another, a woman used her grant for billboard ads to encourage teens to attend community college but pocketed nearly half the money.

All of the questionable projects shared the same sponsor: Hendon.

The veteran lawmaker recently said that not every organization he helped abused the grants. "Even though everybody might not get it right, that's no reason to kill a program that we have to have," he said.
It's not actually posted at The 6th yet, but it will be. Some how after school programs should find some money from somewhere.

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