Nearly 150 Illinois public school districts gave bonuses to teachers and administrators last school year.

The Chicago Tribune says the 144 districts represent 20 percent of all districts. Citing state data, the newspaper reports about 3,100 people received a total of $5.5 million. The average was $1,750.

Bonuses have become a common way to inspire educators to improve student achievement. But researchers say results are varied, and critics wonder whether it's a good use of tax dollars.

Eight Juveniles Charged After Aurora Mall Fight

Dec 28, 2016
Aurora Police Department

Police in Aurora say eight juveniles are charged after a large fight broke out at a mall in the city outside Chicago.

The fight was one of several that broke out at malls the day after Christmas.

Aurora police say the teen girls ages 13 to 17 face misdemeanor charges including battery, resisting police and disorderly conduct. Police officials say they're investigating if social media played a role in organizing the fight and if it was connected to the other disturbances nationwide.

Christmas Tree Collection And Disposal

Dec 27, 2016
"Christmas Tree Shopping 2009" by Flickr User Glenn Fleishman / (CC X 2.0)

As holidays wind down, there are several options for northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin residents to dispose of Christmas trees.

City of Beloit

Curbside collection begins Monday, Jan. 2, and runs through Friday, Jan. 13. The city asks residents to place trees curbside before 6 a.m. on regular trash and recycling days. 

Dropoffs begin 9 a.m. through 12 p.m. on Saturdays starting Jan. 14. The dropoff location is 2351 Springbrook Ct. 

Questions can be directed to the city's Public Works Operations Facility at (608) 364-2929.

Illinois Department of Employment Security, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The unemployment rate in many northern Illinois counties fell from last year. 

Rockford’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.8 percent last month -- down from 7.4 percent in November 2015. That’s according to preliminary figures released last week by the Illinois employment security department and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Earlier this year, the state of Illinois suspended $30 billion in investment activity with Wells Fargo for one year.

Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs announced that decision in early October after the bank admitted to improperly opening more than two million bank accounts without customers’ consent.

Frerichs, a Democrat from the Champaign County village of Gifford, says his office will re-evaluate the state’s relationship with Wells Fargo in Oct. 2017.  But that the bank is making progress.