Madhu Krishnamurthy and the staff of the Daily Herald Group in Arlington Heights won the Cole Award for the large daily newspaper category, for a series of stories on the updated Illinois School Report Card. Other awards in this category were second place to Jamie Forsythe of the Belleville News-Democrat, third place to the staff of the Chicago Sun-Times for a series of “Watchdog” pieces, and honorable mention to Chris Lusvardi of the Decatur Herald & Review.
In the larger weekly newspaper category, Hillary Dickerson of the Galena Gazette took the top prize for her school board coverage. Natalie Stevens of the Oswego Ledger-Sentinel earned second place, Bob Skolnik of the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark won third, and Zita Henneberry of the Bureau County Republican in Princeton took honorable mention.
The Cole Award is named for Robert M. Cole, the first executive director of IASB. The award requirements emphasize contribution to public understanding of local school governance and support for effective dialogue that helps the community and the school board define major public policy issues. The 2015 contest had 28 entries in four categories and marked the 35th year of Cole Award presentations.