school board

Highlights of the December 11 Board of Education Meeting

District Superintendent Nick Brown provided an update on the kindergarten school at the Sullivan Center. He said that the project is now in the design development phase. More information will be brought to the Board at the January 22 meeting. He said the presentation to the Village of Vernon Hills went smoothly. There is initial support from the Cook Memorial Library District, Village and Park District for creating an access drive to the kindergarten school from Phillip Road, which would address traffic concerns, but details are still being worked out.

Administration is working on the 2018-2019 school calendar. The goal is to closely mirror the Vernon Hills High School and other local high school calendars so that families with children in the District and in high school can generally follow the same break/holiday schedules. The Board will take action on the calendar in January.

Abe Singh, Director of Finance and Business Operations, provided a recap of a presentation by Elizabeth Hennessy from Raymond James on the District’s outstanding debt, which took place at the November 27 Board of Education meeting. He reviewed the 10-year, 15-year and 20-year options. Administration recommends the 10-year option, which has the least amount of interest and fees, and would generate $1.4 million. Funds could be put toward capital improvements and/or equipment. The topic will be discussed again in June with a possible refunding in October of 2018.

Dr. Lisa Leali, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, and Hawthorn’s elementary school principals, Bill Fredricksen, Kathryn Waggoner, Dr. Jill Martin, Dr. James Tohme, and Dr. Victoria Kieffer, gave a presentation on student achievement at the elementary school level. Overall, Hawthorn’s elementary schools continue to outperform the state on PARCC, but LEP, IEP and low-income students continue to struggle in reading and math achievement. The principals discussed several action steps for improvement, which included:

• Focus on study of culturally responsive instructional practices, inclusion, personalized learning and goal setting
• Guaranteed Viable Curriculum—common summative and formative performance assessments
• Social Emotional Learning
• Support from the Regional Office of Education and surrounding districts
• Full day kindergarten for all
• Early Release Days for professional development
• Added technology at all grades
• Professional Learning Community development

Educational Facilities Master Plan (EFMP)

Board President Sonali Patil led the group in a discussion on prioritized needs and outreach. DLR Group Principal Jason Lembke was present to answer questions. Board members discussed what EFMP projects needed to be prioritized in the event the school pursues another referendum. There was general agreement that the middle schools should be a focal point, as these schools are out of space and will receive no relief from the building of the kindergarten school at the Sullivan Center. In terms of outreach, Board members discussed the need for more community engagement if a future referendum campaign is launched.

During the Business Meeting, the Board approved administration’s recommendation to maintain the student fees for the 2018-2019 school year at the current 2017-2018 level, with the exception of the lunch meals. Lunch meals will increase by 10 cents from $2.80 to $2.90 in accordance with guidelines from the United States Department of Agriculture “Equity in School Lunch Pricing” provision.