School Board

Regular and Closed BOE Sessions Scheduled for Nov. 27

A Regular Session of the D73 Board of Education will take place at 7 p.m. on Monday, November 27. Please click here for the agenda. A closed Committee of the Whole session will also take place. The sessions will take place at the District Office, 841 West End Court in Vernon Hills.

School Board Meeting

Highlights of the November 13 Board of Education Meeting

The meeting began with a presentation on preschool programming by Renee Ullberg, Director of Special Services, Carol Bennett, Principal of the Lincoln Early Learning Center, and several of the school’s teachers.  They provided an overview of what the Early Childhood and Preschool programming entails. They also provided a colorful visual presentation of what a typical day looks like at the Center.

Abe Singh, Director of Finance and Business Operations, introduced the new Facilities Manager Michael Christensen.  He will start on December 4.  He replaces James Staples who is retiring after 38 years of service with the District.

Mr. Singh presented a brief summary of the 2017 Tax Levy. He said the prior year’s total extension was $49,212,457. The levy for this year is $51,722,542. The projected estimated extension is $50,965,094. After a public hearing, in which no members of the public made comments, the Board approved the 2017 Tax Levy during the Business Meeting.

The renewal of Lakeside Transportation’s contract for student busing was also discussed. It was agreed that Hawthorn will go out to bid this year since Lakeside Transportation is asking for a significant increase in payment. Hawthorn partners with districts 70 and 128 for busing. It will work collaboratively with these districts to go out for bid in mid-January.

The Board discussed placement options for the students moving into several new subdivisions, including the Residences of Cuneo Mansion and Gardens, Woodland Chase and Mellody Farms. The District’s administration had recommended that students from the Cuneo project attend Elementary North and Middle School North, and that students from Woodland Chase and Mellody Farms attend Aspen and Middle School South.  During the Business Meeting, the Board approved the administration’s recommendations.

Another topic of discussion was the kindergarten school at the Sullivan Center. The Board had already approved the schematic design for the building. Board members will be presenting the design to the Village of Vernon Hills on November 28. Traffic is a main concern. Superintendent Nick Brown will be meeting with library and village officials on this issue in the near future. Looking ahead, Board President Sonali Patil said the center will be able to accommodate the continuously growing kindergarten enrollment until 2025/26. Space has been allocated for an additional section to be constructed when the building runs out of space.

The Board discussed next steps regarding the Educational Facilities Master Plan.  President Patil said that while the previous referendum failed, the need is still there. The kindergarten center will provide some temporary relief to the elementary schools, but no relief to the middle schools. She said the EFMP survey results indicated that some of the reasons the previous referendum failed were because community members believed the asking price was too high and that separate STEM centers were unnecessary. The next date to put a referendum on the ballot is March 2018. The deadline to submit the referendum question is January 2, 2018. Board members agreed that those dates did not allow enough time to educate the public about the District’s plans. The Board agreed that the November 2018 election would be a better time to put a referendum on the ballot than March 2018.


School Board Member Day is November 15

November 15 marks the ninth statewide observance of School Board Member Day in Illinois. This is an opportunity for Hawthorn 73 and the community to thank school board members for their commitment in providing a local government voice for your education decisions.

School board members do more than just attend meetings, they devote a significant amount of their own personal time to Hawthorn 73. The leadership exemplified by board members directly impacts the school district, students and parents, but it touches the lives of nearly every resident in one way or another.

School Board

The Next Regular Session of the Board of Education is November 13

A Regular Session of the Board of Education will take place on Monday, November 13, at 7 p.m. at the District Office, 841 West End Court in Vernon Hills.

school board meeting

Highlights of the October 23 Board of Education Meeting

Dr. James Tohme, Principal of the School of Dual Language, and a group of students gave an interactive presentation called “Learning the Dual Way” at the October 23 Board of Education meeting. Students gave an example of a lesson taught in Spanish and received enthusiastic applause.

The presentation was followed by a discussion about the kindergarten school at the Sullivan Center. Representatives from DLR Group, LAMP Incorporated, and Lisa Leali, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, responded to board members’ questions about the design. The discussion included the flexibility of the design, potential cost savings in the design development phase and student teacher ratios.  The building is designed with 18 classroom spaces and four maker spaces that can be used as classrooms to accommodate future growth. The design allows for lower than 25:1 ratios using 16 classrooms using the last three years’ average of kindergarten enrollment.  The studio spaces are classroom spaces used for art and activity spaces for kindergarteners until enrollment grows to the level where those spaces are needed for general education classrooms. The representatives explained that the building featured several rooms that could easily be used as classrooms allowing for growth and possible lower student teacher ratios should the board decide to make that investment in additional teachers. The design, which had been created with the input and support of kindergarten teachers, meets the board guidance of:

  • Teacher ratios below 25:1
  • The ability to be a two-story building
  • Not to worry about the wetland on the site
  • Space for additions in the future if needed
  • Make the building as flexible as possible for future use
  • Dedicated space for small group instruction
  • Sufficient outdoor play/facility area
  • Discussion of traditional vs pre-fab construction

These guidelines were provided at the June 12, 2017 school board meeting before the design phase began.  The board also discussed reviewing research on student teacher ratios.

Additionally, the representatives said there is room for another section of classrooms to be added to address population challenges in years to come. The Board approved (5 to 2) the schematic design for the new school.

Superintendent Nick Brown discussed placement options for the students moving into several new subdivisions, including the Residences of Cuneo Mansion and Gardens, Woodland Chase and Mellody Farms. Mr. Brown reiterated his earlier recommendation that the students from the Cuneo project attend Elementary North and Middle School North. He explained that both Middle School North and Middle School South are full and lack space, but Middle School North can use space at John Powers.  He recommended that students of Woodland Chase and Mellody Farms attend Aspen and Middle School South.  The board asked to see how these placements would affect demographics at the schools before they vote on this issue.

Abe Singh, Director of Finance and Business Operations, gave a presentation on the proposed 2017 Tax Levy, which must be filed with the county by the fourth Tuesday of December. The levy for 2017 proposes a 4.95% increase, equal to a request of $2,074,124 over the 2017 extension. The total levy request for 2017 is $43,976,241, with a probable estimated extension of $43,123,571. While the district is asking for this amount, the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) limits the increase in property tax extension to 5% or the increase in the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less. The 2016 CPI was 2.1%. The levy calculations are based on the consumer price index, new construction, levy adjustment and equalized assessed valuation. The levy is an action item to be voted on at the 11/13 board meeting.

Mr. Singh also spoke about the renewal of Lakeside Transportation’s contract. He said that the bus company’s proposal asks for an estimated $333,000 increase over last year. Mr. Singh said that he would meet with the school districts Hawthorn partners with for bus service to obtain their feedback and then come back to the board.

The discussion on the Educational Facilities Master Plan survey was tabled due to lack of time. The board will hold a special meeting to address the survey.



School Board

Special Session of the Board of Education – October 26

A Special Session of the Board of Education has been scheduled for Thursday, October 26. The meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m. at the District Office, 841 West End Court in Vernon Hills.

school board meeting

Highlights of the September 11 Board of Education Meeting

At the meeting, the Board approved the 2017/2018 budget. The budget includes operating revenues of $51,965,326 and expenses of $51,872,742. It includes a deficit of $12.6 million that is due to the building of the Kindergarten Center at the Sullivan Center and summer capital work projects. As a result of the deficit, the District’s fund balances will go from $40,246,253 in June of 2017 to $27,604,275 in June of 2018.

The Board discussed the results of the District 73 community survey. The survey, which closed on August 31, was promoted through numerous ways, including a districtwide mailer, the district’s website, newsletters and social media. More than 500 people responded. The results of the survey will be presented at the next Board of Education meeting on September 25. Board members discussed what format would be best for presenting the results, and how best to address the comments and questions included in the returned surveys. The Board agreed that all questions need to be answered. Several board members volunteered to review the data and determine specific categories in which the data and feedback can be organized and presented.

Lisa Leali, Ed.D., Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, provided an update on enrollment numbers based on the annual sixth-day report.

Representatives of the DLR Group (architects) and LAMP, Inc. (the district’s construction manager) provided an update on the kindergarten center project. They are planning to present a design for the kindergarten expansion at the Sullivan Center on October 9.  They are working with various agencies, including the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission, to move through the permit and approval process. Because some of the property the center will be built on is in wetlands, the district will be contributing to a wetland bank to provide funds for the creation of wetlands in another part of Lake County. Ms. Leali noted that the design team that provided input and insight on the center’s design included a number of teachers. She thanked them publicly for their contributions toward a new and innovative building for Hawthorn students.

Board of Education President Sonali Patil mentioned that the district is joining a relief effort for families affected by Hurricane Harvey.   The district’s schools will be collecting specific items between September 18 and 29. Cash will not be accepted. Those interested in participating should contact their specific schools.

school board meeting

Regular Session of the Board of Education – September 11

The D73 Board of Education will meet at 7 p.m. on Monday, September 11. Please click here for the agenda.

school board meeting

Highlights of the August 28 Board of Education Meeting

Superintendent Nick Brown reported that things went smoothly on the first day of school on August 23. Principals, teachers and staff were excited to welcome their students. A few buses were delayed due to construction work on Route 60.  He said that the district considers the first weeks of class as an important time for teachers to get to know their students. He also said that the schools are connecting with parents through numerous events, such as curriculum nights, parent meetings, and orientations.

Mr. Brown discussed a major event for the middle schools. About 1,500 middle school students are receiving their Google Chromebooks this week. Middle School North students received their Chromebooks on Monday and Middle School South received them on Wednesday.

Enrollment numbers were a topic of discussion as the district works to accommodate an increasing number of students. Mr. Brown said that this is a volatile time for enrollment. Numbers are going up and down each week. He expects the numbers to be more stable in October. He said that the schools have been creatively handling space challenges not only this year but for several years. For instance, health and art classes are taught in two portable classrooms at Elementary South, and other schools have moved a few classrooms into cafeterias and libraries.  He commended the principals for doing a great job with staff to make these displacements work.

Mr. Brown provided details on his conversation with management at the Cuneo/Loyola Mansion and Gardens property located at 1350 Milwaukee Avenue in Vernon Hills. He said that the district can expect 120 children between kindergarten and eighth grade to live in the 128 new homes that will be built over the next three years. The Board is expected to make its decision on which district schools these students will attend by mid- to late October.

Board of Education President Sonali Patil gave an update on the Bagels with the Board meetings, in which board members met with the public to listen to their perceptions about the district. She said that while attendance was low at the meetings, there were opportunities to promote the district’s community survey and increase the number of surveys completed by both English and Spanish speaking residents. The survey will close on August 31. The results will be shared with the public.

In her president’s report, Ms. Patil urged parents to be patient and considerate as busing challenges get worked out over the first weeks of school. She assured the community that if a school bus is delayed, school officials know, and there is no need to contact the schools.