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.



school board meeting

Regular Session of the Board of Education-August 28

The D73 Board of Education will meet at 7 p.m. on Monday, August 28. Please click here for the agenda.

school board meeting

Highlights of the August 14 Board of Education Meeting

Among the topics discussed at the August 14 Board of Education meeting was the new Cuneo development. Preparations are moving forward for the construction of 128 new homes on 53 acres on the Cuneo/Loyola Mansion and Gardens property located at 1350 Milwaukee Avenue in Vernon Hills. The Board will determine which district schools the students from this development will attend. Superintendent Nick Brown reminded the Board that the district has tried not to split neighborhoods in the past, but separating the students would limit the impact on any one school. Mr. Brown will talk with the developer about the number of children expected to move into the development. He and the Board will also be looking at space availability once the kindergarten classes move from the elementary schools to the Sullivan Center. The Board is expected to make their decision by mid- to late October.

Director of Finance and Business Operations Abe Singh provided a presentation on the 2017/18 tentative budget. The projected revenue is $73,793,884, while expenses are estimated at $86,526,861. He discussed an increase in expenses compared with last year’s budget, which is due to an increase in instructional spending (up 5.5%), a new lease agreement for the Dell Chromebooks, an increase in curriculum needs, and other things.  $12 million has been allocated for the construction of the Kindergarten Center at the Sullivan Center. A public hearing on the tentative budget took place during the business meeting in which the Board received no public comments. The budget is scheduled to be adopted on September 11.

Mr. Brown provided an update on enrollment numbers. The district still anticipates that an additional 60 children will register for the new school year.  District Office staff members are calling families who did not attend the Residency Event. Mr. Brown is seeing slight increases in enrollment numbers across the district schools. A fourth-grade classroom is being added to Aspen due to increased enrollment numbers.

In her report, Board President Sonali Patil thanked staff for organizing the Residency Event, which she said went smoothly. She also reminded district residents to take a 10-minute survey that will help the district gauge community perceptions about its schools.  The deadline to take the survey is August 31.

Hawthorn Wants to Hear From You

Hawthorn School District 73 is holding a series of “Bagels with the Board” meetings for the public to discuss their perceptions about the District and its facilities planning efforts with Board of Education members. Please join us at one of the following sessions:

Tuesday, August 15, 10:30-11:30 a.m. at Village of Vernon Hills, 290 Evergreen Drive in Vernon Hills
Tuesday, August 15, 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Sullivan Center, 635 N. Aspen Drive in Vernon Hills
Wednesday, August 16, 10:30-11:30 a.m. at Victory Centre, 97 W. Phillip Road in Vernon Hills

Also, please take a 10-minute survey. Presionar aqui para tomar el estudio.

school board meeting

Board of Education Committee of the Whole Meeting, August 14

The D73 Board of Education will meet at 7 p.m. on Monday, August 14. Please click here for the agenda.