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

Highlights of the October 9 Board of Education Meeting

The October 9 Board of Education meeting featured a presentation on the design concept for the kindergarten school at the Sullivan Center. Elementary South Principal Dr. Jill Martin and kindergarten teachers talked about the history of Hawthorn’s growth and reviewed the input teachers provided for the design of the new school.

DLR Group Principal Jason Lembke said he followed the teachers’ recommendations, incorporating collaboration, innovation, spaces for students to be social, and flexibility into the building’s design. He mentioned that design team members had toured the Barrington Early Learning Center, Washington School in Mundelein, and the Ann Reid Early Childhood Center in Naperville to look at a variety of design options.

Lembke said that after looking at different design possibilities, the team selected a concept called “The Flower” as the best choice for Hawthorn. The flower scheme is comprised of “petals” featuring classrooms with operable partitions that provide extensive flexibility. The interior of each petal includes four classrooms, a Maker space (that could also serve as an additional classroom), two small group spaces and a dedicated pull-out space for things such as special education.

Two petals are proposed for the first floor of the new facility, which will be located on the northeast side of the Sullivan Center. That floor will also include a multi-purpose room (cafeteria), art studio, an administrative area, that also will serve as a storm shelter, and a sensory room with external access. The second floor will feature two petals, an active play space, and a staff collaboration space.

Thomas McGrath with LAMP Incorporated discussed the budget. The cost of the project is projected at $12,121,289, with a road site allowance of $150,000. He said the project could go out to bid as early as next March and construction could start as early as June.

Superintendent Nick Brown discussed the approval process. He said that a presentation would be made to the Park District on October 10.  The Park District, the Village and Regional Office of Education will all need to approve the project. Permits will need to be obtained from the County.  Wetland credits also need to be purchased. The formal recommendation for schematic design approval will be made at the October 23 meeting.

Mr. Brown also provided an update on student placement for the Cuneo Farms development. Regarding which schools the children from this new subdivision will attend, he recommended Elementary North and Middle School North as best suited to accommodate this new population. Final action will be made at the next board meeting.

Due to time constraints, a discussion on public comments collected in the survey about the Educational Facilities Master Plan was tabled until the next meeting.

In her president’s report, Sonali Patil mentioned that October is National Principals Month.  She thanked Hawthorn’s principals for all the work they do.


School Board

The Next Regular Session of the Board of Education is October 9

The D73 Board of Education will meet at 7 p.m. on Monday, October 9. Please click here for the agenda.

school board meeting

Highlights of the September 25 Board of Education Meeting

A highlight of the September 25 meeting was a presentation by Victoria Kieffer, Ph.D., Principal of Townline Elementary, Samuel Smart, a fifth-grade teacher at Townline Elementary, and eleven students on their participation last year in the Science Olympiad. Townline students received numerous awards, including four first place awards, for their participation in 2016 and 2017.  The students briefly described their projects and spoke about what they learned through teamwork. Townline Elementary was one of only 12 schools in Illinois piloting the Science Olympiad for children in grades kindergarten through fifth grade.  The competition tests students’ knowledge of geology, chemistry, biology, weather, physics and aerodynamics.

Superintendent Nick Brown provided an update on the building of the new kindergarten building at the Sullivan Center. He said that the group designated to develop the Center’s design has been busily reviewing ideas and concepts. Teachers have provided input. The group is now confirming a concept that will be brought to the Board on October 9.  Mr. Brown is also meeting with the Village to discuss possible traffic patterns. In the future, meetings will be arranged to present the design to the Park District as well as the Village.

Last year, the Board of Education approved the expansion of the dual language program into the middle schools beginning in the 2018-19 school year. Mr. Brown provided an update on this new initiative.  He reported that the District is planning for the program to include a Spanish literacy course and content instruction in Spanish through social studies and science courses. The District is looking for staff to teach the new courses.

Board members gave a presentation on the results of the Educational Facilities Master Plan survey. They reported that 537 people took the survey, and thanked all those who participated. A sampling of the results is as follows:

  • 78 percent of the participants were satisfied with the quality of the District’s schools.
  • 74 percent of the survey participants voted in the April 2017 election.
  • 32 percent of those who voted in the election supported the school referendum while 46 percent did not support the school referendum.
  • 87 percent considered themselves aware of the District’s enrollment trends.
  • 84 percent said they were familiar with the development of the kindergarten building at the Park District’s Sullivan Center.
  • 85 percent said they were familiar with the issues surrounding the District’s facilities and the April 2017 election.
  • 36 percent felt there was enough space in existing Hawthorn facilities to accommodate student growth, while sixty-four percent felt there was not enough space.
  • 49 percent felt that Hawthorn’s facilities were sufficiently updated and modernized.
  • 66 percent felt STEM Center additions are important for student success.
  • 48 percent felt that early childhood/Pre-K services should be relocated from Lincoln Center to Elementary North.
  • 49 percent indicated that additional classrooms should be the top priority of the school district.

The Board discussed how best to present the comments that participants provided in the surveys. The comments have been organized into 13 or 14 categories. The Board agreed to present the first seven categories at the October 9 Board meeting and the final categories will be presented at the October 23 meeting.

In his Superintendent’s Report, Mr. Brown congratulated several students for their achievements. He said that Lexi Schulman, a seventh grader at Middle School North, placed third at the IESA State Golf tournament on September 16 at the Kellogg Golf Club in Peoria. Annie Zbylut, a third grader at Elementary South, was selected as Artsonia’s PreK-third grade “Artist of the Week” for September 17 – 23. During the contest Annie received 2,392 votes from website visitors. Anirudh Adiraju (a Middle School South eighth grader), Jingjing “Amy” Wang (a Middle School South Eighth grader), Charles Collier (a Middle School South sixth grader) and Phyllis Wang (a Middle School South graduate now at Stevenson High School) were honored at a ceremony held by Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development. The students had received exceptionally high scores on either the ACT or SAT. In particular, Anirudh had achieved third place for seventh grade students in Reading in the ACT.

Additionally, Mr. Brown said that the School of Dual Language was among the Regional Office of Education’s list of top ten small elementary schools with the best regular attendance, and Elementary South and Middle School North were on the list of top ten large elementary schools with the best regular attendance.

Board of Education President Sonali Patil mentioned that the District is still accepting donations for families affected by Hurricane Harvey.  The drive will run through September 29.