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Highlights of the Nov. 13 Board of Education Meeting

Public Comment
A resident asked the Board to send a delegate to the annual Illinois Association of School Boards delegate assembly on Nov. 23 and vote no on Resolution 1. This resolution would allow IASB to start to advocate for legislation in which individual school districts could move toward a concealed carry program for their employees.

Superintendent’s Report
Superintendent Dr. Hannigan provided a recap of the District’s second early release day on Nov. 7. He was excited to see all the school leadership teams working on creating their mission, vision and commitment statements, with an emphasis on all means all. He recognized several staff members who brought in a generator for alternate power after an electric line was cut due to construction. These staff members are John Reid, Ken Sas, Wayne Keen and Mike Labbe.

Elementary South Principal Dr. Martin, Assistant Principal Christy Hunter and teacher Jaclyn Schwartz are traveling to Washington, D.C. for a ceremony in which they will be recognized as recipients of this year’s National Blue Ribbon award. On a local level, Elementary South will hold an all school assembly on Dec. 19 in which the National Blue Ribbon seal will be presented.

Friday is School Board Members Day in Illinois. Dr. Hannigan thanked the Board for all of their support and for everything Board members do every day on behalf of the school district.

President’s Report
Board President Robin Cleek thanked Middle School South for hosting its annual Veterans Day Breakfast. She received feedback from the community about the school’s outstanding music program and kind students.

Ms. Cleek asked the Board for their input on IASB’s resolution 1. The board unanimously agreed to oppose it, and go against ISBE’s recommendation to adopt it.

Districtwide Assessment Data and the School Improvement Process
Dr. Arturo Abrego, Director of Bilingual Education and Language Acquisition, Dr. Jennifer Haack, Principal of Townline Elementary, Mimi Batson, a kindergarten teacher at Townline Elementary, Nicole Gallo, a first-grade teacher at Townline Elementary, and Svetlana Popovic, Community Development Coach at Humanex, gave a presentation on state and local assessment results and the school improvement process. Over the last several months, the District has been working strategically to support educational leadership teams across the district in collective efforts to create a learning environment where all the District’s students will grow and succeed. Collaborative partnerships are being nurtured at the District and building levels that embrace the construct of collective responsibility. Each of the school leadership teams are creating school improvement plans focused on increasing student achievement and academic growth.

Bond Market Update
Elizabeth Hennessy, Managing Director of Raymond James, introduced the bond resolution that was under consideration by the Board. She said that through discussions at several meetings, the Board agreed to move forward with the one issue choice, that would combine phases two and three for a total of $19,700,000, and pay it off in 21 years instead of 24. She said the bonds could be sold as early as December 3 depending on marketing conditions. The bond issue will be closed no late than February 1.

Action Items
The Board approved the Middle School North design development plans. After a public hearing, the Board approved a resolution to levy 2019 property taxes. The Board also approved a resolution providing for the issue of not to exceed $19,700,000 General Obligation School Building Bonds for the purpose of financing certain capital projects approved by referendum. The board approved the contract to upgrade door access and camera systems. The board also approved a Net56 contract to address IT network security components.  

snowy day

What You Should Know About School Closings

We know that the Hawthorn community has always understood the challenges of school-closing decisions and that at times we must err on the side of caution in order to be prepared for the worst. However, we have received many requests for clarification on the process for determining school closures due to weather-related “emergencies”.

There are several situations in which closing our schools is a quick and easy decision, such as: no heat, no power, no water, blizzards or road closures. The decision to close becomes more difficult when it must be made on “predicted weather conditions.” As you can imagine, we utilize many resources in order to make these decisions with the most accurate and up-to-date information. Continuous monitoring of weather reports from a variety of reliable sources, conference calls with our colleagues/superintendents in neighboring districts, and conversations with our transportation providers are all useful in determining whether we need to close our schools. Each situation is very different and the safety of our students is always the final measure used to make the decision to remain open or close our schools.

All public schools are required to make up days missed due to weather-related emergencies. Our public school calendars must include five emergency days each year in order to address just these kinds of situations. Traditionally we have added make-up days to the end of the school year in June. Hawthorn elected to change the calendar to include a make up day during the second half of the school year. We feel that incorporating this make up day into the school year will help us avoid extending the school year too far into June. Days during the school year are also more academically valuable than days at the end of the year. The first make up snow day is Casimir Pulaski Day on March 2, 2020. The remaining make up days are June 3, 4, 5 and 8. 

We will continue to make the best decisions in a timely manner in order to help parents prepare for the school closing. In order for us to be able to provide you with information as quickly as possible, please be sure you have provided updated emergency contact information to your school. You also have the capability to change/update your contact information.  You can also find these notices on our home page. For more information on our parent notification system, please visit this page.

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Key Points About Hawthorn District 73’s Parent Notification System

The District places high priority on swiftly communicating with parents in the event of an emergency. We use the SchoolMessenger notification system to send out information through email, phone and/or text messages. SchoolMessenger is integrated with PowerSchool and delivers messages to the PowerSchool contact information provided by parents/guardians. Emergency information is also posted on the District Website and Facebook. 

During an emergency event, the means and immediacy of communication will depend on the scope of the event and on the potential or actual impact to the safety of the students. While it is difficult to describe all possible scenarios, the following can be used as a guide to gauge the District’s level of notification and systems used to communicate with families.

Impact LevelNotification Response
No Impact Incident: Informational messages from either the principal or superintendent.

Example: District information, school information on upcoming events.
- SchoolMessenger notification sent via email.
- May also be posted on website and Facebook.
A Low Impact Incident: Poses no or minimal risk to the safety of the school. There are no disruptions to regular school activities, and the incident is isolated and does not impact more than one student.

Example: a small issue in one of the schools or the District. A soft lockdown suggested by police due to an off campus police-related incident. A bus delay. Note: Not every incident will warrant a notification.
- SchoolMessenger notification sent via email and phone (home, work, cell) at beginning of incident. Text messages may also be used.
- Will be posted on Website and Facebook.
- Update via email at end of incident.
A Moderate Impact Incident: Poses a moderate risk to the school and results in some disruption to school activities.

Example: Weather cancellations or delays, a change of schedule or cancellation of some activities, or a utility disruption.
- SchoolMessenger notification sent via email, phone (home, work, cell) and text.
-Will be posted on website and Facebook.
- Updates will continue through the incident.
- School cancellations or delays posted on emergencyclosingcenter.com.
A High Impact Incident: The incident poses a significant risk to the safety of the students, which results in a significant disruption to school activities, change of schedule, evacuation, cancellation of activities and impacts many students.

Example: An intruder in school or the use of a weapon in school resulting in injuries to students and staff.
- SchoolMessenger notification sent via email, phone (home, work, cell) and text.
- Will be posted on website and Facebook.
- Updates will continue through the incident.
- Press release may be distributed to the media.

Important Points to Remember:

  • Our school has an emergency operations plan in place. Each school has a site-specific plan. Teachers, administrators and staff have been trained and have completed drills using this plan.
  • Please be sure your emergency contact information is updated whenever there is a change. 
  • Parents who wish to receive text messages must opt-in to utilize this service. If you think your contact information may need updating in PowerSchool, first contact your student’s school to verify that they have the correct cell phone number on file. Then manually opt in by texting “Y” to 67587. 
  • During an incident, remain close to your sources of communication, whether phone or email, to ensure you are receiving accurate and timely updates from the district.
  • Please be sure to listen to, or read the entire message. 
  • Do not call or go to your child’s school during an actual emergency. School staff will be busy responding to the emergency and addressing the needs of students. Calling the school will only tie up phone lines that must be used for emergency communications with staff and emergency responders. Please do not go to your child’s school unless you have received direction from the school or district officials. 

Thank you in advance for your cooperation as we work together to ensure the safest environment for our students. We are fortunate to have such a committed and involved community at Hawthorn 73. 

Construction site for the School for Young Learners

A New Building Takes Shape

The School for Young Learners is taking shape. Hawthorn’s new kindergarten building is adjacent to the Sullivan Community Center on Aspen Drive. It will open next year.

Blue Ribbon Logo

Hawthorn Elementary South Is Named Among the Best Schools in the Nation By U.S. Department of Education

Hawthorn Elementary South has been named among the best schools in the nation through the U.S. Department of Education’s 2019 National Blue Ribbon Award recognition. The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. 

 “We are so proud that Elementary South is a recipient of this exceptional award,” said Dr. Peter Hannigan, Hawthorn District 73’s superintendent. “At Hawthorn, we truly believe that all children can learn at high levels. This honor is a testament to the hard work, commitment and engagement of the school’s teachers, staff, students and parents.” 

Located in Vernon Hills, Illinois, Hawthorn Elementary South is a kindergarten through fifth grade school serving approximately 700 students. The school celebrates the diversity of its students, who speak more than 30 different languages. It is known for providing masterful learning activities in which students explore and deeply engage with content in a joyful, exciting manner. Its top priority is to grow the whole child by combining robust academics with a full social emotional curriculum.  

The coveted National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students perform at very high levels, or where significant progress has been made in raising student achievement. Elementary South received the honor in the Exemplary High Performing Schools category for achieving high performance among key subgroups and completing a rigorous application process that evaluated everything from social and emotional learning supports to professional development to quality classroom instruction.

Construction site

A Bird’s Eye View of the School for Young Learners

Looking at the School for Young learners construction site from the perspective of a drone, one can truly see how the building is taking shape. It is scheduled to open in time for the 2020 school year.

teachers and students

First Day at Lincoln

Everything went smoothly Thursday morning, as students stepped off the bus for the first day of school at Lincoln Early Learning Center. The little ones were greeted by teachers who immediately made them feel at home. Located in Mundelein, the Center provides preschool and early childhood programs for Hawthorn School District 73, Mundelein School District 75 and Fremont School District 70.


Welcome Back Students!

Teachers and staff were so excited to welcome back students this morning. Parents hugged their children, said their good byes, and watched them step into the buildings for their first day of school. On the inside, there were plenty of hugs and hellos as teachers greeted their new students and settled them in for a fun day of learning.

Construction work at the building site

Update on the School for Young Learners

It may seem as if a long time has passed since the community of Hawthorn District 73 approved the Educational Facilities Master Plan (EFMP). In as much as we all want to see immediate changes to the physical sites of the school district, appropriate planning, discussion, and submissions must happen.

The initial months immediately following successful passage of the referendum involved significant planning and partnering discussions with Village officials, along with county and state agencies all represented. The fruits of the labor of so many district staff members, community partners and board of education members is now becoming a reality. Site work is well underway for the Hawthorn School for Young Learners directly adjacent to the Sullivan Center on Aspen Drive. The footings and foundation walls have been poured in preparation for the precast panel construction.

Although the site is visible and most days involve a flurry of activity, progress may be difficult to see from a street view. That will all change during the month of September. In September, the new facility will begin to take shape with precast walls getting erected and the size and scale of the building will become clear to our community and neighbors. We fully believe this next phase will be very visual and generate community excitement. We are excited to share these phases with you and look forward to many exciting changes in the months and years to come!

Hawthorn staff

Opening Day for Hawthorn Staff

Wednesday’s “Opening Day” program brought hundreds of Hawthorn teachers and staff together under one roof. Superintendent Pete Hannigan presented the District’s goals and priorities for the new school year. Board of Education President Robin Cleek, as well as members of the Hawthorn Education Association and the Hawthorn PTO, also addressed the audience. Dr. Dennis King spoke about building a Professional Learning Community. The event put everyone on the same page — ready to inspire, challenge and motivate students as the new school year begins.