school board meeting

Highlights of the February 26 Board of Education Meeting

The Middle School South sixth-grade and Middle School North eighth-grade pilot LEAP teams gave a presentation on the LEAP framework geared to make classrooms more student centered. These teachers spoke about the four components of LEAP:

  • Learner Focused: Empowers learners to understand their needs and their approach to learning
  • Learner Lead: Entrusts students to take ownership of their learning
  • Learner Demonstrated: Enables learners to progress at their own pace
  • Learner Connected: Does not confine learning to the schools and connects learning to families, educators, communities and networks

The teachers discussed how they are seeing a culture shift at the middle schools now that 1:1 personalized learning is in place. Students have more agency. They are setting their own personal goals. Homeroom teachers are regularly conferencing with students on their goals. Students choose the pace of their own learning. If students are not showing mastery of a specific lesson, they attend a lesson with the teacher the following day. Teachers are no longer at the front of the classroom, but all over the room helping students.

A video showed students talking about their experiences with personalized learning. Students spoke about how they liked learning at their own pace, and how they felt the Chromebooks were a significant asset to their learning.

Board President Sonali Patil led a discussion about the community meeting that took place on February 21. The Board members provided feedback about their discussions with community members during the break out session of the meeting. Here is some of the community feedback that the Board members shared:

  • The “Day in the Life” video communicated the space issues Hawthorn faces. One person said it was heartbreaking to see the cramped quarters the students are experiencing.
  • A number of community members want to get involved to help the District.
  • People want to hear more from the Board about the options Board members support.
  • The town hall setting for the meeting worked well.
  • Community would like to see a better tax breakout per household. People want to know specifically how a tax increase would affect them.
  • The community would like more transparency from the Board and more communication.
  • The plan proposed during the last referendum was only a band-aid approach.
  • We should get rid of all the bells and whistles and stick to the basics.
  • Show what the community will get for the money proposed for each building. Itemize everything.
  • Many members of the community did not trust the numbers presented during the last campaign.
  • The last referendum push was too rushed. Need more time to plan it out.
  • The District is comprised of different economic levels. There is a price point where people will not support a referendum because they can’t afford it. We need to find out what that price point is.
  • There is the misconception that the District is flush with cash, but is still asking the community for help.
  • There is lack of understanding about the budget and the spending per pupil.
  • Revisit adaptive reuse plan to convert an existing building into a school.

The board is planning a series of community meetings that will take place over the coming months. The next meeting will be in a town hall format. Meetings after that could focus on the presentation of specific options.

District Superintendent Nick Brown provided an update on the kindergarten building at the Sullivan Center. He said he is meeting in the near future with the village and park district to prepare for a zoning committee meeting that will be held later in March. He also met with the executive director of Victory Centre. He will meet with some Victory Centre residents to explain the plans and listen to their feedback.

Mr. Brown also discussed two national student walk outs scheduled for March 14 and April 20 in connection with the school shooting in Florida. He said that he wants to keep students safe but also wants to give them real life opportunities. He is concerned about the safety of the students if they go outside the buildings.  An option may be to give students a meaningful experience inside the buildings, such as bringing in legislators to meet with the students.

The Board approved an agreement between the District and Lakeside Transportation to provide busing for students. It also approved the First Student, Inc. contract extension for charter and summer scholar transportation services. The 2018-2019 Board of Education meeting calendar is still being finalized.