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Highlights of the Nov. 12, 2020 Board of Education Meeting

District Superintendent Dr. Hannigan provided an update on the Return to Learning Plan.  Presenting with him were Assistant Superintendent of Teaching, Learning and Innovation Allison Stein, Assistant Superintendent of Finance & Business Operations LeeAnn Taylor, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Adam Palmer, and Director of Student Services Renee Ullberg. Dr. Hannigan said the District’s reopening plans have been a collaborative effort involving HEA, staff, the Admin team, food service, as well as maintenance, custodian and transportation teams. The priority continues to be the health and safety of students and staff. 

The District continues to monitor Lake County COVID-19 metrics through use of the Lake County Health Department School Decision Dashboard. The dashboard recommends three learning options, virtual learning, hybrid learning and in-person learning, depending on the level of community spread.  At this time, the dashboard is recommending virtual learning since the community spread is substantial. 

Dr. Hannigan and staff reviewed details of the proposed hybrid model for students that participate in third through eighth grade self-contained special education and students in kindergarten through eighth grade general education. They reviewed specific details that are available on the District’s website in English and Español. At this time, the District is not presenting a timeline for the implementation of this model as it will wait for public health to determine when it is safe to do so. Families and staff will receive at least a two-week notice prior to moving to the hybrid model. 

Ms. Stein provided the results of a survey that was sent to families in early November to provide feedback on the District’s remote learning plan. The District received more than 2,000 responses. While the District is still analyzing the data, here are some of the highlights:

  • 80% of the respondents strongly agreed or agreed that their child is engaged in learning.
  • 88% of the respondents strongly agreed or agreed that their child knows how to ask for help from the teacher(s).
  • 67% strongly agreed or agreed that their child feels connected to school.
  • 90% strongly agreed or agreed that their child can follow the daily schedule.
  • 91% strongly agreed or agreed that their child can navigate the LMS (Seesaw, Google Classroom, Canvas).
  • 79% strongly agreed or agreed that their child can complete most learning activities independently.
  • 90% strongly agreed or agreed that communications from their child’s school has been helpful. 

Dr. Art Abrego, Director of Assessment & Language Services, provided an update on the status of a variety of state and local assessments. Due to the suspension of in-person learning in 2019-2020, a number of assessments were not administered or available in the 2020 Illinois State Report Card. These included the Illinois Assessment of Readiness, the Illinois Science Assessment and the 5 Essentials Survey. While a summative designation was given to each school this year, it is a reissuance of the designation given last year. All of the District’s schools earned either exemplary or commendable designations. Assessments that are required this year include the ACCESS Test, Illinois Assessment of Readiness and Illinois Science Assessment, which will need to be completed in person. 

Svetlana Popovic with Humanex Ventures provided the results of a survey on culture and climate as it pertains to the District’s employees. She said that out of 536 employees, 424 completed the survey. She reported that this year’s survey showed a significant increase in the number of satisfied and engaged staff. While 68.3% indicated that they were engaged and satisfied last year, 76.4% said they were this year. She said that the numbers indicate that District 73 has a healthy culture. 

Dr. Abrego provided an overview of the school improvement process and how the District is utilizing this process to develop plans that address school and districtwide goals. Dr. Martin, the Principal of Hawthorn School for Young Learners, and her guiding coalition leadership team discussed their school’s improvement plan. They talked about the steps they are taking to meet their goals. Ms. Cleek gave the school credit since 93% of staff and teachers indicated that they were engaged and satisfied in this year’s Humanex survey.

Attorney Ares Dalianis provided an update on the District’s intergovernmental agreement with the Village of Vernon Hills regarding the Hawthorn Mall Tax Increment Financing (TIF). Under the agreement, $400,000 in impact fees and developer contributions will be paid to the District. The Village will provide the maximum of 27% of the TIF’s property tax gain back to the District. The corner parcels will be annually surplused out. The Village will also work to terminate the TIF earlier than its typical 23-year lifespan.

Kevin Smith with Eder, Casella & Co. discussed District 73’s 2019-2020 audit. Overall, he said that the process went smoothly. The report is posted on the District’s website.

In his Superintendent’s Report, Dr. Hannigan included that the Hawthorn Education Association was donating $1,000 to the Key to 73 Foundation to provide families with access to Wi-Fi.  

In her President’s Report, Ms. Cleek discussed the Illinois Association of School Board’s new resolution on gun storage, which will be voted on at the delegate assembly. The resolution states that IASB shall support and advocate for legislation which strengthens child safe gun storage laws in the State of Illinois, requiring gun owners to store firearms, whether they are loaded or unloaded, in a securely locked container, if a person under the age of 18 is likely to gain access to the weapon without permission. The board members unanimously supported adoption of this resolution. 

Among the items approved in the Action Items section of the board meeting, were:

  • Elementary South School Design Development Plans 
  • Return to Learning: 3-8 Special Education Self-Contained Hybrid Model 
  • Return to Learning: K-2 General Education Hybrid Model 
  • Return to Learning: 3-8 General Education Hybrid Model