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Highlights of the November 12 Board of Education Meeting

Board President Sonali Patil thanked a number of groups and individuals for their help in educating the community about the referendum, including the Families and Friends of Hawthorn District 73, the school board, administration, teachers and staff. During the public comment section, Mike Schenk, who led the volunteer effort, also thanked the community.

Technology Director Dmitry Andrievsky gave a presentation on technology software usage and Chromebook insurance. He discussed three pieces of software used in connection with Chromebook usage: Gaggle, Securly:// and Hapara.

  • Gaggle is responsible for content analysis, review, insight and analytics. Trained experts evaluate content around the clock and can notify officials of unsafe situations. He said that there have been 27 violations thus far this year, which is minimal for a district of this size.
  • Securly://keeps schools CIPA compliant, ensures safety on social media, and maintains access to an age-appropriate internet.
  • Hapara is a classroom management tool. It provides visibility of learner work, secure learner web browsing and differentiated instruction. Hapara enables teachers to view and facilitate real time browser activity.

Mr. Andrievsky also discussed guidelines for Chromebook repairs. The District determines whether a break is eligible for a Dell warranty repair or if supplemental insurance is purchased. If repair is not covered by plans, the repair is the student’s responsibility.

He listed some recommendations for school year 2019-2020. One of the recommendations was to allow students to keep their devices over the summer. Another was to consider increasing the technology fee (for 6-8 grades) from $75 to $100.

Director of Finance and Business Operations Abe Singh discussed next steps to be taken after the referendum. He reviewed the district’s financial situation, including the current status of the District’s fund balance, the deficit and future liabilities. To offset the costs, the District will develop a cost reduction strategy.

Recommendations are to finalize site work with the District’s partners (the Village, the park district and the library), incorporate all the value engineering items that were discussed from the first bid, and proceed with bidding in January of 2019 for the building of the kindergarten center at the Sullivan Community Center.

The superintendents emphasized that this was a reasonable approach. The board members and superintendents discussed the process for developing a cost reduction strategy.

A public hearing was held to approve a proposed property tax levy increase. The Board unanimously approved a resolution regarding final amounts necessary to be levied for the year 2018.

Interim Superintendent Mark Friedman gave an update on the superintendent search. He said that 40 people had applied for the position. Consultants will review the applications and reduce that number to six for the board members to meet and interview.