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.