school board

Highlights of the January 8 Board of Education Meeting

Representatives of the DLR Group and LAMP Inc. presented an update on projected costs of the kindergarten school at the Sullivan Center. The total project cost estimate is now at $11,998,055. This estimate does not include the road work, which entails providing access to the school from Phillip Road to create a smooth traffic flow for buses and parents dropping off their children. The Cook Memorial Public Library District Board recently approved this project.

The presenters discussed possible cost cutting measures that would change the aesthetics of the building but not its functionality. These options included switching the flooring to a less expensive material and doing away with the over hangings/punched openings on the north face of the building. They also provided the option of removing the art studio/staff collaboration spaces on the second floor, which would lead to a substantial cost savings of about $500,000.

The Board discussed the pros and cons of these options. For the project to go out to bid in a timely fashion, the Board would need to finalize and approve the budget at the next meeting on January 22.

Board President Sonali Patil continued the discussion about the Educational Facilities Master Plan (EFMP). She said that in previous discussions, all board members had agreed that the District’s schools are full and to do nothing to address this issue was not an option. The next opportunity to go out for a referendum is November of 2018. Suggestions the board members made for next steps included:

  • Review the projects in the EFMP and prioritize them
  • Ask the community for feedback on what they would like to see for their school district
  • Ask school administrators to provide updated lists of the space concerns in their buildings
  • Use social media as a tool to build awareness about the space concerns at the schools
  • Launch another community survey
  • Schedule special public meetings in February to seek community input
  • Talk with school districts that launched successful referendum campaigns

The discussion will continue at the January 22 Board meeting. School administrators will be asked to prioritize the identified projects in their buildings per the EFMP.

school board meeting

Highlights of the October 23 Board of Education Meeting

Dr. James Tohme, Principal of the School of Dual Language, and a group of students gave an interactive presentation called “Learning the Dual Way” at the October 23 Board of Education meeting. Students gave an example of a lesson taught in Spanish and received enthusiastic applause.

The presentation was followed by a discussion about the kindergarten school at the Sullivan Center. Representatives from DLR Group, LAMP Incorporated, and Lisa Leali, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, responded to board members’ questions about the design. The discussion included the flexibility of the design, potential cost savings in the design development phase and student teacher ratios.  The building is designed with 18 classroom spaces and four maker spaces that can be used as classrooms to accommodate future growth. The design allows for lower than 25:1 ratios using 16 classrooms using the last three years’ average of kindergarten enrollment.  The studio spaces are classroom spaces used for art and activity spaces for kindergarteners until enrollment grows to the level where those spaces are needed for general education classrooms. The representatives explained that the building featured several rooms that could easily be used as classrooms allowing for growth and possible lower student teacher ratios should the board decide to make that investment in additional teachers. The design, which had been created with the input and support of kindergarten teachers, meets the board guidance of:

  • Teacher ratios below 25:1
  • The ability to be a two-story building
  • Not to worry about the wetland on the site
  • Space for additions in the future if needed
  • Make the building as flexible as possible for future use
  • Dedicated space for small group instruction
  • Sufficient outdoor play/facility area
  • Discussion of traditional vs pre-fab construction

These guidelines were provided at the June 12, 2017 school board meeting before the design phase began.  The board also discussed reviewing research on student teacher ratios.

Additionally, the representatives said there is room for another section of classrooms to be added to address population challenges in years to come. The Board approved (5 to 2) the schematic design for the new school.

Superintendent Nick Brown discussed placement options for the students moving into several new subdivisions, including the Residences of Cuneo Mansion and Gardens, Woodland Chase and Mellody Farms. Mr. Brown reiterated his earlier recommendation that the students from the Cuneo project attend Elementary North and Middle School North. He explained that both Middle School North and Middle School South are full and lack space, but Middle School North can use space at John Powers.  He recommended that students of Woodland Chase and Mellody Farms attend Aspen and Middle School South.  The board asked to see how these placements would affect demographics at the schools before they vote on this issue.

Abe Singh, Director of Finance and Business Operations, gave a presentation on the proposed 2017 Tax Levy, which must be filed with the county by the fourth Tuesday of December. The levy for 2017 proposes a 4.95% increase, equal to a request of $2,074,124 over the 2017 extension. The total levy request for 2017 is $43,976,241, with a probable estimated extension of $43,123,571. While the district is asking for this amount, the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) limits the increase in property tax extension to 5% or the increase in the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less. The 2016 CPI was 2.1%. The levy calculations are based on the consumer price index, new construction, levy adjustment and equalized assessed valuation. The levy is an action item to be voted on at the 11/13 board meeting.

Mr. Singh also spoke about the renewal of Lakeside Transportation’s contract. He said that the bus company’s proposal asks for an estimated $333,000 increase over last year. Mr. Singh said that he would meet with the school districts Hawthorn partners with for bus service to obtain their feedback and then come back to the board.

The discussion on the Educational Facilities Master Plan survey was tabled due to lack of time. The board will hold a special meeting to address the survey.




The Hawthorn 73 Educational Facilities Master Plan (EFMP) was developed by a Core Team of community members, parents, staff, and administration who collaborated with DLR Group, a nationally leading architecture firm. The group assessed the district’s needs and proposed recommended options for the future of the district to the Hawthorn 73 School Board. The process began in March 2016 and the Core Team has been meeting since July 2016 to find a district-wide solution solving for our growth needs.

To learn more about the EFMP and the April 4, 2017 referendum, visit Hawthorn 73’s website:


The operational costs associated with Hawthorn 73’s current growth trend are already factored into the district’s operational budget planning. The funding needed to implement our Educational Facilities Master Plan (EFMP) reflects anticipated capital costs that are planned for separately from the district’s operational budget.

Over the last 20 years, we have grown by an average of 30-50 students per year. During that time, we have successfully budgeted for additional staff and materials costs from regular operational funding sources—without asking the community for an additional operational levy. The operational costs anticipated because of our growth account for teachers, staff, and materials needed to educate additional students. We will continue to plan for these costs based on the operational funds we regularly rely on.

To learn more about the EFMP and the April 4, 2017 referendum, visit Hawthorn 73’s website:


Over the next ten years, we’re projected to welcome approximately 700 more students. By 2026, our enrollment will reach more than 5,000 students, representing more than 30% growth since 2008.

Hawthorn 73’s current growth trend started in 1998, when enrollment was approximately 3,191 students. This trend was the driving force behind the 2004 bond referendum that helped build Townline Elementary. The district’s work over the last 20 years, and our work going forward with the recent Educational Facilities Master Plan (EFMP) reflect current and projected enrollment growth.

Families move to Hawthorn 73 for educational excellence. Our growth reflects the high-quality education we provide our students and the high standards and pride our community has for our schools. Our community-driven EFMP provides the vision for how we will adapt our facilities to meet our growth needs and provide the innovative, technology-driven education our students need to thrive in the 21st century.

To learn more about the EFMP and the April 4, 2017 referendum, visit Hawthorn 73’s website:

Early Voting Begins this Week for the April 4 Election

Early voting began this week for the April 4, 2017 election. During the election, voters will be asked to consider spending $42 million in school facilities funding to help accommodate for our growth and maintain our commitment to educational excellence, based on the vision set forth in the Educational Facilities Master Plan (EFMP).

Learn more about the EFMP Thursday, March 30, when Hawthorn School District 73’s Superintendent Nick Brown will host a “Superintendent’s Coffee – Why the Educational Facilities Master Plan is needed” at the Village of Vernon Hills, 290 Evergreen Drive, Vernon Hills from 10:30-11:30 am. Mr. Brown’s coffee chat will include a short facilities presentation followed by a question/answer session.

The district has prepared information regarding the details and tax impact of the referendum, as well as the STEM resources called for in the EFMP, the funding for which is contingent on the referendum. Learn more about STEM and facilities by clicking on the link here ~ ~.

We welcome the opportunity to answer questions for your civic organization, or any community group. Invite the district to give a presentation by calling Wendy Peterson at 847-990-4215.

Connect with Hawthorn 73 Superintendent Nick Brown for questions regarding the EFMP and the referendum at or 847.990.4215.

Educational Facilities Master Plan Approved

On January 11 the Board of Education adopted an Educational Facilities Master Plan (EFMP) for the district.  An EFMP is a 10-year facilities plan to support the district’s growing needs and long-term strategic plan.  The Board selected the revised Option B – On Campus Additions.  The revision includes plans to add STEM facilities to each building along with relocating 18 kindergarten classrooms to the Sullivan Center, the purchase of an 11.8 acre site across from Elementary South, all other additions and renovations (current needs and future growth) at existing schools and relocate EC/Pre-K from Lincoln Center to Elementary North.  The Dual Language kindergarten would remain with the School of Dual Language. For additional information, please visit the Hawthorn 73 website.

BOE and VHPD Form a Partnership

The District 73 Board of Education and the Vernon Hills Park District Board agreed to begin discussions toward an Inter-Governmental Agreement to create a partnership to construct a Kindergarten Center at the Sullivan Center.  This partnership is part of the Educational Facilities Master Plan (EFMP).  The Board is already taking steps to begin the implementation of the plan.  The Board is looking to fund the project out of cash reserves to pay for this component of the EFMP.

Referendum Ballot Proposition

On January 11 the Board of Education passed a resolution providing for and requiring the submission of a ballot proposition for the consolidated election on April 4, 2017 in the amount of $42,000,000.  The $42,000,000 would cover the costs of the remaining components for revised Option B On Campus Additions of the Educational Facilities Master Plan to build and equip additions to, improve the sites of and alter, repair and equip school buildings, including to provide STEM facilities; acquire and improve a site.

BOE Approves Reorganization Plan

The Hawthorn School District 73 Board of Education voted Monday to reorganize its district into neighborhood (boundary) schools beginning with the 2015-16 year. For this reorganization plan, students entering Grades 3 through 5 in 2015 may stay in their current school or opt out of this and go to their newly assigned school if there is available space. In other key business, the Board approved free full day kindergarten for all its students, which will also begin in the fall of 2015.

Superintendent Nick Brown stated, “Full day kindergarten is hugely successful in other districts and has had a significant impact on those districts in their ability to prepare and meet the needs of the student populations.”

With full day kindergarten as well as with grandfathering, parents have the option to opt out of the offers. Parents may choose half day kindergarten for their child but would be responsible for picking up their child midday.

With the reorganization decision behind, school board members and the administration will now work to determine boundary lines for neighborhood schools.

Strategic plan project update

Please Volunteer!  Hawthorn is working with CEC to develop a strategic plan for the District. We are working to gather a group of 50 people representing a variety of experiences and interests. If you are interested in being considered, please return the Strategic Plan Volunteer Application by November 22. You may also complete the form in an online format.

Please Take the Survey!  All community members are encouraged to provide their insight by taking a brief online survey – only six questions and you may remain anonymous.

For more information, check the web article, Hawthorn Joins with Center for Educational Change to Develop Strategic Plan.