The District 99 Board of Education held its workshop meeting on April 11, 2016. Highlights from the meeting include:
Three members of the North High Math Team presented to the Board of Education. Jack Scacco, a junior, explained that there are six meets each year and that approximately 45 students are involved. Hollis Kerr, a sophomore, said that being part of the math team has given her a preview of upcoming units in her math class at school, which has given her a head start. She also said that she’d like to study engineering in the future, and feels the Math Team experience will help.
“Math Team is a great experience, and I’ve loved it all four years,” said Phillip Kovarik, a senior who plans to study physics in college.
Superintendent Dr. Mark McDonald shared that the district has been reviewing the school’s facilities, and how the buildings must accommodate students with unique or special needs. After talking with teachers, counselors and student support staff members, administration recommended adding a single-use restroom at each school as well as modifying the locker rooms to add additional private changing stalls. Dr. McDonald believes that the modifications will provide more options and benefit many students for a relatively small cost; he added that no one requested that changes be made to the facilities.
North High Assistant Principal Dr. Sherri DeVore-Benitez said the school strives to provide a safe and supportive environment. She offered hypothetical situations to illustrate how access to more private spaces will help ease anxieties for certain students, such as those who may have medical issues or have been bullied.
South High Assistant Principal Vince Walsh-Rock offered further examples of students who will benefit, including those with modest standards due to religious beliefs and those students who have body image issues. He said that many students are already using restroom stalls to change clothes.
Director of Facilities Jim Kolodziej reviewed architectural drawings of the proposed locker room modifications as well as the costs, which range between $12-15,000 for both schools. He said that the restrooms can be opened at any time; renovations to the locker rooms can be accomplished over the summer.
Board members were supportive of the plans to move forward. They also agreed that reviewing other locker room areas and restrooms should be part of the Master Facility Plan discussions in the future.
Digital Presence for Teachers
Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning Gina Ziccardi and Director of Technology Rod Russeau provided an overview of the online systems and learning management tools in use at District 99. Teachers make use of online tools in a variety of ways, based on their student and classroom needs. Over half of the district’s teachers now use Google Classroom and applications, which are important for online collaboration, projects and discussions.
In order to continue to foster strong communication between teachers, students and parents, the district is developing a more consistent process for how students and parents can access class information, calendars and grades online. For example, by enhancing the current system that teachers use to input assignments and grades, students and families will be able to receive additional and more timely information via Home Access Center. In addition, Google Classroom will be designated as the preferred tool for document sharing and submission.
Administration will continue to collect input from teachers in order to implement digital expectations for the 2016-17 school year. Please click here to see the presentation slides.
Parent Teacher Advisory Committee
Dr. McDonald and Board Member Julia Beckman provided an update about the Parent Teacher Advisory Committee that was formed. The committee, which will meet annually, discussed Senate Bill 100. The intent of the new law, set for implementation in 2016-17, is to reduce out-of-school suspensions and expulsions and when possible, to limit the involvement of law enforcement in school.
“Our parents are very supportive of the direction of this law,” said Beckman. “They want a school to help a student grow, not send him away.”
Reception of Visitors
North High parent Michael McCann asked for clarification about the district’s locker room policies; he was instructed to communicate to the board through the superintendent.
Upcoming Board Meetings:
· April 18, 2016 – Board of Education Meeting at the ASC, 7:30 p.m.
· May 2, 2015 – Board of Education Workshop at the ASC, 7 p.m.