Board of Education Briefs for December 7, 2015

Board of Education Briefs for December 7, 2015

South High students Amanda Surrusco (front row), John O’Rourke, Shawn Tischler, Coleton O’Rourke (back row, l-r), with Principal Ed Schwartz, share information about their charitable organization “Cancer Smashers.”

The District 99 Board of Education held a workshop meeting on December 7, 2015. Highlights from the meeting include:

Student Perspectives

South High students Amanda Surrusco, John O’Rourke, Shawn Tischler and Coleton O’Rourke shared information about their charitable organization “Cancer Smashers.” Founded in 2011, the group is dedicated to fighting cancer. To donate as much as possible to research, they are self-funded and maintain a recycling program of aluminum, copper, scrap and lead to offset their program costs. In addition to supporting a number of local charities, Cancer Smashers has established a fellowship award for cancer research at Northwestern University and recently donated a $68,000 specialized microscope to Lurie Children’s Hospital. Visit for more info.

District 99 Education Foundation Strategic Plan

District 99 Education Foundation President Eric Olson and District 99 Board Member Don Renner presented the Foundation’s recently created strategic plan. The plan, which was created with the help of an outside expert, serves as a comprehensive guide for the organization to increase the funds raised for District 99. The plan, which includes projected revenues for existing and new programs, recommends the hiring of an executive director to oversee the organization and its programs. The Foundation is proposing that District 99 help to share in the cost of the salary of the director.

Renner said that the Board of Education has been discussing the need to explore and consider new revenue streams, and the Foundation could help to fulfill that need.

New Courses Proposed

Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning Gina Ziccardi, along with Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department Chairs Mark Mirandola (North High) and Val Moses (South High), proposed adding two courses in CTE for 2016-17:

  1. 3D Design and Animation 2, which will be a semester-long class. It will appeal to students interested in game design, design engineering, and special effects and is a continuation of the 3D Design and Animation 1 class, which has strong enrollment and interest from students.
  2. Civil Engineering and Architecture Project Lead the Way (PLTW), which will be a year-long class. This is the third class in the PLTW sequence. It teaches students the engineering design process and how to use open-ended problem solving skills. The software they will use is the same as used by some of the world’s top companies.

In addition, Accounting and Honors Accounting will be renamed Financial Accounting and Managerial Accounting Honors, more descriptive names for student transcripts. Industrial Technology will be renamed Engineering and Design, which is a more accurate description of the courses offered. Please click here to read the proposal presentation. The Board will be asked to approve the courses and changes at the December business meeting.

Staffing Ratio

Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Pete Theis reviewed the process the district uses for determining staff levels for the upcoming school year. The district is recommending the same ratio as last year, 21.8 students to one teacher, to staff buildings effectively and efficiently. The Board will vote on the ratio in January.

2016-17 Proposed Calendar

Superintendent Dr. Mark McDonald shared that an internal committee has been formed to study the calendar and to make a recommendation of adopting either the traditional or early start calendar. The committee will use the results from the all-district survey recently issued, as well as information from surrounding districts, to make a recommendation in late January.

Please click here to see a video of the meeting

Upcoming Board Meetings:

  • December 14, 2015 – Board of Education Meeting at South High, open session starts at 7:30 p.m.
  • January 11, 2016 – Board of Education Workshop Meeting at ASC, 7 p.m.
  • January 25, 2016 – Board of Education Meeting at ASC, 7:30 p.m.

This publication is for information purposes only; minutes approved by the Board serve as the official meeting record.