D90 Board Business Meeting 2/19/19
1. The most significant development at this meeting was the decision to change the implementation date for RMS block schedules to Fall 2020. After two community meetings and two schedule revisions, the board discussed the timeline and the proposal at length, as well as concerns raised by teachers regarding the transition to block scheduling. Although the social studies teacher who spoke was not against the block scheduling, she felt some teachers wanted more professional development to be better prepared for the transition. The Board and administration demonstrated their respect for our teachers by taking their concerns into consideration. Board members discussed extensively how in delaying the implementation D90 is recognizing that this is another year of inadequate math instruction and weighed that against the teacher input that some feel they need more preparation. The D90 board is a diverse group of people with varying perspectives but through respectful discourse they were able to come up with a solution that everyone supported. The next step will be for the administration to provide a timeline for implementation of block scheduling with details regarding professional development. This decision by the board is similar to the types of decisions I have observed in the past in terms of thoughtful discussions and purposeful implementation.
2. There was a presentation about the role of instructional specialists; the presentation focused on the way instructional specialists support our teachers one-on-one, through in-class support and in meetings. The use of instructional specialists recognizes that professional development works best when provided in an on-going basis and demonstrates our district's desire to support our teachers in the best way possible, as well as to inspire a growth mindset among our teachers.
3. Information about an event that will be on April 25th at OPRF was shared. The event is in partnership with IMPACT and Positive Youth Development and is called Hidden in Plain Sight. There will be a mobile unit set up to simulate a teen's bedrooms to teach parents about signs of drug and alcohol use that may be hidden in plain sight. There will also be a speaker.
D90 Board Meeting 1/22/19
1. An extensive presentation was provided by social work staff about the work they do with students with IEPs and 504 plans, but there was also a discussion of the work they do with students who are not on their caseload. Social work staff have noticed an increase in drop-ins for trauma, anxiety, and depression, as well as school refusal; they are doing their best to meet these students’ needs by being creative with meeting before school, at lunch, recess, and after school, but ultimately could benefit from additional staff. The board was receptive to this conversation and will look into how to support the social work department. A discussion about the root causes of increased anxiety and depression and what the board can do to address those issues also occurred.
2. The board approved a contract with Easter Seals to perform a comprehensive assessment of our special education department that will focus on Willard and Roosevelt, but their recommendations will be applicable to Lincoln as well. To my knowledge D90 has never engaged in this kind of evaluation and I am excited about the opportunity to make improvements within our special education department and for how those improvements will positively impact the district as a whole.
3. There was a presentation about the launching of a new community calendar website that will pull information from D90, D200, Village, Township, Park District, and Library, and provide information about community events in a single location. I loved hearing about the efforts to increase communication and collaboration as a way to engage our community.
4. The district will be implementing a four-part curriculum about vaping as part of PE at Roosevelt called "Catch My Breath."
5. An Inclusiveness Advisory Board (IAB) update was given about the work with Roosevelt students back in November. IAB heard from students about their experiences, and the IAB is now determining how to use this feedback as well as how to continue to dialogue with students. I am continually impressed with the district's commitment to creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for our students regardless of race, gender, gender identity, religion, ethnicity, socioeconomics, or disability. I share this commitment and hope to be able to join the board and continue this work.
6. Although I have heard this before, it is worth repeating about school funding in Illinois: We are last in the country in state funding for K-12 education. In Illinois less than 25% of public school funding comes from the state, while the national average is 46%. In River Forest 90% of school budget is funded by our property taxes, and while we can all agree that our property taxes are challenging, school funding is essentially a state-level issue and I think that is important to keep in mind.
7. We participated in a tour of Willard. The district reworked some of the existing spaces and put on an addition. The reworking and addition was driven by space constraints: physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech services were being delivered at times in the hallways and staff office space was in closets and under stairwells. We spent time in a classroom piloting Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Principal Diane Wood shared a great nugget: what is necessary for some is good for all, and benefits all of our kids. I love that philosophy and appreciate the district recognizing the value of individualized education as a way to all for excellence for all.
Roosevelt Parent Meeting Regarding Block Scheduling - 1/15/19
1. Thank you to the administration, RMS staff and board members for thorough and thoughtful approach in figuring out how to find a solution to this scheduling issue
2. The change in block scheduling was a teacher driven decision in order to allow for more math minutes. The Illinois learning standards have become more rigorous which means D90 has adopted curriculum to best support our students meeting those needs and that curriculum works best in longer periods of time. RF students receive less math minutes per day that the state average. Kids will not just be sitting at their desk listening to a lecture. Lesson plans will have chunking built in win group work, lecture, experiential learning, and one on one teacher feedback.
3. ATP courses will continue to be offered at all grade levels.
4. Standards based grading was also introduced in response to teachers at the elementary schools asking for a better way to communicate with parents regarding student work and achievement.
5. I remain disappointed that foreign language will not be offered everyday in 7th and 8th grade. But, I also appreciate that the district made changes to the initial proposal of one quarter per year and that now there will be an option for students to take an additional quarter of FL instead of another exploratory subject.
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Paid for by Friends of Kathleen Avalos for D90.