News from April 22, 2019 Board of Education meeting

News from April 22, 2019 Board of Education meeting

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Continuing its tradition of meeting on-site at every school each year, this month's meeting was conducted at Lincoln Middle School. Lincoln Principal Tony Murray highlighted the social emotional learning curriculum at the school, acknowledging the invaluable life lessons learned through the recent St. Baldrick's pediatric cancer research benefit (photo below). He also noted a successful new partnership with MaineStay to establish a “Future Leaders” program linking Lincoln students with high school mentors, under the leadership of Assistant Principal Tim Gleason.

Superintendent Laurie Heinz welcomed students and their families as well as staff members being recognized by the Board, starting with Caitlin Sanchez, a Lincoln 6th grader, as a recipient of the 2019 Infinitec Technology Achievement Award for her use of assistive technology to gain independence in communication. Read more here.

Turning to the District's annual celebration of Youth Art Month, Dr. Heinz announced that the work of 22 students from District 64 in grades K-8 on view at tonight's meeting had been displayed during the annual Park Ridge Public Library exhibit in March. She praised the students’ creativity using many different mediums and tools to produce their art.

D64 staff and PTO supporters were particularly applauded for the astounding success of the first joint Lincoln-Emerson St. Baldrick's fundraiser, #D64BiggerBolderBalder, on March 19 that raised $426,000 and still counting to benefit pediatric cancer research, ranking it as the highest school event in the nation and the fifth highest total. Dr. Heinz and the Board particularly acknowledged the work of Lincoln teacher Jim Tebo, who brought the event to Lincoln for the fourth time in 2019 and inspired Emerson to join as well. In turn, Mr. Tebo acknowledged the help of many staff and parents at both schools, and shared his pride in the students, staff, families and the Park Ridge community for their support.PHOTO: Mr. Tebo (blue shirt) is joined by organizers in attendance at the meeting.

Girls volleyball teams were the latest Interscholastic athletes from the middle schools recognized by the Board this year.

PHOTO: Emerson's 8th grade team coached by teacher Carol Zydek was one of four teams spotlighted for their recent season.

Other meeting highlights include:

  • Committee named to study Washington School space options - A new committee co-chaired by Dr. Heinz and Chief School Business Official Luann Kolstad has been created to study space utilization at Washington School, initially to explore temporary solutions to potential overcrowding for the 2019-20 school year. The committee will meet on April 29 and May 13, and will present its findings at the May 20, 2019 Board of Education meeting. In addition to its short-term work, the committee also will provide consultative feedback over the summer to D64 administration and architects on longer term solutions. Read more here.
  • Special Education progress reported for March - April - The Board reviewed the steps undertaken last month in the four key areas of staffing, professional development, consistency across the District, and creating a message of inclusion. Reviewing staffing for 2019-20, the Board reached consensus to provide only the District's required proportionate share goal estimated at $121,000 for the coming year for services to private/parochial schools, and would focus on speech language services. In the message of inclusion area, the ongoing work of the Parents and Teachers Talking Together (PT3) group was highlighted, along with plans for D64's Special Olympics 2019 Team (described above). A year-end review will be presented at the May 20 meeting.
  • D64 earns perfect 4.0 financial ranking for 10th year - The Illinois State Board of Education awarded D64 a perfect 4.0 and the top "Financial Recognition" designation for 2019 (utilizing data from the fiscal year ended June 30, 2018). Read more about our Financial Profile here.
  • 2019-20 raises for administrators and exempt staff discussed - Raises for administrators were proposed to be in alignment with the average Park Ridge Education Association (PREA) teacher raise for 2019-20. Exempt staff raises similarly would be in alignment either with teachers or Park Ridge Teacher Assistant Association (PRTAA) raises. Performance rubrics are now in place for each job classification within both the administrative and exempt categories. The recommendation will return for action at the May 20 meeting.
  • Policy updates continue - The Board reviewed a series of policies recommended for periodic updating through the Illinois Association of School Boards PRESS (Policy Reference Education Subscription Service). Several policies reviewed earlier were approved. The D64 Policy Manual is available online.

Curriculum changes ahead for 2019-20 also were featured

  • Inquiry-based learning animates new middle school social studies curriculum and resources approved for 2019-20 - Capping two years of work, D64's middle school social studies committee's recommendation to realign curriculum to meet new Illinois Learning Standards and invest more than $110,000 over six years to adopt new resources were approved by the Board. Beginning in 2019-20, the curriculum will include an exploration of the United States at both 7th and 8th grades that targets civic-mindedness, economic decision-making, geographic reasoning and historical thinking. Sixth graders will continue to explore Ancient Civilizations, with a renewed focus on civics and geographic reasoning to reflect the standards.The state standards are designed to create graduates who are civically engaged, socially responsible, culturally aware, and financially literate. Inquiry-based learning -- such as three units already created by D64 teachers at the 7th/8th grade level and two at the 6th grade level -- is fundamental to implementing the standards. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s HMH Social Studies will be D64's new core resource to inform and sustain student inquiry within these units by offering document-based investigations using primary sources; a comprehensive online platform; active learning elements that will aid in the creation of future inquiry units; and its partnership with Google Expeditions that provide students with an immersive experience through the use of D64’s virtual reality kits.
  • Bicycle/pedestrian safety lessons will expand in 2019-20 - D64 is preparing to expand its walking/biking education to help students learn effective methods to prevent and avoid traffic injuries, in conformance with a new state law. D64's Health curriculum for grades K-8 already addresses walking and biking safety. Next year, lessons will expand to physical education classes, too. Learning targets have been developed for each grade level in PE. Grade K-5 teachers are considering the use of scooters in lieu of bicycles to recreate situations students may encounter in their neighborhoods as they gain independence, such as crossing busy streets, recognizing and responding to safety signs, and following the rules for train and track safety.
  • Plans finalized for new middle school math course sequence in 2019-20 - With the introduction of District 207's Integrated Mathematics pathway in 2019-20, D64 has adjusted the learning targets and resources used in our current course sequence for Channels of Challenge Math and Accelerated Math. In Integrated Math, the traditional math course sequence -- Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 -- are replaced by Math 1, Math 2, and Math 3, where algebraic, geometric, and statistical thinking are embedded throughout all three courses. In District 64, some students enroll in high school level math classes through an accelerated math course sequence. For 2019-20, Math I will be introduced to D64 students in 7th grade Channels of Challenge Math and in 8th grade Accelerated Math. Students in 8th grade Channels of Challenge Math will enroll in Math II beginning in 2020-21. In addition to better aligning with future courses, the adjusted sequence has the added benefit of creating an accelerated experience at grade 6 (previously an enriched course) where students explore advanced topics. For the 2019-20 school year, D64 will add approximately $7,000 to the instructional materials budget to accommodate an increase in the per unit price of consumables and the additional Course 3 materials required for 7th grade Accelerated students.