August 11, 2022 --
Welcome to the 2022 - 2023 School Year! I trust you’ve found time for relaxation, family time, and sunshine this summer, and you still have a couple of weeks to slip some more in. It's been quite a busy place around here while you were gone, so I wanted to update you on a few items as we look forward to the new school year.
Full Day Kindergarten, Jefferson, and Construction
We are very excited this year to offer the inaugural class of full-day kindergarten in District 64! The construction crews have been working around-the-clock throughout the summer to have our new spaces ready to go for the beginning of the year. The good news is that all of the indoor spaces will be completed, and full-day kindergarten will move ahead as planned. I’m excited to see students and staff in their new classrooms!
Due to the challenges of all the permits and bureaucratic steps we have to follow when completing construction, our outside work was delayed and unfortunately, will not be ready by the start of school. We will have to live with the construction fencing and parking challenges for a couple of more months.
Preschool at the newly renovated Jefferson Early Childhood Center will also be ready to start the school year. We’re very excited for everyone to see Jefferson with new classrooms, hallways, and places to explore. It’s like a whole new school! Unfortunately, there will also remain construction fencing at Jefferson for a few more months as well.
New District Website
We’re also pleased to announce that we have been working on a much-needed technological facelift to our district website. I'm sure you'll find it much more user-friendly and informative, and is better designed to properly showcase our district online. Should you have any questions, or if you notice something in error, please contact our Communications Specialist, Chris Lilly. School websites will be next, which we’ll work on throughout the year.
You may access our guidelines for the 2022 - 2023 School Year here. As you will see upon reading them, the guidelines are very different from what we've experienced over the past two years. There are only a couple of mandatory rules we must follow when someone tests positive, yet you'll see the remainder of the guidelines only list recommendations. Each family can decide their own comfort level regarding which recommendations to follow, and we ask that everyone respects the choices of others.
Illinois Sex Education Standards
You may be aware that Illinois adopted new sex education standards last spring, in order to align with the national standards in this subject area. These new standards were to begin this school year, yet it appears they will be reviewed again before further implementation. Districts decided this summer to either adopt the new standards or stay with what they had taught previously.
I believe we have an excellent sex education program that is both informative and age-appropriate. Furthermore, I'm concerned with adopting new standards that will most likely change over the next year. Like many of our neighbors, District 64 has opted out of the new sex education standards until we have a much clearer picture of what the standards will be going forward.
School Safety and Security
The events last spring in Texas as well as the Highland Park shooting this summer have been stark reminders of the challenges we all face with safety and security, especially in our schools.
I realize and understand the trust parents put in us when their children enter our buildings, and I want to assure you that District 64 has a strong crisis plan in place. I also want to reiterate a few safety and security precautions we utilize in our schools.
- We meet regularly with the Park Ridge and Niles Police Departments throughout the school year and to a lesser extent, our fire departments, to regularly discuss school safety.
- School buildings are locked during school hours, and now at all of our buildings, visitors must enter the front door after being viewed via camera, verbally addressed by the front office staff, and buzzed into the vestibule.
- This school year we will complete a comprehensive study of our plan, both internally and with law enforcement, to see what improvements should occur.
I know these are some heavy topics to begin our school year. While it’s necessary that we address all of them, I look forward to the upcoming excitement over the first day of school and allowing most of our focus to return to student learning.
Thank you for taking the time to read these updates. Enjoy the last couple weeks of summer, get your children’s first day of school outfit all picked out, and as always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me or any administrator.
Best wishes for a great year,
Dr. Eric Olson
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