January 21st, 2022

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January 21st, 2022

January 21st, 2022

 

  
Dear District 57 Families,
 
Many of you are aware that there are two different lawsuits in Illinois regarding COVID mitigations and school districts. District 57 is one of the many school district defendants named in one of these lawsuits. The lawsuit, Austin v. Pritzker, was brought by parents across the state against 145 school districts and the State regarding the mask mandate and the requirement that districts exclude close contacts from school. Both lawsuits are seeking class certification, which, if granted, would apply the outcome of the case of all students and staff in a school district instead of only the named defendants. 
 
Arguments for both lawsuits were heard in court this week on motions for a temporary restraining order (TRO), which, if granted, could prohibit the ability of the defendants to enforce some mitigations and mandates. There are numerous possible outcomes on rulings for these cases. The judge presiding over the case has indicated that the earliest she would issue a decision on a TRO is Friday, January 28. Therefore, District 57 will continue to utilize all current mitigation strategies. 
 
While we don’t typically comment on pending litigation, we felt it was important to let our staff and parents know that there could be a decision soon that could immediately impact our current COVID mitigation strategies. Regardless of the outcome of the court cases, we want to emphasize that we remain committed to the health and safety of our students and staff. We will let you know as soon as we have additional information. 
 
January 20 Board Meeting Highlights
At last night’s School Board meeting, we were honored to have the Cub Scouts from Pack 151 lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance. They did a great job, and we thank them for coming out on a cold evening! 
 
 
Members of Pack 151

 

COVID Report
I reported that the school teams have done a great job of pivoting to implement changes based on last week’s new guidance. In addition to the reduced isolation/quarantine time of five days, we are making an effort to change to six feet of distance at lunch or keep maskless time under 15 minutes to reduce the number of students who are considered close contacts. As a result, we expect there to be fewer isolations/quarantines in the coming weeks.
 
Our student absence rate is slightly improved, although still higher than normal at 8%. We are encouraged by reports that this current surge could be subsiding. We hope this trend, combined with our mitigations, will keep more students and staff healthy and in school. We believe the weekly SHIELD testing program, which about 60 percent of students are signed up for, has played an important role in minimizing the spread in the schools. This month, we have seen a 5% positivity rate among those participating in SHIELD testing, which is up from less than 1% in December. We’re thankful that the testing catches these asymptomatic cases and prevents others from becoming infected. Simply notify your principal if your child is not signed up for SHIELD testing and you would like to start.
 
Staff absences also are improving slightly, but we continue to be challenged by the shortage of substitute teachers/instructional assistants. Nevertheless, we’ve managed to have adequate coverage by moving staff around as necessary. Again, I reiterate my gratitude to the teachers, support staff, and administrators for their flexibility in covering unfilled positions each day. (As a reminder, the state has eased sub requirements in response to the shortage; contact HR Coordinator Tom O’Rourke at [email protected] if you might be interested in becoming a sub.) I also reported to the Board that we are making KN95 masks available to staff, and I stressed that we are grateful to have a staff vaccination rate of 95%.
 
Financial Projections, Summer Building Projects, Student Fees
 Jason Kaiz, assistant superintendent of finance and operations, presented the District’s financial projections at last night’s meeting. This included a review of the current budget, with Jason reporting we are on track so far this year, as well as detailed projections through 2027. In addition, Jason reviewed the summer 2022 building improvements and bid packages, which the Board approved. About $2 million has been earmarked for the projects. The original budgeted amount was $3 million, but we worked with our architects to pull out non-essential items and reduce costs. As a reminder, the projects come from the Master Facilities Plan, a prioritized list of urgent maintenance, and include smaller-scale but necessary work, such as a new Fairview chiller; Fairview, Lions Park, and Westbrook classroom flooring and hallway carpeting; Fairview and Lions Park bathroom hand dryers; and Lincoln exterior doors.
The Board also approved the calendar and student fees for the 2022-2023 school year. The fees remain the same as the previous year and have not increased since 2010-2011.
You can find the financial projections, bid packages, calendar, and fees in the Board meeting public packet.

Thank you, Board Member Bull!
Board member Kevin Bull announced last night that he and his family are moving out of the state and he will be resigning from the Board, effective Feb. 4. On behalf of the District, I would like to thank Kevin for his work as a Board member and for volunteering to serve the community in this important capacity. The Board will appoint Kevin’s replacement within 60 days, and applications will be accepted between Feb. 4 and 28. The new member will serve until the next general election in April 2023, when the seat will be added to the ballot with a two-year term. On Feb. 4, we will distribute information about how to apply for the open position.
 
Board Members, Jen Kobus, Jen Ciok, Vicki Chung, Board President, Eileen Kowalczyk, Board Members Kevin Bull and Corrin Bennett-Kill. Not pictured: Board Vice-President, Kimberly Fay.

 

My best, 


Dr. Mary Gorr
Superintendent of Schools
Mount Prospect District 57
 
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