Dear District 57 Families,
I hope your children had a great first week of school! I had the opportunity to visit each of the buildings on the first day, and it was wonderful to see our students and staff and experience their excitement about being together in school again. Teachers and staff have put a lot of time and effort into their planning and preparations, and students are already hard at work and making good progress!
I am writing today to update you on reports and decisions from last night’s School Board meeting. Please see the following summaries and find more details and supporting information in the public packet
for the meeting. You can also watch a recording of the meeting
if you want to see the Board discussions and Community Comments portions.
I was pleased to present the layered mitigation strategies that we have in place, including masks required in all buildings and in buses regardless of vaccination status (in keeping with the Governor’s Executive Order), three feet of distancing as much as possible, contract tracing and improved ventilation. I also outlined our remote learning program, which 60 students have qualified for. These students are taking part in concurrent learning, i.e. they are livestreaming into in-person classrooms. In addition, I reviewed our protocols for quarantining after an exposure. Students who are required to quarantine will also have access to remote learning; we are finalizing the timeline for implementing the student’s remote plan.
In mid-September, we expect to begin utilizing weekly Shield Testing at the schools. This saliva-based testing will be optional -- parents can opt out, but we strongly encourage all unvaccinated individuals to take part. The Shield Test is highly effective and most districts in our area will begin utilizing it, as it is now free to all Illinois schools. We will provide parents/guardians with more information as it becomes available.
Finally, I addressed the social-emotional impact of the past year and a half and the ways that we are strengthening the supports we provide to students. We are focused on academic growth but also on things like supporting strong transitions and strengthening relationships. We are committed to building communities of belonging and resiliency!
The Board approved our Preliminary Staffing Plan, which includes recent hires that were necessary for this school year. For example, to meet current enrollment needs, we added instructional assistants for concurrent (remote) learning, a special education clerical assistant at Lincoln, and Kids’ Corner assistants. I’m also pleased that we were able to add part-time LRC directors at Fairview, Lions Park, and Westbrook -- these roles are so crucial to helping students get the most out of their valued LRC time.
I also presented enrollment data showing current K-8 enrollment of 2,158, compared to 2,242 last school year. We were able to maintain our class sizes this year, and in many cases, they went down. I will present a more comprehensive enrollment study next month.
Jason Kaiz, Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations, presented the Tentative Budget for Fiscal Year 2022. The Board will adopt the final budget at its meeting on Sept. 23. We expect to have a balanced operating budget with a surplus of just over $100,000. This includes budgeting $321,000 for the salaries of 17 instructional assistants to support concurrent learning. In addition, we are budgeting $3 million for capital projects to take place next summer. The budget includes $1.15 million in federal funding from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) program. These funds are intended to help school districts safely reopen and address the impact of COVID-19 on students. We plan to use the funds to support learning within the pandemic.
Last night, the board closed its meeting by discussing a topic for its next Community Forum, which will be held at Lions Park School on November 4, 2021. Board members decided to host a session related to the district’s social-emotional curriculum. We will communicate logistics soon.
Thank you for reading these important updates as we get the school year underway. Have a great weekend!
Dr. Mary Gorr
Superintendent of Schools
Mount Prospect District 57