September 27th, 2021

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September 27th, 2021

September 27th, 2021

 
 
 
Dear District 57 Families,
 
I am pleased to provide the following updates from the School Board meeting that took place on September 23:
 
Budget
This Board meeting included our annual public hearing on the new fiscal year, which goes from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022. Jason Kaiz, Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations, presented our final budget, and the Board adopted it. The budget has a total deficit of $246,246. This includes budgeting $321,000 for the salaries of 17 instructional assistants to support concurrent learning this school year. 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.
 
The budget is created at a point in time and is meant to be a guide for the District with an understanding that it may fluctuate throughout the year. Although the Board has approved the final budget to be submitted to Cook County and the State, the District will continue to look at ways to save throughout the year that would help decrease the deficit. In addition, we have not yet been able to fill the instructional assistant openings, due to a lack of candidates. Therefore, the deficit would diminish if we do not use the full amount budgeted for those positions. However, I stress that we believe this support is essential in our current environment, and we hope to find qualified people to take on these roles. In the Board meeting’s public packet, you can find Jason’s presentation with more details on the budget that was passed and our budgeting process.
 
COVID-19 Updates
As you know, we have had COVID cases at each of the schools, which have required some quarantining among students and staff. We are always concerned when this happens, but overall we feel that our layered mitigation strategies are working well and keeping our COVID numbers down. This has enabled us to achieve a sense of normalcy this fall that we were not able to have last year. It’s great to see the daily rhythm in the schools, with our students having full and complete experiences across the day. I thank students, families, and staff for contributing to the success we’ve had so far, by being vigilant about things like masking and staying home if there are symptoms.
 
We will soon start weekly SHIELD Testing for students (other than the 32 percent who opted out). Unfortunately, there have been some delays in implementing the program across the state, but we hope to be able to start the saliva-based testing in early October. We will be communicating more details in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I invite you to check out these FAQs provided by SHIELD for answers to many questions you might have.
 
Enrollment Study
 I presented our detailed Enrollment Study. Enrollment is currently 2,158. We do have some capacity issues at Westbrook and Lincoln, which we will need to address in the years to come. But this year, we have been able to maintain and sometimes reduce our class sizes. You can find school and grade-level breakdowns and future projections in the public packet.
 
Fall 2021 Student Data & SEL
Dr. Kristin Vonder Haar, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, reviewed our schools’ processes to analyze students’ academic skills. We collect data three times each year (fall, winter, and spring). The school teams review the data to ensure that core instruction meets the needs of our students and to identify anyone who may need additional help through services such as math and literacy support. This process is especially important this year, as we are concerned about any learning loss that might have occurred during the pandemic. Our math and reading averages stayed consistent in many cases, and the majority of our scores are above national averages. But there are some areas where we see declines. We will be looking at implementing school-wide and individual supports based on these results and will continue to monitor student progress throughout the year to ensure students receive the support and services they need. I encourage you to read Dr. Vonder Haar’s informative presentation in the public packet.
 
Dr. Vonder Haar also outlined how the District is continuing to focus on social-emotional learning (SEL) this school year, which will include adopting an SEL curriculum and refining our processes for identifying and supporting students who may need extra support in these areas.
 
Community Forum & Lions Park Ribbon Cutting
 The School Board’s next Community Forum will be on Thursday, Nov. 4, at Lions Park. We will address the important and timely topic of social-emotional learning. Prior to this discussion, at 7 p.m., we will officially unveil the Lions Park expansion, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tours. We plan to welcome village officials and invite the community to join us. Please mark your calendar for this exciting evening. More information to come.
 
We’re Still Hiring!
Our schools continue to need instructional assistants, substitute teachers, and substitute instructional assistants. These positions are great opportunities to play a valued role in the schools and help our students learn and grow every day! Find the details and links to apply at this link. Are you interested, or do you know someone who might be? Please help spread the word so we can fill these important roles.
 
Dr. Mary Gorr
Superintendent of Schools 
Mount Prospect District 57
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