Dear Friends and Families of School District 197,
Daylight hours are short these days, but that doesn't keep us from continuing to make progress on some important things we've been working on in District 197. We have an incredible, committed team of professionals that have been working diligently to look for ways to increase student achievement and prepare students to be career or college ready upon graduation. Various parents and community members have also provided us with valuable insight this fall that we need and appreciate.
I'd like take a moment to update you on several critical projects that are forward thinking in scope and will require community understanding and support in the future in order to make good things happen for students.
New School Board Members
On January 6 three new board members will be sworn in: John Chandler, Matthew Klein, and Stephanie Levine. We welcome them to our school board and look forward to having them join our governing team!
District Strategic Implementation Plan
The District Strategic Implementation Plan is complete and was approved by the school board on December 16. The Strategic Implementation Plan plan outlines how the district will move towards meeting our six Goals outlined in the Strategic Framework. The plan has been written to also comply with the new state law requiring school districts to develop a "World’s Best Workforce" plan. The plan is quite comprehensive. After the new year begins, I will be inviting our public to hear more about how you can be involved in supporting our initiatives.
Dedicated Early Learning Facilities
In the fall I shared with you that we were exploring how to provide our early learning program with a permanent home in order to better meet the needs of our youngest learners. We also need to manage our growing enrollment. Our initial proposal included examining the possibility of locating two early learning centers in our two middle schools and moving 5th graders back to the elementary schools. Due to continued growth in the district (see my November 18 post), we needed to rethink this option.
With our growth projected to continue, we will need to maintain our current middle school capacity. This made locating early learning centers in our middle schools unfeasible. The Facilities Task Force has since submitted an alternate proposal to the school board to create an Early Learning Center in the north on district property at Heritage and use existing space in Pilot Knob for an Early Learning Center in the south. The construction of the Early Learning Center at Heritage will require the passage of a bond referendum. The school board will make a final decision in January on whether to authorize an election to seek voter approval.
Our Facilities Task Force also discussed ways to improve school security. Based on the discussion of the task force and school board feedback, a proposal for addressing school security was presented to the board on December 16. Funding the security improvements to our schools would also require the passage of a bond referendum. The school board will make a final decision regarding security in January.
The school board heard a proposal in October for expanding one-to-one computing in the district. While we have made some progress in the last three years in integrating technology in our magnet schools who received federal grant dollars, student access to computers is not consistent across the district from one building to the next, and we really have only begun the scratch the surface of what new technologies offer classrooms.
We examined several avenues for upgrading and integrating technology and proposed a comprehensive plan to the school board that we believe can be sustained and supported over time through an increase in the capital projects levy. The current levy is scheduled to be renewed sometime in 2014. The school board will make a final decision on this as well in January.
As you can see, some significant discussions have been taking place. You can find out more about the work of our Facilities Task Force and our technology planning by visiting our website. We have a bright future planned, and I look forward to telling you more about it in the coming months.
This time of year brings with it many opportunities for us to be with our family and friends. Time is precious, and so are your children. Please take a moment to spend quality time with them during your winter break. Whatever your plans, may your joy and happiness abound.