Posted October 1st, 2015 by kcanary
Discussion – Update on District 54’s Early Learning Center
In August 2014, the district consolidated early childhood programs and services with the opening of the Early Learning Center (ELC). By the end of its first year, the Early Learning Center had 771 students, an increase of 70 students from the previous year. Last year we screened 329 children, because the ELC program serves both students who need special education services and students who are identified as being at-risk of academic failure. More than 85% of the students screened qualified for the ELC program.
A number of resources and programmatic structures support the diverse needs of the students and families of the ELC. Bilingual support is provided in four languages – Spanish, Gujarati, Urdu, and Polish. Our bilingual teachers work closely with classroom teachers to design instruction supporting the development of language and literacy skills in the child’s native language as well as English.
Floortime facilitators serve 48 students with autism and their families. Services include sessions to develop a circle of communication between the child and others, parent support groups, evening activities and experiential trips. Child and Family Educators offer parent education groups and parent/child interaction groups at five resource centers in the community. Assistive technology facilitators and speech language pathologists will be offering Core Vocabulary parent education groups and parent/child interaction groups to facilitate communication in our nonverbal students. Occupational therapists, physical therapists and school social workers from the ELC will implement parent education groups and parent/child interaction groups focusing on fine motor skills, gross motor skills and social emotional skill development. Additional child and family events scheduled at the ELC include a focus on literacy, music and movement, sensory opportunities and kindergarten readiness workshops. All are designed to ensure our most at-risk students are prepared to be successful students upon entering kindergarten.
“We have this whole group of caring professionals right there beside us, wanting him to succeed as much as we do,” parent Valerie Jakobi said.
Discussion – Update on Full-Day Kindergarten
In August 2015, District 54 began offering free, full-day kindergarten at each of our elementary schools. Last spring District 54’s principals and kindergarten teachers facilitated informational meetings for incoming kindergarten parents to explain the structure and rationale behind the decision to move toward full-day kindergarten across the district. Sample daily schedules were provided during these meetings and parents were informed of their option to remain in a half-day program at their base school. Of the 1,527 students enrolled in kindergarten, three students are currently participating in the half-day option.
This spring all kindergarten teachers attended professional development sessions that provided a comprehensive overview of the full-day structure. The teachers attended additional sessions this summer to plan lessons and coordinate common assessments with their teams. This fall, kindergarten teachers have already attended another session targeting ways staff can support kindergarten students during literacy and math acceleration blocks.
In August, staff screened all incoming kindergarten students. These one-on-one screenings provide initial academic information and acclimate students to the school, teacher and classroom.
The first few weeks of instruction have been extremely successful with feedback from staff centered on how much more they are able to support students by shifting from half- to full-day kindergarten. Students have quickly become acclimated to daily lessons and the structure of the full school day. Students were very excited to be provided PE, music and art opportunities, as were the fine arts and PE staff with having the opportunity to work with the youngest learners in the school on critical fine and gross motor development.
Starting next week, all teaching staff and parents will be provided the opportunity to share their feedback on the implementation of full-day kindergarten via an online survey. During conferences, laptops will be made available for parents to complete the surveys before or after the child’s conference. The feedback from both staff and parents will be used to evaluate implementation, and examine any areas for growth.
Public Comment: No one asked to speak.
Freedom of Information Act Requests: District 54 replied to two FOIA requests since the last meeting related to student record information, bus videos, collective bargaining agreements, contracts, the budget, legal settlements and payroll information.
Consent Agenda: The School Board approved the following items on the Consent Agenda
- Minutes of the regular and closed-session meetings on Sept. 17, 2015
- Resignations, retirements and employment of personnel
- Checks dated Sept. 18, 2015
- The Board approved revisions to Board Policy 7:390 – Prohibition of Electronic Communication or Entertainment Devices and Cellular Telephones.
- The Board had the first reading of revisions to the following policies: 4:110(c) – Vehicle Accident Procedures, 4:140(b) – Waiver of Fees for Low Income Families, 4:170(b) – Standardized School Crisis Plans, 6:235 – Acceptable Use of the Internet, 7:70(b) – Truancy and 7:100 – Health, Eye and Dental Examinations, Immunizations and Exclusion of Students.
Adjournment: The Board adjourned at 7:35 p.m. to closed session for employment/appointment matters.