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Brief from the Board Meeting on Dec. 12, 2019

Discussion – 25 Years of Dual Language and Immersion Education:

District 54 is celebrating a significant milestone this year: 25 years of providing dual language programs and fostering bilingualism, biliteracy and cultural competency among students, staff and the community. The Spanish Dual Language Program began with one kindergarten class at MacArthur School in 1994. Since then, District 54 has expanded the Spanish program to three additional elementary schools, has added a Japanese Dual Language Program, began a Chinese Immersion Program at Campanelli and has expanded these programs to the junior high schools.

Across the district, more than 1,600 students in kindergarten through eighth grade are engaging in academic conversations in Spanish, Japanese and Chinese across all curricular areas and building relationships that broaden their cultural understanding. Many graduates are choosing career paths that utilize their skills in both languages, and former students are returning to the district to teach in the program and enroll their own children in a dual language or immersion school. In November, District 54 received the Exemplary Elementary Foreign Language Program Award from the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages. Click here to read more about the history, development and long-term impact of District 54’s dual language programs.

Discussion – Early Learning Center Update:

For more than 40 years, thousands of students who were at-risk of not being successful in school have been supported by the District 54 early childhood program and started kindergarten prepared for success. In 2014, District 54 opened the Early Learning Center, which currently serves more than 900 at-risk and special education students and their families. In the last year, the Early Learning Center has made changes to enhance the experience for students. A curriculum was adopted that is tied to the Illinois Early Learning Developmental Standards, encompasses social-emotional learning, and includes high quality texts that celebrate diversity. Adjustments were also made to the screening for the Preschool for All program, a state-funded program designed to meet the neediest children.

The District 54 Early Learning Center has received multiple awards of excellence, including the Outstanding Practices in Inclusion Award and the Gold Circle of Quality from ExceleRate Illinois for meeting the highest quality standards in three areas: learning environment and teaching quality, administrative standards, and training and education. Click here to learn more about District 54’s dedicated approach to early childhood education.

Public Comment: No one asked to comment.

Freedom of Information Act Requests: Four requests were received and responded to since the last report to the Board regarding contracts and leases related to copiers and printers, as well as managed or outsourced print, IT and document management systems; purchasing records; information about custodial positions and terminations; and the District 54 budget year start date.

Consent Agenda:  The School Board approved the following items on the Consent Agenda.

  • The minutes of the regular and closed-session Board of Education meetings on Nov. 14, 2019
  • Resignations, leaves, retirement and employment of personnel
  • Checks dated Nov. 22 and Dec. 6, 2019
  • The treasurer’s reports on cash and investments for October 2019
  • The monthly update of revenues and expenditures for November 2019
  • The continuation with Blue Cross Blue Shield as the excess loss carrier for the district health care plans
  • The purchase of custodial cleaning products and paper products
  • The purchase of art supplies
  • The purchase of classroom and art paper supplies
  • A resolution authorizing attorneys Franczek P.C. to intervene in appeals proceedings for assessment year 2019 before the Illinois Property Tax Appeals Board
  • A resolution authorizing attorneys Hodges, Loizzi, Eisenhammer, Rodick and Kohn to intervene in appeals proceedings for assessment year 2019 before the Illinois Property Tax Appeals Board
  • A resolution authorizing attorneys Franczek P.C. to intervene in tax objection complaint proceedings for assessment year 2019, pending in the Circuit Court of Cook County
  • The Illinois State Board of Education School Improvement Plan for Addams Junior High School
  • The destruction of the verbatim records of the closed-session school board meetings held on May 17, 2018; May 31, 2018; and June 6, 2018

Superintendent’s Report:
Superintendent Andy DuRoss talked about leadership in District 54. It starts with the Cabinet helping all 65 administrators create the right conditions so students and staff can thrive. This year District 54 has focused on the impact of the 3 P’s – people, PLCs and positivity. Through this work, the district is ensuring that every child has a champion and is developing a leadership pipeline, developing the future leaders of District 54.

Dr. Erin Knoll shared a mid-year update on various instructional projects.

  • The Social Science Task Force has been meeting since October to select and develop a high quality curriculum to replace current resources that have been used for 12 years. A final proposal will be presented to the School Board in the spring for potential adoption for the 2020-21 school year.
  • The Report Card Committee is examining the current report card and making adjustments to provide a more comprehensive profile of each student, focused on both academic and social-emotional success. Recommendations will be shared with the District Citizens’ Advisory Committee for feedback and a proposal will be brought to the School Board in the spring.
  • The district issued iPads to all kindergarten through second grade students and Chromebooks to all third and fourth grade students this fall. These resources are part of a blended learning environment across the district.
  • Innovate 54 teams from each school continue to explore effective instructional strategies that foster deep student learning; and all staff attended grade level Innovation sessions this fall.
  • A new science Project Based Learning was designed and implemented across all grade levels. A second trimester Project Based Learning opportunity, called Championing Kindness, aligns to the social-emotional learning curriculum.
  • Student ambassadors has expanded this year into the elementary schools, creating student leaders at all buildings.
  • District 54 staff have been highly involved in professional learning, having taken more than 1,300 classes since the start of the school year. In addition to in-person classes, the district also offered learning opportunities online and via podcast.

Board President Report:
Board President Bob Kaplan reported that the holiday card from STR Partners this year featured the artwork of eight District 54 students.

District 54 Education Foundation:
The Foundation is currently selling tickets to the Windy City Bulls game on Jan. 10. Tickets to this fundraiser can be purchased through a link on the Foundation website.

New Business:

  • The Board approved the appointment of an additional community representative to serve on DCAC for the 2019-20 school year.
  • The Board approved revisions to Board Policy 2:120(b) – Board Conferences, Conventions and Workshops with Resolution Regarding Board Member and Employee Expenses.
  • The Board had the first reading of the following policies:
    • 2:120(a) – Board Member Orientation,
    • 2:140(a) – Communications To and From Board,
    • 2:220 – School Board Meeting Procedure and
    • 2:80 – Board Member Code of Conduct.
  • The Board awarded a three-year contract to Schools by Floodlight for the design and hosting of the District 54 and school websites.
  • The Board approved Nicholas & Associates to act as construction manager for a building addition at Collins School.
  • The Board approved the appointment of Christopher Schmid as principal of Frost Junior High for the 2019-20 school year.

Closed Session: The Board adjourned at 8:59 p.m. to closed session for employment/appointment matters.

Students of all ages engage in coding lessons

The school library at Dirksen Elementary School was abuzz with excitement as groups of second-grade students worked together to get a small wheeled robot named Dash to accomplish that week’s coding challenge: moving in a figure-eight pattern around two wooden blocks.

Three boys coding a robot“OK, he needs to turn. Then after he does that, he needs to go forward,” Recep told his teammate Moksh, who was adding a sequence of command blocks to their coding workspace in the iPad app Blockly. 

“Now you need to turn him left again. Yes, that’s it! That’s the correct way!” Recep exclaimed as Dash followed the first part of the path. 

“What? He’s supposed to turn right now,” Moksh said, leaning in to investigate as Dash zipped off in a direction his programmers hadn’t intended. “Let’s try again – we can do this!”

Kindergarten through sixth grade students at all District 54 elementary schools are engaging in coding activities this year as the district focuses on teaching students collaboration, communication, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The lessons at all grade levels are tied to computer science principles. 

“I love that every week builds on a different skill, and they can apply what they learned the previous week,” Enders-Salk Learning Resource Teacher Katie Montalbano said. “The lessons take them step by step – this is how you code, this is the language you need – then every week it builds on itself.”

Students work on codingAs kindergarten through second grade students code robots to engage in progressively more difficult challenges, third through sixth grade students are creating interactive digital stories using a block-based visual programming language called Scratch. They began by creating characters and have progressed through choosing backgrounds, crafting dialogue and action sequences, and adding other elements, such as interactive choices.  

“Sometimes it’s really hard, but you can figure out how to do it,” said Chloe, a fifth-grade student at Enders-Salk. 

“They really have to do some critical thinking about where they want to go with their story,” Montalbano said. “Do they want to add motion? Dialogue?” 

Recently at Enders-Salk, one fifth-grade student worked on a story involving a happy dinosaur who dances and breathes fire, then gets hungry and goes to 7-Eleven, while another added to his story about a baseball game. That morning the class had learned how to add interactive choice elements – if/then coding – in which a character asks the audience a question and the audience’s answer determines what happens next.  

“If you want the audience to decide whether your character walks through a door or not, you have to pick two backgrounds and determine what happens for each choice,” Montalbano said. “If I walk through the door, where am I going? If I say no, where am I going?”

“It took a while, especially for the younger grades, to get comfortable, but now week in and week out students are willing to try new things,” Dirksen Learning Resource Teacher Ben Johnson said. “They can see that once they are willing to take those risks, they are able to be successful in anything they try.”

Students are also learning from each other by watching videos of work done by other students or groups, making observations and asking questions of other students to improve their own thinking and products. The skills students are learning from the coding activities – such as working together, finding and fixing problems and persevering through challenges – apply across all subject areas, Johnson said.

Students coding a robot“Instead of raising their hand for help when something goes wrong, they are more often willing to persevere through it, and we are seeing that carried throughout their entire day,” Johnson said. “By allowing students to experiment, try new things and fail – to work through that and solve problems on their own – we are providing them an opportunity to grow.”

“I like using Dot and Dash because we get to do new things and learn new things,” said Emi, an Enders-Salk second grade student as her group programmed Dash to scoop small balls into a bulldozer attachment.

“We’re doing it slowly so the balls don’t fall out,” noted Emi’s classmate Balian. “You have to use patience.” 

“They’re realizing they need to communicate and talk with their group,” Montalbano said. “I’ve done Hour of Code with students, and they understand sequencing and trial and error. If they don’t get it the first time, they have to talk about what they can do differently.” 

Three students work on codingTwo Dirksen second-grade students summed it up well as they worked together to program Dash.

“We’re playing!” Hadeel said.

“We’re not playing, we’re experimenting,” her teammate Siya said. 

“We’re experimenting – it’s a fun one,” Hadeel agreed.

Make a difference in families’ lives with donations to District 54 Community Closets, Food Pantries

Sections on this page

District 54 knows that in order for students to succeed in school, their basic needs must be met. The district works to meet these needs via our in-house Community Closets and Food Pantries. Community members can help make a difference in the lives of local families by donating to these outreach efforts.

Community Closets

The District 54 Community Closets, located at multiple District 54 schools, collect gently used shoes and clothing from members of our community to give to financially struggling families in our schools. Coats, hats, mittens and other cold-weather clothing, particularly in children’s sizes, are greatly needed at this time of year. Packages of new socks and underwear are also needed.

Families who need clothing can contact their school social worker.

Donations can be dropped off at any District 54 school or office. Please label the boxes “District 54 Community Closets.” For more information, visit sd54.org/closet or contact Meagan Kasper at MeaganKasper@nullsd54.org or (847) 357-5027.

Food Pantries

District 54’s Food Pantries, located at multiple District 54 schools, are open to families on an as-needed basis and during two open houses. Families struggling financially are invited by their school social workers to visit. All nonperishable donations for the District 54 Food Pantry can be sent to the Rafferty Administration Center, 522 E. Schaumburg Road, Schaumburg, 60194. Please label the boxes “District 54 Food Pantries.”

Visit sd54.org/food-pantry for a list of the “Most Wanted Nonperishable Goods.” Other products to donate include feminine products, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, facial tissue, paper towels, dish soap, laundry soap, other cleaning supplies, diapers (all sizes), baby food and baby wipes. Please make sure to check the expiration date before donating.

If your organization or business would like to host a food drive, please contact Julie Goolish at JulieGoolish@nullsd54.org or (847) 357-5113.

District 54 Takeover Night at Windy City Bulls to benefit D54 Foundation

The Windy City Bulls will host a District 54 takeover night on Friday, January 10 at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, and a portion of the proceeds from each ticket purchased will be donated back to the District 54 Education Foundation.

Click here for more information or to purchase tickets!

The District 54 take-over night will feature District 54 students participating in performances and other on-court experiences before and throughout the game, and a District 54 Special Olympics basketball match at halftime.

Addams receives national recognition from Special Olympics

Addams Junior High School, a Special Olympics Unified Champion School, received national banner recognition on Nov. 26 for meeting national standards of excellence in the areas of inclusion, advocacy and respect.

Addams is one of only four schools in Illinois to attain National Banner designation this year, and one of eight Illinois schools ever to achieve the recognition. Mead Junior High School in District 54 received National Banner recognition in 2018. More than 400 schools in Illinois and more than 6,000 across the country participate in Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools programming.

A Unified Champion School receiving national banner recognition is one that has demonstrated commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 standards of excellence developed by a national panel of leaders from Special Olympics and the education community. The primary activities within these standards include Special Olympics Unified Sports (where students with and without disabilities train and compete as teammates), inclusive youth leadership and whole-school engagement.

“It is truly an honor to be given this recognition. The students and staff here at Addams work hard to advocate for respect and inclusion in the classroom and beyond, which includes all of our clubs, sports, and activities like the school musical,” said Addams Club Unify co-sponsor Ann-Marie Cerny, who submitted Addams’ application for recognition. “Together we are working toward a Generation Unified and we hope that having programs like Unified PE, Club Unify and all-inclusive competitive sports will help us get there.”

Addams offers unified sports through the school, including a new Unified Bowling team and a dance competition in December, and through District 54 Special Olympics. The school ensures whole-school engagement by hosting events such as Respect Week/Colors for a Cause, in which students wore a different color each day to promote awareness and support for causes such as blue and yellow for Down Syndrome awareness. Addams fosters inclusive youth leadership through participation in the statewide Youth Activation Summit and school activities such as Club Unify, Community Crusaders and Spirit Council. The club promotes inclusion awareness through a variety of activities including public service announcements, motivational assemblies and Special Olympics speakers at Career Day.

“Addams is so deserving of this recognition. The students and staff always strive to be sure everyone is included, regardless of ability,” District 54 Special Olympics Specialist Kelly O’Reilly said. “There are only three junior high schools in the state with this honor and District 54 has two of them.  We should be very proud of being leaders in the Inclusion Revolution.”

Public invited to review social studies materials

Community members are invited to provide feedback on social science instructional materials under consideration for adoption in School District 54.

To preview the materials, visit the Rafferty Administration Center at 524 E. Schaumburg Road in Schaumburg. You will be given an evaluation form to complete as you preview the material. The final day for material evaluation will be Dec. 20. Materials are on display from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Rafferty Administration Center.  Materials are also being reviewed by the District 54 teachers, support staff and administrators.

District 54 School Board honors teachers with 1,000-book classrooms

Students holding booksThe District 54 School Board is visiting 13 teachers across the district to praise them for filling their classroom libraries with more than 1,000 books.

A significant body of research states that the more children read the better readers they become. Our goal in District 54 is for every classroom to have 1,000 books in order to meet the wide range of abilities and interests of the children. With this in mind, we embarked on a campaign in 2006 to fill the bookshelves in each of our rooms. With new teachers joining our district every year, our commitment is ongoing.

Although District 54’s SuperKids: Powered by Books Committee raises funds to buy books for teachers, many of the teachers being recognized have assembled these large classroom libraries on their own – by purchasing the books themselves, scouring garage sales, placing Scholastic book orders, receiving some as gifts, etc.

These teachers listed below join 290 other District 54 teachers who had previously been recognized for achieving this milestone – for a grand total of 303 teachers.

  • Christina Beck from Early Learning Center
  • Megan Larsen from Early Learning Center
  • Dawn Marshall from Early Learning Center
  • Kristin Peterson from Early Learning Center
  • Natasha Sharma from Blackwell Elementary School
  • Lauren Nicoll from Campanelli Elementary School
  • Kristin Johnson from Churchill Elementary School
  • Jill Peterson from Churchill Elementary School
  • Andrea Smith from Hoover Math and Science Academy
  • Courtney Battaglia from Lakeview Elementary School
  • Megan Maize from Lakeview Elementary School
  • Jamie Logan from Link Elementary School
  • Jenna Carlson from Stevenson Elementary School

Brief from the Board Meeting on Nov. 14, 2019

Public Hearing on Tax Levy: No one asked to speak.

Discussion – Enrollment and Facilities Analysis:
District 54 conducted a review of facility space needs at each of our elementary schools, looking at current enrollment, the use of available classroom space at each school, open enrollment numbers and their impact, the number of special education classrooms in schools, and a study of enrollment trends and projections for future enrollment.

District 54’s current enrollment is 14,928 students, an increase of 264 students from last year and an increase of 1,351 students from 10 years ago. District 54 commissioned a recent Kasarda enrollment study, which predicted enrollment would increase by 900 students in the next six years.

The district completed additions at Churchill and Dirksen in 2018 and Link in 2019. However, with enrollment continuing to grow, Collins, Dirksen, Hanover Highlands and Stevenson are all at capacity today.

Because enrollment and facility space are projected to be an issue at some schools going forward, a plan must be developed to enable the district to utilize space in a way that best supports its instructional priorities. A more in-depth discussion will be held at a Committee of the Whole meeting on Dec. 5.

Public Comment:
One individual asked for board support in regards to the termination of her son. Three MacArthur parents asked the Board to look into staff turnover at the school.

Freedom of Information Act Requests:
Six requests were received and responded to since the last report to the Board regarding certified payroll for work performed in District 54, the Delta Dental administrative services contract, the number of teachers hired in District 54 over the past five years, information related to employee records, information related to vaping incidents at schools, and the bid tabulation for cleaning and paper products.

Consent Agenda:  The School Board approved the following items on the Consent Agenda.

  • The minutes of the regular and closed-session Board of Education meetings on Oct. 17, 2019
  • The minutes of the special open and closed-session Board of Education meetings on Oct. 21, 2019
  • Resignations, leaves, employment and salary adjustments of personnel
  • Checks dated Oct. 25 and Nov. 8, 2019
  • The treasurer’s reports on cash and investments for September 2019
  • The monthly update of revenues and expenditures for October 2019
  • The Blue Cross Blue Shield self-funded HMO and PPO medical insurance rates for the calendar year 2020
  • The Delta Dental and Vision Service Program insurance rates for the calendar year 2020
  • Workplace Solutions as the provider of the district’s Employee Assistance Program
  • Long-term disability insurance, basic life insurance and accidental death and dismemberment insurance rates for calendar years 2020-2022
  • The purchase of four vehicles from Friendly Ford
  • A one-year contract with JAMF Software LLC for technology licensing and support
  • The purchase of literacy materials from Benchmark Publishing to support reading level growth for English learners who are newcomers to the United States
  • Destruction of the verbatim records of the closed-session Board of Education meeting on April 19, 2018

Superintendent’s Report:
Superintendent Andy DuRoss shared two #WeAre54 videos, highlighting the people in District 54 who make this a special place to learn and work. This month, we featured Keller student Stephanie Calderon and the District 54 Mentor Team. Click on each name to watch the videos.

Superintendent DuRoss, PTA Council President Jim Sklena, SEA President Lori Mobley and SEEO President Kathy Jesuit recognized the District 54 School Board in honor of School Board Members Day on Nov. 15.

Board President Report:
Board President Bob Kaplan thanked the schools who invited the Board to Veterans Day activities across the district and those who invited him to read to students as part of a national Read for the Record event. The district also hosted a Partnership Breakfast this week to thank all of the companies, organizations and individuals who support our students and schools. Bob thanked all the partners as well as the staff and students who spoke or performed at the event. In honor of American Education Week next week, Bob thanked all staff for the wonderful work they do for students.

District Citizens’ Advisory Committee:
Board Member Barbara Hengels reported that DCAC heard a presentation on the Positive Behavioral Interventions & Support program in District 54.

District 54 Education Foundation:
The Foundation announced its new treasurer, Sue Budak, and secretary, Mary Kay Prusnick. The Foundation is currently selling tickets to the Windy City Bulls game on Jan. 10. Tickets to this fundraiser can be purchased through a link on the Foundation website.

Parent Teacher Association Report:
PTA Council President Jim Sklena invited individuals to the PTA Reflections Showcase at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 25 in the District 54 Professional Learning Center and to the annual PTA Auction on Friday, March 13, 2020.

New Business: 

  • The Board approved a resolution estimating the 2019 tax levy will be $184,259,529, exclusive of debt service. Click here for more information.
  • The Board approved a resolution authorizing the Cook County Clerk to reduce the education levy by 80%, the operations and maintenance levy by 10% and the transportation levy by 10% if in excess of the limiting rate.
  • The Board Policy Committee brought for a first reading Board Policy 2:120 – Board Conferences, Conventions and Workshops.
  • The Board approved a proclamation in recognition of American Education Week 2019 and International Education Week 2019, both being celebrated Nov. 18-22, 2019.

Closed Session: The Board adjourned at 8:31 p.m. to closed session for employment/appointment matters and school matters.

New We Clubs fostering unity

Keller Junior High seventh-grade student Kyra loves her school’s new We Club because it is a place where she feels accepted. 

“I can come here and express myself and be who I really am,” she said. “People know I’m here for them, and they’re here for me.” 

Students talking with one anotherKeller, like every other District 54 junior high school and Lincoln Prairie, launched a We Club this year to foster unity among the district’s diverse population and offer another opportunity for students to get involved. The goals of the We Clubs are for students to foster a strong sense of identity and belonging, to understand and embrace differences, and to promote equality by planning events and activities that bring the diverse school communities together. 

“We want students to appreciate and value the differences among each other and to respect that, and ultimately to apply these concepts and turn them into action,” District 54 Instructional Coach Seika Kobari said.

The We Clubs meet once a month after school. Each meeting focuses on a different topic and concludes with students reflecting in their We Club journals, the covers of which state “I Am Because We Are.” 

The first club meeting focused on identity. At Keller, students completed I Am, I Can and I Believe statements to get to know one another. Students described themselves with words such as honest, powerful, capable and amazing. Their “I Can” statements ranged from baking and Rollerblading to helping others, while their belief statements included “I believe in my friends” and “I believe we all are one.” One student shared the following quote: “I AM are two of the most powerful words, for what you put after them shapes your reality.” 

“We Club is a place where students can apply and practice the social and emotional skills they are learning about in class,” District 54 Instructional Coach Dana Scalzitti said.

The focus of the second meeting was diversity. At Keller, students made chain links out of the statements they had shared at the first meeting. They also each talked to six other club members to find a similarity and a difference between themselves and the other person. The room was abuzz with chatter as students talked about books, music, pets, families and a variety of other topics. 

“I like it so far,” Kyle, a Keller seventh-grade student said about We Club. “It seems like a happy, fun place.” 

Students eating lunch togetherThe first schoolwide activity planned by the clubs was the Mix-It-Up Lunch on Oct. 22. During lunch, students sat next to someone new, part of a national event created by Teaching Tolerance. The We Club facilitators use resources on the organization’s website, Tolerance.org, to create activities and support the monthly themes.

At Mead’s Mix-It-Up Lunch, students sat with others who shared their birthday month. At Keller, students played “Would You Rather” to spark conversations. 

“We Club is about getting to know and accept ourselves and each other and how we can impact the community,” said Michael Kaper, a social worker at Keller and co-sponsor of the school’s We Club. “The Mix-It-Up Lunch was about expressing that districtwide.”

“I liked meeting new people and learning new things about my friends,” Keller seventh-grader Kyra said of the Mix-It-Up Lunch. 

Keller We Club members concluded their second meeting by reflecting on how diversity is expressed in different ways, sharing one thing they liked about the Mix-It-Up Lunch, and suggesting other events the club should plan. Kaper told students the P.E. teacher had mentioned mixing up P.E. classes, which one We Club participant proclaimed “would be cool.” 

“The We Clubs have hit the ground running, but we’re expecting their impact to spread and go even deeper as the school year progresses,” District 54 Instructional Coach Dilshad Patel said.

District 54 seeks community members for Budget Review Committee

School District 54 is looking for community members who would be interested in serving on the Budget Review Committee. The committee will begin meeting in January 2020, so that the administration can present a tentative budget to the School Board before the 2020-21 school year begins.

The Budget Review Committee, consisting of board members, staff and community members, meets for the purpose of obtaining input on the acquisition and allocation of resources.

Member Responsibilities

  • Attend meetings on January 16 and May 7, 2020 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
  • Participate in discussions on school finance.

Click here to obtain an application for the Budget Review Committee or more information. If you have questions please contact Ric King, assistant superintendent of business operations CSBO, at (847) 357-5039 or RicKing@nullsd54.org.

Applications are due to the Rafferty Administration Center, 524 E. Schaumburg Road, Schaumburg, IL  60194, by December 13, 2019.