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
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.
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 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.
- 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.
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.”
Keller, 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.”
The 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.
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.
- 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.
District 54 is once again participating in the annual statewide survey of school climate and learning conditions, the 5Essential Survey. The survey provides an opportunity for students, teachers and parents to share their perspective and help guide our school improvement efforts.
The parent survey will be available online through Feb. 14, 2020, at https://survey.5-essentials.org/Illinois.
The Illinois 5Essentials Survey provides a comprehensive picture of a school’s organizational culture in an individualized report measuring five “essentials” critical for school success:
- Effective Leaders
- Collaborative Teachers
- Involved Families
- Supportive Environment
- Ambitious Instruction
The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete and is available in English and Spanish. If you have more than one child, you may complete the survey for each child.
The survey is administered by UChicago Impact at the University of Chicago on behalf of the Illinois State Board of Education. If at least 20 percent of parents at a school complete the survey, a supplemental parent report will be generated and shared with schools. We are hoping to meet the target this year in our schools.
A similar survey will also be administered to teachers and to students in fourth grade through high school. District 54 students will take the survey at school before winter break. If you do not want your child to participate, please contact your school principal by Nov. 8. If you have children at more than one school, you must contact the principal at each school.
Students will log in to the survey with their student ID and birth date. Student identities will be confidential. Teachers or administrators will never see individual responses to survey questions and will only receive aggregated information, such as the total percentage of students who agree homework assignments help them learn the course material.
If you have any questions about the survey, please contact 5Essentials Client Services at (866) 440-1874 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, click here to read the letter from Superintendent Andy DuRoss.
Para obtener más información, haga clic aquí para leer la carta del Superintendente Andy DuRoss.
Discussion – State and District Assessment Results:
District 54 uses a variety of research-based indicators to measure students’ readiness for high school, college, career and beyond. Students are highly successful in District 54 as outlined in four areas.
- Whole child – District 54’s new Social-Emotional Survey assessed each student in areas such as optimistic mindset and self-regulation. Teachers ranked each student on a 5-point scale and students ranked themselves. Parent survey results are being tabulated.
- Culture – District 54 is performing well in all five areas of school success as measured by the Illinois 5Essentials survey: ambitious instruction, supportive environment, collaborative teachers, involved families and effective leaders. In addition, a fall survey of District 54 staff shows 89% are highly satisfied and engaged compared with 34% of employees nationally.
- Academics and assessment – District 54 students perform well on assessments such as Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), which shows 80% of our students are proficient. They also pass algebra and junior high language arts at significantly high rates (98% and 100% respectively).
- Participation – All District 54 students participate weekly in the arts, and more than 60% of students in third through eighth grade participate in a club. Daily student attendance is also higher than the Illinois average.
Public Comment: No one asked to speak.
Freedom of Information Act Requests: Three requests were received and responded to since the last report to the Board regarding school policies and procedures, disciplinary records related to vaping, and certified payroll for work performed at Link.
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. 3, 2019
- The resignations, termination, retirement and employment of personnel
- Checks dated Oct. 11, 2019
- The treasurer’s reports on cash and investments for August 2019
- The monthly update of revenues and expenditures for September 2019
Superintendent Andy DuRoss shared two #WeAre54 videos, highlighting the people in District 54 who make this a special place to learn and work. Click on each name to watch the videos about Fairview Nurse Cindy Straub and Dirksen Student Rithvik Ramakrishnan.
Board President Report:
Board President Bob Kaplan reported that a number of District 54 employees will be recognized this weekend at the Illinois State Board of Education Those Who Excel banquet. Read more about our honorees on our website.
District Citizens’ Advisory Committee:
Board Member Barbara Hengels said DCAC heard a presentation on how District 54 is committed to ensuring all students have adults at school who champion their success and well-being.
District 54 Education Foundation:
Board Vice President Mary Kay Prusnick announced that the District 54 Takeover at the Windy City Bulls game will be held on January 10. Information about ticket sales will be out soon.
- The Board approved a resolution estimating the amount of the 2019 aggregate tax levy at $184,259,529 and setting a public hearing for Nov. 14.
- The Board approved revisions to Board Policy 7:270 – Administering Medicine to Students.
Closed Session: The Board adjourned at 8:22 p.m. to closed session for employment/appointment matters and student matters.
Setting poetry idioms to music. Creating sound effects to represent different parts of math equations. Recording original songs for the morning announcements.
It didn’t take long for a group of Eisenhower Junior High media students to come up with a variety of potential uses for the new sound lab in their school library – which has been transformed into a Creation Studio.
“We like to create in media class. This will give us another opportunity,” said Hope, an eighth-grade student, as she tried out GarageBand on one of the iPads in the sound lab. “It would be cool to create different sound effects to go along with a project.”
Creation Studio renovations were completed at Eisenhower, Mead, Addams and Frost junior high schools this summer as part of the district’s strategic focus on cultivating innovation. In addition to the sound labs, the Creation Studios include vision labs, virtual and augmented reality labs, flexible seating and technology integration.
“Learning Centers can and should function as the hub for our schools,” Associate Superintendent Nick Myers said. “They should reflect our instructional priorities and be exciting places where students are deeply engaged in activities that support their creative interests and aspirations.”
The new spaces offer a wealth of opportunities for students to create, communicate, collaborate and think critically in all subject areas, as well as to make connections among subjects. For instance, a student could create a character in art, animate the character, create a story for the character and set it to music for a final product, Mead Learning Resource Teacher (LRT) Amelia Reimel said.
“This is a place where students have a new opportunity to not only learn new technology, but to create something that they might not otherwise have had the opportunity to create,” Reimel said. The Creation Studios provide unique ways for quieter students or those who struggle with traditional assessments to show their learning, she added.
“It’s a way for kids to have a brand-new voice and a brand-new way to demonstrate what they are capable of,” Reimel said.
“The audio studio will provide us with new educational opportunities and new ways to express our ideas,” said Dhruv, a Mead eighth-grade student.
Teachers are using the space in the Mead Creation Studio to maximize learning, whether that is by reserving the virtual reality lab for a lesson or using the risers for a Socratic circle, Reimel said.
Students love it as well.
“They understand what each new space is used for – so for instance, when they come in to read, they’ll go sit on the couches or the big chairs rather than at the tables,” Reimel said.
At Eisenhower, the Creation Studio will make the eighth-grade social studies lesson about the Holocaust even more powerful. Students will start the unit with a virtual walk-through of Auschwitz with the virtual reality goggles and end the unit by creating a project in the sound or vision studio, such as a news broadcast or an audio diary, to show what they learned.
“Students are very interested and moved by what they are learning about the Holocaust, and this type of project will have more of a long-term impact on them and their knowledge,” Eisenhower LRT Jeanne Ott said.
Staff and students have other ideas for the new sound and vision labs in the Creation Studios. For instance, Ott said she has talked with some language arts teachers about students filming book talks and sharing them on the morning announcements.
“Students will be more engaged by hearing what a classmate says about a book than they would by reading the synopsis on the back,” Ott said.
Eisenhower Learning Resource Assistant Pamela Sanchez is excited to run a new after-school Creation Studio Club after winter break – and students who have already tried out some of the technology are more than ready to return.
“I love this room!” said Karla, an Eisenhower eighth-grade student, about the sound lab. “It’s my new favorite room.”
The District 54 Early Learning Center is a place where every student’s progress is encouraged and celebrated and every child has a champion. For its supportive, dedicated approach to educating the district’s youngest learners, the ELC has received a 2019 Gold Circle of Quality from the Illinois State Board of Education.
The District 54 ELC currently serves approximately 600 students ages 3 to 5, including special education and at-risk students.
“It is so important that students see school as a fun, safe place to come and learn, especially at this foundational level,” ELC Principal Julie Gorvett said. “The staff here is very passionate about their work with students. They always keep what is best for students at the forefront of everything they do. We truly are better together because we all support one another in meeting students’ needs.”
Research consistently demonstrates that a high quality early childhood education results in a narrowing of the achievement gap, increased brain development, lower retention rates and special education placements, and an increased development of both academic and social skill acquisition for children.
“Achieving this designation demonstrates your school’s commitment to providing quality early childhood education to children in your district,” Toni Porter, Professional Development Director for ExceleRate Illinois which administers the recognition, wrote in a letter announcing the award.
Gold Circle programs have met the highest standards for quality in three areas: learning environment and teaching, administration, and training and education. Gold Circle programs are actively engaged in continuous quality improvement.
National Louis University has a contract with the Illinois State Board of Education to monitor all public school-based early childhood education programs receiving funding through the Preschool for All and Preschool for All Expansion portions of the Early Childhood Block Grant. ExceleRate Illinois gives each program a designation of Gold, Silver or Bronze based on the information collected.
The District 54 Early Learning Center has a history of winning awards since its opening in 2014.
- The ELC received an Outstanding Practices in Inclusion recognition from the Early Childhood Least Restrictive Environment Stakeholders Consortium, Early CHOICES and the Illinois State Board of Education in 2018.
- The ELC received an Award of Excellence for Preschool Teaching and Learning from ExceleRate Illinois in 2017.
- Parent Educators from the ELC won a Distinguished Service Award of Excellence in the Team category from the Illinois chapter of the National School Public Relations Association in 2017. The Parent Educators serve as a resource to meet the needs of families in District 54 with children from birth through age 5, as well as expectant parents.
- The ELC received an Award of Excellence for the Inclusion of Children with Special Needs from ExceleRate Illinois in 2016.
For more information about District 54’s Early Childhood programs, visit elc.sd54.org/early-childhood-programs.
Discussion Item – Cultivating Innovation in Instructional and Facility Design:
District 54 continues to focus on cultivating innovation in instructional and facility design as outlined in the 54 Promise strategic plan.
This summer District 54 purchased “Future Ready” furniture, installed interactive digital monitors and painted accent walls in vibrant colors in classrooms throughout the district. As part of the addition at Link School, new classrooms were built and upgrades were made to the Link Creation Studio, including a digital recording studio and film production studio. Creation Studio renovations were also completed at Eisenhower, Frost, Mead and Addams. These include sound labs, vision labs, virtual and augmented reality labs, flexible seating and technology integration.
All kindergarten through second grade students received iPads and all third through eighth grade students received Chromebooks through the district’s 1:1 device initiative. Students have completed digital learning lessons at all grade levels. Innovate 54 teams of teachers and administrators from each school continue to meet with a focus on implementing high quality STEM/STEAM lessons, using technology to accelerate learning and assessing student progress. In September, the district began training all teachers by grade level to build a shared understanding of the district’s vision for cultivating innovation.
Discussion Item – Championing Every Student:
District 54 has maintained a mission of ensuring student success for many years. This success focuses on supporting students socially and emotionally as well as academically.
On August 13, happiness representatives and leaders from each school and the district office attended a retreat focused on sustaining and growing the commitment to positive psychology and long-term optimism among students and staff. Plans were developed for recommitting to positive habits, professional development on emotional intelligence for staff, self-care for optimistic educators and fostering an Orange World by bringing the message to families and the greater community. Later that week all 2,000 District 54 staff came together to kick off this year’s theme, Everyone Needs a Champion. Keynote addresses inspired staff to focus on their “why” to ensure student success.
During the district’s first half-day inservice in September, the entire staff sat at each school reviewed a chart showing the names of every student. They were asked what they know about each child to make sure that each one of our more than 15,000 students has a true connection to an adult. Teams created a plan for ensuring each student had a champion.
Other ways in which the district is ensuring whole-child success include the following.
- The district’s third through eighth grade Student Ambassador program focuses on strengthening student leadership qualities and creating opportunities for students to influence their school community in a positive way.
- District 54 staff and junior high students will learn how to increase their ability to identify students who need emotional support and to be aware of the resources available to those who may be considering suicide.
- We Clubs were created at each junior high school, so all students have a place where they belong and feel accepted.
- Students participate in a variety of programs offered by Special Olympics including Club Unify, the Youth Activation Summit and District 54’s junior high mini-summit.
- A Social Emotional Survey will be given to students, staff and families this fall to provide a better picture of whole child success. Results will be published on a new student profile. The profile will be shared with parents at report card time.
Public Comment: No one asked to speak.
Freedom of Information Act Requests: One request was received and responded to since the last report to the Board regarding a surveillance video and photo.
Consent Agenda: The School Board approved the following items on the Consent Agenda.
- The minutes of the regular and closed-session school board meetings on September 19, 2019
- The resignations, retirement, termination, employment and salary adjustments of personnel
- Checks dated September 27, 2019
- The Board had the first reading of revisions to Policy 7:270 – Administering Medicine to Students.
- The Board congratulated the Early Learning Center for receiving the Gold Circle of Quality, indicating that the program met the highest standards for quality in three areas: learning environment and teaching, administration, and training and education. Gold Circle programs are actively engaged in continuous quality improvement.
Closed Session: The Board adjourned at 7:48 p.m. for employment/appointment and student matters.
A good role model. A collaborator. A helper. Someone who has integrity. These are just a few of the leadership characteristics identified by District 54’s new elementary school Student Ambassadors during their first training sessions this fall.
“I am excited to represent the school in a positive way and have a voice,” said Leilani, a sixth grade Lakeview Student Ambassador. “I really want to make the school the best place it can be and make it a sanctuary for all students, even on their hardest days. I can’t wait to set up a positive culture for younger students so they can have a great life here at Lakeview.”
With the success of the seventh and eighth grade Student Ambassadors last year, the district has expanded the program to include third through eighth grade, bringing the number districtwide to more than 600 students.
Throughout the 2019-20 school year Student Ambassadors from each elementary school and Lincoln Prairie will participate in three leadership training sessions with a District 54 instructional mentor. They will also meet with their school sponsors about twice a month to carry out leadership activities, help with school assemblies, promote kindness and perform acts of service. The Student Ambassadors will shape what the program looks like at their school.
“The energy, excitement and leadership from this group of students has been powerful to witness,” Associate Superintendent Erin Knoll said. “Even as early as 8 years old, we are seeing students excited to create the optimistic, positive, accepting school culture that allows them to succeed academically and personally.”
During their first meetings, the elementary Student Ambassadors have been getting to know one another; reflecting on leadership, key character qualities and the role of the Student Ambassadors; and thinking about ways they can help make their school a better place.
The Hoover Student Ambassadors said they want to make sure everyone is included, feels happy and listens to one another.
Instructional Mentor Michelle Felice, who led the Hoover training, asked why listening is key.
“So we can make others feel important,” another added.
After the first training Grace, a Hoover fifth grade Student Ambassador, said she is excited to meet new people, collaborate with other students and spread happiness.
“I’m excited about everything, because even though it’s only the first day of Student Ambassadors it seems like it’s going to be a pretty great year,” said Betselot, a Hoover third grade Student Ambassador.
Zach, a fifth grade Lakeview Student Ambassador, said he plans to be a role model at all times by leading at school, on the playground and outside of school.
“I’m excited about being a leader to everybody in the school – helping people, making the school a better place and helping with fundraisers,” said Elia, a third grade Link Student Ambassador.
Stephanie Cahoj, who teaches sixth grade at Lakeview and is sponsoring the school’s Student Ambassadors, said she is excited to help build student leadership capacity.
“The Student Ambassador program will also create more of a sense of community within our schools as the different grade levels work together,” she said.