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Spotlight on District 109

The next two school board meetings are of critical importance to the long term health of the district.

Things are getting interesting in District 109.  The next two school board meetings will cover a wide range of topics that are of critical importance to the long term health of the district.  Of course, the most important date is going to be the April school board election, but we will get to that in due time.  Let's talk about what's on the BOE's menu for the October and November meetings.

October 15th meeting

The Finance committee will meet on 10/9 and will discuss financing options for the Facilities Improvement Plan.  As you may remember, the consultant Fanning Howey presented several options and the BOE is leaning towards the option that provides Life/Safety, Maintenance, Air Conditioning, and STEM classrooms at a total cost of about $50M.  So we should have some idea on the 15th as to what we are looking at in terms of where this money will come from.  I still have a concern that we are rushing into STEM classrooms without having thought out the curriculum and teacher training programs, but there's plenty of time to question the BOE and administration about that.  That will most likely be a job for the next Superintendent.

Speaking of the next Superintendent, HR consultant HYA will be presenting the "Superintendent candidate profile" to the board at this meeting.  HYA says that they fully expect this profile to be made available to the community.  Let's hope the BOE follows through on that.  Once this has been completed, HYA can start screening candidates and narrowing the field.  I was impressed with the HYA representatives and they certainly know their stuff, but they are not the ones making the final decision.  That remains a concern.  Also a concern is the level of involvement of the current Superintendent.  It seems as though she is injecting herself into the discussion.  Why I have no earthly idea.

Also at the October meeting is an update on Special Education.  Over the past year parents have brought their concerns to the BOE via board meetings, special committee meetings, emails, face-to-face discussions, etc.  Let's just say they got the message.  Loud and clear.  We are expecting a detailed plan on how these issues will be addressed.  The operative words being "detailed" and "plan".  We do not need another powerpoint presentation about current programs or practices.  We need a detailed and targeted process of how to return the special education program to one of the best in the state.  Period, paragraph.

November 12th meeting

At this board meeting, there will be an update on the district's strategic plan.  Don't know anything about the strategic plan?  I got your back.  Attached are two documents.  One is the presentation of the plan to the Board back in May of 2011.  The other is the actual plan document.  Basically the team identified five areas where we established goals and measurements.  Please note that one of the goals is “Attract, retain and support a superior staff by providing a positive, collaborative work environment” and another is “Partner with families and members of our community to foster a shared responsibility for educating our students.”  Yup, we actually thought about that stuff.

There are many quality processes but my favorite is called Plan, Do, Check, Act.  Make your plan, execute it, measure it, and make adjustments based on the results.  Simple, right?  This is what the strategic plan team hoped to accomplish. Measurement teams were established in January and from what I've heard, they haven't progressed very far, so it will be interesting to see what data is presented.  This will be a huge issue for the next Superintendent.  He will have to take this 5 year plan and run with it.  Our next leader must be well versed in strategic planning and should hit the ground running.

Take some time to look over the strategic plan and note the district’s deliverables, things like student progress reports, IEP goal updates, and staff satisfaction surveys.  I think it’s a great plan that, when executed in the correct manner, will really get this district firing on all cylinders.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Katie Bittner October 06, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Great article John! Now we need the parents and community members in Deerfield to read it and become active participants .
Harry Steindler October 06, 2012 at 06:21 AM
Regarding the superintendant search: The District 109 Superintendant survey talks exclusively about “academic achievement”. I believe that should be restated as "educational achievement" which includes academic, social, emotional and physical growth. All of these should be part of the mission of District 109 schools. I feel this is important for all of our students, but especially important for students with special needs. For all students, but especially for special needs students; focus on the complete child, not just the child's academic success is paramount. Our new superintendant should have a strong focus on returning District 109 to its previous standing as the preeminent place for students with special needs and their families. The best way to repair the damage done by the retiring superintendant and the current board in the area of special education is to hire someone who lives this credo.

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