Zee-Bee Connection

Vol 1 Issue 3 --- December 1, 2022

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From the desk of the Superintendent:

Dear Administrators,

The November 29, 2022, Board of Education meeting was a great success as a direct result of your commitment to excellence. We had a genuine opportunity to engage with our community relative to the topic of taxation. The reality is we can not control the tax rate of other taxing bodies, but we do control ours, and our data shows positive outcomes. Our work shows a 12.5 million abatement over the last six years and a consistent decrease, as shown in the presentation provided below.

Please consider the following useful talking points:

●Historically, the District increased the levy over the previous actual extension to protect the District in case of upward fluctuations in the assessed valuation.

●With the addition of the Property Tax Relief Grant (PTRG 3) Repeat abatement and the planned Property Tax Relief Grant (PTRG 4) abatement, the District will have returned $12.5 million property tax dollars back to the community over the last six years.

●As a result of the District’s Property Tax Relief Grant (PTRG) abatements and increases in EAV, the District’s tax rate has fallen from an all-time high of $5.30 in 2015 to an estimated $3.51 or by $1.79.

●The District’s 2022 estimated tax rate is ~$ .34 lower than last year, the $3.51 tax rate is the lowest it has been since 2011.

●The reduction in estimated tax rate this year is a savings of approximately $198 for the $175,000 homeowner, assuming their assessment remained roughly the same.

The data, as demonstrated in the presentation attached, shows the positive trajectory of the district relative to addressing taxes for the community. It demonstrates the district’s commitment relative to relief as the data shows over 12.5 million dollars back to the community over the last six years. The actual data also shows the District’s commitment to tax relief with tangible results based on final results.

District 126 Actual Numbers and Projected Tax Rate:

●Estimated EAV: $856M & New Construction: $903K (Final Numbers in April)

●CPI: 5% & Prior Year Tax Extension: $29,462,158

●Tax Rate: $3.85

●Proposed Levy: $32,065,049 or 8.83% = Estimated Tax Rate: $3.73 (-.12)

●Estimated Extension w/PTRG 3 Repeat Abatement of $1,837,194: $31,015,909 or 5.3% = Estimated Tax Rate: $3.62 (-.23)

●Estimated Extension w/PTRG 3 Repeat: $1,837,194 & PTRG 4: $1,892,406 Abatements: $30,033,603 or 2% = Estimated Tax Rate: $3.51 (-.34)

The projected property tax extension is estimated to increase by 2% when all abatements are calculated into next year’s plan. Again, District 126 serves as a model to follow as the district values the taxpayer. Furthermore, the District continues to seek federal and state funding to support the enhancements of the District as of today. All projects have been possible as a result of federal and state dollars with local funding as needed, but over 7 million “Federal and State” restricted dollars have been strategically invested in District 126 as a means to support our Facilities Master Plan. We understand the frustration from community members, but again we serve as a model as we sought tax relief funding as approved by the BOE to assist in this endeavor.

I am also appreciative of the work of administrators relative to assisting members of the public in understanding our work. The leadership behaviors truly show that our work is better when we do it in partnership with our community. It is truly an honor to work with you as a collective unit.


With Regards - Dr. Jesse J. Rodriguez

Service and Leadership:

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IASB Joint Conference

On November 17th, Board of Education Members and administration traveled to Chicago for the annual Illinois Association of School Board Joint Conference. The conference provided an opportunity for collaboration and fellowship as they experienced conference sessions to continue to advance the district as aligned to the strategic plan.

Staff Holiday Luncheon

Board members joined the administration in serving the holiday luncheon to staff to show they are valued in their work.

Important Events:

  • Monday, December 12th - Business, Bid, and Finance Committee 4:30 pm
  • Thursday, December 15th - Executive Cabinet and Management Team Meeting 3:00 pm
  • Tuesday, December 20th - Board Meeting 7:00 pm (Holiday Celebration all management team invited)
  • December 23rd, December 26th, January 2nd - District Closed
  • Tuesday, January 10th - Curriculum Committee 5:30 pm
  • Thursday, January 12th - Personnel Committee 4:30 pm
  • Tuesday, January 17th - Business, Bid, and Finance Committee 5:00 pm
  • Tuesday, January 24th - Regular Board of Education Meeting 7:00 pm
  • Saturday, January 28th - Zion Leadership Group Community Event 10:00 am PAC (all Executive Cabinet and Management Team encouraged to attend)
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District Business Office

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District Maintenance

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Food Service

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Let's Celebrate!

Board of Education Meeting Snapshot

Benefits Corner with Zimmerman

Looking for benefits information?

Are you wondering how to

  • get your health insurance card
  • learn about flex spending, or
  • need information about IMRF or TRS

If so, remember that you can access information about your benefits HERE.

From the Lake County Health Department - Information About the Flu Vaccine

The flu season is here, and the holidays are fast approaching. It is important to get the seasonal flu vaccine as soon as possible. It is recommended that everyone ages six months and older get the flu shot. An annual flu shot can reduce flu illnesses, doctor visits, and hospitalizations. Have a healthy holiday season, and get vaccinated today!

Visit vaccines.gov to find a flu shot location near you.

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On November 29, 2022, the Board of Education approved the hiring of the following staff:

Sophia Jones
: Pre-Vocational Teacher

Nancy Villalobos: Duplication Secretary

Kendall Williams: Student Support Specialist

Courtney McNeal: Assistant Boys Swim Coach

Welcome to the Zee-Bee family we look forward to your contributions to District 126.

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Program HIghlight- Educational Life Skills (ELS)

The Educational Life Skills (ELS) Program is a small group instructional program designed to meet our students with moderate to severe cognitive needs. The curriculum focuses on functional life skills, and students will receive academic, community, and vocational instruction. District 126 currently has two ELS classrooms. These programs were taken back from SEDOL over ten years ago so that ELS students could be educated in their home schools and their own communities. The ELS classrooms are designed to be highly supported and provide students with a high level of supervision and personalized instruction. The classes spend time in the community so that they can transfer and practice skills in real-life situations.

The dedicated ELS staff:

Certified Staff: Mr. Dave Cianfrani, Mr. Michael Sikula, Ridonna Ridley & Ms. Kate Hudgins.

Support Staff: Ms. Teresa Dubois, Ms. Kathy Paxton, Ms. LInda Goodnight-Moore & Ms. Cheyenne Duron.

Staff Celebration

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Leadership Development

Reminder: The Management Team meeting on Monday, December 5, 2022 will be held at Stone Creek Grill, 206 Sheridan Rd., Winthrop Harbor, IL 60096 starting at 3:00pm. This is a social event for both the Management Team and Executive Cabinet. There will be some pizza and appetizers along with non-alcoholic beverages provided.
The Management Team has been presented with an opportunity to attend a comprehensive Leadership Academy sponsored by the Charmm’d Foundation. Use this link for more information about The Virtual Leadership Academy. Anyone interested should confirm with Dr. Pawelczyk by Thursday, December 8, 2022.
The D126 Interactive Dashboard for our Strategic Plan is under construction and improving everyday. Log in with your d126 credentials. This is not live for the public yet. Right now the plan is to go live as we start Semester 2 in January of 2023.

District 126 Technology

The Technology Department is currently planning the sy24 budget. Funding comes from several sources both outside the district and inside the district. There is a significant need to invest in our “behind the scenes” infrastructure to ensure all our users can simply turn on devices without concern or problems. Dr. Bridge and Dr. Pawelczyk will meet with building leadership in December to gain a better understanding of specific building needs, wants, and wishes as it pertains to technology.
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College and Career Center Opportunities

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Upcoming Events

Dec. 1 - Tech Campus Application

Dec. 6 - Course Selection Promotion Begins

Dec. 14 - Huntington Test Prep Meeting

Dec. 21 - Pop Up Santa Shop

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Shop With a Cop

In partnership with the community, ZB students will participate in Shop with a COP on Saturday, December 3rd, at 8:30 am. This event will be held at Walmart in Zion. Santa is sure to stop by with gifts for everyone who is on his list for being nice.

Princesses & Ladies

Princesses and Ladies is an afterschool girls’ mentoring program. In alignment with our mission, this program emphasizes self-worth. Princesses and Ladies focus on developing the body, mind, and spirit. They empower girls to become women through the values of knowledge, confidence, pride, and power. Young ladies are encouraged to be involved in their community. The next session will occur on Monday, December 5th, in the peace room.

SIP - December 7th

Relevance will take center stage for the upcoming ZB SIP day. Teachers will participate in two breakout sessions. This is part 2 of a 3-part series.

SIP - December 8th

Recently, a representative from the College Board came out to share information and resources for the SAT. New Tech teachers will be engaged in SAT data analysis and instructional planning for the upcoming SIP day. Data will be used to inform engaging yet rigorous learning activities.

SEL Field Trip

Mayor McKinney is sponsoring a trip for students to attend a Northwestern basketball game on Sunday, December 11th. The Wildcats will battle the Prairie View A&M Panthers at 2 pm. Prairie View A&M University is a public historically black land-grant university in Texas. It was founded in 1876 and is the second oldest public institution of higher learning in the state. Prairie View A&M recently named Dr. Tomikia P. LeGrande as its ninth president.
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Trust and Communication

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The 2022-23 Winter season is off and running. Nearly all teams have had their first competitions of the year and have seen much success. As with the fall, the winter season participation numbers have increased from last winter with a 31% increase in participation. There is excitement in being part of the program!

Come out and support our BEES!

The upcoming Zee-Bee Athletic competitions can be found on the District website or the link below.

Zee Bee Athletics upcoming events

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Kiwanis Students of the Month

This month we celebrated two seniors as our Kiwanis Student of the Month, Araceli Solis and Conner Yee. Both students are at the top of their senior class. Araceli Solis is involved in multiple activities like Healthy Youth, the National Honor Society (NHS), Peer Mentor, and ZBTHS Bee Leader. Araceli also serves our community as a Lake County juvenile justice peer juror to ensure all young people have a fair outcome to the consequences they are held accountable for. Conner Yee is involved in several activities at ZBTHS. He is an active member of SAGA, the National Honor Society (NHS), ZBTHS Bee Leader, Healthy Youth, and is a senior council representative. Congratulations once again to Araceli and Conner!

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Deans’ Office Newsletter for November:

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A Note from the Principal...

New Tech is well into the implementation phase of the Reimagination Plan developed last year with administration and the New Tech School Improvement Planning (SIP) team. With the conclusion of our first semester this month, we have run our new schedule, new courses and new intervention programs successfully. We are already planning for second semester and looking at adding dual credit courses and instructors. Our SIP team is meeting in early December to examine branding and identity development for the reimagined New Tech. Mr. McKnight and I are also gearing up for our recruitment efforts for the class of 2027!

Items in progress::

  • NT students to ZB for practice -NJROTC Pass and Review- December 7, 2022 6:30

  • Confirm NT final exam bus schedule for 1:04, 11:25 dismissal on 12/20, 12/21, 12/22

  • Plan January Recruitment nights

  • Finalize 2023-24 New Tech Course Guide

  • Discussion of Final Exams for 2nd semester at New Tech and/or District

  • Outreach to foundation middle schools for high school readiness

  • Mr. McKnight and Mr. Niemi are collaborating on a New Tech sponsored student leadership service initiative during an upcoming basketball game…more to come.

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Notable for December

Drunk & Drug Driving Awareness Spirit Week (sponsored by NT Healthy YOUth) begins on December 12th. Spirit week days include an opportunity to pull out ugly Christmas sweaters, flannel, and Grinch related apparel. On Wednesday, December 14th, Healthy YOUth will hold an informational event during 9th period regarding the impairment effects of drinking and drugs on driving.

Caring Cards for the Community will begin on December 5th! Students and staff will be encouraged to make cards for residents in our local retirement and nursing facilities as well as patients at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Cards will be delivered prior to Winter Break.

We bid Henry Batdeleg (Mr. B.), our Tech Site Coordinator, farewell as he embarks on a new career path. Staff gathered on his last day to present a card and gift as well as share thank you notes from students. Henry has been a critical part of the team here at New Tech and will be missed.

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New Tech Calendar

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Zion-Benton Township High School District 126