Superintendent's Corner 😎🏫😎

Avoca District 37

In this issue...

  • Black History Month - James Baldwin
  • Strategic Spotlights - Avoca Center
  • Board Recognitions - Service & Achievement
  • Important Issues Before the Board - Finances & School Fees

Black History Month - James Baldwin

As Black History month reaches its halfway point, I would like to highlight a major figure in American letters who has influenced me profoundly, James Baldwin. Courageous, fearless really, Baldwin was probably the most important and impactful American writer between 1960 and 1970. Just watch part of the video interview below, recorded the day he met with Robert Kennedy, then Attorney General for the United States. Foremost among the books by Baldwin that I would recommend are: The Fire Next Time, In Another Country, and If Beale Street Could Talk.
James Baldwin Interview with Kenneth Clark (Part 1)

Strategic Spotlight - Avoca Center

One of our strategic goal areas is around fiscal stability (see more below). This includes using our resources in the most effective way possible. Avoca Center for many years generated revenue for the district, but eventually the expenses associated with operating it outpaced that revenue. In 2019 the Board entered into a land-use agreement with North Shore Country Day that helped reduce the expense of demolishing the building. In exchange for over $400,000, North Shore Country Day will have the right to use two IHSA regulation soccer fields on the site beginning in Fall 2020.

In recent days, you might have noticed that Avoca Center is finally now being demolished. This is a milestone in the District's history, both as a moment looking back and a moment looking forward.

Board Recognitions - February 6, 2020

My first Board Recognitions event as Superintendent was amazing. I cannot tell you how inspiring it is to hear about all the different ways our students are growing and achieving, maximizing their potential. From small contributions to large, our students show what it means to be a well-rounded person.

And this year, we added a Staff Recognition component, acknowledging what we all know: None of us achieves or grows alone. Below are just a few pictures from the Board Recognition event on the 6th.

Important Issues Before the Board - Fees

Amidst all the amazing things that are happening at our Avoca schools, the Administration and the Board have not lost sight of the necessity for fiscal responsibility - so that the core of what makes Avoca an amazing place can continue.

At the February 20th Board meeting, after having sought feedback and looked long and hard at the fiscal picture, the Board will vote whether to approve new fees and some fee increases for the coming 2020-21 school year. For those with economic challenges in their home, they may be eligible for full or partial waivers (see more below). Regarding the fees themselves, please note the following:

  • After seeking feedback and looking at the options, the Administration and Finance Committee have recommended the Board adopt a single transportation fee of $300 (one-way) or $500 (round trip), regardless of distance from destination.
  • The Instructional Fee and the Technology Fee will be combined going forward, as the expense for an iPad has now been made a flat $150 dollars and there is no longer a need to separate these fees. Consolidation is consistent with regional practice. The whole Instructional Fee per student will now be: K=$280, 1st-4th=$315, 5th-8th=$330
  • For the first time, there will be a fee associated with Orchestra. Unlike the other fees, where those fees are targeted to pay a percentage of the overall program costs, the Orchestra fee is simply assigned as that equal to the Band fee for 2020-21, which will be $230 per student.

Raising fees is never simple. In difficult financial circumstances, the Administration and Board are seeking the path that does the most to share between parents and community members these important expenditures. Please remember, if you are eligible for your lunch fees to be waived, these fees will be waived. Also, if you have challenging financial circumstances but are not eligible for waived lunch fees, you can still be eligible for reduced fees. Please email Kathi Meinzer to learn more (