Howards Grove School District

December Parent & Guardian Newsletter

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COVID Updates & Decisions

I am very proud of how successfully we have reopened the school year and have, for the most part, been able to stay open 5 days per week for in-person learning. Unfortunately, we've had some setbacks along the way and most recently had to go virtual for the entire 5th grade at the middle school and have temporarily masked a few classrooms in the district.

Please know as cases start to rise in a grade level or building, I am in regular communication with the building principals involved and Lydia Pomeroy, our district nurse. As a team, we monitor the cases and transmission to ensure we not only follow our reopening plan and try to stay open, but also to ensure the health and safety of students and staff are prioritized. Because of this, sometimes we may need to move to a virtual option or mask a grade level or classroom. I recognize that some of these decisions are not favorable for families and may even cause some frustration. As we review the data and decision making, I always try to keep classrooms open for in-person learning. When we ask a group or class to mask temporarily, it's because we do NOT want to move to virtual learning. I truly recognize that masking our staff and students is not desirable or best for learning, especially in the younger grades where students are learning to read and form letter sounds, but I also recognize that virtual learning is not best for students and staff either. In addition, virtual learning causes a strain on our working parents and creates a daycare nightmare for many. Thus, if we can temporarily mask when a few cases pop up in a class or grade and avoid virtual learning, that is the best option for all.

These decisions are not easy and sometimes come with negative responses on all fronts. I would describe these decisions as the epitome of "you can't please everyone". People are either mad we are staying open, upset we are masking, or frustrated that we move to a virtual option. It is literally impossible to make a decision that pleases everyone. As a result, please give us some grace and support during these hard decisions so that we can continue to do our best for your children and our students and staff.

Finally, the decision to stay open or to mask or to move to virtual in the various buildings lies in my lap. I work collaboratively with the principals, the nurse, and the health department, but at the end of the day the "buck stops here". If you are wondering about a decision, feel free to talk to the principal for clarification first, but then I am more than happy to clarify the reasoning behind any of the decisions that are made. The school board has approved our reopening plan and has given me the autonomy to make the daily decisions that need to be made in the best interest of our students and staff. I attempt to do that every single day.

My contact information is listed at the bottom of this newsletter. Feel free to reach out at any time.

As always, thank you for your ongoing support while we continue to navigate COVID-19.

Here is the current updated dashboard.

School Updates

Here is your one-stop shop for what is going on in each school. As promised, here are the links for the parent newsletters from each school. Thank you to our building principals for their commitment to communication.

Simply click on the school links below to read updates from each school

High School

Middle School


School Board Meetings

All school board meetings and minutes will now be posted on the district home page in BoardDocs linked here.

Our next school board meeting is a regular board meeting and is scheduled for this Monday, December 20th at 7:00 PM.

Here is the current draft of agenda items:

  • School Report Card Data Presentation
  • School Showcase from the student services team
  • COVID updates
  • Policy approvals/discussions

Feel free to join us in person or via zoom: Please note, if you enter the virtual meeting prior to 7:00, please be patient and we will let you in as soon as we are ready to start.

Building & Grounds Concerns

The following article will also be featured in our upcoming district/community-wide newsletter, which comes in the mail for all residents, but I also wanted to ensure I put it in the digital newsletter as well. As you will read, we have some serious concerns with the current buildings & grounds in the Howards Grove School District.

Dear Howards Grove School District Families & Community:

Welcome to the fall edition of our district newsletter. This mailing is geared towards communicating with district families, but is especially designed for those of you in the community that don’t have children in the district. We truly want you to see the amazing things happening in our schools.

Since joining this wonderful district, I have worked extremely hard to ensure that our parents, guardians, and staff members are receiving open and honest communication on a consistent basis. I would love to invite the community to take a peek at the other digital newsletters that are sent out on a monthly basis. Please visit our school district website ( for digital copies of my monthly newsletters. For your convenience, we have placed a button on the district homepage with all newsletters that have been sent out this year. Each month a new update will be posted on the district website. In addition, if you like social media, be sure to follow us on Facebook. Simply search for Howards Grove School District and click on the “like” button to see our daily posts and pictures.

Our school year has started off wonderfully with many new faces and an entire new leadership team. Each of us is excited by the opportunity to be a part of this amazing district and community and we continue to learn new things every day. Personally, I have learned that we have some amazing students and family support in Howards Grove. The commitment is clear by the huge attendance at our football games, State Champion Volleyball Tournament, Band and Choir Concerts, PTO sponsored events and dances, and at our recent school play. Parents, guardians, grandparents, community members, staff and retirees all come out to show their TIGER PRIDE! This commitment makes working here very exciting for the opportunities ahead.

My top goals for the start of this school year are as follows:

  • Transparent Communication

  • Be Visible and Accessible

  • Build Relationships

  • Focus on Positive Climate & Culture

  • ALL Students Come First & All means All

As important as all of these goals are for our students, staff, families and the district as a whole, we also have a great deal of work to be done to ensure Howards Grove School District continues to be a great place to learn and work. I wouldn’t be meeting my goal of transparent communication, if I didn't mention some of the challenging things that are facing our district. I recognize this message may have been shared with the community in the past, so I will be brief and just reiterate this by saying that our buildings, grounds, and athletic fields are in dire need of improvements. When I say dire need, I’m not talking about surface level concerns. There are legitimate and significant safety concerns in all 3 schools that need to be addressed.

This is just the short list of the things that are immediate concerns:

  • Air quality/HVAC concerns

  • Underground inspection for collapsing or deteriorating ducts

  • Expansion joints that are aging and cracking

  • Roof repairs at all 3 schools

  • Underground water standing in piping tunnels

  • Deteriorated laminated beam/soffit/fascia which support the building

  • Cracked blocks on buildings

  • Issues with potential mold, mildew, and staining

  • Roof ventilation concerns

  • Technology infrastructure

Many of these concerns were noted in a 2018 facilities audit, which means by now in 2021 the concerns are even more immediate. As a result, our school board has authorized a new referendum study committee. We truly value the work that has been done in the past, but we will be starting fresh with a new leadership team, new construction firm & architect, as well as getting a new community perspective to ensure we are truly addressing all the concerns and meeting the needs of the community as a whole.

Despite the huge concerns with our facilities, we are a successful school district for our students. Our teachers are hardworking and committed to developing well-rounded students who are prepared for the world ahead. The pandemic has certainly taken a toll on the social-emotional well being of our entire school community, but we are determined to overcome the challenges that COVID has left behind.

As your new superintendent, I am proud to serve our students, staff, and the community. I am committed to continuing the positive traditions that have been put in place by those before me and excited to bring new and exciting ideas to Howards Grove to make us the best district it can be.

Thank you for your ongoing support! Please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions, comments or concerns. I pride myself on having an open door policy.

Have a safe and wonderful holiday season!


Shannon L. Kilton

Superintendent of Schools

Howards Grove

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As questions or concerns arise, please continue to follow this communication chain.

FIRST, Reach out directly to your child's teacher/team/coach.

In the event your concerns are not addressed or you need further support, NEXT reach out to the building principal or activities director.

Jon Hess- High School Principal:

Angie Houston- Middle School Principal:

Sarah Ellinger- Northview Principal:

Tracy Mueller- Athletic/Activities Director & Special Education Director:

FINALLY, if you still need additional support, please reach out directly to me, Shannon Kilton, Superintendent:

In the event, we have all failed to help you navigate your questions & concerns, your last stop would be to reach out to the school board. Here is the actual board policy on navigating this process.

I am personally asking for this communication chain to help us all develop positive and trusting relationships, which are always grounded in open and honest conversations. Most often, concerns can be easily solved when we all talk directly to the person involved with the question or problem.

Thanks in advance for the support and understanding of this process.

Howards Grove School District

Shannon L. Kilton

Superintendent of Schools