Superintendent's Corner 😎 🏫 😎

April 25, 2021

In this issue ...

  • Seeking Justice
  • Important Quarantine Rules with the MOD Schedule
  • Learning Schedule Committee Reports & Board Action
  • Don't forget - No Student Attendance on April 30
  • Revisiting Spring Religious & Cultural Events - Holi
  • Summer Learning with Our D39 Partners
  • Important Committees for Summer 2021
  • Student Voices: Amplify Avoca for April 26

Seeking Justice

Many Americans of all races felt a sense of relief and justice at the conviction of Derek Chauvin last week for the murder of George Floyd, an act that rightfully sparked national action to address historical and ongoing injustices perpetrated against Black Americans.


And in weeks prior, the statistics shared about the rise in acts harming, threatening and marginalizing Asian Americans brought to the fore another aspect of American history and culture that must be reckoned with today and in the future.


While Chauvin's conviction and increasing awareness of injustice are important steps toward a greater justice, they are not sufficient. A recent Pew Research Center survey results make clear the stark difference in experiences had by Americans because of their race or ethnicity. Click on the graphic to the right to see more about this.


No matter the statistics, we can and must do better. Schools have a part to play, community institutions have a part to play, families have a part to play, and more.


None of us can say we have no part to play in achieving justice for those who suffer from injustice. To say that only perpetuates injustice. Whether advocating for better policies and laws, diverse hiring, or more, each of us can play a part in achieving a fair and just America.

Important: Quarantine Rules with the MOD Schedule

One consequence of our move to a MOD schedule is that some students will be within 6ft of each other at times during the day, although students are masked at all times indoors except when eating.


The Cook County Health Department has informed us that if we have a positive case, contact tracing at school will result in requiring quarantine for any student within 6ft of a COVID positive student. A quarantine in that case would need to be 14 days. In many cases this could mean an entire class would need to quarantine.


So far, we have not had any positive cases at school since our return to a MOD schedule. However, this quarantine guidance shows why it is important to keep students home and get students tested if they are symptomatic.

Learning Schedule Committee Reports & Updates

At the April 22 Board Meeting, the second of two reports from the Learning Schedule Committee was presented to the Board of Education. Below is a link to both reports and related documents from the Learning Schedule Committee.


In the second report, the Committee outlined the Advantages and Disadvantages of alternative schedules proposed for each school for next year. These alternative schedules responded to feedback provided on the initial schedules proposed, attempting to minimize disadvantages and maximize advantages of those initial schedules.


As a result of the Committee's work and feedback provided, and consistent with the language in the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Avoca Education Association and the Board of Education, I recommended and the Board approved the following:


  • For 2021-2022 at Avoca West, the Alternative Schedule presented will be adopted.
  • For 2021-2022 at Marie Murphy, the Alternative Schedule will be adopted but its full implementation will be phased in over the course of first into second semester. The phase-in provides substantive time for the professional learning and collaboration necessary to ensure Viking Time is successfully implemented.


To learn more read both reports and see an extensive FAQ document, please click here to access a public folder with all of these relevant documents.

Don't Forget: No Student Attendance on April 30

April 30 is a Teacher Planning Day with no student attendance. Teachers will use the day to assess the first three weeks of our Modified Onsite Daily Schedule, including student learning over that time and collaborate to make adjustments over the last 6 weeks of school.

Revisiting Spring Religious Holidays

In my April 9 post, I highlighted Spring Religious observances for many members of our diverse community. Specifically, I highlighted Easter, Passover, and Ramadan (which falls at this time of year in 2021). However, I failed to include HOLI (pronounced like "holy.')


Holi - the Hindu festival of colors - is a boisterous and joy-filled Spring festival that occurs on the first full moon of March every year. You can learn more about it by clicking here.


However, my oversight is a bit more painful, because just two weeks earlier I had shared one of our Amplify Avoca episodes where one of our students, Nadiya, explains Holi! Click here and watch the video again to see Nadiya explaining Holi!

Summer Learning Opportunities Revisited - Our Partnership with District 39

Many parents and guardians are concerned that their students have "fallen behind" due to learning in the pandemic. Our overall data shows nothing definitive in this regard. Some grades scored higher on standard measures this Winter, some lower, some the same. And we believe the Spring results will be well within our typical ranges of performance. What is most important is that your child's teacher is aware of their growth and is addressing any concerns. Of course, if you have concerns, you should reach out to your student's teacher.


This summer, it is not my professional recommendation that students pile on academic work in some attempt to 'catch up.' Rather, I believe a healthy and balanced approach to engaging students physically, mentally, and cognitively is best.


In terms of academics, Avoca is continuing our partnership with Wilmette District 39 for summer learning programming, which runs from July 6th through July 30th (The Wilmette Park District runs a program that serves students in the afternoons on these dates). This partnership allows the two districts to pool resources and provides Avoca students to work in learning environments based on students with similar needs, which would not be so easily accomplished if Avoca attempted to run its own program. Wilmette District 39 will be providing Academic Camp, Review & Reinforcement (R&R), and Extended School Year (ESY) courses.


Avoca students who will benefit from additional math, reading, or writing practice over the summer are encouraged to register for the Academic Camp courses. Registration for Academic Camp and course descriptions can be found here.


Review & Reinforcement (R&R) and Extended School Year (ESY) courses are reserved for students meeting specific criteria and require teacher recommendation. If your student qualifies for these summer school courses, you will receive a letter that outlines the recommendation and provides registration instructions.


Bus service is available for those who live within the District 37 boundaries for a $140.00 fee. Transportation forms will be mailed and copies are available at each school office. Please contact Dawn Scaramuzza in the Pupil Services office with any questions. She can be reached at scaramuzzad@avoca37.org or by calling 847-728-4142

Important Committees - Summer 2021

This Summer will be an important time for our District to reorient itself to issues on the horizon, now that the worst of COVID is behind us. To do that successfully, the District needs stakeholder input and insight. Along those lines, three committees will be convened to address finances and strategic planning.


While not everyone who is interested can serve, please let me know via email at osburnk@avoca37.org if you would be willing to serve on one of these committees:


  • Financial Advisory Committee - this committee of parents/guardians, staff, and community members will review the Board's finances and submit a report to the Board regarding the current and future state of the District's fiscal status. This will probably require 6 meetings totaling no more than 15 hours, running from late May through late July. MOST MEETINGS WILL BE REMOTE UNLESS COMMITTEE MEMBERS CHOOSE IN PERSON BY CONSENSUS.


  • Planning Committee: Vision & Strategic Plan - this committee of BoE members, parent/guardians, and staff will convene to determine the process that will be undertaken to develop a new vision and strategic plan for the District. The goal of the committee work will be to produce an outline for the aforementioned process. The subsequent process will take all of 2021-2022 with a new vision and strategic plan finalized by June 2022. This initial committee will probably require 4 meetings totaling no more than 15 hours and will meet in June and July. THESE MEETINGS WILL BE CONDUCTED IN PERSON.


  • American Rescue Plan Expenditure Committee - It is anticipated that the American Rescue Plan will direct more than $400,000 dollars to District 37. Those monies can only be spent in specific ways, but this committee will review the options for expenditure over the next two years and provide a report to the Board regarding options. The committee will seek stakeholder feedback regarding the expenditure of a portion of these funds and will issue a memo to the Board of Education. This initial committee will probably require 4 meetings totaling no more than 12 hours and will meet in June and July. THESE MEETINGS WILL BE CONDUCTED REMOTELY.
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