The Communicator

District 47 Newsletter - Fall 2020

IN THIS ISSUE

  • Superintendent's Message

  • District Highlights

  • Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Update

  • Financial Update

  • Operations Update

  • Board of Education Update

  • Community Connection

  • Connect with Us

FROM THE SUPERINTENDENT

To call the 2020-21 school year unusual would be an understatement. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged and changed us all in ways we couldn’t have imagined. For schools and educators, perhaps the most profound change due to the pandemic has been the need to reinvent education as we know it and to move quickly from one learning model to another. Each change in learning model requires herculean efforts by administrators and staff as well as an incredible amount of flexibility and patience from families.


Below is a recap of District 47’s learning model “road map” to date:


  • Monday, August 24, 2020: The 2020-21 school year began on-schedule but not in-person as we had hoped. For the health and safety of both staff and students, the Board of Education decided at the July 20th & August 10th board meetings that instruction was to occur remotely for the first six weeks of school.

  • Monday, October 5, 2020: District 47 began its hybrid learning model, which provided families an option to continue with remote learning OR send their child(ren) to school for in-person instruction. The hybrid learning model continued for four weeks through the end of October.

  • Monday, November 2, 2020: Due to worsening pandemic conditions, District 47 made the decision to take an “Adaptive Pause” on its hybrid learning model and transition students and staff to remote learning. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, an Adaptive Pause is a strategy that allows for movement into any level of remote learning to prevent disease transmission during a pandemic. An Adaptive Pause may result in delayed reopening at the start of a specific school term or a pivot to remote learning once the school year is underway for school officials to have time to plan for next steps with parents, teachers and staff.


During this adaptive pause, I, along with other superintendents in the county, will continue to engage in weekly phone calls with the McHenry County Health Department and closely monitor health metrics. To keep our school community informed, we have created a COVID-19 dashboard on the District 47 website. Here you will find a one-stop-shop for COVID-19 data, which includes confirmed cases and quarantines in District 47 as well as health metrics for the zip codes we serve and for McHenry County as a whole. When we learn of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in our district, our operations team works diligently to clean and sanitize our schools while our district nurses and human resources act quickly to report this information to the MCDH, provide contract tracing assistance and notify those directly and indirectly involved for the health and safety of our school community.


While this critical work is happening behind-the-scenes, our teachers and staff continue to engage with students daily at home through virtual platforms like Zoom and Google Meets; our bus drivers deliver food to families in need through our partnership with the Northern Illinois Food Bank; and our cafeteria workers distribute free breakfast and lunch weekly via a drive-up service at several of our schools.


The pandemic has strengthened our resolve to continue to provide a quality education for all students, whether in school or at home. While this is not the year we had hoped for, our administrators and staff have gained new skills and learned to “think outside the box” to meet the needs of our students and families. Of course, none of this would be possible without the trust, support and involvement from our families, many of whom have faced challenges of their own but have prioritized their child(ren)’s education -- rearranging work schedules, setting up remote learning co-ops and additional childcare options, and some even creating dedicated learning spaces for their children in their homes. We recognize the hardships that some of our families face as well as the additional burden placed on families when schools are closed and we are grateful for your efforts.


As we enter the holiday season, let’s all do our part to stay safe and healthy and united in our efforts to curb this pandemic so we can bring our students back to our schools as soon as possible.


Sincerely,


Dr. Kathy J. Hinz

Superintendent

DISTRICT HIGHLIGHTS

D47in47 Video Series

Catch highlights of the 2020-21 school year in these 47-second videos shared on District 47's social media channels. See below for our most recent video celebrating Veterans Day. District 47 schools saluted veterans virtually this week. Students wrote letters and created cards, schools created video tributes and interviewed family members who are veterans, and some invited veterans to join their class virtually as special guest readers. #veteransday2020 #forward47
D47in47 - Veterans Day 2020

IMPORTANT DATES

November 2020

11/13 - End Trimester 1 (grades K-5) and Term 2 (grades 6-8)

11/16 - Board of Education meeting, 7pm, Hannah Beardsley Middle School

11/23 - Parent-Teacher Virtual Conferences (PreK-8): 8am-8pm NO SCHOOL

11/24 - Parent-Teacher Virtual Conferences (PreK-8); 8am-11am NO SCHOOL

11/25 - 11/27 - Thanksgiving Break NO SCHOOL


December 2020

12/14 - Board of Education meeting, 7pm, Hannah Beardsley Middle School

12/21 - 1/1/21 - Winter break


January 2021

1/4 - Classes resume

1/15 - End Term 3 (grades 6-8)

1/15 - Teacher Institute Day - NO SCHOOL

1/18 - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - NO SCHOOL

1/19 - Board of Education meeting, 7pm, Location TBD

1/27 - Early Release Day


February 2021

2/15 - President’s Day - NO SCHOOL

2/16 - Board of Education meeting, 7pm, Location TBD

2/17 - Early Release Day

2/24 - Early Release Day

2/25, 3/2, 3/4 - Kindergarten registration, CORE Center

2/26 - End Trimester 2 (grades K-5) and Term 4 (grades 6-8)


Click the link for access to the complete 2020-21 school calendar.

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District 47 PTOs/PTAs raise $250,000+ in 2019-20 school year

At the September 21, 2020, board meeting, the Crystal Lake Elementary District 47 Board of Education recognized parent/teacher organizations for their fundraising efforts during the 2019-20 school year. In total, PTOs/PTAs, including parent groups for Wehde Early Childhood Center and the Crystal Lake Friends of Gifted Education (CLFOGE), raised $258,915.

New District 47 Leadership Team Members

Maggie Fitzgerald, Assistant Principal, Husmann Elementary School

Maggie Fitzgerald was an assistant principal at Hannah Beardsley Middle School during the 2019-20 school year. Prior to that, she served as an instructional coach at Lundahl Middle School for two years. She also taught for 10 years in Marquardt District 15. For four years in between, she served as an instructional and leadership coach for both The American Reading Company and The Literacy Design Collaborative. Mrs. Fitzgerald received her bachelor’s degree in education from Northern Illinois University and her master’s degree in educational leadership from Concordia University Chicago.


Shannon Heckman, Assistant Principal, Hannah Beardsley Middle School

Shannon Heckman joined District 47 in August of 2011 as a technology support specialist at Canterbury Elementary School. Since then, she has taught 7th and 8th grade language arts and social studies and served as a middle school icoach and instructional coach in District 47. In 2018-19 she became an assistant principal at Fremont Middle School in Mundelein. Mrs. Heckman has a masters degree in teaching at National Louis University and a masters degree in educational leadership with a principal endorsement from Aurora University.


Lori Humbles, Dean of Students, Lundahl and Bernotas Middle Schools

Lori Humbles joined District 47 in the fall of 2016 as a substitute teacher and then went on to teach fine arts part-time to grades 2-5 at Coventry Elementary in 2019-2020. Mrs. Humbles started her teaching career in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) as a middle school science teacher. In her ninth year of teaching, she became a mentor teacher and then an instructional coach. She spent the last two years of her career in CPS as the Dean of Students, implementing a restorative justice program in her school. She obtained her bachelor's degree from the University of Delaware and her master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Illinois Chicago.


Joel Moeller, Dean of Students, Hannah Beardsley Middle School

Prior to joining the administrative team at Hannah Beardsley Middle School, Joel Moeller was a 4th and 5th grade teacher at Indian Prairie Elementary School for three years. Before that he served as a principal and teacher at a small private school in Crystal Lake. Mr. Moeller coaches the girls’ JV basketball and boys football teams at Crystal Lake South High School. He is also author of the self-published children’s book “Mac the Snack Monster” (2018). Mr. Moeller obtained his bachelor's degree in elementary education from Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota, and master’s degree in educational administration from Concordia University in River Forest, Illinois.


Monica Petersen, Director of Instructional Innovation and Professional Learning

Monica Petersen served as the principal of Husmann Elementary School for the past five years. With 19 years of educational experience, she began her career as a third grade teacher in Palatine School District 15, where she earned her national board certification and served as a mentor to other teachers working towards their certification. In addition to teaching in District 15, she served as an assistant principal and building principal. During her leadership in Palatine, she was recognized with an Award of Excellence through Those Who Excel.

Mrs. Petersen holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Eastern Illinois University and a master’s degree in teacher leadership and principal certification from Roosevelt University. She also holds an English as a Second Language endorsement and is recognized as a National Board Certified Middle Childhood Generalist.


Karla Reinhart, Assistant Principal, Glacier Ridge Elementary School

After spending the past 20 years in Wisconsin, Karla Reinhardt is delighted to be back in her native hometown of Crystal Lake, where she attended Canterbury, Lundahl and South High Schools. While in Wisconsin, Mrs. Reinhardt ran a preschool for several years and taught both elementary and middle school. She also served as a middle school trauma coach, PBIS external district coach, and PBIS apps coordinator. These experiences ignited her passion for educational administration; she then served as the principal in a small pre-k through 8th grade school. Mrs. Reinhart earned her bachelor's degree in elementary education (with a minor in literacy) from the University of Wisconsin Superior and earned her master’s degree in educational administration from Concordia University. She is a certified trauma and resilience practitioner through Starr Commonwealth.


Guy Sromek, Principal, Husmann Elementary School

Guy Sromek joined District 47 in 2000 as a fifth grade teacher at Canterbury Elementary School. He taught fifth grade for six years before moving into an assistant principal role at North Elementary. Mr. Sromek served in this role for six years before moving to Husmann, where he has served as assistant principal for the past eight years. Mr. Sromek holds a bachelor’s degree in recreation and park administration from Illinois State University, a master’s degree in elementary education from Roosevelt University, and a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of St. Francis.

CURRICULUM, INSTRUCTION AND ASSESSMENT UPDATE

Meeting the Needs of Special Education Students During the Pandemic

As all students began the 2020-21 school year in remote learning, District 47 offered a three-phased return-to learn plan to welcome students in special education back to our schools. Drop-in sessions for related services began the week of August 31st and academic services for students with IEPs began the week of September 8th. The final phase of the return-to-learn plan began the week of September 21st with students in special programs returning to 10 District 47 schools.


District 47 Establishes Equity Committee

District 47 is committed to providing a safe, equitable, and inclusive educational

environment for all staff and students. This year, the District has formed an equity committee, comprised of educators and administrators, to explore ways to guide, support and enhance practices related to cultural diversity and racial equity within our schools and district community. The District is currently in the research phase of this endeavor and will keep the District 47 community and Board of Education informed of its progress.


Virtual Library Cultivates the Joy of Reading Remotely

District 47 is committed to fostering literacy among all students. However, the pandemic has challenged us to find new ways of providing students with access to quality literature during remote learning. Prior to the start of the 2020-21 school year, D47 school librarians curated a diverse pre-K through 8th grade digital library through an online platform called Sora. Students can access Sora through the Clever portal on their district-provided device. District 47 wishes to express gratitude to the Crystal Lake Public Library for generously sharing the Northwest Suburban Library’s curation for use by D47 students.

FINANCIAL UPDATE

2020-21 Budget

On September 21, 2020, the District 47 Board of Education passed the 2020-21 budget. Within this budget, the Board approved operational expenditures (including additional expenditures related to COVID-19; see below), as well as the continuation of life/safety projects and strategic planning initiatives. All debt (2010 Build America bonds, 2018 and 2019 debt certificates) will be paid from the District’s operating funds, eliminating the need for property tax levied previously for the debt service fund.


While the majority of the District 47 budget (approximately 80 percent) comes from local revenue sources, the District continuously looks for grant opportunities to fund initiatives as well as ways to streamline federal money that is provided to the District.


For general questions regarding the District’s annual tax levy, check out Property Tax FAQs on the District website.


The Cost of COVID-19

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic thrust a new “norm” at the education sector and the world as a whole. To ensure the safety of students and staff, schools were forced to quickly transition teaching and learning from the classroom to a remote platform, one that District 47 was only partially prepared for as the district’s K-2 students were in need of devices and some families lacked internet access.


In the spring during remote learning, even though the district’s school buses were not transporting students to/from school, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker made agreements with several state collective bargaining groups that required local districts to continue paying salary and benefits through the remainder of the 2019/20 school year. In addition, the USDA extended meal benefits to the school community to provide breakfast/lunch at no cost. (This benefit has now been extended to the end of the 2020/21 school year.)


Over the past few months, the District has spent more than $750,000 to assist in the implementation of remote instruction. This includes technology equipment, software licenses, and other supplies needed by students and staff to continue instruction. Additionally, the District has spent thousands of dollars for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and products to clean and sanitize facilities for the safety of students and staff.


On a national level, it has been estimated that a school district will spend approximately $500 per student to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. For District 47, this would amount to approximately $3.5 million. The federal government has provided the CARES grant to help school districts fund the purchase of technology for remote instruction. In addition, District 47 is pursuing funds from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to help offset additional COVID-19 expenditures.

OPERATIONS UPDATE

In the spring of 2018, District 47's architect conducted a facility needs assessment to identify priority projects and effectively align resources with the educational needs of the District. The District’s projected facility needs over the next several years include capital improvement projects related to this assessment as well as school security initiatives and facility improvements related to state-required life-safety surveys of all schools.


Summer 2020 Projects

Building renovations, upgrades, and repairs typically take place over the summer when school is not in session. One of the main undertakings last summer was the completion of the $18.4 million life/safety renovation project at Coventry Elementary School. This project was completed on time and within budget.


Other summer projects total approximately $5.3 million and include the completion of all health/life safety priority B requirements. These projects include but are not limited to the replacement of doors, flooring, student lockers, operable walls, classroom furniture, and playground equipment; reconfiguration and enhancements to interior walls and window treatments; masonry work, landscaping improvements, paving maintenance (concrete/ asphalt replacement), and the addition of a new playground fence.


In addition to completing the planned summer projects, the following COVID-19 safeguards were implemented throughout the district:

  • Installation of plexiglass safety barriers for key areas

  • Purchase and installation of hand sanitizing stations throughout buildings

  • Purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (masks, gloves, etc..) for employees

  • Implementation of an electrostatic disinfection process

  • Reconfiguration of classrooms (removal of desks and furniture) for social distancing

  • Purchase and installation of social distancing safety signage (ex: one-way traffic flow decals)

  • Purchase and installation of temperature scanners for building entryways

  • Optimized HVAC systems for increased airflow

  • Installation of sensor-activated water bottle filling stations

BOARD OF EDUCATION UPDATE

District 47 Board of Education

Back row, from left: Emily Smith, Dr. Betsy Les (vice president), Rob Fetzner (president), Jonathan Powell, and Ryan Farrell. Front row: Curt Wadlington and John Pellikan


Board Meeting Agendas and Minutes

October 19, 2020

September 21, 2020

August 10, 2020

July 20, 2020

July 7, 2020


For board meeting dates and times, visit the D47 website.

COMMUNITY CONNECTION

Peachjar

Whether you are looking for an after-school program for your child(ren) or have a program/activity you'd like our families to know about, Peachjar is our way to connect D47 families with events and activities in the community. Visit our website to learn more!

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