Pirate's Cove

News for the week of 3/16 - 3/20

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Update From School District 308 regarding COVID-19

  • Following the statewide mandate: all schools are closed through March 30, 2020

    - Learning opportunties will be distributed to all students to use during the time schools are closed. Additional information is coming soon. Devices for junior high and high school student who do not have access to one at home will be available on a very limited basis.

    - Food Service is being offered to all enrolled students. Pick-up is daily from 8:30-9:30am at Thompson Jr. High and Oswego East High School.

    - Many resources for food, personal care items, transportation, and more have formed in our community. We are tracking those resources and have them listed here.

    - The state has indicated that the days schools were closed due to COVID-19 concerns will NOT be made up.

    - Many things are changing at a rapid pace, please check back here often for updates. We appreciate your patience and cooperation.

    - This situation could cause anxiety in students, this resource may assist you in talking to children about COVID-19.

    March 15, 2020 Parent Letter

Principal's Message

Pirate parents,

What a wild ending to our week last week! I have been in communication with our District Office all weekend with updates to our school closure, setting up online learning opportunities, and providing assistance and outreach for families in need. My priority, as always is student safety. I encourage families to reach out with questions about the closure and regarding online learning, as well as if you are in need of some assistance. There are options out there for those that are in need.

It never ceases to amaze me how resilient our communities are in situations like this. I have been reading about local businesses providing free lunch or meals to families and people donating necessities to local food banks. We band together to make our communities strong in times of uncertainty.

Above the principal's message, there is information to families about our closure, answers to some of the questions you may have, and links to different resources that area available through SD 308, as well as for e-learning opportunities. Teachers will be sharing emails this afternoon regarding e-learning opportunities for students. Look for those emails, and keep your child engaged in learning while they are at home during this time.

Over the next week, teachers and administration will be checking emails regularly. If you have questions, please reach out so that we can answer them for you! We will persevere through this together. I thank you for your patience and understanding through this situation. Please check the district website often with new updates, since information about this is changing regularly.

The staff at Plank Junior High is committed to serving the students and parents of the surrounding community. We want to provide multiple opportunities for students to showcase their talents, and grow as young adults through academics and social emotional learning. Our focus is to prepare our students to be ready for college and future careers. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me and we can work together to find solutions. I can be reached at 630-551-9400 and thaymond@sd308.org. We look forward to collaborating with you and your student throughout the year.

Always in partnership,

Tyler Haymond


Plank Junior High School

Referendum 2020 - Information for voters

An Operating Rate Referendum for Oswego Community Unit School District 308
voters will appear on the ballot in
Kendall, Kane and Will Counties on March 17, 2020

What is the purpose of this referendum?

  • The referendum would allow for the reinstatement of several cuts, including:
    • Reduce Class Sizes
    • Continuation of junior high sports
    • Summer school transportation
    • Expanded gifted education programming
    • Updated technology and curriculum
    • Completion of delayed maintenance on many aging buildings and grounds.

  • Additionally, with adequate funds in reserve the district would not need to take temporary loans while awaiting funding payments, these loans carry costly interest, and have a negative impact on the district's financial rating.

  • The district’s financial position requires that additional bonds be purchased, which means more debt, in order to complete necessary equipment servicing, operational repairs, and technology updates.

  • The district's current reserves would only allow a few weeks of operation without outside funding. Our Board of Education Policy along with recommendations by the Illinois State Board of Education indicate that we should have reserves equivalent to 20% of our budget expenses.

What has been done to decrease expenses in the district?

  • 2016-17 Reductions/Revenues: District Level Departmental Budget Reductions, Reduction of DAC Administrator Staff, Building and District Administrative Salary Freeze, Reduced Workers Compensation and Property Insurance Premiums, Reduced Health Insurance Cost, Custodial Restructuring through Attrition, Reduced Contractual Services.

  • 2017-18 Reductions/Revenues: Eliminated Seven Administrative Positions, Eliminated District Level Support Staff Positions, 2nd Year of Administrative Salary Freezes, Student-paid Field Trips, Discontinued Paying for AP Exams, Implemented a fee policy requiring student fees to be current for participation in sports and activities, Energy Savings, Delayed Curriculum Implementation.

  • 2018-19 Reductions/Revenues: Increased student fees related to: Athletics, Activities, Clubs, Drivers Education, Student Parking and Registration, Eliminated Transportation for Summer School, Restructured our Gifted Education Model, Increased our Class Size Guidelines, Increased Facility Rental Fees, Reduced Building Budgets, Limited Professional Development and Curriculum Work, Savings through Contract Negotiations with OTA and OCMA.

  • 2019-20 Reductions/Revenues: Reduction in District, Building-Level, and Non-Stipened Related Athletic Budgets; Increase Full-Day Kindergarten Fees; Increase Parking Permit Fees; Increase Early Childhood Tuition Program Fees; Restructuring Special Education Department (K-8); Restructure of Finance Department; Hired Director of Development to Secure Additional Revenue; Discontinued Junior High Boundary Grandfathering; Discontinued Offering Transportation to Early Childhood; Leasing of Athletic Activity Vans; Reduction of Non-Grant Funded TOSA Positions; Early Release of TAs on School Improvement and Parent-Teacher Conference Days; Reduce Total Number of OESPA 12-Month Employee Work-Days by two (2); Reduction of Custodial Staff by two (2); Reduction of one (1) Non-Bargaining Part-Time Employee from Technology Department; Junior High Sports Shifted from Athletic-Based to Intramural Framework; Costs to Upkeep Traughber Junior High Reduced; District Cell Phone Usage Management; Elimination of District Desktop Printers and COTG Personnel; Reduction to Contracted Service Visits, Service Agreements, and Increased Energy Demand Response Opportunity by District Operation and Maintenance.

What impact would SD 308 homeowners see from the referendum?

  • The proposed increase equates to a 30-cent operating tax rate increase per $100 of equalized assessed valuation.
  • For example:
    • A home valued at $200,000 would experience a property tax increase of approximately $15 a month ($182 a year).
    • A home valued at $350,000 would experience a property tax increase of approximately $28 a month ($332 a year).

When was the last time a successful referendum was passed?

  • 2005 was the last time a voters passed a referendum to allow for an increase in the operating tax rate of 30 cents. Previous to that request, it was 20 years since an operating referendum was presented. Over this time there was a significant increase in the population of students and employees, and the expansion of services has continued.

How does a quality school district affect property values?

  • Research shows that the property values in any community are directly linked to the quality of schools. Quality education makes our communities desirable, attracts new businesses, and thereby contributes to higher property values.

Where can I register to vote or find my polling location?

  • The Illinois State Board of Elections has a website with information on online voter registration, deadlines, polling places, early voting, and more. Visit www.elections.il.gov

What is the timeline if the referendum passes?

  • If the March 17th referendum passes, it will be included on the levy presented December 2020. It would then be included on property tax bills sent out spring of 2021. The school district would begin receiving payments May 2021 through December 2021.

What does the question look like on the ballot?

  • Shall the limiting rate under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law for
    Oswego Community Unit School District Number 308, Kendall, Kane and Will
    Counties, Illinois, be increased by an additional amount equal to .30% above the
    limiting rate for school purposes for levy year 2018 and be equal to 5.32922% of
    the equalized assessed value of the taxable property therein for levy year 2020?

    1) The approximate amount of taxes extendable at the most
    recently extended limiting rate is $ 100, 337,282, and the
    approximate amount of taxes extendable if the proposition is
    approved is $ 106,322,541.

    2) For the 2020 levy year the approximate amount of the
    additional tax extendable against property containing a single
    family residence and having a fair market value at the time of
    the referendum of $100,000 is estimated to be $100.

    3) If the proposition is approved, the aggregate extension for 2020
    will be determined by the limiting rate set forth in the proposition,
    rather than the otherwise applicable limiting rate calculated under the
    provisions of the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law ( commonly
    known as the Property Tax Cap Law).

For more information on the Referendum, please follow this link.

E-learning Opportunities for Plank Students

First and foremost, I hope that this message finds you safe and healthy at home with family. I appreciate the patience and understanding that families have shown regarding these unique circumstances. We will work to keep families updated on any new developments regarding our school closure and opportunities for e-learning.

I want to make sure you are aware that administration is available to answer your educational questions, particularly about our communication about e-learning. Teachers have been working hard all day today, and will communicate student work opportunities to you by 2:00 pm. You may have received communication already from Plank teachers about this. Assignments being shared by teachers are intended to review existing information and extend learning opportunities for students. These e-learning assignments will not be graded or added into Tyler SIS gradebook. If your child needs a device to access these learning opportunities, technological devices can be signed out at District Office today.

If you have any questions, please contact me directly and I will try and respond quickly. Since information is changing rapidly, check the district website for any new updates regarding these school closures.

Thank you for your support!

Tyler Haymond


Plank Daily Announcements

Follow this link to view the Plank Daily Announcements. The announcements are updated every day and shown to all students in homeroom.

8th Grade AVID Selection Starts Soon

AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. It is a schoolwide college readiness system of support with a structured approach to a rigorous curriculum that will help develop students’ writing, content knowledge, and academic skills. Students enrolled in the AVID elective are hardworking, determined to do their best in school and reach their goals, and like to work collaboratively with their peers. The AVID elective targets those students who are academically in the middle (earning B's and C's), have the desire to go to college and the willingness to work hard, have good attendance and little to no discipline problems, and may be the first in their family to attend higher education. Additional information can be found at http://www.avid.org/what-is-avid-secondary.ashx.

Students enrolled in the AVID elective course will:

  • be enrolled in at least one honors class

  • participate in weekly tutorials

  • learn academic and social skills not targeted in other academic classes

  • attend presentations from college and career related speakers

  • attend field trips to local colleges

  • participate in a positive peer group

Below is the AVID elective application. There is a selection process to be accepted into the AVID program that involves completing the application and participating in a student interview . Enrollment is limited, and we are continuing to accept applications through next week. We will start our interview and selection process this week and hope to have our 2020 AVID class selected by April.

The AVID elective class offered to only 8th grade students next year.

Please contact Caitlin Gannon, AVID Coordinator at (630) 551-9414 or cgannon@sd308.org, for more information regarding the AVID elective class at Plank.

8th Grade T-shirt - Gift from Home and school

The home and school association provides a going away gift to the 8th graders as we send them off to their respective high schools. Our HSA President spent time this week asking students about their high school and shirt size. Parents: if you can confirm this information on the following form. Keep in mind they may grow some more this year. They are adult sizes. It is greatly appreciated!


Thank you for your help in this gift.

Plank Home and School

Illinois Assessment of Readiness

We are preparing for our IAR testing window coming in April. With that, there are a number of different activities that students have started participating in school, as well as opportunities for practice outside of school in order to be ready for the tests. Our focus is not to teach students to the test, rather provide the opportunity to practice the format of the test prior to administration later this year. We would like to see Plank continue to grow in the areas of Science, Math, and Reading based on these assessments. Improving on student achievement is a priority of the Oswego Board of Education, as well as the staff and administration of Plank Junior High School. We are working hard in classes to provide practice opportunities for students so that they feel prepared for these assessments.

Both ISA and IAR are used in determining our overall school rating, found on our Illinois School Report Card. I have linked our previous School Report Card to view. This is how the state measures the effectiveness of the school. This year, Plank was rated as an Illinois "Commendable" School. There are many different factors that play into the overall school rating, such as student growth and performance on IAR/ISA, student attendance, and the feedback from the Illinois 5 Essentials Survey. We most certainly want to continue to build on our successes on our school achievement, and we have been working hard to boost our tier I instructional practices in all content areas and subjects to do so. What happens in the classroom is directly related to how our students are assessed on these tests, and we use the data that we receive after testing is complete to assess our alignment of curriculum to the standards.

We will take IAR after Spring Break. Here is a link for parents to help support your child during these high-stakes testing windows. If you are interested in obtaining more information on how these tests are delivered to students, how they relate to the community, and how they are scored on our school report card, please reach out to the Plank administration, and we would be happy to discuss the impact of state testing in schools. On behalf of our teachers, I thank you for your support in our school's success.

Our students should feel confident showing what they know and can do on the Illinois Assessment of Readiness. Students have had exposure all year to rigorous instruction that is tied to the same standards that IAR measures. Teachers have provided opportunities for assessment in classrooms that mimic some of the test responses that students may see on these tests. We have planned practice for students so that they get used to the format of the test.

Our students will take the Illinois Assessment of Readiness during the below listed windows. Within these windows, each junior high will determine building specific student assessment schedules.

• Junior High Grades 6th – 8th: Wednesday, April 1 – Friday April 27, 2019

If you have questions about the Illinois Assessment of Readiness, please reach out to Danielle Lee at dlee@sd308.org. As always, we encourage our students to do their best every day. Thank you for your partnership in your student’s academic success.

"IARRRR" Practice Test Raffle

The old adage is true: Practice makes perfect. In order to help students do their best on our upcoming state assessments, Plank is going to help provide some incentive while students practice. This year, students are encouraged to complete practice tests online at home. There are three online practice tests per grade level, and one paper based test per grade level. This makes for four different opportunities for students to practice for IAR.

For every practice test that students complete, they can have one entry into our "IARRRR Raffle." Between ELA and Math practice tests, there are 6 possible entries per student. We will draw student names from each grade level to win fabulous prizes. Each grade level will have a grand prize raffle of a Kindle Fire. The more entries, the more chances to win. During our school closures this week, this is a great opportunity for students to get some extra practice in on these state assessments. Follow the directions below in order to be placed into the raffle.

Here's how to participate:

STARTING ON WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11th THRU APRIL 10th (This may be extended depending on the school closure window: to be determined)

  • Sign on to a computer at home, and follow this link IAR PRACTICE TESTS
  • Students will select a content area to practice and grade level. Students must select their grade level. Ex. 6th grade students practice 6th grade tests.
  • Select the Computer Based Unit 1, 2 or 3. There are three choices. Each completed unit counts as a raffle entry.
  • Student types in their own first and last name into any of the online practice test. Ex. Tyler Haymond
  • Student completes all sections of the practice test.
  • Student prints a completion report or parent signed document to have their name entered for a raffle on any IAR practice test by grade level. If a printer is not available at home, students can screenshot and email to their ELA teacher or math teacher, or take a picture with their phone and show their ELA or math teacher.
  • Students can check their answers based on the online answer document.
  • Turn in the printed report to the LRC during Homeroom or Lunch Periods.
  • Each entry will get a penguin keychain collectible.
  • Names will be drawn and announced over the intercom.
  • Students called will win the raffle prizes.
  • There will be one grand prize winner from each grade level, and smaller prizes will be raffled for participants.
  • Grand Prize - Kindle Fire (1 winner per grade level)
  • 1 Entry - in running for $10 Visa gift card (1 winner per grade level)
  • 3 Entries - in running for $25 Visa gift card (1 winner per grade level)

  • 6 Entries - in running for $50 Visa gift card (1 winner)

  • Raffle winners get picture taken shared on the newsletter, and on the website.

Homework Hotspot

Just a reminder that we have the homework hotspot. Student assignments are listed here for the entire building. Students also are using their assignment notebooks to write down their assignments. I recommend making a bookmark of homework hotspot on your browser so that it can be checked regularly by your child.

Parent Portal in Tyler SIS

Our new student information system is Tyler SIS. This is taking the place of eSchool. Log into the link below if you are looking for updated grades, information, attendance, and the features of the former e School Home Access. Watch for updates on how parents can use the Portal on our website and in upcoming newsletters.

Tyler Parent Portal

Second Step - Advisory at Plank

Dear Pirate families,

We want your child to be successful in school, and that means going beyond the basics. Excelling in academic classes is important, but students also need to know how to learn, make good decisions, handle strong emotions, and get along with others.

Every Thursday, students will participate in Advisory activities to build upon the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) standards. These include:

Mindsets and Goals: Students learn about ways to grow their brains and get smarter, along with research-based strategies for achieving goals and handling difficult situations.

Values and Friendships: Students learn to identify their personal values and use those values to make good decisions and build strong, positive relationships.

Thoughts, Emotions, and Decisions: Students learn the positive role emotions play in their lives, how to handle unhelpful thoughts and strong emotions, and specific strategies for calming down.

Serious Peer Conflicts: Students learn how to identify and avoid serious conflicts, resolve conflicts that can't be avoided, think about other people's perspectives, and help stop bullying and harassment at school.

As an AVID school, we are working to prepare our students to be college and career ready. Skills that employers are looking for are "soft skills," or skills that are not technical in nature. These skills include Communication, Teamwork and Collaboration, Professionalism, Self-Management, Initiative, Critical and Creative Thinking, and Global Fluency and Perspective, according to ParentToolkit, which synthesized a 2011 Harvard University study titled Pathways to Prosperity, along with other employment studies.

If you have any questions about the Second Step Middle School Program, please do not hesitate to contact the teachers or administration at Plank for more information. Thank you for supporting your child in learning the skills and concepts that lead to success in school and in life.


Tyler Haymond