Gearing Up for a Great Start

50b0a1c5ebee49c6bfe772e19cef0bd6It is hard to believe, but the First Day of School is right around the corner.  Our staff is busy putting the final touches on classrooms, hallways and playgrounds.  We are looking forward to welcoming 2,700 smiling faces into our schools next Tuesday.

I am optimistic and confident that this year will be an outstanding year for all of our students.  Talking with a number of teachers and administrators over the summer, I have picked up on a sense of renewed excitement and enthusiasm  for the upcoming school year.

Recently, a number of staff volunteered to meet at Panera for a book study on a school 518+7JOSZmL._AC_UL320_SR210,320_transformation process.  (Seriously,  it MUST  be interesting for people to give up vacation time to talk shop.) The book that has folks buzzing is The Leader in Me by Sean Covey. It teaches leadership skills to students and creates a culture of student empowerment based on the idea that every child (and every person) can be leader.  The Leader in Me is not an event and it is not a curriculum.  It is an integrated approach of leadership training that involves the entire school.  In fact, schools cannot become a Leader in Me school unless there is a commitment from 90% or more of the staff that this is something the entire school wants to do.  It simply won’t work if it is top down or administratively directed.  This year our schools are just beginning the initial exploration stage. Principals will be trying to gauge if this is something their schools support.  (By the way, every one of our principals is very excited about the Leader in Me.  Feel free to ask them about the Leader schools they visited.)   If you want to see what the excitement is about check out  The Leader in Me.

Picture3Finally, for those of you who are interested in how my Great Pyrenees puppy named  Jeep is doing with her training, I have started a new blog for students, staff and families to follow.  You can see Jeep in action at  Jeep the Dog    Become a follower!  I have posted some videos and articles that I know the kids in particular will enjoy watching.  I plan to add new photos and updates throughout the year. Hard to imagine that Jeep is now 7 months old and weighs over 75 lbs!

 

I am looking forward to a fantastic year ahead!!

Calling all Parents!

downloadJust a reminder  that tomorrow night there will be a presentation on how the brain learns to read at the Lake Villa District Library at 7 pm.  Reading is one of the most important skills children can develop in their lifetimes. However, learning to read is a complex process and is not easy for all children. Reading is not a natural part of human development. Unlike spoken language, reading cannot be learned by imitation or observation of other people. Reading requires multiple areas of the brain to work together.

Find out what you can do to help your child’s brain learn to read. Superintendent Dr. Lynette Zimmer will present on how the brain processes language, emotion and other stimuli to improve reading skills. You can register in person at the Adult Reference Desk, by phone 847-245-5115 or online at http://www.lvdl.org.  Hope to see you there!

Summer Rdg Flyer

Still NO Illinois Education Budget!

piggy bankThe 99th General Assembly legislative session ended shortly before midnight on Tuesday with a thud. Despite one proposed comprehensive budget and several stand-alone K-12 education funding plans floating through the Capitol, none were passed before the midnight deadline. After a lot of drama, political positioning, and finger pointing, we are right back where we were before the Spring Session began with no FY17 budget and no FY17 school funding plan (not to mention, no Social Services funding plan and no higher education funding plan).
Public school superintendents throughout the State of Illinois cannot envision the start of a school year without assurance of our state doing its part to fund the public schools.  We, hopefully, anticipate  that some interim agreement will be approved in Springfield in the weeks ahead to assure ALL public schools can start on time in August 2016.  However, our state has just passed through an historical period of going through an entire fiscal year without a state budget for many programs and services.
Please contact our legislators and urge approval of a 2017 K-12 budget. We need to hold our legislators accountable and responsible.  Our children deserve better!

Representative Sam  Ying Ling  contact Ying Ling

Representative Jack Franks                       jack@jackfranks.org

Representative Barabara Wheeler           wheeler@ilhousegop.org

Senator Pamela Althoff                              pamela@pamelaalthoff.net

Senator Melinda Bush                                 http://senatormelindabush.com/contact

Board Vacancy

bd vacancyRespected board member Michele Hawksworth is stepping down from her position effective June 13, 2016.  I have truly enjoyed working with Mrs. Hawksworth and sincerely appreciate her dedication and commitment to the students and families of Lake Villa 41.  I know I speak for the entire board when I say that her presence will be greatly missed.

In order to fill this vacancy, the district is accepting applications and letters of intent through June 3, 2016.   You can access the application here Notice – Board Member Vacancy 2016 or you can visit the school website, www.district41.org . Completed documents may be emailed to julie.ford@district41.org or be hand delivered or mailed to the district office.  The term runs through April 2017.download

You can find out more about the work of school board members by logging onto the Illinois Association of School Board’s website.  http://www.iasb.com/training/nbm.cfm

 

 

School Funding Uncertainty

appleSchool funding is certainly a topic that this administration and this board take very seriously. Balancing quality educational programming with depleting revenue streams is challenging. For the past two years, the administration and board have scrutinized our budget, tightened our belts and found ways to significantly reduce our expenditures without directly impacting our students. The good news? This past year we balanced the budget.

The bad news? Because of an extremely low Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 0.7% coupled with continued declining enrollment, balancing our budget is going to be even more difficult, if not impossible in the years ahead. Our declining enrollment directly impacts the amount of General State Aid (GSA) we receive since it based on the number of students we serve. The GSA funding formula is also negatively compounded by increasing EAV.  Right now, Lake Villa 41 is experiencing both declining enrollment and increasing EAV.  That spells DANGER for our district.  Further complicating this problem is that the state has not fully funded GSA for 7 years. The GSA funding formula must be overhauled in order for school districts such as ours to remain fiscally sound.  Until that time it needs to be fully funded.

In the meantime, our community needs to turn its attention to our elected state officials. They need to hear from all of us. Illinois is embroiled in a political war that won’t cool down until after the March 15 primary and maybe not even until after the November general election. This Springfield deadlock is negatively impacting schools and other government bodies. Unfortunately, right now there is no state budget for K-12 education. We can’t wait until November to develop local budgets with uncertain state revenue streams. Incredibly, Illinois has entered its ninth month without a FY2016 budget.

Illinois Secretary of Education Dr. Beth Purvis sent letters to superintendents throughout the state today asking them to contact their legislators in support of an FY17 budget developed by Rauner for PK-12 education. I hope you take the time to read this and contact our elected officials because the outcome directly impacts state funding for Lake Villa 41. Our children deserve better.  Letter from the Govenor

 

What can you do?

  • Contact your representatives and encourage them to pass the education budget for PK-12 which supports full funding for GSA no strings attached.
  • Encourage representatives to revise the GSA formula to be more adequate and equitable.
  • Become familiar with the initiatives of Vision 20/20 which is a blueprint for the future of public education in Illinois. It is the joint effort of a diverse group of front-line educators across the state. It has been adopted by the Illinois School Board Association, the Illinois Principals Association, the Illinois Association of School Administrators, the Illinois Association of School Business Officials Association and dozens of other stakeholder associations.http://illinoisvision2020.org/

 

Please act to support our schools and our children by holding our legislators accountable and responsible. To make it easier, here are just a few addresses to get you started. Thank you!

Representative Jack Franks                       jack@jackfranks.org

Representative Barabara Wheeler           wheeler@ilhousegop.org

Senator Pamela Althoff                              pamela@pamelaalthoff.net

Senator Melinda Bush                                 http://senatormelindabush.com/contact

 

Give Feedback on our New Website

downloadI am excited to announce that Lake Villa 41 is developing a new website and is actively seeking feedback from the community regarding our new layout and design. Our goal is to develop a website that is more interactive and easier to navigate than our current one.

We believe it is critical to obtain user feedback before our live launch later this spring. We recognize that parents, staff, students and community members all have varying needs and interests when it comes to a website’s design and functionality.

Please help us design a spectacular site by logging on to http://www.dist41.com/ and spend some time touring the different pages. Please leave your  feedback on our district survey for our design team. The survey can be found on our current website. http://www.district41.org/site/default.aspx?PageID=1

We already have over a 100 responses that are being analyzed by our design team, but if we are to meet the needs of our entire community of users, we need even more feedback!

Our hard-working new technology team is developing this site in-house eliminating the district’s need to out-source this project. In addition, the district will save almost $10,000 annually by switching to a different hosting platform. Our hope is to get an improved website and reduce expenditures at the same time which is certainly a win-win for Lake Villa 41!

Special thanks to our new tech crew for all their hard work their first year here!

 

PARCC Results Released

testingThe Illinois PARCC scores were released today to the media. While the Chicago Tribune describes the results as “a troubling picture of performance” and “dismal”  I would like to caution parents not to read too much into the results of these first-time tests. These scores are not comparable to ISAT despite the media’s on-going attempts to do so. These results do not mean that students at Lake Villa 41 know less, are less capable or that our schools are suddenly failing. Be assured that our teachers and administrators continue to provide a quality education for all of our students. PARCC is only one of many factors used to measure student progress.

You may recall last year, Lake Villa 41 students took the test using paper and pencil. Although some of the media outlets are reporting that the paper pencil scores have not been released yet, you can indeed view our district and schools’ results at http://reportcards.dailyherald.com   While all our schools fared markedly better than the state average, the scores overall are low particularly in math.

Individual student scores will be sent home in early January.

Whether you are pro or anti PARCC, the reality is that this test is required by the state of Illinois. PARCC testing will begin again in early April. The good news is that in response to feedback from school districts, this year’s PARCC format is designed to be shorter and easier to administer than last year’s exam. Total test time will be reduced for most students by 90 minutes and the tests will include fewer questions.  This year Lake Villa students will be taking the test online.

You can view the Daily Herald story at

http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20151209/news/151208776/

FAQs about PARCC for Parents:

 

http://www.isbe.net/assessment/pdfs/parcc/2015/score-reports/faq-parent1509.pdf

Proposed Lake Villa TIF

monopoly-houseThe Village of Lake Villa is hosting a community informational meeting regarding a proposed economic development plan on Tuesday, November 17th at 7 p.m. at Lehmann Mansion. The Village’s plan involves the creation of a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district in order to create economic incentives for new development. TIF districts use the incremental increase in property taxes from new development to pay for land acquisition, building rehabilitation, public improvements and site improvements.

How will this impact Lake Villa School District 41? The proposed TIF Plan from the Village includes the development high density housing: 160 apartments, 79 townhouse units, 264 condo flats and 155 residential homes. This has the possibility of bringing 618 new families into the district. As you are aware, our district has been experiencing steadily declining enrollment over the past few years. This decline resulted in the closing of Pleviak School and the district was finally able to realize a balanced budget this year despite continued state funding cuts. As a result, our remaining schools are currently at capacity. While the Village acknowledges that state law mandates that school districts receive revenue from the TIF if school-age children are generated in a TIF district, such an amount has yet to be determined. Bottom line, increased commercial development is very beneficial for a school district; increased residential development is not.

TIFs last for 23 years and can be extended for an additional 12 years. During the 23 years, the school district’s property tax revenue would be frozen at its current level as would be the revenue for all other taxing bodies inside the TIF including the library, fire department, District 117, the Township, the Village, Forest Preserve and College of Lake County. All additional property tax revenue that is generated during the 23 years goes to support TIF eligible development costs. 23 years later all taxing bodies would just begin to receive the full amount of property taxes generated by the new growth.

I encourage you to find out more information on these links:

http://www.lake-villa.org/TIF/

http://www.lake-villa.org/egov/documents/1438270655_18058.pdf

Lake Villa TIF Press Release

The Village will also be presenting the plan to the school board on Monday, November 16th at 7 p.m. at our regular board meeting. The meeting is open and will be held at the Palombi School Auditorium. The public is invited attend.

What Is a “Modified” Soft Lock Down?

imagesBy now you hopefully know that today all Lake Villa Schools are on a “modified” soft lock down due to the on-going manhunt in Fox Lake.  I am sure many of you are curious to know exactly what a modified soft lock down is and why the schools are in one.

Yesterday, the schools went into a soft lock down.  This is a typical response when an incident such as a shooting occurs nearby (outside) a school and the suspect(s) are at large.  Our first response is keep all students and staff safe.  To that end, students and/or staff are not allowed to enter or leave the schools.  Whoever is in the school, stays in the school.  This includes parent volunteers, administrators and any visiting personnel.  All deliveries to the school are immediately halted.  Students and staff can move throughout the building during a soft lock down, however,  there are no outside activities such as recess or physical education.  All half-day programs such as Early Childhood are canceled.  If the soft lock down continues and the situation is not resolved, all after school activities are usually canceled.  This was the case yesterday at all the schools.

Today we are faced with a different challenge at the schools.  While there continues to be a manhunt making both local and national headlines, yesterday’s overall threat level has decreased with the passage of time and the sharing of information.  However the threat is still present.  Obviously, we want to keep our students as safe as possible.  Hence, we have initiated a “modified” soft lock down.   Students will be kept indoors.  We are accepting deliveries from our food service and mail at the schools.  We are continuing to hold both morning and afternoon Early Childhood classes.  Parents are also allowed to pick children up early provided they show ID, use the intercom and wait for children outside of the school.  Staff have been asked to limit their movement from school to school and use only the front door for entrance or exit.  We are trying to operate the schools both reasonably and responsibly for our families and staff.

We all hope this ordeal ends soon.  Our hearts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the slain Fox Lake Police Officer who was so senselessly killed yesterday morning.  I also want to give personal thanks and a shout out  to our own tremendous Lake Villa Police officers and to Chief Somerville for working so closely with the schools each and every day helping us keep all children safe.  Lake Villa is a fortunate community!

Please continue to check the website for more information as it becomes available.

MODIFIED SOFT LOCKDOWN  

Lake Villa District 41 Schools will continue to function in a MODIFIED SOFT LOCKDOWN status today, Wednesday, September 2, 2015 due to the ongoing police manhunt that began yesterday in Fox Lake.

  • Students will move throughout the building during the day.
  • There will be no outside recess or outside Physical Education.
  • Early Childhood Classes will continue as usual.
  • Dismissal will occur as usual unless directed otherwise by the Police Department.
  • Parents picking up students for an appointment prior to regular dismissal time will not be allowed inside the building. Parents should use the intercom to communicate with the office and be prepared to show an ID prior to the student being released to them.
  • After school activities will be determined at 1:00 p.m. and immediately communicated.

Updates will be posted on the District website – www.district41.org and Blackboard Connect messages as needed.

FAQs about Lake Villa 41’s Chromebook Roll-Out

ChromebookWhat grade levels are receiving individual student Chromebooks?

Chromebooks will be distributed to all third through eighth grade students beginning the week of August 31, 2015.

  • What is the technology fee for the 1:1 program and who has to pay it?

Just like last year, a $55 technology fee is assessed to all parents/guardians of students who will be receiving a device. This annual fee will provide the district financial sustainability for the 1:1 program into the future. Please understand that without the technology fee, the district may not be able to sustain this important initiative. This fee can be paid easily online by visiting our district home page.

  • What happens if a parent does not pay the technology fee?

In the event the $55 fee is not paid, students will not be allowed to bring the device home.  In such cases, bags will be tagged with a yellow name label rather than a white one.  A student who attends a roll out and is not issued a device will be provided a letter to take home and return with a parent signature indicating that they will not be paying the fee before the student can be issued a device for use at school.

  • How is last year’s roll-out different than this year’s roll-out?

The biggest difference is that the roll-out for students will occur during the day and parents do not have to attend an evening presentation in order for students to receive a device.  All information from the presentation is available on the front page of our district website www.district41.org for parents to review. Parents are, however, strongly encouraged to attend a District Parent Chromebook Institute on Wednesday, September 2nd at 6 p.m. at Palombi to learn about the devices.  This is a special night set apart from our Curriculum Nights so all parents can attend.  Parents unable to attend should view the presentation on the district website.

  • What is an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) and who has to sign it?

An AUP is a written agreement all parties on a community computer network promise to adhere to for the common good and protection of students.  It provides parents and students with the rules that govern the use of the devices and district network. Our district’s AUP has been adopted by the board of education and is part of district policy.  In order to receive a device, students and parents must sign the district’s AUP. Signing the policy, acknowledges that both parents and students have read and will abide by rules set forth within the policy and 1:1 handbook.  Students who do not sign the AUP will not be issued a device.

  • How are this year’s Chromebooks different than last year’s Chromebooks?

This year’s devices will no longer have glass screens which are subject to cracking.  In addition, this year’s devices will eventually be fitted with a protective covering called a “skeletor”.  Skeletors which were promised to be released earlier this year, unfortunately, won’t be released until early this fall.