COVID-19 District 41 Update

bf6700a28af544244e5a144af5e09181We continue to monitor the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) very closely, and we are committed to providing regular updates to the community. Yesterday we learned that the World Health Organization has declared the Coronavirus a pandemic, and the first Coronavirus case was confirmed in Lake County.  Lake Villa 41 is working diligently on our preparedness plans and considering a variety of scenarios in the event the virus appears in our school community. We are closely monitoring the latest updates and will continue to seek guidance from public health officials as well as our State Board of Education.  This is a rapidly evolving situation.

What is District 41 doing?  

Pandemic Plan/School Closures: Administrators and staff are meeting daily to review our Pandemic Plan.  This involves determining the district response for possible scenarios should we need to close school. Possible scenarios include using an emergency closure day for deep cleaning if there is a potential connection to a suspected case, or up to a 14-day closure if there is a confirmed case in our school community. There are five emergency days built into the school calendar. If we need to close for an extended time, we will use the emergency days and make them up according to the approved 2019-2020 school calendar. Any days after the five emergency days will be considered as an Act of God and will not need to be made up.  I just learned that five Lake County Schools will be closed starting on Monday.  The decision to close schools has not been made yet for Lake Villa 41.  However, this is a quickly evolving situation.

 E-Learning/Distance Learning: District 41 is developing distance learning options for closures anticipated to extend longer than five days. The district is working to prepare grade level educational resources and Google Classroom for families to work on at home.  In order to prepare our staff for E-Learning, we will be having an early release schedule on Tuesday.  We will also be issuing Chromebooks and chargers to our K – 2 students.

Student Absences: If families decide to keep students home in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the absences will be excused. There will be no academic or educational consequence for missing work during this time.

Cleaning: In response to Coronavirus, we are updating cleaning procedures based on public health guidance, increasing the frequency of cleaning, and ordering additional supplies. We have stepped up our daily cleaning routines.  High touchpoints (i.e. light switches, doorknobs, etc) are being addressed multiple times a day by both cleaning and disinfecting.  Likewise, additional prevention measures have been taken by Durham Transportation for our busses including adding a daily bus disinfecting regiment and reminding employees how to reduce the spread of germs and viruses as advised by the CDC.

Prevention: All schools are reinforcing hygiene practices with students, making sure students and staff have access to hand sanitizer and providing more time for handwashing.

Facility Usage: In order to mitigate the risk of exposure of COVID-19 to our students while schools remain open, District 41 is considering taking preventative action by canceling all outside facility rentals which bring visitors into our school buildings. We are also considering canceling all non-essential events such as music concerts and book fairs.   We will continue to monitor this situation closely.  Please know that Grant High School has cancelled this Saturday’s Music in Our Schools Concert.

Public Health Guidance: District 41 is working closely with government partners, and seeking guidance and direction from the Lake County Health Department, the Illinois Department of Public Health, the CDC and the Illinois State Board of Education.  Tomorrow I will be attending a meeting with the Lake County Health Department and Lake County Superintendents.

What can you do at home? 

Continue to take precautions to keep your family healthy:

  • CLEAN hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer
  • COVER coughs and sneezes
  • CONTAIN illness by limiting your exposure to sick people, and staying home when you are ill (student absences will be excused)

Consult a health care professional if you experience COVID-19 symptoms (fever/cough/shortness of breath), if you become ill within 2-14 days of travel, or if you have been in contact with a person who is diagnosed with COVID-19.

In the event that Lake Villa 41 schools are required to close, we encourage all parents to develop plans now for your children. Unlike winter weather-related closures, school districts may need to close for one or two weeks or possibly more. We understand this would create a hardship for many of our families, especially if we are required to close with very little advanced notice.

Help your children clean their Chromebook regularly (as well as phones and other personal devices.

You can sign up to receive LCHD email updates.

Spring Break Travel?

Due to the recent acceleration of Coronavirus transmission globally, and in accordance with current federal guidance, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) recommends the following:

  • Anyone returning from a location with sustained widespread transmission (CDC Travel Warning of Level 3) should not attend school for 14 days after the return date. The travel guidelines are changing rapidly and we encourage you to check the CDC site daily.
  • For more information, visit the CDC’s Before You Travel Tips.

We know that you have questions and concerns, and there is conflicting information out there. Let us reassure you that we are putting the health and safety of your children first. This is a rapidly changing situation and we will do our best to keep you informed as we learn more. For more frequent updates log onto our website. Thank you for your continued trust in Lake Villa 41 as we work to respond to this global pandemic.

Informational Meeting about March 17th LV41 Referendum

referendum44Back by popular demand! The district is hosting an additional meeting for residents to learn about the $30.7M referendum for repairs and maintenance at Hooper, Palombi, Martin, and Thompson Schools.  The meeting will be held in the board room at Palombi Middle School on Thursday, March 12th at 7 pm.  Please share this invitation with your neighbors!

If you are unable to attend, the meeting will be live-streamed and viewers will be able to send in their questions for real-time answers.

You can also learn more by visiting our district’s website                                                                                          or by visiting my blog post

Election Day is March 17th.  Early voting runs now through March 16th.

Referendum Information

election-dayOn March 17th, residents will be asked if they support a $30.7 M referendum to provide much-needed infrastructure funding for Palombi Middle School, Hooper Elementary School, Martin Elementary School, and Thompson Elementary School.  Major repairs are necessary for the schools to address failing infrastructure.  Palombi Middle School and Hooper Elementary School are fifty-two and sixty-three years old respectively.  Even the district’s newer schools, Martin Elementary and Thompson Elementary, are seventeen and twenty years old.   Project Overview

Last April, voters soundly rejected a $50 million referendum causing the board to go back to the drawing board and return to the community with a revised and greatly reduced proposal.

The board and administration carefully reviewed the needs at each school, project by project.  As board member Kurt Hansen said, “We really spent a lot of time to get consensus, not only from the board, but from some of our more outspoken critics.”  Since the failure at the polls in April, nearly two dozen public meetings have been held to solicit input and discuss building and maintenance needs in order to revise the request.

This time, the district is asking for $19.3M less because extensive cafeteria renovations were scaled back, updates and repairs for Pleviak School were removed along with 21st Century learning initiatives. This time there will only be one question on the ballot.    Daily Herald Endorses LV41 Referendum

On a positive note for the taxpayer, the district’s outstanding debt will drop off as money borrowed in 1997 and 2000 to build Thompson and Martin Elementary Schools is paid off.  If the referendum fails, the tax bill for the owner of a $250,000 house would decrease by $773 annually. If the referendum passes and we borrow the money for 15 years, we will be able to make the necessary repairs and updates and that same homeowner will still see an approximate decrease of $368 annually.

Residents can learn more about the referendum by visiting the district’s website at

Election Day is March 17th.  Early voting runs now through March 16th.


Health Update

bf6700a28af544244e5a144af5e09181Yesterday’s announcement by the Centers for Disease Control about the likely spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout the United States has understandably caused some concern.  Please know that the district is in contact with the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Regional Office of Education.  We will continue to follow their guidelines and cleaning protocols to keep our students and staff safe.

Unlike Influenza A and B which is also widespread in Illinois, there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. As with any respiratory virus, students and school personnel can protect themselves and others by taking every day common-sense actions.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

At this point, the Illinois Department of Health does NOT recommend:

  • the use of masks or gloves
  • canceling mass gatherings
  • canceling classes

While the coronavirus news is concerning, it is important to point out that, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there are other respiratory viruses like influenza currently circulating in Illinois. Fever, coughing and difficulty breathing are symptoms associated with all of them. Therefore, anyone exhibiting these symptoms should not be assumed to have COVID-19. If your student, or anyone in your family, develops such symptoms, we urge you to contact your medical provider immediately.

Centers for Disease Control:

Illinois Department of Public Health:

Lake County Health Department:

2020 Census – Everyone Counts

2020-census-every-person-counts-change-3-1Did you know that billions of dollars are at stake for Illinois in the 2020 Census, as well as our number of U.S. Representatives?  The U.S. Constitution requires that every person living in the United States is counted every ten years for the purpose of ensuring fair representation and distribution of resources.

Without an accurate census count, Illinois could lose money for schools, roads, and transportation for millions of low-income and rural households, immigrant communities, people of color and young children. The Census count affects money that states get from the government. Without a fair and accurate Census count, many programs like Medicaid and Head Start as well as important needs like roads and bridges might be affected.

In March, every household will receive a mailing from the U.S. Census Bureau with instructions to visit their website. You can complete the census by mail, online, or by phone.

Are you looking to earn extra money? The Census Bureau is recruiting to fill hundreds of thousands of temporary positions across the country to assist with the 2020 Census count.  Workers in Lake County will be paid $29.50.  It is easy to apply online using this link   Census Jobs

You can learn more about the 2020 Census at

Happy Holidays!

As we prepare for the winter break and venture into a new year, I would like to share some district news with you.

On a financial front, the board unanimously approved a resolution for $30.7M  referendum for the March 17th ballot.  I strongly encourage you to learn more about our facility needs by watching our livestream presentation by board members Kurt Hansen and Ed Liberman.  There is also an accompanying powerpoint that digs into the details.  You can view both here:

dfIn a nutshell, the board and administration listened to the community and significant changes were made from our previous referendum attempt in April.  This time we are asking $19.3M less because we eliminated Pleviak School improvements, 21st Century Learning along with other projects.  Also, we will only be doing modest cafeteria projects at Hooper and Palombi.  There will only be a single bond question on the ballot.  Please pay attention in the months ahead as we approach March 17th.

On a personnel front, Dr. Conkling and Dr. Barbour will be retiring at the end of this school year rather than the following year.  Both of them have provided many years of service to the district and our families.  Collectively, their leadership, guidance, and commitment to the district is unsurpassed.  LV41 will forever be touched by their dedication and they each will leave huge shoes to fill.

With that in mind, the board is pleased to announce the appointment of our current Thompson Principal,  Dr. Sandy Keim-Bounds, to the position of Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning.  Dr. Keim-Bounds has worked in the district for over 20 years.  She has served as Thompson’s Principal for the past 14 years and last year she was recognized as the Elementary Principal of the Year in Lake County.   We are very confident that Dr. Keim-Bounds will continue to move our district forward and are excited about her continued leadership in LV41.

interview-checklist-job-candidate-requirements_gg67349207We will be interviewing for the Hooper and Thompson principalships in late January and early February. Staff and parents are invited to participate in the process.  We recognize that their input and insight is critical to our schools’ success.   We will also be involving staff and parents in finding Dr. Conkling’s successor.  If you are interested in participating on an interview team, please let me know.

As these days quickly wrap up before winter break, I wish every one of our families a warm and relaxing holiday season.  Our staff will welcome students back on January 6, 2020!

Happy New Year!!    winter_break_2_1

You’re Invited!

IMG-middle-school-The district is in the process of exploring options and obtaining feedback for expanding classroom space at the elementary schools by moving 6th grade to Palombi Middle School. Such a move would open up 4 classrooms at Martin, 4 at Hooper, and 3 at Thompson.  Each elementary school would be serving 85 to 94 fewer students. The district would then be in a position to use the space to do one or more of the following:

  • Lower class size at the primary level grade levels (K – 3).  A number of parents have expressed concern regarding the high enrollment numbers at the elementary buildings, particularly Hooper. Currently, the district maintains an average class size of 23.1 at the K-3 level.
  •  Add a preschool program to each elementary so kindergarteners would be better prepared entering school.
  • Take back two SEDOL special education classes resulting in tuition savings for the district of over $500,000.

 All three of these initiatives have tremendous value for the district whether it be allowing staff to better meet the needs of our students and families or saving taxpayer dollars. However, the hard question that must be answered first is, “Should 6th graders attend middle school?”  Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer.  

imagesShould 6th grade be moved to Palombi?  I would like nothing better than to point to clear-cut definitive research on middle school configuration, but there is none.  There are just as many studies pointing in either direction. This has been a decades-long debate. Basically, what it comes down to are personal choice and personal perception.  One interesting statistic that I did discover is that 75% of school districts across the country place 6th grade in middle school.

 Yes, it is true that some 6th graders are more emotionally immature or introverted than their peers and would be better suited to the elementary structure. However, others feel that 6th graders belong with other levels of children who are going through puberty just as they are.  Sixth graders are much more like 7th and 8th graders than they are kindergarteners through fifth graders. Children go through more changes in their bodies and brains between 10 and 14 years old than at any other time in their lives with the exception of their first 18 months of life. Some people feel that middle school exposes 6th graders to the potentially negative behavior of older students.  Others believe that middle schools should have more than two grade levels so that students create a longer-lasting sense of belongingness and break down the competition that exists when there are only two grade levels.  Middle school staff would have three years to build relationships with students.

 One concern about transitioning 6th grade to Palombi is space.  Is there enough? Yes. There are a number of rooms not currently being utilized to their capacity.  Palombi would have six 20-minute grade level lunch shifts instead of the current four. The cafeteria would be no more crowded during the six shifts than it is already for the four.  Is it ideal? No. Is it any different than what is currently being done? No. (What really is a challenge at Palombi is the configuration, age, and size of the kitchen, but that is a whole other topic!) The 6th grade would primarily be housed in the blue wing. Due to teacher certification, 6th grade would operate much the same as it does now with one main teacher.   During the school day, 6th grade students would have limited ability to interact with 7th  and 8th  graders. All middle school students would ride on the bus together.  Sixth graders would have access to middle school activities, enrichment, and athletics.

 What’s Next?   District administrators will be hosting two Information Nights next week to explain the possible programs and to solicit stakeholder feedback.  The meetings will be held in the Palombi Auditorium on September 4th and 5th from 6:00 – 7:00 p.mThe presentation will be videotaped for those who cannot attend.  There will also be a survey going out on September 6th.  Survey results and input will be presented to the Board of Education on September 23rd at 7:00 p.m. during the regular board meeting. 

 What is the hurry?  Discussion about moving 6th grade to Palombi began early in the Fall last year.  This Spring, we met with staff at each building and visited the topic intermittently throughout the year with the board of education.  We collected input from our staff that has also been shared with the board. 

 If the district moves ahead with moving 6th grade to Palombi next fall (2020/21 school year), it is imperative that we set this year’s 5th grade students up for success by giving them as much time as possible to transition and giving our staff time to plan. By making this decision earlier rather than later in the year, we will have much more time to prepare.    

Hope to see you at the Information Nights on September 4th and 5th!


New Start Times Next Year for Hooper and Palombi

downloadBeginning this fall, students at Palombi Middle School will start and end their day 10 minutes earlier.  Students at Hooper Elementary will start and end their day 15 minutes later.  This is due to significant and on-going delays with transporting students.

Numerous factors went into this decision.  We received 500 survey responses and over 100 comments. Many valid points were raised for us to consider including the possibility of finding a way to offer childcare.  At this point in time, the tier structure will remain the same, but we will add time to each tier.  Palombi will remain on the last tier.  Not only was this the most popular choice on the survey, but we believe it would be disruptive for our 7th and 8th graders to be on a later schedule then have to adjust in 9th grade given the reality that all three of our high school districts also start early.  This can always be revisited if the high schools change.

Student Start Times for 2019/20

Palombi7:32 AM – 2:17 PM

Martin/Thompson 8:15 AM – 2:55 PM (no change)

Hooper9:00 AM – 3:40 PM

We sincerely appreciate the tremendous response to our district survey.   79% of our respondents were parents.  43% of all respondents agreed with changing start times.  37.5% did not want to see any change and 19.5% had no opinion.

50% of all respondents wanted Palombi to remain as is on the early delivery tier.  24% of all respondents wanted Palombi moved to the middle tier and 29.4% of all respondents wanted Palombi moved to the last tier.

In addition, 67% of the Palombi parents and staff wanted Palombi to stay in the early tier. Results from Hooper were much more even.  31% of Hooper parents and staff wanted Hooper to move to the early tier and another 31% preferred Hooper be moved to the middle tier.  38% of Hooper parents and staff wanted Hooper to remain as is on the last tier.

Starting Time Survey Results

Start Time FAQ for blog (1)                         (Background information on the bussing issues)

Today is Election Day!

downloadLake Villa School District 41 has two referenda questions on the ballot. 

Based on community input, these two referenda are designed to address the immediate needs of our aging infrastructure AND sustainably maintain our schools into the future while at the same time decreasing taxes.  This is because the bonds used to construct Martin and Thompson Schools will be paid off in full. 

Should both questions pass, an owner of a $250,000 home will realize a decrease of approximately $212 per year while also maintaining the investment in our schools

Should both questions fail, an owner of a $250,000 home will realize a decrease of approximately $813, but our schools will continue to deteriorate and the cost of repair will continue to escalate.

There are only two more elections (March and November) before we would have to ask voters to fix our schools by raising taxes



Hooper’s Needs


Hooper’s Staff Lounge with the only staff washroom behind the refrigerator. So much for privacy!

Thanks to the district’s financial diligence, our bond debt is scheduled to be paid in full in 2019.  Retiring this debt affords us an opportunity to look towards the future of our school district.

If both referenda pass on April 2nd, the district will be able to address the immediate needs of our aging infrastructure and sustainably maintain our schools into the future while decreasing taxes.

Did you know that Hooper is over 60 years old?  Not surprisingly, Hooper needs major repair work and renovation. Passing both referenda will provide Hooper with the funding necessary to address capacity issues as well as aging infrastructure.  

A new building for Hooper was considered, but the cost was found to be too prohibitive to pursue at this time.  With the district’s pledge to be as fiscally responsible as possible, this project would crowd out funding needed for investments in other schools.  Having to choose between making those necessary improvements to all schools or building a new Hooper, the community (including Hooper residents) chose to invest in all schools at this time.

REMINDER – Tuesday, April 2nd is ELECTION DAY

You can see a complete list of Hooper projects identified by our architects here as well as on the district website.

hooper long-term capital improvement projects –


Odd placement for electrical outlets



Not nearly enough storage space

We have small group classes doubling up in the cafeteria when lunch is not being served.  This environment is definitely not conducive to learning.

Hooper-18.04.18-4.03PM-Hooper Photo markup_1

The stage – complete with teacher work desk, band equipment and physical therapy equipment