Student Voices Raised

6a0192ab511dbf970d019affccc451970cAcross the nation today at 10 a.m. students protested school shootings and gun violence in wake of the most recent Florida high school tragedy.

Because of safety concerns Lake Villa 41 students were not permitted to go outside. However, students who wished to participate were encouraged to write letters to their legislators.  Their letters are being scanned directly to the representatives today. (Two examples are attached below.)  Students and staff  also observed a moment of silence for the 17 Florida victims and were asked to reach out to others with acts of kindness.

I am very proud of all of our students today who were able to voice their concern and show their passion and solidarity while remaining safely inside the school buildings.  I want to publicly thank administrators and staff for being sensitive and pro-active to our students’ needs.  Student Letter  

Student Letter 2

Working to Keep Students Safe

imagesTragically, we witnessed again last week that schools can be the scene of senseless violence.  The recent shooting in Parkland, Florida left 17 dead and 23 injured.

Since the Columbine massacre in 1999, schools have changed the way they respond to both potential threats and actual attacks. Sadly, a look back to Columbine and Sandy Hook make it clear that the traditional school lock-down procedures of sheltering in place increased fatalities because shooters had more time to injure more victims before police arrived.

downloadAs a result this year, our own district in conjunction with local police departments implemented ALICE protocols to respond to intruders.  We firmly believe that the ALICE approach allows for multiple response options depending on an intruder’s location within a building.  You can learn more here:

There is no one profile of those who cause violent deaths in school other than the fact they tend to be male.  However, the nonprofit National School Safety Center has compiled a list of behavior patterns from students who have caused violent school deaths.  These include:  violent temper, has brought a weapon to school, serious disciplinary problems, cruelty to animals, lack of family supervision, depressed or suicidal, preoccupied with weapons, few friends.

Not every young person who displays these behaviors is an imminent threat.  However, these red flags are clear indicators of someone who needs mental health intervention and support.  Please, if you know of someone who needs help, reach out to your child’s Safety_Mattersprincipal or social worker.

Listen to your children’s concerns about school safety and remind them that we have procedures in place to keep them safe.  Keeping your children safe is our priority.  Providing them with a quality education is our primary objective.

While our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and families of Florida’s most recent school tragedy, Lake Villa 41 students will not be participating in the national school walk out movement. Please see the attached letter that was sent home today for more details.  Parent Letter 2-20-18


Bring the Kids to STEM Saturday

downloadOur first multi-district STEM community event is this Saturday at Grant High School.  All Lake Villa families are invited!  Feeder districts to Grant High School are teaming up with folks from Northern Illinois University to put on this free event.  Hands-on STEM stations will run from noon until 5 PM with a special demonstration from 2 – 2:45 pm in the auditorium.  Please see this flyer for further details.  Stem1 (1)   Hope to see you there!

Parent Presentation on the Teen Brain

1427400503Between the ages of 12 and 24, the brain changes in important and sometimes challenging ways.  As many of you already know, living with a teenager has its share of ups and downs.   Adults often wonder why teens act as they do.  Fortunately, research over the last decade allows us insight into how brain development impacts teenage behavior. Best of all, the research can help parents trying to navigate the mysterious journey of adolescence.

I am excited to present on the Teen Brain on Thursday, February 1st from 6:30 – 8 PM at Warren Township Youth Services, 100 S. Greenleaf Street in Gurnee.  All Lake Villa 41 parents, guardians and grand parents are welcome to attend this free event.  Hope to see you there!



Demystifying the Teen Brain 2018

Potential Property Tax Freeze Impact on Lake Villa School District

WEB_schoolcuts_blaireMeganLast week the House Revenue and Finance Committee approved the latest version of a property tax freeze with SB851.  Specifically this bill, if passed, would freeze the property tax extensions for taxing districts for two years.   SB851 is now on the House calendar for a second reading.

Please be aware that this passage of this bill will negatively impact our school district especially following eight years of pro-ration by the state.  Lake Villa 41 would lose at least $383,480 this year and at least another  $766,961 by the end of 2018 for a total of $1,1150,441 which we will never recover.  This will significantly reduce our programs for students for years to come.

It is important to note that while a property freeze on the surface sounds like a good idea, the tax payers in our community will not see any relief because of increasing property values.  We are limited by PTELL already and that limit has caused the tax rate to decrease over the last year and it will remain unchanged for the year 2017 without property tax freeze legislation.

For these important reasons, I strongly encourage everyone to contact legislators and urge them to vote NO on SB851!  An easy way to do so is by simply  logging onto the following link and typing in your address.   After that an email link to the senator or representative will appear.

Thank you for supporting our schools and our children!


Looking for Help?

Everyone needs a little help from time to time and as a Lake County resident, finding help has never been easier thanks to a searchable database from United Way.  Simply log onto to find help for any need big or small.

This one stop website has contact information on everything from affordable housing to senior care to crisis help.  Better yet, a search can be narrowed down to a precise community within Lake County such as our very own downloadLake Villa or Lindenhurst.  Last year Find Help Lake County successfully connected over 35,000 individuals in Lake County with information on local non-profit health and human service providers.

Finding help when you need it now is only a click away – thank you United Way!

Major Facility Repairs Needed – Life Safety Bond Hearing Tonight

28f22d5e6564b80038f7129403ecde3aOur facilities are aging.  Believe it or not, Thompson and Martin, our newest schools, are almost 20 years old.  Hooper Elementary and Palombi Middle School  which have been through multiple additions are much older.

In 2015 the district architect working with our Facilities Team determined that Lake Villa 41 facilities required large-scale maintenance and repairs to address its aging infrastructure.  The plan that was developed for these necessary upgrades was detailed in our 2015 Decennial Health/Life Safety and Capital Plan. (Each school district is required to file such a plan with the state and regional office per School Code.)  You can see our plan here:  2015 LV41 Long-Term Facilities Plan – FULL – DRAFT 2015-11-18

Our 10-year plan identified  $21.4 million of capital improvement work. Funding for these projects will come from various sources including cash reserves, the tax levy, and/or bonds. To date, $800,000 in completed projects which included district-wide interior/exterior doors improvements, asphalt work, playgrounds improvements, bathrooms renovations, flooring,  LED  Gym Lighting in Palombi, partial roof replacement, fire alarm and intercom systems in Hooper were funded by operating funds in our existing budget.  In addition, $2.3 million will come from existing district cash reserves.

So why does the district need to issue Life Safety bonds? Our annual Operation & Maintenance budget simply does not allow us to address all the major facilities problems identified in our plan. We are very concerned about the safety of our buildings as well as extending their use for future generations.  Issuing bonds is one of the few ways public schools have to access money for these repairs.  Please understand that this $1.2 M in addition to what we have already spent is just the tip of a much larger iceberg.  To keep our schools operational and safe, we have $21.4 M of work that needs to be accomplished by 2025.

Tonight the district will hold a public hearing in order to issue $1.2 million in Life Safety Bonds.  These funds can be used only for facility improvements which have been identified in our plan. The $1.2 million will be primarily used to cover the cost of replacing the roof at Thompson Elementary School as well as other smaller projects listed and prioritized in the plan such as window replacement at Palombi, and  replacing Hooper’s roof over the 1961 addition.  Should the bidding process be lower than anticipated (and we hope it is) we will also be able to get a few more smaller projects on our plan completed.

A great deal of planning on multiple levels has gone into making the decision to replaceroofer1.gif Thompson’s roof.  We have consulted with district architects as well as performance contractors.  It has to be replaced since it is beyond mere patching.  The cost of the roof right now is simply an estimate of the actual cost – we won’t know that fully until the bidding process has been completed.  Per School Code we are required to go out to bid which we will do in September.  That process will also be made public and the board will then award a contract to the lowest responsible bidder.

How much will it cost?  The issuance of these bonds will cost the average homeowner in the district (value $233,300) an additional $60 annually for three years.  The bonds will be paid off after three years.  Delaying these necessary projects will only increase costs.  Likewise a number of these projects will generate substantial cost savings by increasing efficiency and reducing energy costs.  Most importantly our schools will be safe for students and staff.

Help Secure State School Funding!

Currently Illinois has a budget AND a revenue to pay for that budget.  However, schooldownload districts will only receive money if there is an “evidence-based” model in place by August 3rd.  Schools would then receive funding on August 10th.

The GOOD News – SB1 which was passed by the House and Senate is such a model.

The BAD News – Governor Rauner is threatening to veto SB1 when it reaches his desk because he believes it helps Chicago Public Schools too much.

The REALITY – Schools across the state won’t be able to open their doors this fall.  (Luckily, that is not the case at Lake Villa 41, but even our reserves are limited.) With SB1 no school district loses money.

What can you do?  Time is of the essence! Contact your legislators to ensure that we get the budget that was promised.  Better yet – call the Governor’s office  217-782-0244 and tell him to sign SB1.  I just did that myself and a friendly man wrote down my message verbatim and said he would deliver it directly to the governor this afternoon.  It took me less than a minute to make my voice heard.

I hope all Lake Villa 41 parents join me in making sure all kids get what they deserve!

imagesOnce again that number is 217-782-0244

Evening Parent Meeting on Discipline

download-1Just a reminder that Palombi Middle School will be hosting a Parent Meeting on Thursday,  June 8th from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m in the Board Room for ALL parents interested in learning more about how student discipline is handled.

Participants will learn about the district’s referral system, the student discipline policies, the PBIS approach, bullying, the impact of social media and recent legislation impacting discipline decisions.  Parents will be provided strategies to help children feel safe and valued.

All parents across the district are invited to attend.

There will be time at the end for questions and answers.

Digging Down into Palombi’s Discipline Data

download (1)There has been a lot of chatter recently about the number of discipline referrals at Palombi Middle School.  In an effort to help parents better understand student discipline and have an opportunity to provide the school feedback, a meeting was held yesterday and almost 30 parents attended.  The meeting will be repeated on June 8 at 6:30 p.m. so working parents and interested others will be able to attend.

The attached letter details specific information regarding Palombi’s discipline and referral data.  This letter is being sent to all Palombi parents and 6th grade parents.  Not only does this letter breakdown the data, but it also outlines what staff, administration and parents can do to ensure that Palombi continues to be a positive learning environment for all children.       Parent Letter on Discipline Details

While 1,326 referrals seems like a lot, almost 80% of Palombi’s discipline referrals were issued for minor, not major infractions.  Almost half of these were for missing assignments.  Assignment completion is certainly an area that needs greater attention.

In August we will hold more parent workshops on understanding the teen brain and on technology safeguards for parents.  In the meantime, if imagesyou feel your child is struggling or is having peer problems, please reach out to your child’s teacher, principal, or social worker and make them aware so we can help.