Volume 23, No.7 | Monday, January 30, 2019
News from the January 28, 2020 meeting
Busing Costs Soar, Fees Contemplated 
Facing an ongoing, severe bus driver shortage, the district’s bus company will continue to offer incentives and higher wages to ensure all the bus routes remain fully staffed. With the current contract ending in June, the District went out to bid twice for transportation services for 2020-21. Unfortunately, the current bus company was the only one to submit a bid due to the ongoing driver shortage throughout the bus transportation industry and the high startup costs that would be required of any new company.  

These escalating costs are reflected in the bid for next year’s services, which is 38 percent higher. Chief School Business Official Jessica Donato said the district has to find a way to address this substantial increase by either increasing revenues or cutting other programs or staff. This year, the district will spend $817,000 on busing, while collecting just under $80,000 in rider fees. Next year’s costs for the same service are projected to jump to $1.1 million for an annual increase of $306,000. 
District 28 is the only Northfield Township district that does not charge all bus riders a transportation fee. Other township elementary districts’ bus fees range from $385 to $685 per rider, per year. This year, District 28 charged $325 to the 245 riders who live within 1.5 miles of the school and do not have a hazardous crossing to get to school. There are 735 riders who live more than 1.5 miles from school and/or have a hazardous crossing who do not pay a fee. 
The Board of Education reviewed several scenarios for implementing a fee structure to help offset some of the rising costs. The administration is exploring the option of charging all riders a fee, but phasing it in to ease the burden on families. Additionally, a reduced fee for siblings is under consideration.
Per Illinois School Code, District 28 is not required to provide busing for students, nor is it required to provide free service to any rider. The state provides the district with just $8,000 in transportation reimbursement for busing. 
The Board will continue to discuss options at the February 25 meeting.
Two Fee Increases for 2020-21
At the January 28 meeting, the board approved two fee increases for the 2020-21 school year:
  • The Outdoor Education fee for Northbrook Junior High 6th-graders will increase by $10 to $215.
  • The Young Explorers Early Childhood Program fee will increase by $150 to $4,250 per year for typically developing students. 
All other registration fees will remain unchanged.
Greenbriar Prepares to Welcome
Its Newest (Canine!) Staff Member
Greenbriar School will soon be more than just home of the Greyhounds, it will be home to a full-time therapy dog.

In a partnership approved by the Board of Education between the school, principal Ginny Hiltz, and the nonprofit Canines 4 Comfort, Greenbriar will prepare to welcome a therapy dog on-site each day. The goal of the program is to provide emotional and behavioral support to students within the student services office spaces.

The dog, which is still to be selected and trained, would be owned by a staff member and come to school each day with the staff member.  

Math Moves to Instructional Time, Curricula
The next phase of the math program review is focusing on new curriculum resources and studying how to increase math instructional minutes at the junior high.

Last month, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kris Raitzer outlined how the math pathways will begin one grade earlier, in 5th grade, and offer three pathways: grade level, accelerated and double accelerated. This pathway plan begins with 5th-graders next year. 

At the Jan. 28 meeting, Dr. Raitzer detailed the ongoing work of the math committee. The committee, which includes educators from all grades and a representative from the high school, is currently evaluating curriculum resource materials. The teachers have been trained on how to analyze materials objectively on factors such as coverage and balance of learning standards, mathematical practices, and overarching factors such as accessibility, equity, assessment, technology and home/school connections, Dr. Raitzer said.

The committee is also incorporating input from Glenbrook North and other township elementary districts. Once the committee has narrowed the selections, committee members will pilot lessons and visit classrooms in districts that are using the curricula to provide a broader perspective.

Parents will be invited to provide feedback on the home-school connections aspects of the materials and have the opportunity to ask questions about the math program review, Dr. Raitzer said. New curriculum materials will be selected and recommended to the Board of Education no later than April.

Instructional Minutes Strategies
Another major project is also underway to determine how to increase math instructional minutes by adjusting the master schedule at Northbrook Junior High. This project is complex because there are many “moving parts“ to a master schedule, including the bell schedule; staffing levels by grade and course; student course schedules; and space/room availability each period of the day.

The NBJH schedule currently includes 40 minutes of math instruction daily. A comparison to junior highs and middle schools throughout the area shows a range of 40 to 80 minutes per day, with the average being 55 minutes. Master schedules vary in several ways. For example, some will use longer instructional blocks on certain days and shorter periods on others. Dr. Hewitt explained there is no perfect master schedule. Each one has its own set of pros and cons.  

To assist with identifying the best options, administrators will consult with Elliot Merenbloom, an expert in master scheduling, in early February.

A preliminary report outlining scheduling considerations and options is expected to be presented to the Board of Education in February.
In Brief....
Township Districts Collaborate on Mutual Topics
Dr. Hewitt reported that there will be a safety and security meeting with all elementary township districts in mid-February. The goal is for districts to continue to share ideas and learn from each other, as well as to discuss future projects and initiatives.
Glenbrook North is also compiling data from the 8th grade PSAT results, which will be shared with the elementary districts when it is ready. District 225 officials also shared they are on track in their search for a new principal.
In addition, the township group agreed to explore the feasibility of a township-wide school bus transportation department, knowing it will be a long-term project.
District Applies for State Grant
The Board of Education approved a grant application for matching funds from the state for a building automation system at Meadowbrook School, which controls heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
If approved, the district could receive up to $50,000 for the project, which is scheduled for next summer. The board also approved Wight & Company to prepare documents for permitting, bidding and construction work for the project.
Strategic Communications Target Parent Topics
Communications Director Terry Ryan outlined work on communications efforts based on the parent survey conducted at the beginning of the school year and the feedback from the Communications Advisory Committee.
A series of short videos is nearing completion that focuses on the Literacy Studio curriculum, including commonly asked questions received from parents. The videos will be published on the website and shared with parents through the weekly e-news as well as on social media.
A data dashboard is being developed to provide a snapshot of district work as it relates to the strategic plan.
The next Communications Advisory Committee is meeting on Feb. 4.
Want to Know More?
Livestream/archive video
The Board of Education meetings are now live-steamed on the District 28's YouTube Channel. The live streams are also archived there for later viewing.

Tune in at 7:30 p.m.* February 25 for the next board meeting.

*This meeting is starting 30 minutes later than regularly scheduled meetings.
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