Volume 23, No.6 | Friday, December 20, 2019
News from the December 17, 2019 meeting
Math Pathway Plan Change for 8th-Grade Algebra 
As part of the math program review, the Math Committee is proposing a change in course pathways at Northbrook Junior High.

The change would add a course in sixth grade to start students on a pathway to eighth-grade Algebra earlier than the current plan. Parents of fifth-grade students will receive information in early January about how the change in course pathways will impact their students. 

Incoming sixth-graders will be placed into one of three courses after a comprehensive review of each child’s needs. This comprehensive review will incorporate assessment data, teacher and parent input, and classroom performance. There will always be room for exceptions, which can occur along the way from teacher or parent recommendations, said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kris Raitzer in explaining the proposal to board members.

 “Our number-one goal is to make sure all kids are in the right course receiving the right amount of challenge,” Dr. Raitzer said.

Current sixth-graders will be evaluated and placed in one of the four seventh-grade courses as they have been in the past. It is necessary to continue the current pathways for seventh-graders so that students won’t repeat content or miss content in preparation for high school. The course sequence for the grade-level pathway and the eighth-grade geometry pathway are unchanged. 

The Math Committee, which includes teachers from every grade, administrators, math specialists and two high school representatives, recommended the change after deep analysis of current practice, achievement data, and input from teachers and parents, Dr. Raitzer said. “Our goal is for every student to have a solid and sound foundation to be successful in high school,” she said. 

The district is working in partnership with the high school on the course pathway sequence. The other township elementary districts that feed into the high school also use a three pathway structure.

The course pathway plan is one of three major projects that are part of the math program review this year. The committee is also researching instructional minutes at the junior high and evaluating new textbooks. 
2020-2021 School Calendar Approved
The Board of Education approved the 2020-21 school calendar, which follows the template of previous years, with school starting Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020.

The calendar continues to align with the District 225 calendar, starting and ending school in the same weeks and following the same winter and spring break schedules.
The school year ends relatively early, due to a late Memorial Day and fewer fall holidays.

The tentative last day of school is scheduled for Tuesday, June 1, 2021, if there are no emergency days used. There are fewer holidays in the fall of 2020 as Rosh Hashanah falls on a Saturday, and school is in session on Columbus Day and Veterans Day. By ending on a Tuesday, the calendar allows for the use of three emergency days before the school year would carry over to another week.

District Local Revenues Tied to Inflation
Every December, the district files for property tax revenue by approving a tax levy. Property tax revenues fund about 86% of the district’s total operating budget and are restricted by the state tax cap laws.

The amount of property tax revenue the district is requesting for the next budget year is 4.99% higher than the previous year, however, the actual amount the district expects to receive is about 3.36% higher than last year.

State law restricts a school district’s year-over-year property tax revenue increase to no more than the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or 5%, whichever is less, plus new property development. The CPI, or inflation rate, is a measure of price changes in consumer goods and services set by the Bureau of Labor Statistics . This year’s tax levy is based on a CPI of 1.9%, which is 0.2% lower than the previous two years.

The only property tax revenue that the district can collect over the CPI limit is from property development that occurs within the district, which is valued by the township assessor after the tax levy request is filed with the county.

Chief School Business Official Jessica Donato said that because the new property growth is unknown at the time the levy is approved, the district must overestimate its value in order to capture all potential revenues. This allows the district to prepare for future unknown expenses such as insurance premium increases, unfunded mandates, maintenance and repair of facilities, increased enrollment, or changes in state funding, to name a few.

The Board of Education approved the levy request of $37.4 million at the Dec. 17 meeting. However, based on the formula as outlined in state law, the district expects to receive $36.8 million, or $1.2 million more than last year, which is a 3.36% increase.
Last year, the tax levy request was $36.3 million but the district actually received $35.6 million.

In Brief....
Curriculum on Continuous Improvement Cycle

Improving teaching and learning through the curriculum revision process is a priority for our district, and an ongoing process.

Goal 1 of Navigate 28, the district’s strategic plan, focuses on ongoing growth, development and achievement for all students. One of the key indicators for that work is to continuously improve a comprehensive curriculum.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kris Raitzer oversees curriculum work and provided an annual update of work by subject area to the board.

Social Worker Joins Foundational Staff

Rene Mezny is joining the district staff as a social worker serving the foundational special education students across the district. Ms. Mezny brings many years of experience working with students, families and school teams. Her most recent experience included opportunities to work closely with a high school life skills program, giving her insight into the importance of supporting the development of independent skills from a young age. She received both her undergraduate degree and master’s of social work from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.
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 p.m. January 28 for the next board meeting.
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