December 2018
Message from the Superintendent

Everyone tends to become nostalgic around the holidays. The traditions and events surrounding whatever holiday we may celebrate stir images and memories, good and not-so-good, of times gone by.  We remember those who have passed, the first celebrations of those who were born during the course of the year, and hopefully remembering all the good that we have done for others over the year!

As we enter what is traditionally a time of vacations, reflections on the past, hopes for the future, and time with family and friends,  I think about the many things that have been accomplished in District 102 over the last couple of years. It hasn't been easy, and the tasks are not complete in many cases.  Education is a journey and not a sprint.  We have made substantial movement in building our fund balances thanks to a successful referendum, careful management of budgets, and work by the board, teachers and administrators to ensure a financially viable future for District 102.  You can read more about that below.  

We have continued the work of changing the way we teach math so that students cannot only compute, but they can also apply math in real-life situations to solve problems.  Our work in English Language Arts has been ongoing as we continue to engage students in culturally relevant reading texts, strive to move towards our goal of all children reading at grade level by the end of 3rd grade, and provide enriched materials for students who need additional support AND those who have needs beyond our traditional curriculum. We have increased our intentional teaching of SEL skills through embedding our work within the school day.  Home-school communication continues to grow as more teachers utilize social media platforms such as Twitter, Remind, etc, to communicate what is happening in their classrooms.

As we look to the future, we are exploring the feasibility of adding solar power to our arsenal of energy sources.  The potential to offset over 30% of our power through solar, with costs offset by current rebates and incentives, looks promising and we will continue to explore this as the timing is ripe with opportunities that could have long-term savings impact for the district and reduce our carbon footprint.

So to wrap up 2018, on behalf of the District 102 Board and District Administration, Have a wonderful two weeks off, spend time with those you love, and have a fantastic start to the New Year! 

Teaching & Learning Department
Science Curriculum Review Committee:
The Science Curriculum Committee met on December 13th. The groups identified "Must-Haves" that need to be included in units of study and reviewed quality assurance tools to help teams of teacher evaluate units. Before the February meeting, teams will use these tools to review units and make recommendations for changes, adjustments or enhancements needed.
Elementary SEL Curriculum Review Committee:
The SEL Curriculum Review Committee met on December 3rd.  The committee includes a representative from each grade K-6, an Instructional Coach, a school social worker, a school psychologist, and a school administrator.  Grade level representatives shared social and emotional skills from the Illinois Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Standards as well as key cognitive and organizational skills that their district grade level team has prioritized for instruction.  The team also finalized criteria that will be used to select updated SEL curriculum. Top priorities include choosing a curriculum with a focus on relationship-building and inclusiveness.
Social and Emotional Learning Professional Development:
Lynn Lawrence, D102 SEL Coordinator, presented a professional development opportunity for teachers focused on Social and Emotional Learning Instructional Practices.  Teachers reviewed the core social and emotional skills outlined in the Illinois Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Standards and discussed classroom-based instructional practices that mutually benefit social-emotional development and academic growth.  This training will be repeated several times throughout the next few months until all K-8 classroom teachers have been trained.
Standards Based Grading & Reporting:
Priority standards for ELA and Math have been posted on the Teaching and Learning website. These priority standards are ones identified by teacher teams as being the essential learning elements for the grade level and subject area. Teachers do cover all of the standards, but prioritize time and resources to address some standards more in-depth. Prioritizing standards is one of the first steps in identifying learning descriptors to be used in the development of a standards-based report card. During second trimester, we will continue to develop the prototype report card, refine grading practices and continue to find stronger ways to provide feedback to students and parents.
Parent Education Series:
Please join us for some upcoming Parent Education opportunities here in December/January. You can see the full list of events and register by visiting our Eventbrite page at:
12/17    Identifying the Characteristics of Independent Readers & Writers
7pm Park JH Library                       
Presented by: Pat Pollack - Schoolwide

1/29   Use Social Awareness and Interpersonal Skills to Establish and Maintain Positive Relationships - Illinois SEL Standard #2
7pm Park JH Library
Presented by:   Lynn Lawrence, D102 SEL Coordinator

Special Education Department

As the chronological year comes to a close, we are only midway through our academic year. There has been much accomplished in the District's Special Education Department, including the creation of the Special Needs Advisory Panel (SNAP); increased communication with staff, families, and the community through our November newsletter; the first phase of development of a parent handbook; and the announcement of a winter and spring parent education series. Each case manager has provided the first round of IEP benchmark updates for the academic year to parents and guardians. Individual student progress continues to be carefully monitored by school-based teams in order to determine whether or not current interventions are sufficient to meet student needs. 
On a systems level, the department has begun to develop an internal manual of special education interventions to assist with problem solving, including research, guidelines for implementation, and integrity checklists. Our special education teams already do an excellent job of engaging in data-based decision-making to address student needs, but the intervention manual will help to make this process even more effective through collecting intervention information into one central location. The work of continuous improvement is ongoing, and both the development of a manual for parents as well as an intervention manual for staff are examples of District 102's efforts to strive to achieve more. 
We wish you a safe and happy holiday season, and we hope you enjoy your winter break with your children. 

Warm regards, 

Terry Sofianos
Assistant Superintendent for Special Education
Finance Department 

ISBE Financial Profile score improved
The ISBE Financial Profile score for the District rose to 3.25 for FY18 from 2.45 in FY17. This changed the designation from Financial Watch to Financial Review. The highest designation is Financial Recognition which can be achieved by reaching a score of 3.54. The District's resources have improved due to tighter financial management, careful allocation of resources to key areas, additional revenues from passage of the referendum, and receipts of payments past due from the State.
Tax Levy
The tentative tax levy was presented to the Board of Education at its regular meeting on November 15, 2018. The annual tax levy is the district's largest revenue source, accounting for over 78% of its annual revenue. A portion of the total levy amount is billed to an individual property based on the property's proportional Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) as compared to the total EAV of all property located within the District's boundaries. EAVs are approximately 1/3 of market value, and are unknown when the levy is prepared; Cook County releases official EAV amounts months after the levy is due. Since the EAVs are unknown when the levy is drawn up, the District must estimate the EAV numbers used in the levy. In addition to the overall EAV, the value of new construction must be estimated as this also influences the total amount of the District's levy. When estimating, the District ensures that the levy projections come in high, a practice sometimes called balloon levying and explained below. However, once the final numbers come in, the clerk reduces the levy based on rules found in the Illinois Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL).
District 102's levy increases are constrained by the Illinois Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL). PTELL limits the amount that the District can increase its property tax levy to the lesser of the Consumer Price Index (2.1% for this levy year), or 5% over the previous year's receipts. If the District's levy is estimated incorrectly and turns out to be too low for the year, future increases must still be based off of the reduced levy amount; this error then compounds over years with no way to correct it. Ballooning the levy ensures that estimation errors don't lead to an unnecessarily weakened financial position in future years.
The tentative levy includes a $696,785 (2.1%) increase over last year's billed taxes. In addition to the base levy increase, the District expects a significant increase in new construction for the year. District estimates suggest that new construction is likely to result in $113,787 of additional revenue, for a total expected revenue increase of $810,572 over last year; the anticipated operating fund levy amount for 2018 is $34,221,812. If district estimates hold true, the typical $350,000 market value home can expect a tax increase of $75.00 over last year's total tax amount for the District 102 portion of the tax bill.

Diana R. McCluskey
Assistant Superintendent for Finance/CSBO

District Committee Update 

Parent Advisory Committee (PAC)
PAC held its third meeting of the year on Monday, December 3 at Ogden School.  Topics covered:
  • Discipline/Behavior across the district, what is the role of various consequences and how do they align to the infraction?
  • Data dashboard: The new data dashboard is in Beta testing on the District website. Click here to view it.
  • Standards and Grading-Where are we after Trimester 1. Click here to read where we are and the timeline for the continued work to move towards report cards that will outline the standards being assessed along with grades in Grades 5-8.
Minutes of the meeting, future meeting dates, and committee membership is available on the district website or by clicking here. The next meeting will be January 28 at Cossitt School.

Financial Advisory Committee
FAC held a meeting on Monday, December 10.  The topics included: Discussion of installation of solar panels on District buildings to offset up to 30% of electrical energy costs. The cost of the installation and panels could be fully paid through the current Renewable Energy Credit Program (SREC) and ComEd rebates.  Committee members also reviewed the audit report and the upcoming tax levy financials, along with the five-year projections. 
Classifying and Categorizing: 
an important part of building math skills in the early years.
Classifying and Categorizing are an important part of building math skills in the early years.  We want our students to be able to classify and categorize shapes and many other objects by multiple different attributes (sides, corners, colors, etc.)  Here is a video to demonstrate how to classify objects. 

After providing child with a set of objects ask them:
How can you sort these?
Can you sort them a different way?
Can you sort them another way?

To further your child's understanding you can ask multiple questions during or after sorting.  Such as:
  • How do you know this shape belongs in a group?  (Student: It is a triangle because it has 3 sides.)
  • How do you know this shape doesn't belong in a  group?  (Student: It is not a circle because it has sides, circles have zero sides and zero corners.)
  • Which group has the most objects? How do you know?

Try to show different sizes and positions (upside down) of shapes to have your child prove the shape.  (It is a triangle because it is flat, has three sides, and three corners.) Encourage child to find and identify shapes while out and about and have them tell you why or how they know it is that shape.  (Student: That pedestrian crossing sign is a square because it has four equal sides and four corners, it is just turned on its side.)

Happy shape hunting!

CEMA-Committee for Equity and Minority Achievement
Looking for new members for this Board Advisory Committee

Role of the Committee for Equity & Minority Achievement (CEMA)
The La Grange School District 102 Committee for Equity & Minority Achievement will meet throughout the academic year and act as an advisory committee to the School Board that will advance high expectations and aims to cultivate an equitable educational experience for all students that will positively impact opportunity gaps for minority and low-income students to increase overall growth and achievement.
CEMA will focus on the following:
Fostering a district-wide and site-based climate and culture that supports systemic equity and improve student achievement for each student while narrowing the current and predictable racial/income opportunity gaps, through:
  • analyzing student performance/growth data and program/educational structures in order to identify barriers to access rigorous educational opportunities;
  • actively creating, coordinating and supporting partnerships that engage students and families in boosting academic achievement;
  • investigating national trends and best practices regarding equity to incorporate into all initiatives.
As an advisory committee to the District 102 School Board, the board is interested in appointing a diverse committee that includes individuals from varied backgrounds, perspectives and experiences who:
  • bring knowledge, experience and relationships that reflect the diversity of the District 102 community;
  • have a strong interest in educational equity issues;
  • can positively engage in the process of institutional change related to equity; and
  • have experiences across multiple dimensions of diversity.
The committee's membership will be comprised of District 102 staff/teachers (9), parents (12), and community members (2) and board members (2) 

Individuals who wish to join the Committee for Equity & Minority Achievement will complete a CEMA application available at the district office or on the District 102 website. Applications shall be screened by a district administrator with recommendations going to the School Board. Members will serve one or two-year terms. Click here for the CEMA application located on the CEMA home page.
The Long Shadow
Community Diversity Screening
Expanding Our Circle: Enriching Our Lives! Movie/Discussion Series (click here for flyer)

What:   Expand your circle and help us build an awesome community! Join us for film screenings and learn about others in our community.
Where:   Lyons Township High School South Campus, Center for the Performing Arts (4900 South Willow Springs Road, Western Springs); park in South Lot
When:   Fridays at 7:00 pm (monthly). Movie followed by opportunity for discussion.

Friday, January 11, 2019: The Long Shadow (Race Relations in the US) Continuing Discussions: Fridays Jan 18, 25 & Feb 1 at 6:30 pm (Pizza), 7p (Discussion) at First United Methodist Church of La Grange (100 W Cossitt Ave)

Please RSVP by Mon., Jan. 7 by clicking here  or email (include name, email address and phone number).

Seeking STEM Professionals for District 102 STEM Night

We are planning our third District 102 STEM Night for students in 5th and 6th grades. The goal is to show the excitement of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), through hands-on activities and engaging presentations.

We are asking STEM professionals in our community to help us by making short presentations to groups of our students. Do you have a hands-on activity or fun demonstration to share your love of STEM and your field?

STEM Night will be on Thursday, January 31, 2019 from 6:30 - 8:30 pm at Congress Park School in Brookfield. Each presenter will repeat their presentation 3-4 times to different groups of up to 20 students and will last about 20 minutes each. We ask you to make your presentation as interactive as possible.

If you can help or have questions, contact the District 102 Science Center at 708-215-6405, or email Virginia Hohl, Science Center Director, at

We are certain this will be a fun and engaging event for our 5th and 6th grade students. Thank you for considering sharing your talents and promoting STEM learning for our students. 
Save the Date
Saturday March 2nd, 2019

This school year's STEM EXPO is coming soon! Start thinking about the STEM project you might work on for this year's event. More detailed information will follow after the winter break.  
  • S = Science experiment, exploration, or collection
  • T = Technology project
  • E = Engineering project or invention
  • M = Maker-style project or Math project
Did you test it? Did you make it? Did you collect it? Did you try it? Did you build it?
What did you learn?  How cool is that?
Come share it with us!
On March 2, STEM EXPO will showcase the talents of our District 102 K-6 students in the areas of science, technology, engineering and creative making. Do a project at home and share it with us. This event is designed to show off our student's creative and inventive talents in the scientific areas.    

Dates to Remember  
(Please visit a school or the district site for additional dates.)

December 17: Identifying the Characteristics of the Individual Reader and Writer 7pm Park JH Library (Pat Pollack-Schoolwide)
December 20: Winter Concert (PSO, Concert Band, Chorus) 7pm Park Auditorium
December 22-January 6: Winter Break-All Building and District Offices are closed.
Janaury 7: Classes resume
January 8:  LTHS Orientation for students 8:30am Park JH
January 8: LTHS Orientation-Parent Meeting 7pm LTHS South
January 14: Mighty Patriots BB Game 4pm Park North Gym
January 17: Supt/PTC roundtable 7pm Ogden Library
January 19: Band/Orchestra Mid-year Celebration 4pm Park Auditorium
January 21: MLK Day No School
January 24: District 102 Board Meeting 7pm Park JH Library

La Grange School District 102 | 708-482-2400 | 333 N. Park Road |
La Grange Park, IL 60526 |

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