Volume 24, No. 1 |Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020
News from the July 28, 2020 meeting
District Plans for Reopening in August
Superintendent Dr. Larry Hewitt reported that 98 percent of parents had responded to the district’s questionnaire and had selected a learning choice for their students to start the 2020-21 school year.
This questionnaire is essential to planning the reopening of school for students on August 24. Based on those responses, 22 percent of the district’s students enrolled in the Remote Learning Academy, 77 percent will attend in-person learning and 1 percent un-enrolled. Principals will contact those parents who have not yet responded. Each principal began work on creating classes and assigning teachers based on parent responses. Teachers will either work with in-person classes, Remote Learning Academy classes, or possibly a combination.
Dr. Hewitt said the district developed its plan for full-time in-person or full-time remote learning by following the guidelines published June 23 by the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Public health guidelines, “Starting the 2020-21 School Year,” which states the following:
  • “Schools and districts are encouraged to provide completely in-person instruction for all students in Phase 4, provided that the school is able to comply with the capacity limits and implement social distancing measures.”
  • “ISBE strongly encourages schools and districts to provide in-person instruction for all students, especially those under the age of 13, to avoid the need for child care and exposure to additional individuals.”
  • “ISBE strongly encourages in-person instruction for students to the greatest extent possible while keeping health and safety as the number one priority.”

Each school’s capacity to socially distance students and follow public health guidelines was evaluated as the district developed its reopening plan. The fully remote option is available to any family who decided full-time in-person learning was not the right choice for their family. 
Administration and staff continue to make progress on all of the tasks associated with reopening schools. Three task forces composed of teachers, administrators, support staff and school nurses are working on many details relating to health and safety, teaching and learning and Young Explorers. Also, several teacher teams and departments are meeting or participating in professional development on curriculum, technology and social-emotional learning.
Due to the increased demands on the school nursing offices, the board approved creating three health aide positions, one for each elementary school. The junior high already has a health aide in addition to the nurse.
Preparing for School Closures

Dr. Hewitt also outlined scenarios that would cause intermittent school closures, including:

  1. moving from Phase 4 to Phase 3 or lower, as outline in the state’s Restore Illinois plan, due to regional health conditions;
  2. a declaration by the governor based on other rationale;
  3. District 28 schools are not able to secure enough substitute teachers to cover teacher absences;
  4. a recommendation or requirement to close schools by the Cook County Department of Public Health or the Illinois Department of Public Health (for example, due to a localized outbreak);
  5. unforeseen issues or obstacles.

Teachers and students are preparing at the beginning of the year with professional development for teachers and student lessons on tech tools that will be used if schools must close.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Work Continues
The district continues its work with BLINK consulting, an organization that specializes in collaborating with schools to critically and compassionately rethink diversity, equity and inclusion. BLINK consultant Allison Park is leading an online professional development seminar this week and will continue work with the district that was scheduled in 2019 for Spring 2020, but was delayed due to school closure.
Tentative Budget Covers New Instructional Materials, Pandemic Expenses
The 2020-21 proposed budget increases spending by 5.82% from last year’s budget to cover increases for instructional materials, expenses related to the pandemic, and annual salary and benefits increases.
Revenues are projected to increase by 4%. The Consumer Price Index will increase from 1.9% for tax year 2019 to 2.3% for 2020 tax year. The CPI is used to calculate the total amount the district can collect in property taxes. New property valued at $34 million will also provide additional property tax revenues for the district. State and federal funds are expected to remain steady.
Final payouts on this summer’s capital improvement projects, including upgrading the HVAC system at Meadowbrook School and the construction of a new STEM lab at the junior high, are included in this year’s spending.
Pandemic-related expenses include support staff salaries for additional classes created to allow for physical distancing in learning spaces. There are also increased transportation costs resulting from a new contract effective this year as well as increased routes to allow for socially distanced busing service. The elementary schools are also seeking to hire health aides for each school nurse’s office. 
Other COVID-19 related expenses include: Purchasing face shields for each teacher and additional PPE for staff as needed; cleaning and disinfecting supplies, additional custodial time at each school to support daytime high-contact area cleaning, rental of three large event-style tents for each school where lunch and mask breaks will take place, outdoor wifi setup, electrostatic cleaners that will be used nightly throughout the buildings, software for students and staff to self-certify their health status daily, instructional supplies for remote learning and funds for additional instructional supplies that will be needed.
“The district is fortunate to have fund reserves to count on for such emergency spending,” said Jessica Donato, chief school business official. She predicted that fund reserves will be replenished over the following several years. The district reserve balance represents 40 to 45 percent of a full year’s budget.

The budget report and tentative budget document are available for public view until a final budget is adopted by the Board of Education at the Sept. 22 regular meeting.
New Westmoor School Nurse Hired

We welcome Ann Martin to Westmoor as the school nurse, a position previously held by Rebecca Boston. Anne has a wealth of experience and recently was a certified school nurse in District 21 where she has worked since 2007. She has experience in both the clinical and hospital setting where she spent time at Rush - Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center as a clinical nurse coordinator and Resurrection Hospital as a registered nurse. Rebecca Boston will be the school nurse at Northbrook Junior High to fill a vacancy left by the retirement of Debby Morris.
Want to Know More?
Livestream/archive video
The Board of Education meetings are live-steamed on the District 28's YouTube Channel. The live streams are also archived for later viewing.

Next Meeting is Aug. 25
Attention: The next meeting of the Board of Education is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 25. It will be streamed live on the district's YouTube Channel.