Volume 23, No. 12 | Friday, June 26, 2020
News from the June 23, 2020 meeting
District Plans for Reopening in August
With state guidelines for reopening schools for the 2020-21 school year released just hours before the Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Dr. Larry Hewitt provided highlights of the plan and the work already underway in planning to reopen district schools for in-person learning.
Dr. Hewitt said that District 28 shares the state’s priority to bring students back for in-person learning in August. However, there are several challenges schools face as we work toward that goal. 
The district has formed two task forces made up of a broad representation of teachers and administrators that began working in the first week of June on our reopening plan.
The district’s Health and Safety Task Force will apply the state’s comprehensive guidelines and requirements to establish new rules and updated procedures. They will be using feedback received in the recent back-to-school parent survey and collaborating with the other districts in the township to develop plans.
The Teaching and Learning Task Force will provide guidance to help teachers prepare for the modifications to our classroom spaces and instructional materials and strategies necessary to bring students safely back to school. The task force is also refining remote learning practices and technology should the need arise. Plans are also being prepared for students who will be unable to return to in-person learning. This task force began their work by reviewing the remote learning surveys taken by students, staff and parents at the end of the school year.
The state guidelines include health and safety measures as well as academic priorities and policies.
Health and safety measures include:
  • Face coverings to be worn at all times by all adults and children 3 years old and older, with some exceptions for medical conditions. 
  • Schools must be set up to allow for social distancing as much as possible.
  • Daily symptom screening and temperature checks of students and staff or a self-certifying process.
  • Increased school cleaning and disinfection protocols.
  • School bus capacity up to 50 students with symptoms check, face masks, and as much social distancing as possible.
  • Limited use of playgrounds, socially distanced physical education and safety precautions for music and instrumental groups.
Educational priorities include:
  • Return to traditional grading policies
  • Provide daily in-person instruction to students least-able to engage in remote learning.
  • Establish remote learning for students who cannot attend in-person learning.
  • Identify standards not covered during remote learning in spring 2020 and determine learning gaps.

Download the full ISBE document, Starting the 2020-21 School Year .

Plans will be shared with the board and parents as soon as possible.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Work Continues
Last October, Dr. Hewitt presented a plan for a consultant to guide the work of the district’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee. The Board approved the contract with Blink Consulting, and meetings were planned for March 19, May 6 and May 22, 2020. The spring work was then to be followed up with summer tasks focused on developing a needs assessment and designing professional development. Unfortunately, the pandemic caused the meetings to be postponed.   

This summer, teacher Jess Lifshitz has created a learning opportunity for faculty with a book study using “So You Want to Talk About Race?” by Iijeoma Oluo. Teachers will join in a discussion about understanding racism and how to talk about race with students.

“The necessity and desire to expand, strengthen, and hasten our efforts are now magnified by the events around the nation,” Dr. Hewitt said. He is working with Blink Consulting to discuss options for restarting the DEI Committee work, including the use of virtual meetings if needed.
COVID-19 Impacts Current, Future Budgets
The impact of COVID-19 on school finances hits on both revenues and expenditures, Chief School Business Official Jessica Donato said.

The district has faced many challenges during school closures due to the pandemic and will face additional challenges and expenses to mitigate student and staff health risks when school reopens in August.

The biggest impact from the pandemic will be lower-than-expected property tax revenues for the next two years due to a drop in the Consumer Price Index, which is tied to the amount the district can collect. In addition, property tax revenues may be delayed and the percentage of uncollected taxes may rise. Sales of new homes are expected to slow, which reduces impact fee revenues. Interest rate revenues have also declined. 

The district did not spend as much on substitute teachers, transportation or supplies due to the school closure. For the coming year, new expenses for supplies and salaries will be incurred for daily deep cleaning, additional safety supplies and signage. 

Financial projections indicate these pressures will result in a deficit of approximately $400,000, in addition to $1.3 million of reserves being used for capital projects. The district will, however, maintain fund reserves equal to about 47 percent of the annual budget.

Members of the board agreed the deficit spending, along with a forecast of revenues growing slower than pre-COVID-19 projections may cause the district to hold off on some future capital improvements.

This year’s projects, including an upgrade to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system for Meadowbrook School and a STEM lab renovation for Northbrook Junior High are on schedule to be completed by the start of the school year. The district just received a $50,000 school maintenance grant for the Meadowbrook project.
New Staff Hired for 2020-21
The Board of Education approved hiring four NBJH teachers for the 2020-21 school year.

Welcoming the following new teachers to District 28:   Lauren Johnson – NBJH Science; Kristin Samuels – NBJH Instructional Coach; Clare Thomas – NBJH 6th grade math; and Heidi Uhl – NBJH 8th grade math

Read more about their careers on the New Staff webpage.
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 July 28
Attention: The next meeting of the Board of Education is scheduled for 7 p.m. July 28. It will be streamed live on the district's YouTube Channel.