Volume 23, No. 11 | Friday, May 21, 2020
News from the May 19, 2020 meeting
Planning Begins for Start of School Year
As milestone celebration plans are being finalized, planning and preparing for the start of the school year in August is also top of mind, Superintendent Dr. Larry Hewitt said in his report to the Board of Education.
 
Schools are allowed to reopen in Phase 4 of the Recover Illinois plan, under the guidance of the Illinois Department of Public Health. A ‘normal’ start to the school year is unlikely at this time, as it would require the development of a vaccine or effective treatment to battle COVID-19. Therefore, staff will work over the summer to develop two approaches to opening school, he said.
 
The first scenario would be a continuation of 100% remote learning. The district is surveying teachers, parents and students in grades 4-8 to help assess how the process can be improved. Teachers and administrators will work this summer to enhance instruction and engagement for remote learning.
 
The second scenario will focus on how the district can resume in-person instruction in ways that will minimize the risk of exposure to coronavirus for students and staff. This may include changes to student attendance and daily scheduling; curriculum/instruction; health-related procedures; classroom and school-wide routines; before/after school activities; social distancing and personal protective equipment requirements.
 
“Administration and teacher learning teams will be working together to examine the nuances of various options,” Dr. Hewitt said. “At the township level, we are collaborating and coordinating efforts to leverage the collective wisdom among us and beyond our borders. We are also watching how this is happening in countries that are ahead of us in reopening their school systems.”
 
“Parent, teacher, and student feedback on surveys will also be used to prepare for the fall term,” Dr. Hewitt said.
Maintenance Staff Changes Aimed at Efficiency
Changing nine 10-month custodial positions to 12-month and adding a grounds position will allow the district to reduce contracted services and increase support for ongoing routine and specialized cleaning, snow removal, and buildings and grounds maintenance.
 
Director of Buildings and Grounds Joel Gallegos, who joined District 28 last July, developed the plan as part of his evaluation of district operations for cost efficiencies and productivity. 
 
With 10-month employees moving to 12 months, the district will reduce temporary workers to 4.5 and still meet the demands of preparing the schools for the next year. A full-time grounds position will enable the district to reduce costs associated with contracted services while providing for year-round general grounds work, landscaping services, and help reduce overtime and contractor costs incurred for snow removal.
 
The grounds position is estimated to save about $7,800 annually and the change to 12-month positions will cost an estimated $38,000.  Both changes will result in increased time devoted to custodial and grounds work, while also providing several value-added benefits. 

Briefs and Action Items
New Staff Hired for 2020-21
The Board of Education approved hiring three NBJH math teachers teachers and a speech pathologist for the Young Explorers program.

New NBJH math teachers are Marissa Bay, Lexis Foerch and Carley Krasavin. Taylor Hoffman was hired as the Young Explorers Speech Pathologist.

Read their bios on the New Staff webpage.

Parents Can Expect Electronic Refunds
The district has begun the process of refunding parents for the various services not provided due to the closure of school. Families who pre-paid for KidCare services for March will be refunded for the days that school was closed. Families who paid for bus transportation will receive a 30% refund, which amounts to $97.50 per rider. Young Explorer riders will receive $165. Finally, summer school registration fees will be refunded in full. The district is working with the vendor who processes payments to credit accounts within the next two weeks.

STEM Lab Renovation Begins
Renovation is beginning that will create a larger classroom for the Northbrook Junior High STEM program. The new STEM lab will allow for expanded learning opportunities, Dr. Hewitt said.

All sixth- and seventh-grade students participate in the STEM class as one of the rotating six-week electives. Eighth-grade students have an option to take a STEM class as an elective. The new lab will include mobile furniture, as well as upgraded electrical and plumbing work, to create a more flexible learning space that is adaptable to individual and group project work.

The STEM lab will occupy the former cooking and sewing lab. Dr. Hewitt noted that two cooking stations will be preserved so that the junior high can offer a cooking club and perhaps a summer school course next year.

Charity Feeds 50 Families
Hunger-Free Northbrook provided 150 bags of groceries to 50 elementary students and their families throughout Northbrook in April. Also, families received $50 Jewel gift cards to further support their needs, Superintendent Dr. Larry Hewitt reported. Dr. Hewitt is a member of the Hunger-Free Northbrook Task Force.

Board Approves Bus Contract Adjustment
District 28 negotiated with First Student to reduce bus route charges as a result of closing schools for the remainder of the school year. The Illinois State Board of Education strongly encouraged school districts to continue paying contracted service providers during the mandated closures. The board approved an amendment that will pay the bus company 78% of the route charges for March 16 through April 24 and 40% of the route charges April 27 through June 11, resulting in a savings of $146,271 over the original contractual amount. School bus drivers were laid off as of April 27 and receive unemployment compensation as well as qualify for a federal unemployment booster.  Families who paid for bus transportation will receive a 30% refund, which amounts to $97.50 per rider. Young Explorer riders will receive $165.

Food Service Contract Adjustment Approved
The district’s food service provider, Organic Life, has continued to provide lunches to students who qualify for free/reduced price meals while schools have been closed. Organic Life employees were paid through April 30, which aligned with Illinois State Board of Education guidelines.

The district reimburses Organic Life for labor and food costs and retains the sales revenues from lunches sold at the junior high. Organic Life takes a percentage of those revenues for administration and management fees, which the company is waiving for the remainder of the school term. All employees were placed on unemployment in May, except for two employees who prepare the free/reduced price lunches. The board approved a contract amendment with Organic Life that reduces budgeted expenditures by $46,000.  
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 June 23
Attention: The next meeting of the Board of Education is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 19. It is expected to be an audio-only virtual meeting, which will be streamed live on the district's YouTube Channel.