Dear District 115 Families,
In school districts across the nation, education is becoming more personalized.
- It is encouraging students to advocate for their own learning by having a greater voice in how they learn, where they learn, what they are interested in, and the pace in which they learn new information and skills.
- It is also moving away from using a child’s age to determine what they are taught, and towards matching the child’s abilities in various subjects with instruction that supports and challenges him/her (based upon individual needs and interests).
To prepare for these changes in District 115, along with the need to address continuing enrollment increases and building operations needs (space, air quality, safety, and mechanical systems), District 115 leadership and school community members have been working with the district’s architects to develop a long-term plan (“EVOLUTION 115”).
So what will be the outcome?
The plan will aim to answer a variety of questions about the community’s priorities for the future of the district so planning can begin for the next decade: “How can our schools be reconfigured to address the student needs listed above, as well as predicted enrollment changes?” “How does the district offer a full-day kindergarten program and expand its special education and dual language programs?” “Does the community want a community center/field house and high school auditorium built?” As a school community, we need to start these important conversations now as implementing significant district-wide changes can take years.
Starting in October 2018, groups of stakeholders have reviewed district/school information, shared ideas, and developed options for our schools, all while challenging themselves and others in the community to think differently about how a school building should look and function. Input from such a wide variety of community members will ensure that future plans for District 115 are empathetic, meaningful, specific, innovative, and financially responsible.
EVOLUTION 115 is how we are working to realize our community’s vision for our schools. The process focuses on three main concepts: priorities, instruction, and facilities.
Through input from community members about their values and desires for their schools, a list of priorities was developed that serves as the basis of the district’s strategic plan and goals.
A new learning model was developed to help District 115 teachers focus on not just what students learn, but how they learn, and in turn, how they are taught. It emphasizes our
three beliefs about learning:
- Education should be relevant to students’ aspirations and interests;
- Students need positive social interactions and relationships to feel connected to peers, adults, and their school;
- Students should be empowered to make decisions and implement changes in their schools.
The short-range and long-range facility plans will guide the district in its development of innovative, flexible spaces that equitably serve the district’s growing enrollment. These spaces must be designed to evolve with learners’ and the community’s vision for education. All while being fiscally responsible.
In the coming months, District 115's stakeholder groups will review options of how our schools can be reconfigured to address our educational and facility needs. Through focus groups, open forums, and surveys, we look forward to working with our school community to create an exciting and sustainable plan.
Dr. Timothy Shimp
Superintendent of Schools