In her email today, Dr. Schuster points out that the Board will be discussing what to do about the missed days of school. By her count HMS students missed 7 and everyone else missed 4 due to snow/cold days off. Well, by our count HMS and CHMS students missed the equivalent of an additional 2 1/2 days because of the 5 days during which they attended only 4 hours per day (1/23,24,29,30,31). Those missed hours are significant due to the shortened class periods, in particular in math where a large percentage of students are taking high school algebra and geometry classes. Those classes will form the foundation of their high school math experience and it is imperative that D181 takes no short cuts or skips any of the materials they are expected to learn.
Will this issue be discussed by the Board before it votes to waive up to four of the missed days? At the last meeting, Dr. Kevin Russell reported that 2 snow days days can be waived for all and 2 additional "emergency" days can be waived for HMS. Would that really be in the best educational interest of the students? It will be interesting to hear what recommendation he makes to the Board and what questions they ask.
We will just have to wait and see...
Dr. Schuster's email update:
"February 4, 2014
Dear District 181 Community,
Today, HMS students and staff were back in school, and both CHMS and HMS had a full day of instruction. Life in the middle schools is getting "back to normal" but we recognize that the facility challenges at HMS have not yet been fully addressed. Our immediate focus has been getting the building safe and ready for classes. We have next steps to tackle in regard to the work to be completed by SERVPRO, the impact on this year’s calendar, and of course the facility itself and its long-term future. We also want to continue investigating the reports of health concerns to ensure those have been alleviated to the best of our ability. Those items are outlined below, but I first want to extend thanks to the many individuals and groups who have contributed to the management of these challenges since early January.
- Students: Our students have shown exceptional resilience. When out of school and when on the split schedule, they continued to demonstrate positive behavior and came prepared ready to learn.
- Staff: The collaboration, preparation and hard work of our staff members has been outstanding. They have supported one another and truly gone above and beyond to ensure a positive learning environment. Activity sponsors and athletic coaches have been flexible and creative. Our Buildings & Grounds crew, teacher and staff associations, and District and school leaders have demonstrated true teamwork.
- Families: Families at both middle schools rearranged childcare, transportation and their schedules to accommodate changes over the last several weeks. Our PTOs have shown their continued generosity, with both kind words and kind actions to show their support.
- Safety Partners: The Hinsdale and Clarendon Hills Fire and Police officials have been strong partners for District 181. Their commitment to student and staff safety is beyond measure.
- Service Professionals: The work to ready the school and ensure it is safe would not have been possible without the teams from SERVPRO and Integrity Environmental Services. Their knowledge and guidance have been instrumental in our action planning.
- Community Partners: The DuPage Regional Office of Education, the Chamber of Commerce, staff of National Louis University, architects from Healy, Bender & Associates, and leaders from the Villages of Hinsdale, Clarendon Hills and Burr Ridge all helped to provide assistance as we discussed alternative sites.
- The work by SERVPRO is not yet complete. Some walls still need to be finished and painted, and the baseboards must be applied throughout the building. The SERVPRO crew will be on hand when students and staff are not in attendance (nights, weekends, etc.) to complete this work. Additional D181 Buildings and Grounds staff will be at the school for the next several days to help with additional cleaning, also.
- The Board of Education will have several options in considering how to address the three missed school days for HMS (January 17, 21, 22) and the four weather-related closings for all schools (January 6, 7, 27, 28). We will be discussing the calendar during theFebruary 10 Committee of the Whole Board meeting at Oak School. We will notify all families of any calendar decisions upon the Board’s approval.
- We take the reports of staff and student health concerns very seriously, and we want to continue working with our staff associations, health professionals and environmental professionals to determine what next steps we can do to help alleviate any ongoing issues that may be reported.
- The Board of Education, the Facilities Committee and ultimately all of our District 181 community will have important decisions to make regarding the building’s mid-term and long-term future. We will continue to notify the community about opportunities to engage in that discussion.
Dr. Renée Schuster