Friday, June 12, 2015

Summer Hiatus is Upon Us: Bloggers to Take A Break

Yes, readers, it's that time of year when your bloggers take the summer off to recharge from a busy year thus far. Last summer we gave Dr. White a chance to settle into his new job and this summer we want to extend the same opportunity to the new Board of Education.  With the students and teachers off for the summer, it is time for us to also spend quality time with our children and place our trust in our elected school board officials to hopefully lead our district back into the light (of transparency) and work collaboratively with Dr. White to return the district to one where students are taught at their ability levels, in order to ensure that they all have the opportunity to maximize their academic potential.   

Perhaps by the end of the summer we will be able to declare that this blog is no longer the only avenue community members, parents and taxpayers have to express their opinions and engage in meaningful dialogue with the adults who play such an important role in overseeing the education of our children.  This summer, we will continue to post comments as we see fit, and we welcome any articles or written posts from readers who take the time to write thoughtful correspondence.  Should there be any breaking news stories, we will certainly interrupt our summer hiatus to report on them because we believe it's important for the community to be aware of important events. 

In the meantime, a recent FOIA request suggests a lack of research was used to develop a strong foundation for the current instructional model and practices within our district.  As a result, it has become clear to us that many D181 parents are probably dealing with a drought of information regarding school placements and ability grouping. Take a look at the following when you get a chance; we thought we would leave our readers with an excellent article dealing with gifted (now a dirty word in D181!) students from the respected Center for Gifted Education at the University of Iowa. The full article is titled:  "Study: Gifted Students still at risk of being left behind."

We believe that after you read this one article you will agree that the research is clear on the efficacy of ability grouping with acceleration.  And if there are any administrators within D181 who believe otherwise, then they need to leave the district as soon as possible.

Enjoy the beginning of summer break until the next BOE meeting on June 22 at 7 p.m. (according to Dr. White's last Superintendent's report from the June 8th meeting). 


Anonymous said...

The district survey comments are finally up on the website. High level of parent dissatisfaction in math and language arts under Learning For All. Teachers seem to be a little more mixed but it is hard to tell what grade they are talking about. Lots of discussion about lack of trust both from the administration and parents. Who can blame them, the past 3 years have been very difficult for teachers.

Anonymous said...

Part 1 of ?

Just got this e-mail from Dr. White. Looks like he's changing up the organizational chart again by adding a new Asst. Supt. of Learning (curriculum) and Schneider's back to PPS. So instead of a director level position for PPS, we get an Asst. Superintendent level for it, costing us even more $$$.

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you are enjoying this atypical July weather and finding time to refresh your mind and body!

As I am sure you know, District 181 has been and will always be a dynamic place where we can count on one constant - change. Even though we may not always anticipate or even welcome change, I know that change allows us to reflect on what works and what we might do to improve the learning opportunities we provide our students. It is with this in mind that I am writing to share some administrative changes that have occurred or will occur this summer.

In addition to the already announced administrative changes, I am pleased to share that Dr. Carol Larson's employment recommendation as the Director of Assessments & Effectiveness was recently approved by the Board. Dr. Larson has expertise in many areas and I am confident she will be a great addition to our administrative team and the Department of Learning. I am also confident that you will enjoy working with her when she officially starts on August 10. I have attached a copy of the job description to help you better understand the intended focus of Dr. Larson's work.

Staying within the Department of Learning, I have been working with the Board of Education and Dr. Schneider on how to best meet the needs of our students, how we can better serve our teachers, and how we can best accomplish all of the work needing to be done.

With that in mind, I have restructured the organizational chart to make workloads more manageable and to make sure that we have the right balance of focus on all learners. Dr. Kurt Schneider will be the Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Pupil Services) and we will welcome a yet-to-be named Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum & Instruction). Dr. Schneider has performed his work at a very high level and is a trusted colleague but I feel the need to give him some assistance so that we can make the workload more manageable. If you have had a chance to work with him, you know he listens very well, has a deep understanding of instructional practices and cares deeply about serving the needs of all students, teachers and administrators. He and I spent many hours discussing this topic over this year and have concluded that we need to make this type of change for the upcoming school year so that we have the personnel necessary to most effectively meet the needs of our students and staff.

Anonymous said...

Part 2 of ?

Dr. Schneider will continue to supervise the Directors within the Department of Learning and may share this responsibility once the yet-to-be-named Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum & Instruction) is selected. Given the timing of this change, I have not yet made a final decision on whether to seek a permanent candidate for this position or to make an employment recommendation that an interim be hired.

As you may recall from this past year, Dr. Schneider and I have attempted to be sensitive to the demands which are placed on classroom teachers and administrators. This resulted in the slowing down of some work we had originally planned for this past year (e.g., the review of our science curriculum and middle school exploratories to name just a few). However, some of this work must progress this year. As such, it is my expectation that Dr. Schneider and the future Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum & Instruction) will collaborate on all issues related to the Department of Learning. This is important so that we continue the District's path of focusing on the needs of all learners. We will next determine how to best move forward with the topic of instructional technology (e.g., filling the Director of Instructional Technology position).

In addition to putting these changes into action, our District Office staff have a busy summer planned! We are almost fully recovered from a mini "water intrusion event" in the new Administrative Center after only being in the office for one week - just to make the move more interesting :-). We are working to fill several building level positions. We started the strategic planning process. We are continuing to develop the ten-year Facilities Master Plan and prepare for Board action on the future of HMS. We are also finalizing the calendar of professional development offerings for our return in August. All of this work and much more will continue over the next several weeks and into the 2015-16 school year. For sure, it will be a year filled with fun!

As we all understand, we work very hard to get things right, changes are a constant and we must adapt to meet the needs of our students given the information we have at the time we need to make decisions. This is the essence of continuous improvement and will always be embedded in our work. I appreciate your support and encourage you to continue engaging our team at the District Office to assist with your efforts to provide the very best learning opportunities to our students.

In the meantime, please know that I will do my best to share news and information about other changes that may occur throughout the summer.

In closing, thank you for what you may be doing this summer to better yourself as a person and professional. Making sure we get time to reconnect with family and friends while also finding time to expand our practice makes us better colleagues to one another and serves our students well!



Anonymous said...

Part 3 of ?

Also, I got this e-mail from Bridget McGuiggan. Note that there's going to be a board meeting this coming Monday, July 13th.

Good morning!
In addition to the information Dr. White provided this morning, below are a few other news items that are also being shared with D181 parents and Key Communicators.
Monday Board Meeting
Facilities News: Podcast Available; August Community Events
Learning Committee Members Wanted; Applications Due July 24
2015-16 Calendar
Registration Ongoing; Fee Collection Postponed
Draft Tentative Budget Available to View
Monday Board Meeting
The Board of Education has called a Special meeting for Monday, July 13 at Walker School starting at 7pm. The tentative agenda includes the following items: a staffing update, a strategic planning update, personnel, Gifts and Contributions, Elm School furniture purchases, and payments of bills and reimbursements. Among the personnel items being presented is a recommendation for The Lane School principal. If the finalist is approved, the message we send after the meeting will include information about that individual, along with highlights of other Board meeting discussion and action. Visit the Board Meetings webpage ( > Board > Meetings) to access a link to BoardDocs and meeting audio recordings. Thank you to The Lane parents and staff who participated in the interview process and completed our principal search survey!

Facilities News: Podcast Available; August Community Events
Facilities has been a major focus of our efforts over the past year, particularly as we determine the long-term future of Hinsdale Middle School. On our website ( > Our District > Facilities Master Plan), we have posted a 30-minute podcast that provides a helpful re-cap of where we have been and where we are going in this process. On the same webpage is an online comment form to share your feedback and questions on facilities issues. In related news, Dr. White will be attending three local events this August to help bring the facilities discussion to more community members. He and other District staff will be on hand to answer questions and listen to residents' ideas and concerns on facilities planning. We hope you can stop by!

Anonymous said...

Hinsdale Farmer's Market on Monday, August 3 (11am-1pm)
Burr Ridge Farmer's Market on Tuesday, August 4 (5:30-7pm)
Clarendon Hills Library Ice Cream Social on Thursday, August 13 (6-7pm)
Learning Committee Members Wanted; Applications Due July 24
We are seeking new parent and community members for our Learning Committee, which provides input and feedback on curriculum, assessment, instruction, student services, and professional development. The application for committee membership is available on our website ( > Resources > Committees), at the Administration Center (115 West 55th Street, Clarendon Hills), and it is attached here. Completed applications are due no later than 4pm on Friday, July 24. Dr. White will be working with HCHTA and HESS in staff Committee members. Learning Committee meetings are tentatively scheduled for the first Wednesday of each month beginning at 6pm, with the first meeting on Wednesday, August 5.

2015-16 Calendar
The complete yearlong calendar for 2015-16 is attached to this message and posted on our website ( > Calendar). The first day of school is Wednesday, August 26; it will be a full day with regular dismissal. Both CHMS and HMS have their Back to School Day events on Wednesday, August 19. Please check the web calendar for Curriculum Night schedules and other fall event dates.

Registration Ongoing; Fee Collection Postponed
Student registration is continuing to take place at the Administration Center. We appreciate your help in encouraging new families in the area to register their children as soon as possible if entering preschool, kindergarten or Grades 1-8 this year. Please note that District fee collection for all 2015-16 students has been postponed while we revamp our online payment system. More information will be shared in the coming weeks and posted on our website ( > Resources > Registration).

Draft Tentative Budget Available to View
At their last meeting, the Board of Education reviewed a draft of the Tentative Budget for 2015-16. Visit our Financial Reports webpage to view that document along with several years of prior budgets, audit reports, and other related materials that are posted for stakeholders to access at anytime ( > Departments > Business). The Tentative Budget will be placed on public display for 30 days prior to being presented for approval in September.


Have a nice day!

Bridget McGuiggan, APR

Anonymous said...

The information contained in Dr. White's e-mail is good news. It is obvious that, for a variety of reasons, Dr. Schneider is being eased away from having the responsibility inherent in leading the Department of Learning. This is what should have happened when Dr. White joined the district last year. Hopefully this "reorganization" will allow Dr. Schneider to focus on all of the pupil services issues that are currently plaguing the district and makes sense as this is where his experience lies.

Now we just need to hire a strong candidate for the Learning and Curriculum position. Someone with extensive experience in performing this job and who has the educational background to support it. The downside to all of this change? So many students who have been negatively impacted for so long, it's too late for many of them. I'm glad to see the new Board finally beginning to turn this ship around. It took us 4 years to get here, I am pleased to see what we've accomplished in just 4 months with new, committed BOE members.