The Examiner U-46 News Feed
U-46 career pathways deferred to 2021-22 year
By Seth Hancock
School District U-46 officials are still lacking some details on the planned move to college and career pathways which they hopes will be filled in with community input in the coming months according to a presentation given to the Board of Education on Monday, Sept. 24.
The pathways plan would ultimately require middle school students to select certain pathways to follow once they enter high school where each of the five U-46 high schools will house the same academies but also a unique magnet academy at each.
Based on public feedback so far, the district has pushed off implementation until the 2021-22 school year when all then freshmen will be asked to select a pathway. As sophomores they will then take foundational courses for their chosen pathway and as upperclassmen courses offering college credit and industry certification.
Officials also emphasized that current graduation requirements will remain.
Mike Demovsky, Bartlett High School’s principal, said of U-46’s response to feedback: “We will slow down, we are taking another year, we will create entry and exit points as well as create a liberal arts academy to allow for maximum flexibility, the same five academies will be housed at each site, students will have access to pathways not housed at their schools and students are guaranteed enrollment at their home school.”
“We heard the feedback, and we know that we will need to be flexible which is why we will include several entry and exit points within the pathway’s sequence which will allow students to switch pathways in the event that their career interest changes,” said Yvette Gonzalez-Collins, Ellis Middle School’s principal.
The academies that will be at each high school include STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), arts, humanities, liberal arts and business. The magnet academies include STEM at Bartlett, international baccalaureate studies at Elgin, visual and performing arts at Larkin and the BEACON academy of media and digital arts at South Elgin while Streamwood’s is still to be determined.
U-46 has some potential pathways for each academy but nothing is set in stone as they seek more public feedback. Demovsky said there will be surveys, town hall meetings and round table discussions.
“We’re going to be developing a framework that will help us determine which pathways we have the capacity to currently implement, which pathways need to be written and what the long term process will be to add pathways in the future,” said Lela Majstorovic, assistant superintendent for secondary schools instruction.
“We want our communities to tell us what they want to see in our schools,” said Christopher Boden, lead counselor. “If this is going to be successful, we’re going to have to work collaboratively in order to make it happen.”
Board member Jeanette Ward asked what the difference between the academies and the magnet academies would be noting that there will be STEM academies at all five high schools while Bartlett will house the magnet academy.
“That’s something that we still need to work out,” said Majstorovic but the magnet academies will need to offer “innovative” programming.
Board member Sue Kerr expressed concerns with how this will affect the ability to take Advanced Placement classes and expressed the same for the dual language program. Board member Veronica Noland suggested that if there’s too much flexibility it could mean some classes wouldn’t have enough students meaning the district would have to eliminate some pathways.
Majstorovic said U-46 is looking at these issues “going forward,” but Demovsky said this shift “is not as large as you think it might be.”
“Parents have been choosing classes since the history of U-46,” Demovsky said. “We have been selecting classes, and we call them electives, and one of the things that we need to do as a team is reframe the word elective and just shift it to pathway.”
Ward asked about the dual credit program which allows U-46 seniors, and potentially juniors in the future, to take classes at Elgin Community College. She asked if “the dual credit program might mesh best with say the liberal arts academy” to which Boden said he “would assume so.”
Along with academic details still needing some work, there are no cost estimates that have been given as of yet and board member Phil Costello said regarding the financial impact: “You’re going to have to introduce those subjects too to make sure that we’re grounded before we take the next step.”
Owens said board members will be “trying to sell this concept” to the public and needs more information, and Majstorovic said “we hope to be able to paint a better picture” after upcoming town halls.
Six town hall meetings are scheduled at Elgin’s Larkin High School (Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m.), Streamwood High School (Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 7 p.m.), Elgin’s Kimball Middle School (Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m.), Elgin’s Ellis Middle School (Thursday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m.), Bartlett High School (Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 7 p.m.) and Elgin High School (Thursday, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m.).
Costello asked what the format will be for the town halls and Majstorovic said there will be a short presentation but it’s “really an opportunity to get feedback and input from the participants there.”