The Examiner U-46 News Feed
CAC recommendations given U-46 approval
By Seth Hancock
The School District U-46 administration approved of the recommendations for the 2016-17 school year given by the Citizens’ Advisory Council (CAC).
Over two Board of Education meetings over May and June, three CAC committees updated the board on its work during the 2015-16 school year, as well as providing its recommendations. The board unanimously voted to accept the reports into the record on Monday, June 20.
U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said: “We agreed with all of their recommendations.”
Although the CAC website, u46cac.org, calls the group “your voice in U-46 education,” the Family and Community Engagement (FACE) committee served as the administration’s voice. When presented in May, the report stated its top priority of the last year was to “improve the perception of School District U-46 in the communities it serves.”
The other priorities of FACE were expanding parent groups like parent teacher organizations to secondary schools, supporting schools using student-led parent teacher conferences and increasing the number of people involved in CAC.
Attempting to improve the image of the district, the FACE Committee has held realtor breakfasts the last two years. The first two breakfasts were hosted exclusively in Elgin, the first at Larkin High School and the next at Elgin High School in February of this year.
“In most instances, realtors are the first point of contact for the families and the communities served by U-46, and sadly many realtors are not aware of all of the programs and services that are offered in the district,” said Madeleine Villalobos, FACE co-chair.
U-46 does serve other communities than Elgin, including Bartlett, which the town’s village president, Kevin Wallace contacted Sanders to have a realtor breakfast at Bartlett High School. The FACE Committee held that breakfast in April.
“This was new terrain as we had to reach out to realtors from Bartlett, Streamwood, Hanover Park, Carol Stream, Wayne, Schaumburg and other surrounding communities,” Villalobos said.
At the breakfasts, parents and staff propagate for the district giving testimonials on why they feel U-46 is a good district to move to. A combined total of 53 realtors attended the breakfasts in 2016.
For a district press release promoting the breakfasts, Sanders said: “We know that once people learn about the breadth and depth of our curriculum and opportunities, such as our Dual Language program and our comprehensive special education services, they are much more comfortable and eager to let others know that this district is indeed a wonderful place to raise a family.”
A survey was given to the realtors, and Villalobos said the survey showed that realtors were unaware of some programs such as the high school academies.
Board member Phil Costello asked if any discussions were had with the realtors on why people move to or leave the district. Villalobos claimed “that’s what we’re trying to find out through the survey.”
Costello said the FACE Committee should incorporate that into the discussion and look at metrics because “I would think that they would be very interested in this as well as of course us.”
According to the Illinois State Board of Education’s report card only 32.2 percent of U-46 students are meeting or exceeded expectations, compared to 32.9 percent for the state. According to the Illinois Interactive Report Card revenues from local property taxes between 2002 and 2015 has increased over $134.4 million from $163.7 million to $297.2 million.
The FACE Committee developed a Parent Group Network two years ago where members of PTOs and booster clubs across the district meet. According to the FACE report, participation in CAC has been lacking.
The recommendations from FACE include continued propagating to realtors with possibly doing a bus tour of schools and continuing to support parent groups and student-led conferences. The committee wants the district to create toolkits for parent groups and look into providing childcare for CAC general sessions.
The Curriculum and Instruction Committee, which presented its report in early June, focused on K-8 science education, full-day kindergarten and gifted programming in the 2015-16 school year. One of the top priorities is to create uniformity across the district on how these classes are taught.
“People want to know that their classes are going to look the same, their student’s class is going to look the same as a class that’s going on across the hall, across the building, across the town, across the district,” said Lisa Hopp, committee co-chair.
Melissa Owens, who co-chaired the Special Education committee, presented in May. The committee held its Special Education University as well as a Eureka Math Accommodations informational meeting for parents with special needs students.
Owens said both events were not well attended which is why the committee is recommending working with the district’s Communications Department to develop a strategy to help promote the committee’s work.
The committee had hoped to again host a Special Education Resource Fair but was unable to because of not securing enough exhibitors.
“We came into great difficulty securing enough exhibitors to make the fair viable,” Owens said.
Although the committee hopes to again host the fair in the near future, it is looking to hold what Owens called “smaller target sessions” in 2016-17. The meetings would be held five times during the committee’s regularly schedule monthly meetings at different locations across the district with presenters from the U-46 staff as well as outside organizations.