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Dist. U-46 Board hears CAC committee report


By Seth Hancock
  The family and community engagement (FACE) committee of School District U-46’s Citizen’s Advisory Council (CAC) gave a report at the May 20 Board of Education meeting.
  Phil Novello, co-chair of the FACE committee, said the group’s work in the 2018-2019 school year focused on two initiatives both in their fifth year, developing a parent group network among groups like PTOs and booster clubs as well as hosting a realtor breakfast.
  The FACE committee tries to “help get parents, community members involved in our schools,” Novello said. “We need more involvement, and we try to put out programs to get that involvement.”
  Regarding the parent group network, the CAC committee report states: “The goal is to better equip all schools in the District to improve the quality of education for our students and to increase opportunities for parent groups to meet their individual school goals. These goals include fundraising, volunteer recruitment and general support of the school.”
  Novello said the committee held two networking events during the school year, one at Elgin High School last November which had 19 attendees and another in February at the district’s educational services center in Elgin which had 25 in attendance.
  The committee’s recommendation regarding the networking events is receiving continued support from the district “by providing complete transparency on U-46 guidelines and policies as they apply to the parent groups,” Novello said, and encouraging board members to attend.
  A realtor breakfast was held in March at U-46’s food and nutrition wellness center in Elgin, and 39 realtors attended this year’s breakfast. The point of the event is to provide propaganda for realtors to sell to potential homebuyers as Novello said it is “to promote the district in the best possible light” and “to get information about the district, the good programs that we have, financing and everything else.”
  “The better they sell houses in our district, the better our property is going to go up,” Novello said. “It just makes good sense for everybody.”
  Novello said the CAC recommends continuing the breakfast annually and holding it in “early March to capture the busy spring homebuying season” and to host it “in different areas of the district annually to expose real estate professionals to the size of the district and its variety of offerings.”
  The FACE committee received “really nice feedback from our realtors,” Novello said, and the report claims that the breakfast helps clear up “misconceptions” of the district, like poor academic results. Board member Melissa Owens said: “When they have accurate information, it just benefits all of us.”
  According to this year’s report card from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), U-46 saw a continued trend of flat or declining academic results which continue to lag behind the state averages.
  According to data released in April by the U.S. Census Bureau, Illinois saw its fifth straight year of worsening population loss in 2018. For the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metropolitan area, which includes U-46, it was the fourth straight year of population loss which included 83,891 residents leaving to domestic migration.
  U-46 specifically has seen its enrollment decline four straight years, and the district has lost 1,915 total students since 2014’s enrollment of 40,487. The district lost 633 students this past school year to fall to 38,572, yet U-46 hiked spending by 7.8 percent ($40.2 million) to $558.1 million and revenue by 10.2 percent ($52 million) to $561.1 million.
  The ISBE’s data shows U-46’s spending has increased nearly $100 million since 2014 which is over $70 million faster than the rate of inflation according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator.
  The enrollment declines are expected to continue according to U-46’s budget projections. If the district’s projections are realized, there will have been a 13.1 percent drop in enrollment from 2012 to the 2021-2022 school year while costs are expected to rise by 36.3 percent over the same period.

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