Jefferson elementary friends

Welcome back from Spring Break! I hope everyone was able to unwind and get some well-deserved rest.


April’s message marks one full year of keeping my commitment to providing information to you via this monthly newsletter. In reflection, I hope it has been informative and has helped keep you better informed. I plan to continue this form of communication as I feel it does provide you with timely and relevant information. So here it goes.


Board Member Elections

The DeKalb CUSD 428 Board of Education will fill four of its seven seats at this month’s election on Tuesday, April 4. We thank current board members Samantha McDavid, Sarah Moses, Jeromy Olson, and David Seymour for their service. The following are the individuals who are candidates for the open positions. They are in alphabetical order:

  • Christopher Boyes
  • Steven Byers
  • Vanta Bynum
  • Samantha McDavid
  • Eric Larsen, (write-in candidate)
  • David Seymour, (write-in candidate)
  • Howard Solomon, (write-in candidate)


Bus Transportation

I know it can be frustrating when the bus doesn’t arrive on time, especially if the weather isn’t good. Keep in mind the bus driver is driving through the same conditions. Sometimes there are issues that can cause the bus to arrive late to your stop, i.e., traffic, accidents, or even students who are not prepared to enter/exit the bus in a timely manner. It is never the intention of the driver to purposely be late. However, if the bus is late, the bus company informs the District, and we will notify the appropriate parties, which may also mean parents and guardians. Please be sure the school your child attends has the correct and most current contact information so that you may be reached when needed. Many families can track their student’s trips to and from school through a free busing app. Parents can download the FirstView app, which will give them access to real-time information about their student’s bus stops.


I do want to remind everyone that appropriate behavior on the bus is always expected from our students. We remind everyone that inappropriate behavior may cause a student to be removed from bus transportation, causing hardship to the family.

Expectations for students so that all can have a pleasant ride to and from school are clearly defined and posted on the Transportation web page.


In the interest of the student’s safety and compliance with state law, students and families are reminded to observe these expectations along with other safety reminders that are also included on our website for reference at any time.


A concerning trend among young people in schools – Delta 9


It seems there is always a new trend amongst students, some fun and harmless and some that cause serious harm. A current concern is a THC liquid known as Delta 9 that can be dangerous if ingested. Drinking any amount of Delta-9 can induce extreme sickness and vomiting. Delta-9 is a highly concentrated chemical form of THC, also found in edibles and other cannabis products. It is dangerous because it is not immediately apparent that students who are sick from consuming Delta-9 are overdosing – they may vomit, be incoherent or have other symptoms that look like the flu or COVID.


We are sharing this information to encourage everyone to be on the lookout and be aware that this may be circulating. It is possible edible items can be dipped into this syrup, causing these same incoherent effects. Please talk with your student about the importance of not ingesting any candy, food, or substances that are out of the package handed to them. Parents/Guardians, we encourage you to have conversations with your child about the danger of this product.


Delta-9 bottles may look like this:

example of Delta 9 bottles



Please contact your child’s school if you have any questions or need additional assistance. If you’d like to learn more about how to speak to your child about substance abuse, please click here for English and here for Spanish. We have also compiled local and national mental health resources for you (English, Spanish, Arabic). Check out these helpful guides, including information on a substance abuse treatment locator tool.


Update to District Logo

First and foremost, thank you to everyone who has either voiced or written their opinions to the school board members or me. I was happy to see the feedback. However, I do want to reiterate the clarity I provided during the first board meeting in March around the logo for the district.


We are working to establish more consistency and uniformity in how the district is represented for several reasons. In a usage audit, it was found that more than a dozen logo versions are being used today in presentations, email signatures, on tablecloths, in various brochures, recruitment materials, on our website, etc. Instituting a standardized and defined district logo is not meant to replace what we have for our athletics, student activities, or schools. Each school has its own mascot and colors. These will all remain in place and continue to represent who we are as the Barbs, or the tigers, owls, lions, hawks, or dragons. But the district, as a whole, needs to have its own identity as we represent all 12 schools and three communities.


To help us, we partnered with DeKalb agency OC Creative in this process and value their input as a local business, employees with children in the district, experts in their field, and as a company vested in the success of D428 as a vital part of our community. Discussions and brainstorming took place about how we can visually represent the mission and core values of our district and the students we serve as DeKalb Community Unit School District 428.


Over the course of several weeks, six initial concepts were reviewed by the leadership team, suggestions made for revisions, and the top three concepts were returned for feedback. We sent the logos to the schools to get reactions and feedback (including some errors we have apologized for).


Several people have asked why barbed wire imagery isn’t included in the new concepts. Returning to what is currently in use throughout the district, we see that sometimes there is barbed wire, sometimes not, so no defined standard sets a precedent to always using barbed wire in our logos. Several discussions have taken place with an understanding and appreciation of the historical significance and pride that barbed wire represents. It is and will continue to be, a visible component of our athletic suite of logos, in our athletic facilities, within the high school, and as part of team gear – effectively representing the Barbs and Spike, our Barbie Crow.


Thought was given to the fact that we are also an inclusive community with schools that are proud of their individuality and school mascots. We are fortunate to be in a community evolving in its industry diversification and, in turn, welcoming more and more people from myriad backgrounds. We hope to achieve a balance in our updated look that represents and distinguishes our District and our DeKalb, Cortland, and Malta communities.


As we continue to review and adapt the logo, please keep in mind that the purpose is to incorporate it in items such as letterhead, website mastheads, social media profiles, and a variety of materials that represent the District. This understanding becomes particularly relevant when we think about recruitment and how we present ourselves to attract talent to our district in a unified, consistent, and professional manner.


I know we have an emotional reaction to our high school brand. DeKalb CUSD 428 also has a brand personality and one to be proud of and build upon. This can be a fun, creative and rewarding work that applies to every employee, every student, every family, and community. Please continue to bring forth ideas that will allow us to tie all 12 schools together in this great place we live. As soon as we have updates, we will share them with you. I really do want the community to help us select our best representation. Email me at


HumanEx Spring Survey


It is spring and survey time! As staff will recall, they completed a lengthy survey in the fall to give insight into how our employees felt as a member of the D428 family. Outcomes from the survey included:

  • the consultant met with each school staff community to review the results and assist them with selecting one or two strategies that the school staff would work on to improve.
  • the consultant also met with the board members to provide them with overarching scores and determine goals for the superintendent on improving district-wide gaps.
  • the consultant shared these same scores and goals with the school building leaders to garner their preference for targeting areas district-wide.

These discussions led to staff including the targets and strategies into the school improvement plan or district strategic plan. Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Amonaquenette Parker also shared DEI goals with the Social Justice Team. They determined the areas of growth and next steps for the district in relation to equity, diversity and inclusion. Particularly, they are focusing on recruitment and retention practices and curricular inclusivity.


So what happens next? We have to survey everyone again to see if those strategies were completed and if they are helping drive progress. The survey will be administered again to district employees on April 19. We will review the survey results in the same fashion as the first one and once again look for areas of growth to continue successfully growing our district. Staff is reminded to remember to answer the questions based on your location. If you are a teacher, the questions will be answered in relation to your school building. If you are a district employee, you will be asked to answer as the Ed Center is your building. School building leaders and the leadership team will be surveyed on the work of the Superintendent as well. All of this will show the many strengths the District already has and what areas need to continue to improve. Employees are encouraged to take the time to complete the survey as it is very important to our overall growth.


New Elementary School


This is truly an exciting time! We are embarking on the creation of a 3-section elementary school in the north corridor of DeKalb. What does it mean to the neighborhood? Neighborhood schools allow a majority of students in kindergarten through 5th grade the ability to walk to their school. No longer will children be waiting at a bus stop in heat, cold, or rain. When a school is within walking distance from home, we expect to see attendance improve. When attendance improves, students are there to learn, and overall achievement goes up. Families will have a school to call their own. A feeling of belonging ensues, and care for the building, and its contents becomes overarching. I am excited for the community.


So now the work begins. Over the next few months, we will work on a bidding and construction timeline. We will meet with school union leaders to discuss big-picture needs and bring together committees to help us design the programming for the school. We will be looking for families/community members interested in collaborating with us about what students and families want to see in the school. I know students requested a swimming pool during the Community Conversations…sorry, I don’t think that will be possible. But other creative ideas may be realistic. If you reside in the north corridor and are interested in participating on a committee to develop the new school, please email me at If you are not from the community but want to support, please reach out as well.


Well, I think that’s it for now. Remember to take care of you. We have two quick months to go before the end of the year is upon us. Let’s finish strong!


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