The first day of September signifies that we are already well on our way through the first quarter, and school has begun with great expectations and best hopes. As the days begin to get shorter and we start thinking about the holidays (I know, right?), it is important that we keep our students on the learning track through great instruction and engagement. D428 staff works diligently to provide what our students need; we ask that our families support their students to stay focused on doing their best and staying on track. The holidays will be here soon enough for a break. Speaking of which, Monday, Sept. 2, is our first day off – Labor Day! Reflection on what Labor Day celebrates should be discussed.
Happenings at the High School
Just like at all of our schools, fantastic things are happening each and every day. Today, I want to highlight some changes at the high school and how staff needs to stay consistent with the messaging.
For those who don’t have students at the high school (or work there), you might not know that school leaders have instituted two big changes: (1) scanning student ID cards at the entrance of the building before entering the school and (2) the use of 5 Star, a new program that provides support to teaching and building staff when students are in or out of the classroom to ensure safety, efficiency, and attendance. Both programs are in place to ensure everyone is accounted for to mitigate truancy or loss of instruction. Big message here: bring and wear your ID every day. This includes the staff as well – our students are watching. We appreciate our families’ support to ensure students are on time and ready to learn.
The weather is changing. Every day varies and could bring 90+ degrees, rain, storms, or chilly conditions at the bus stop. It is important that you keep an eye on the weather so our students are appropriately dressed for what may happen with the weather. As an FYI, we keep an eye out for many things, i.e. rain or snow storms, tornadoes, flooding, high heat, frigid temperatures, etc., and make decisions on how the day will start/end and what recess might look like. Of course, we always want our beautiful days to be filled with activity; however, when the weather doesn’t agree, we might have to keep recess indoors or cancel after-school activities. Our Student/Parent Handbook will be updated with as much policy as possible that will help you better understand our requirements, but our school leaders and district administration work together to figure out what is in the best interest of our students. So please be sure your school office and Skyward have your updated contact information so you can receive updates. We appreciate your partnership.
Safety Consideration – Cars
As our Security Manager is out there ensuring precautions and safety measures are followed before, during, and after school, he has noticed our traffic patterns and some issues around student drop-off and pick-up. As you all know, there are processes at each of our schools to drop off students, and 95% of our families follow them. We have noticed that some choose alternative pick-up and drop-off methods that are considered safety concerns and security risks. For instance, at Founders, cars park on Taylor Street, and students are walking/running across the street in the middle of the block, not at the corner with a crossing guard. We have also noticed cars entering parking areas in the wrong direction or driving too fast. Luckily, we haven’t had an incident, but I don’t want us to rest on luck. Please make sure you follow our safe pick-up and drop-off procedures at all of our schools, even if it takes a few extra minutes. We are trying to prevent accidents from occurring. Please help us keep everyone safe.
Nobody loves to talk about taxes, but our funding from tax dollars is a vital component of what enables the District to provide services to all families to ensure high-quality support and instruction in every school for every child. That also includes maintaining and upgrading our facilities and hiring and retaining highly qualified and talented teachers and administrators – whose employment is also critical to the health of our community. How these funds are obtained and distributed can get very technical and is sometimes confusing. I want to ensure we are doing everything we can to inform everyone about how the District is a diligent and careful steward of the funds we receive from our local tax base.
One way to learn more and be better informed is to attend or tune into the streaming of our Board meetings when we present this information. I don’t ever want to simplify how we gain and use our funding, but it is important for you to know that we take it very seriously.
For instance, did you know the School District has forgone more than $15 million in claimable revenue in the last two years? Those funds were left with the county to help alleviate taxes for residents. Did you also know that financing the new school building will be managed through our reserve funding? Financing the new school in this way is important so we can proactively address needed educational services to our community and not have to ask taxpayers for more money through a referendum.
As a taxing body, the District does receive the largest portion of tax dollars, as is the case with all school districts. We are raising tomorrow’s leaders, and they deserve the best. I know you will agree. Our families and district residents also deserve to know that we painstakingly measure the impact of every dollar we receive to ensure that it ultimately benefits our students and, in turn, makes DeKalb a stronger and more vibrant community.
I encourage you to listen in during these coming months (September – December) as we continue to inform via the Board meetings how we intend to use funding, save funding, and ensure the best use of funding. If you have questions, reach out to me, and we will try to answer as best we can. Remember, Board meeting information is found on our website at board.d428.org.
New School Update
We are well on our way with the design of the building itself and are now in the process of forming committees to help us beautify the outdoor space and create our playground area. If you are interested in helping us in these areas, reach out to Amonaquenette Parker at email@example.com. We are still on track to break ground in April 2024. More to come as we near that date.
On Wednesday, August 30, the District hosted its first Community Conversation of the school year at the former Roberts/NIU Nursing School Building (new school site). We had a fantastic turnout! A great meal was provided by Portillo’s, and lots of questions from parents, community members, and students. We did share what the new school will look like and discussed some issues around safety, bullying, and homework. Several of our school leaders and administrators were present to help us answer questions and represent the District in supporting our families and community. Shout out to Amonaquenette Parker (and Julie Clark) for organizing the event! We invite you to the future Community Conversations as they really do help us better understand the needs of our community. The time is always 5 – 7 pm, with a meal kicking it off. Locations will vary to ensure accessibility for all. The next Community Conversation is Thursday, October 26, at Founders Elementary School. See you there!
Thank you for all you do each and every day to make our school district the district to attend! Let’s keep the momentum going and stay safe and healthy!