Updates from Stephanie Stuart in regards to Unit 4 and the PE firm

Stephanie Stuart, the Unit 4 Community Relations Coordinator, delivered a bunch of answers and responses to various questions I had. She has given me permission to post the responses “as is” and also to pass along an invitation to contact her with any further questions (stuartst@champaignschools.org or 217-531-0252). As such, I will forward questions from this blog as warranted, but feel free to contact her directly.


High School Retentions

First up, I asked about High School retention rates (ie, reclassification) as a follow-up to Meg’s article earlier this month. I asked why there is a special push in the first place when this should be bread & butter for any high school (right?). I pondered how social promotion played into this and what other ramifications are at play. Stephanie responded with:

“I have attached a document that will give you some statistics on the percentage of students who did not advance to the next grade over the past few school years. Admittedly, this is a topic that is quite involved and Dr. Wiegand let me know she’s happy for you to come in and speak with her, and perhaps the executive team, if you would like. I hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions!”

I am glad the numbers decrease significantly for 10th and 11th grade. I am however extremely concerned about the obvious over-representation of A.A. (African Americans). Something isn’t working out well. What exactly is the issue, and more importantly, how can we help these youth?


Status update from DeJong-Richter and Fallon

Next I asked for a status update on the PE firms Unit 4 has hired; by now, I am sure most everyone has heard about the Nov. 1 Futures Conference and maybe even the newly announced Nov. 29th Community Meeting. And I have blogged about the Fallon focus groups, which is probably little known to most folks. It seems to me that the PE firm has been busy collected data, but what? What have they learned? In an earlier response, DeJong said they would give the background report to the steering committee and post it “online after the first steering committee meeting.” As it is to be a living document, I was expecting some kind of nascent starting place, but so far have not seen anything.

Stephanie responded to this by saying:

“Thanks for your email and we definitely appreciate your enthusiasm for this process. We have been hard at work on expanding our outreach efforts for the Futures Conference/Community Meeting efforts, so some of this background information has been delayed due to our increasing commitment to get as much community feedback as possible.

Right now, DeJong-Richter is in the process of developing the demographic section of the background report. The background report is not being withheld, it simply is not ready yet.  BLDD is also in the process of updating the facilities study. Last week DeJong-Richter was focused on creating Adobe Captivate versions of the Futures Conference presentation.  The intent is to make this consumable for those who were not able to attend the event on November 1 and are not able to attend on the 29th.  A much shorter abridged version of the presentation is being created for students to collect their feedback as well. Fallon Research has finished the transcripts for both focus group sessions, and the summary of findings for both sessions should be available later this week.

We received some great feedback from the Futures Conference, including feedback about a second evening event. As you know, the Community Meeting on the 29th will be held at BTW in the evening, and we are hoping for a great turnout. In addition to flyers, website posting, and outreach to the media, we are doing some targeted outreach to the community by sending out packets containing paper copies of the Future Facilities questionnaires and event flyers to more than 20 local churches and community organizations. All Unit 4 parents will also receive a 2-3 notices (via flyer, phone, and email in both in English and Spanish) as well about the event on the 29th, and we are providing a light dinner and child care to make it as easy as possible for everyone to participate. We hope you will continue to help us spread the word as well!

I hope this addresses some of your questions, and we will make those reports available on the website as soon as they are ready.”

PS – I also have a couple outstanding requests, but I feel they may have been lost in the shuffle:

  1. provide a central email address for the Steering Committee
  2. enable the blogging funcationality of the wordpress-backed Futuresfacilities website


Information about Unit 4 Committees and Task Forces

Several of you have asked about the various committees and task forces at Unit 4, and I realized I only know about a few of them; even the ones that kinda-sorta have an online presence, the information is in some cases rather dated. Given that, I asked that Unit 4 “please provide the information for each committee and task force that either the district administration or the school board is involved in” with the following information:

  • Name of Committee/Task Force
  • Inception date and approx. meeting frequency
  • Purpose/Goal/Mission statement
  • Chairs and contact information


It seems to me that it would be awesome if this information were not only maintained, but if notes, thoughts, minutes, presentations, documents, etc, could all be posted online in timely manners. I confess, I am just a tad biased. And I realize asking your who read a blog about the school district might also fetch biased answers. 🙂 But still, I wonder, is this information useful to the greater whole of Champaign, the stakeholders and tax payers? Or am I just wasting somebody’s time? I genuinely am not sure. I think this is a good thing.

Stephanie responded by saying that she will dig up this information and get back to me in December (I told her “no rush” in light of all the other crazy things going on right now).

I had also asked Dr. Wiegand about the EEE Committee specifically and others in general; I know first-hand that the staff generate some really great information for the EEE Committee, but more often than note those reports are not readily accessible to the public (ie, not on the website), not to mention that the pages dedicated to the EEE Committee (and PMPK) tend to be a bit….. (how to say this nicely) not current. Again, I can be a squeaky wheel and make a nuisance of myself (*grin*), but is this really worthwhile to pursue?

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