School district report card

At the Jan 11th BOE meeting, Dr. Wiegand presented the district report card (an annual event). The report card is available in several places, but the one submitted to ISBE can be found on ISBE’s website:

Additionally, Dr. Wiegand shares a little more on the district website:


I asked a few questions on the U4 Board Corner prior to the meeting, most of which were addressed during the Jan 11th meeting. My goals in “sharing back” here are:

  1. report on the public answers made at the board meeting (since they are not explicitly documented, one would have to watch the entire video otherwise)
  2. provide a little heads-up for the Feb 8th BOE meeting
  3. show you how you can engage the board with your own questions, and listen for answers 🙂


Note: the number in parenthesis denote how far into the video I found these items.

And a caveat: if you disagree with my interpretations below, feel free to leave a comment. Especially if I made a factual error – I would appreciate having that cleared up ASAP.


Question 2

According to page 1, the district has a higher school dropout rate, higher chronic truancy rate and a lower attendance rate than the state average; what can we do about those stats? (My question was a bit more oblique when I first posed it)


(43:58) Dr. Wiegand addressed the high rate of mobility and poverty, saying that these are certainly areas of concern that affect how the district responds and supports such situations. I did not hear anything about dropouts, truancy or attendance, however.


Question 3

How is it that we have 100% parental contact?


(44:38) It comes down to how “parental contact” is defined. The ISBE says that any type of communication, including any type of mailing or flyer sent home in backpacks, can be considered “parental contact”.
I would love to see us break that down an aim a little higher. For instance, what if we define parental contact as a phone call or face-to-face visit?


Question 4

I asked several questions about how much time we actually devote to teaching subject matters. I note that most of our high school periods are 47 minutes long, but everyone know you don’t teach every single second of the period. 🙂 I am also curious about how much time is taken out for test prep and administration. (for a related but different can of worms, I am not a fan of how we do testing at all)


(45:20) Again, it comes down to what ISBE defines as time spent teaching, and apparently for the sake of consistency, it is purely by bell schedule.


Question 5

I asked several questions about the budget, specifically why we spend more on Operation than Instruction, and why we have a $8+ million Debt Service.


(47:47) I appreciated that both Dr. Wiegand and Mr. Lockman took the time to delve into this a little more. According to Mr. Lockman, “the devil is in the details.” Apparently, due to the district-wide Schools of Choice system for grades K-8, we have a larger-than-average bill to foot for transportation costs (Operational budget).  We also have a number of service professionals that have instructional capacities but are listed under the Operation category, such as librarians, social workers, psychologists, etc. And lastly, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that a bulk of the Debt Service ($7 million) is actually covered by the 1-percent Sales Tax, and our property taxes cover the rest (roughly $1.6 million). Of course, the obvious downside is that all the 1-percent money is tied up until 2025, affecting the conversation about the future referendum and how we do Capital expenditures.


Question 6

I asked about this strange thing called a “5-year graduation rate”, since our high schools are grades 9-12 (four years).


(53:12) Dr. Taylor responded that we have contingency plans and intentional support for two groups of students, 1) those with IEP plans that need to take things a little slower, and 2) those are highly mobile and enter (or re-enter) the system needing some remedial work to catch up. I found it interesting that Dr. Taylor would not provide raw numbers, even though Dr. Wiegand was kind enough to ask. 🙂


Question 7

I asked what the PARCC results really meant, since they show that the average school in Illinois has about 60% (or more) students not meeting expectations.

Question 8

And finally, what are going to do with all this information moving forward? What are we working on this coming year?

Answer to both

(55:50) I appreciate that Dr. Wiegand suggested to the board that there be a more in-depth reaction to the PARCC results at the February 8th BOE meeting. Dr. Wiegand has also indicated that she will be providing a report of Superintendent Goals to the Board in the near future (she did not specify a date, but I wonder if maybe we will see some of that on Feb 8th). I look forward to learning more on the 8th.

School Board member applications

The school board is hoping to receive a large number of applications to fill a current vacancy on the school board. I would encourage you to consider this opportunity, especially since now is an excellent time to be a part of the board. Most notably, there is already an excellent cast of characters on the school, so you would be joining a synergistic team.


Applications are due this Wednesday (January 27th). For more information, read the Unit 4’s news item:


If you have any questions, I implore you to ask.


Update: Here are the applications of the eight that were selected to be interviewed on Feb 1st:

G. David Frye:$file/Frye.pdf
Virginia Holder:$file/Virginia%20Holder.pdf
Holly Wilper:$file/Holly%20Wilper.pdf
Heather Vazquez:$file/Heather%20Vazquez.pdf
Jamar Brown:$file/Jamar%20Brown.pdf
Marisela Orozco:$file/Marisela%20Orozco.pdf
Gianina Baker:$file/Gianina%20Baker.pdf
Bruce Brown:$file/Bruce%20Brown.pdf



The video of the candidate “forum” is on Vimeo:



From the vimeo video, I have extracted the 7 questions that were asked of all the board member candidates, including timestamps of each section. I also took note of when Ms. Gianina Baker responded, since she was awarded the position; it is not my intent to sleight the other remarkable responses, I just have not yet bookmarked them all.


Opening Statements
Begin: 18:37   Baker: 18:37

Question 1: As a member of the board of education, you will be a representative of the community. How do you plan to communicate with various groups within the Unit 4 community?
Begin: 31:41  Baker: 41:08

Question 2: Expulsions ultimately rest on the shoulders of the BOE. What do you see as a strength and a weakness for you in this area?
Begin: 42:36  Baker: 50:15

Question 3: Please share what your experience and familiarity related to Unit 4 and the consent decree.
Begin: 54:10  Baker 1:02:11

Question 4: Please share what has been your level of involvement in community-based organizations.
Begin: 1:07:38  Baker: 1:13:49

Question 5: One hallmark of a successful school board is the ability to distinguish between board work and staff work. Please describe what this means to you.
Begin: 1:27:42  Baker: 1:30:16

Question 6: Do you support collective bargaining rights? Please explain why or why not.
Begin: 1:35:34  Baker: 1:37:26

Question 7: Describe the ideal relationship between the community, board, the administrations, and the union(s).
Begin: 1:44:45  Baker: 1:44:58

Closing remarks
Begin: 1:55:10  Baker: 2:04:33