The State of the District

state_of_the_districtYesterday, Dr. Wiegand delivered her “State of the District” address to a group of 25 or so gathered in the Carrie Busey library. I asked for the powerpoint because I cannot find it online, and Dr. Wiegand sent it to me this afternoon, along with a promise of providing even more information. However, the powerpoint has a bunch of extra information hidden in the notes already – I recommend you take a look at the notes on each slide.


The Address has 6 goals and associated action steps. Here are the goals:

  1. The Superintendent will foster high academic achievement, wellness and well-being among all learners in a safe, supportive environment.
  2. The Superintendent will align the District’s priorities and resources through a community-involved planning process implemented through focused action plans with regular progress reports.
  3. The Superintendent will retain, hire, and support highly qualified faculty and staff that will best serve the District’s diverse student population.
  4. The Superintendent will effectively and efficiently engage parents and other community stakeholders resulting in strong partnerships.
  5. The Superintendent will leverage the strength of the District’s diverse population to create a rich academic and social environment in each of the District’s schools.
  6. The Superintendent will revitalize, build, and maintain facilities that are safe, sustainable and allow equitable access to programming across the District.


These are really good goals. In fact, as I was reading them I was reminded of the many promises and statements made by board members, especially the candidates. Dr. Wiegand is jumping in and setting the bar rather high, which is awesome! The Action steps sound reasonable, practical and relevant – again, read the notes because the bullets on the slide are often reinforced with extra information I found helpful.


Here is Meg Dickinson’s excellent writeup, focusing on “challenges and progress”:


There is also a WICD clip but it didn’t really say much.


In other news (sorry to bury it), the agenda for the April 8th Board meeting was finally published. There are a metric ton of items in the Consent Agenda (wow!). The only item in the “New Business” that I cared about at the moment was “Future Facilities Committee Update: Bruce Knight & Kristine Chalifoux”. I have asked several Steering Team Members about the “final” report that DeJong will give to the Superintendent, and I consistently hear that such a report is not yet ready. Which makes me curious about the presentation by Kristine and Bruce Knight – I wonder what the update is (since no document is posted on BoardDocs). Here is the text of the extra information we can see:

One of the goals of the District’s Strategic Plan, Great Schools, Together is to, “revitalize, build, and maintain facilities that are safe, sustainable, and allow equitable access to programming across the District.”  Through the use of the 1% sales tax revenue, the Board of Education has been able to address a portion of the facility needs in the District.  Existing facilities that still need to be addressed include Dr. Howard and South Side Elementary Schools and Central High School.  Current enrollment trends also indicate a need to evaluate the capacity of our middle schools and how best to deliver educational programs.

On September 10, 2012, the Board contracted with public engagement firm, Dejong Richter, to begin the process of working with the community to find out what their expectations are for some of our older school facilities, and to engage in dialogue on the prospects for a new Central High School.

This evening, Future Facilities Co-Chairs, Bruce Knight and Kristine Chalifoux will review the work done this year and discuss next steps in the process.


Side note: Yes, Great Schools, Together lives. Just don’t go visit the website that looks like it came out of 1995 and was last updated in 2008. 🙂

I believe the next steps are:

  • Steering Team approves the final report to go to Dr. Wiegand (soon!)
  • Dr. Wiegand presents recommendations to Board in May

We will see how far off I am.

Keep in mind that Chuck Jackson and I are holding a very relevant charrette on Sunday, April 7th – we feel very strongly that there is much more work to do in thinking about what to do with Central, and we feel strongly that any recommendation to come out of the steering team at this point is not going to be satisfactory. In fact, several board member candidates at the March 14th PTA Council forum offered similar comments. Please note, after talking to a couple steering team members, I am not trying to cast them in a bad light – I truly believe they have worked hard to understand and make good guesses.

Steering Committee Report 3.6.2013

From Chuck Jackson:

Even though I had another meeting last night, I decided to go to the Steering committee meeting for the first hour to see what I could learn.

I took six pages of notes in the 45 minutes I was there – everything I say is constrained by the fact that I wasn’t at the whole meeting. I left before 7.

Much of this is predicated on knowing the context, specifically the options. Head on over to the Future Facilities website [] and get the options packet (go ahead, I’ll wait). Scott said that all his materials that he distributed to the members would be online later that night. I don’t see them there at this moment but I could be looking in the wrong spot or he is just running behind.

Main Report to the Committee

With regard to the five priority ordered considerations (as I recall question #2 on the survey.)

Respondents were asked to rank order five considerations. I didn’t feel these captured my priorities but this was the question. The five (from memory)

• Financial

• Alternative transportation accessibility (transportation other than cars)

• Vehicular accessibility

• Social

• Environmental

Seventy two people put financial considerations as their number one priority, far and away the top.

Scott put weighted scores on high school location, West received a score of 500; North 431; Northwest 417. One of the points he made about that was there is no clear winner from among the options presented.

Several times he referenced the future conference and treated the input from that as hard data and controlling input. This view of that experience is a way too optimistic view of the futures conference. Not only did it only reach a TINY proportion of the population, (which was self selected) but it too was very constraining and could not possibly reflect a true snapshot of what the community wants.

Interestingly Read the rest of this entry »

Reminder: Houlihans with Scott Leopold TODAY, 11:30

Just a quick reminder that we are meeting at Houlihans today (not Wednesday, tomorrow); Scott Leopold has agreed to join us and field questions and talk about DeJong’s work with the school district.


Last night I attended the Steering Team meeting. It was quite interesting. I’ll be writing more about it later. I did not realize this yesterday, but the Report Results show an amazing number of students filled out the survey; 634 respondents self-identified as Unit 4 students, 784 self-identified as 18 or younger, out of a total of about 1100 (some respondents did not answer age or affiliation). That is HUGE! Scott has provided an excel spreadsheet that allows us to filter answers by demographics, and I would like to do that at some point to see how this particular population affected the results.


I also took an informal attendance of the meeting, with help from one other non-steering team member whom I invited (we were in a “reserved seating” section). We counted 28 total attendees (including us two), 15 of which were Unit 4 employees. The other person with me also noted that folks like Bruce Knight and Rob Kowalski are paid with Unit 4 funds.


Like I said, more later. Please join us at Houlihans today.

Future Facilities Survey results posted

Scott Leopold has informed me that the survey results for the Future Facilities are out there for all of you to view:


Also, the results of the Fallon focus groups will be presented along with the background report at tomorrow’s Steering Team meeting. I am told the meeting is open for the public as observers; if you would be so kind as to let Stephanie Stuart (217-531-0252, know you are coming, she will make sure there are enough chairs set out for all of us. And yes, I plan to go and blog about it.

Steering Committee Meeting #3: Monday, December 17th 6:00pm @ Dr. Howard Elementary


Please look over the data so far and let any of us (me, Stephanie, Scott) know your thoughts. Of course, I am just a tad biased and hope you post your thoughts here. *grin*


PS – I am quite aware that there are those of you who are not so happy with the money we are spending on this Public Engagement firm. As I have stated previously, I very much welcome different opinions and in fact, I openly invite those who disagree. My own excitement stems mostly from the fact that some real data has been released and we now get a chance to look it over through our own lens.

Future Facilities Steering Committee

I see that Unit 4/DeJong has posted a new page for the Steering Committee:

They have posted the agenda, the DeJong presentation and a DRAFT report. The attendees have not yet been posted/listed. [edit] Attendees now listed (see comments below).

Reading the presentation, it sounds like the Committee was hit with a wall of information. Good and mostly interesting, but still a wall. 🙂 Slide 12 gives an overview of the timeline (which I find helpful), slide 14 mentions that the report will be a living document and will grow/evolve/change over time. I really like how open Scott Leopold is (he put his email address on the presentation for anyone to see) and that they are openly inviting the committee to fact-check their work.

Slide 13 really sets the stage for what is expected of the Steering Committee:

This steering committee will evaluate the results from the community dialogue.

  • The community may love / like / or hate some or all of the options. The most important piece is the written comments.
  • Your task will be to take the results from the dialogue and form a recommendation for presentation to the superintendent.

I get the impression that the public as a whole is openly invited to be involved as much as possible. For those of us that are already “involved”, this will be easy and welcome. But what about those that feel “outside”? This is where I think the Social Justice Committee team/initiative is going to have to step up to the plate and help form those bridges, understanding the Ideology of those who are not in the dominant majority.

Hopefully, I am not making a mountain out of molehill. If I am, please call me on it.