Field Trip Review Process at District 131
Given the start of this school year and having a number of new administrators in District office, there are practices that are part of the culture of District 131 which we continue to learn about in our new responsibilities. One of the highly valued practices relates to field trips which a number of our teachers, parents and administrators organize on behalf of their students. We requested a review of field trips because we lacked information about the criteria for approving them. Yolanda Stovall, new to the District as Director of Secondary Ed, and responsible for approving them at that time, was assigned to head the review.
As a side note, field trips which had been approved and those whose money collections and final plans were well underway, continue to occur. We pressed the “pause button” on approving additional field trips until Ms. Stovall could meet with a small committee of principals as a first step in the review process. Most of the committee dialog has centered on PreK-8 and involves factors which include but are not limited to the following:
Complying with Board policy which highlights connections to curriculum;
Articulating field trips across the grades and across schools and identifying the grade levels for specific field trips. For example, based on our curriculum, what are the best grade levels for the field trip to Springfield, to nature sites or college visits?
Planning for students with disabilities. For example, a full time nurse or a special vehicle may be required and that information should be included and planned for as part of the approval process;
Inviting parents to participate and ensuring the cost of the field trip is affordable;
Preserving instructional time to support student academic improvement which also includes having students meet state standards and becoming college and career ready. The majority of District 131 students are not meeting standards in math and reading as designated on PARCC tests. Teachers and administrators work very hard to help students improve and achieve. Consideration must be given to teachers of all grade levels and subject areas who lose instructional time for learning when their students are not in class due to attendance on field trips;
Balancing needs for substitutes for field trips over the course of the year. For example, substitutes are needed due to teacher personal and sick days, and professional development. Faculty prefer not to have to substitute when regular substitutes are not available and we are sensitive to that concern;
Establishing some dates for which there are no field trips due to major testing or staffings;
Ensuring equity so that all students have access to field trips. For example, while the Board offers a per pupil allocation for transportation, the final cost should ensure all students can attend;
Establishing a ratio of adult chaperones to students;
Developing an emergency plan so that a faculty member remains with a student in the event a student must receive medical attention while others return to the school;
Thinking about the possibility of family field trips that may take place after school hours or on weekends;
Clearly, there are many more factors to consider than we expected as part of the review and not all of them can be addressed this school year. Therefore, what are the next steps?
By November 3rd, there will be some initial guidelines ready for use during this school year so that the approval process can resume. Thank you for your patience as we near this benchmark date.
On November 10th, Ms. Stovall will hold a meeting for teacher involvement on this topic in preparation for the 2017-18 school year. Teachers, please let your principal know of your interest in working on this committee. Principals will provide the name to Ms. Stovall so each school has representation. Once the committee is established, it will set its meeting schedule. And once it is established, she also plans for parental involvement.
Ms. Stovall will provide an update of the review process to the Union leadership on October 31st at the joint union administration meeting.
We understand the importance of these educational experiences for our students and are confident the recommendations will provide guidance helpful in the approval process as it resumes in the very near future.
-Dr. Marion Hoyda and Dr. Mark McDonald, Interim Superintendents
Statement from District 131 Regarding Mold Found at Allen Elementary School
AURORA, IL (October 26, 2016) - In September the school district administration learned of a possible mold problem in the library at Allen Elementary School. The department of Buildings and Grounds hired an air quality expert to analyze the library for air quality and possible mold. The Allen School administration took the precaution of closing the library to staff and students while the air quality testing took place. The report was given to the school district administration on October 21.
The results of the testing found mold in the carpet and shelving surfaces in the library. The school district is working on a plan to remove the carpet and any additional mold in the library. The school district is also examining the building to determine the source of the mold. Finally the district will do a building-wide, indoor air quality study to ensure there is no additional mold in the building.
The school district is aware that the first notice parents received about the problem was a local news article published on October 25. "That was an unintentional misstep on the part of District 131," said interim superintendents Mark McDonald and Marion Hoyda. "We can only apologize to Allen School parents and take steps to make sure this does not happen again. It is very important that all of our children and staff have safe, clean, and secure learning environments."
The administration will hold two parent meetings on Wednesday, October 26 at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss the mold remediation at Allen Elementary School.
Five East Aurora staff members, one 5th grade team honored as “Those Who Excel”
AURORA – Five East Aurora staff members and one 5th grade team were recognized Saturday by the Illinois State Board of Education at their “Those Who Excel” Banquet.
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) annually sponsors Those Who Excel to honor school administrators, education service personnel, student support personnel, teams, early career educators, and classroom teachers who make significant contributions to the state’s elementary and secondary schools. From the thousands of educators across Illinois, only 250 staff members or teams are recognized at the banquet.
Those honored from East Aurora attended the Banquet on Saturday in Bloomington. They include:
-Cowherd Middle School assistant principal Jessie Barraza earned the Award of Recognition as an Administrator. Barraza was recognized for not only his teaching and role as an administrator, but also his committee work and outstanding community involvement. Teachers say Barraza is very supportive of teachers, has the gift of staying calm in stressful situations, and that they have nominated him in this category for several years. Others noted how Jessie drops everything to help staff out, and is one of the most reliable people in the building.
-Fred Rodgers Magnet Academy math and science teacher Rebecca Carver was honored with Merit Recognition for Early Career Education. Ms. Carver is one of those “invested” science teachers who is regularly bringing in swamp water, growing mold, or playing with meal worms for her students to see science in action. She has also attended a variety of professional development opportunities on her own to enrich her teaching. She has become a certified Fermi-lab instructor which enables her to design and implement her own Fermi field trips for the school. In addition to her work in science, her students are very successful in math. All of her student have shown at or above average growth in both DEA and AIMS. Her students track their growth data in weekly math assessments and have set personal success goals. Her classroom is both fun and challenging. According to one student, "She is a funny teacher and she cares about students and their learning."
-East Aurora Preschool School teacher Argelia Luna was honored with Merit Recognition for Classroom Teacher category. Warmly referred to as Vivi, Luna is a very dedicated preschool teacher, having worked with East Aurora for nearly 20 years. Vivi loves what she does and always strives to be better, looking for new creative ways to support her students learning. She has an immense respect for her students and their families, as well as the profession. Vivi herself is an alumni of East Aurora and believes whole heartedly in giving back to her community. Vivi lives in the district and her daughters attend EA schools. She is a shining example of East Aurora 131 and believes in our district and reverently serves our community.Several teachers shared that when they were new, Luna would answer many and all of their questions, always made time for them and willingly shared her know-how with them. Vivi carries herself with professionalism, always has a smile and a kind word.
-Oak Park Elementary School custodian Anthony Rhoden earned a Merit of Excellence in the Educational Service Personnel category. Anthony is affectionately known to Oak Park staff as “Jolly.” The nickname couldn't be more fitting. Jolly is such a friendly and positive person, and his attitude and disposition improves the school climate. He is always available and willing to help in any way that he can. When something needs to be done, he is right there getting it done in an extremely timely manner. When unexpected requests or issues come up, Jolly is willing and able. If he cannot do it in the moment, it will likely get done within 24 hours. Jolly regularly puts in extra hours to ensure that the environment is clean, presentable, and ready for students to learn. His work ethic and attitude serves as an example to the rest of the staff at our school, as well as to the students, who see him working tirelessly throughout the school grounds.
-Cowherd Middle School Counselor Grace Sinclair was honored with Merit Recognition for Student Support Personnel category. Sinclair started her involvement as a substitute and completed her counseling internship in EA. She left EA to accept a counseling position and while she was away, completed her Masters. She then returned to EA when a counseling position opened. Peers say Sinclair is always helping out whenever she can. They comment on how she is always visible in the hallways during passing periods, before school and after. One peer said, “Grace looks like she is always putting out fires!”
-The Bardwell Elementary PLC Team earned an Award of Recognition in the Team category. Team members were David Babyar, Lauren Jordan, Lisa Metcalfe, Laurie Ross and Katie Zinzer. If you walk down the hallway outside the 5th grade classrooms at Bardwell, you will see walls covered in college banners and posters. Bardwell's 5th grade team considers their students to be college bound scholars and have created a culture of high expectations to support this. Through challenging, purposeful work, they aim to prepare their students for not only middle school, but college and a successful life. Highest percentage of 5th grade students in East Aurora meeting and exceeding in PARC in both math and ELA. Bardwell's 5th grade team's expectations are not only for their students; they also have high expectations for themselves. They analyze their students' needs and exhaust themselves designing, creating, improving, and teaching materials that will best meet students where they are, and then systematically bring them up to where they need to be.
The ISBE nominations start in the East Aurora School District 131 buildings, where employees are nominated based on their concern for children, positive effect on the school, excellence in their position and leadership. Those nominations go to a District committee that narrows the field for ISBE nominations. Finally, nominations are evaluated by a statewide selection committee which selects staff members to receive Awards of Excellence, Meritorious Service or Special Recognition.
Board of Education Approves Fiscal Year 2017 Budget
The East Aurora School District 131 Board of Education approved the Fiscal Year 2017 budget on Monday, September 19, 2016. The fiscal year 2017 budget is published on the district website and can be viewed here. The fiscal year began on July 1, 2016, and runs through June 30, 2017. The Board heard detailed presentations of each department’s budget at committee meetings before final approval by the Board of Education.
Immunizations and School Physicals Must be Current by October 15
Attention all EA families! Please make SURE you have all immunizations and complete physicals as required turned in before October 15th. Without this important documentation your child will be excluded from school. Also, all Medicaid eligible families, touch base with your medical providers. Medicaid coverage will change as of October 1st and impact your access to healthcare and meeting school health requirements. NOTE: VNA will need a consent on file (attached) to work with students.
For questions, please contact your school's Nurse's office.
Walk to School Day - October 5, 2016!
Walk to School Day is Wednesday, October 5th! Students and families are encouraged to walk to school this morning. A group picture will be taken at 8:15am, and students who do walk will be invited to sign our Walk to School Banner. Look for Mrs. Blank in the front when arriving on Wednesday.
To celebrate fitness all week, students and staff are invited to participate in a FITNESS SPIRIT WEEK!
Monday 10/3 – Wear your favorite sports team gear!
Tuesday 10/4– Wear your favorite super hero clothing! Super heroes love being fit!
Wednesday 10/5– Wear your favorite sports jersey!
Thursday 10/6– Wear your favorite Hermes gear and support the Hermes soccer team!
Friday 10/7- Dress up day! Picture Day is today!
Create A Piece of Art for Peace: Participate in PeaceJam @ East Aurora Peace of Art Hexagon Project
PeaceJam @ East Aurora invites the EASD 131 Community to participate in Peace of Art Hexagon Project by creating a piece of art for peace. All ages are encouraged to print out the hexagon (link) and use it as a template to creatively show your vision of PEACE. You may use text, storytelling, collage, poetry, paint, drawing materials, 3-D materials or digital. Hexagons can be submitted to: Sue-z Bruno, Gates School, 800 7th Avenue, Aurora, IL 60505 by September 28, 2016.
The work will be joined together and be displayed in the Silverplate building, a Vacant Window Project in downtown Aurora. Log your work on billionacts.org. Contact: Aurora@peacejam.org. PeaceJam is an international non-profit organization that has 13 Nobel Peace Prize Winners who have committed to mentoring youth. PeaceJam creates young leaders committed to positive change in themselves, their communities and the world. Learn more at http://www.peacejam.org/about-us.
Picture Day - Friday, October 7, 2016
Picture Day is coming!
Students and staff will have professional photos taken by Lifetouch on Friday, October 7th. Flyers will be coming home soon with more details.
Check out Lifetouch's website here: lifetouch.com/school-pictures/