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updated: 2/3/2011 5:13 PM

District 116 to celebrate looking to the future

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  • Constance Collins

    Constance Collins


Strategic planning documents may be blas to officials at many suburban school districts, but it's just the opposite in the Round Lake area.

Formerly on the brink of dissolution, Round Lake Area Unit District 116 will host a public celebration reception to unveil its five-year plan. It'll be from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Round Lake Beach Cultural and Civic Center, 2007 Civic Center Way.

"I think it's worth celebrating because of the hard work that was put into it," District 116 board President Nanci Radford said.

Radford and District 116 Superintendent Constance Collins said the document won't sit around collecting dust. Collins said the strategic plan will be on District 116's website, and residents can hold officials accountable on whether goals are met.

"We're trying to get ourselves organized in a way to have a focus," Collins said.

Highlights of District 116's five-year plan include increasing students' academic achievement and fiscal responsibility. Parents, students and District 116 staff collaborated in forming the plan in a process that started in spring 2010.

District 116 was near collapse because of poor finances when a special state finance authority took over in 2002. Collins was hired as superintendent before the 2010-11 school year as part of a return to local control after finances were deemed stable.

Radford said officials believe student academic achievement can be elevated by aligning curriculum in all buildings and grade levels as proposed in the five-year strategic plan. This would cover prekindergarten through senior year of high school.

In addition, there would be a standard process for academic interventions with all students.

Collins said while District 116's five-year plan has a focus on education, finances won't be forgotten. One of the goals is to prepare a strategy for short- and long-term budgeting.

District 116's financial descent began in the 1990s. Short-term debt was the main problem that threatened to force District 116's closure and send its pupils elsewhere in Lake County for education.

Short-term debt hit $14 million at one point. That debt was eliminated as part of the return to local control before Collins started last July.

"Although we have made (financial) progress, it cannot fall by the wayside," Collins said.

Other parts of the five-year plan call for upgrading technology at District 116's nine schools and establishing a human resources department.