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updated: 1/14/2013 11:20 PM

School restructuring raises alarms at Dist. 116

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  • More than 250 spectators listen Monday to Round Lake Area Unit District Superintendent Constance Collins discuss a need to restructure due to poor academic performance.

       More than 250 spectators listen Monday to Round Lake Area Unit District Superintendent Constance Collins discuss a need to restructure due to poor academic performance.
    Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer


Round Lake Area Unit District 116 Superintendent Constance Collins says something must be done to bolster student academic performance -- and fast.

More than 250 spectators gathered at Round Lake High School's theater Monday night to hear about restructuring plans for the district.

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Possible options include converting school buildings into "theme schools" or instituting a new literacy curriculum.

Collins said the state must have a plan by Feb. 1.

"The option of not doing anything is not an option," Collins said.

Collins said District 116's consistently poor performance on the state's annual report card and failure to meet federal No Child Left Behind guidelines are driving the need to drastically improve student achievement.

She said state officials recently had demanded a turnaround plan to be finalized by Friday, but she received an extension to Feb. 1.

District 116's deputy superintendent for teaching and learning, Veronica Lake, said possibilities include converting neighborhood elementary buildings into "theme schools" or grade-level centers. She said a theme school could be a building that focuses on fine arts, for example.

Collins said District 116's standardized test scores have been flat and below the state report card's annual yearly progress targets. She said all schools are on the state's academic warning status.

Collins said she does not favor options such as the state taking over District 116's academics or launching all charter schools. She said she also opposes the idea of having an outside company operate the schools or replace all teachers.

District 116 would try to "reset" the elementary schools, Lake said. She said a restructuring plan would include an aligned literacy curriculum, extensive data use and increased parent engagement.

Some of the speakers at Monday night's meeting questioned why they suddenly learned the restructuring was needed in such a short time and asked the district to not break up neighborhood schools.

Resident Joseph Ward gave his perception of how officials are handling the situation: "'Let's pass it, let's put it through and let's move on.'"

District 116 board members are expected to vote on the plan Jan. 28.

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