Elgin Area School District U-46 educators are wrapping up a summer of professional development as class lists are finalized, construction projects draw to a close and the last few teacher positions are filled.
School board members got an update on school readiness Monday night, two weeks before students are expected back in their seats for the start of the 2013-14 school year.
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Melanie Meidel, assistant superintendent of human resources, gave a staffing update. Her department had hoped to have all the positions filled by Monday and, while they didn't meet that self-imposed deadline, Meidel said the handful of open teacher positions in various disciplines leaves the district in "pretty good shape."
The area where schools are most wanting, though, is for speech and language specialists.
"We're looking for over 30 positions," Meidel said. "We're not the only district struggling in those areas. It's across the state and the nation."
Last year some retired teachers came back to fill the void, and Meidel said they will be called again, but services may be affected for some students because of the small hiring pool.
In terms of students, registration numbers are way up from last year, according to Chief Operations Officer Jeff King. King told board members 80 percent more students were registered by July 31 and by then, the district had collected 116 percent more revenue from registration fees than the same time last year.
The district has about 40,000 students and 29,000 had registered by the end of July.
The food and nutrition department has processed more than 15,000 applications for free or reduced-price lunches. Bus drivers will choose their routes next week and drive practice runs ahead of the start of classes.
King also said most of the construction projects will be nearing completion this week. The biggest two summer projects were at Larkin High School and Ontarioville Elementary School, which got five new classrooms, among other upgrades. A row of semitrailer trucks currently fills the Ontarioville parking lot, packed with the building's furniture. That will be moved back inside Tuesday, King said.
Next week -- in the final days of summer vacation -- teachers will spend two days in training at each of the district's schools before welcoming students back Aug. 19.
Starts: Teachers have two days of training before students return