Daily Herald - Suburban Chicago's source for news This copy is for personal, non-commercial use. To order presentation-ready copies for distribution you can: 1) Use the "Reprint" button found on the top and bottom of every article, 2) Visit reprints.theygsgroup.com/dailyherald.asp for samples and additional information or 3) Order a reprint of this article now.
Article updated: 1/29/2013 9:32 AM

Round Lake District 116 board votes to revamp grade-school learning

By Bob Susnjara

Round Lake Area Unit District 116 board members have approved a tentative plan to significantly change how elementary school students are educated in an effort to improve academic performance.

Board members at a meeting Monday night voted 5-1 in favor of restructuring the governance of the district's seven grade schools. The administration recommendation accepted by the board is supposed to result in improvements such as frequent monitoring of student progress, responsive approaches for struggling children, a clear mission guiding daily activities, and strong leadership and management practices.

District 116 Superintendent Constance Collins said the plan will be finalized by the end of February. She also took note of about 200 spectators who attended Monday's meeting at Round Lake High School's theater.

"We need to know the parents and the community are working with us to make this happen," Collins said.

District 116 must submit the preliminary changes to state education officials by a Friday deadline.

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, Collins said. The district's total enrollment was listed at more than 7,200 students on the most recent state report card.

Other options allowed under No Child Left Behind provisions had included a state takeover of academics, replacing all or most employees, or contracting with an outside company to deliver education.

All of District 116's schools are in state academic warning status. Five elementary buildings are in federal corrective action or restructuring status.

Under the school governance restructuring, District 116 intends to build common schedules for pupils at all elementary buildings with goal setting and teacher collaboration. Increasing parental involvement and establishing a culture of learning are part of the plan.

District 116's deputy superintendent for teaching and learning, Veronica Lake, said parents would be called upon to work with the school system.

"We want to work with you to determine what parental engagement looks like to you," Lake told the crowd.

Several parents spoke during public comment time before the board vote. Among them was Colleen Mason of Round Lake, who called on school board members to demand timelines for the plan's goals.

Until Collins was hired as superintendent in 2010, five school finance authority members appointed by the Illinois State Board of Education had overseen District 116 operations. The state takeover went from 2002 through 2010. District 116 was near collapse because of its poor financial condition when the panel received the oversight powers. Collins said she does not favor restructuring options such as the state taking over the district's academics or launching all charter schools at the seven elementary buildings.

Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.