Category Archives: Kaneland


KHS students honor war history during service trip

Photo: The group poses in front of an American M-4 Sherman tank in Bastonge, Belgium.
Photo submitted by Javier Martinez to

KANELAND—A group of Kaneland High School (KHS) students in June experienced a historical adventure overseas.

The group of 17 students, ranging from freshmen to seniors, plus 10 adult chaperones, embarked on a service trip and spent seven days in Europe, visiting France, Belgium and Germany.

KHS Social Studies teacher Javier Martinez coordinated the trip.

“Hopefully (the students) learned a little bit about the history of the places we visited, learned about the history of some of the battles on the battlefields we visited, and took away a better appreciation for the sacrifices of the American soldiers during World War I and World War II,” Martinez said.

Students on the trip cleaned marbled white headstones in a World War I cemetery at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Chateau-Thierry, France.

According to Martinez, the students and chaperones cleaned between 1,300 and 1,400 headstones. They used buckets filled with soap and water, and scrubbed with brushes.

“I didn’t feel it was work,” said Tim Wachter, a KHS junior and Elburn resident. “I felt it was just something I needed to do and take care of. I felt that these people needed to be honored—that if there was anything on the headstones, we should clean it off for them to respect them.”

KHS graduate Mike Gorenz said a big part of the trip was made great because he was with his dad, Ed.

Mike also learned a lesson in Europe in regard to those who served in the military.

“Always be thankful for what those guys did for us,” Mike said. “Especially on Omaha Beach (on D-Day, June 6, 1944) and all of the battlefields that we went to. Just everything they had to sacrifice for what we do. All of the things we have today.”

Martinez noted that students saw WWI and WWII battlefields in France and a WWII battlefield in Belgium. The group toured a concentration camp in Germany, an experience Martinez referred to as “somber.”

Students also had a chance to travel up a lit Eiffel Tower in Paris and practice some French words. Wachter, along with other students, knew some useful words, including “bonjour” for hello and “merci” for thank you.

According to Wachter, Belgium had “very good french fries” that could be dipped in mayo or a sauce like a spicy mayo. In France, he noticed that ice cream shops had strawberry ice cream with fresh strawberries or chocolate ice cream with chocolate bits added.

“It was a great experience that I definitely won’t forget for the rest of my life,” Wachter said. “I felt that I was able to see all of the historical aspects (and) the cultural aspects in a way I wouldn’t be able to, had I just been reading about it or hearing about it at home.”

Christmas Kettles to Kaneland area

KANELAND—Look for the familiar red Salvation Army kettles this November and December throughout the Kaneland/Big Rock area.

Conley Outreach (the local Salvation Army Service Extension representative) together with local Scout troops, businesses, 4-H clubs, church groups and Community Care Team volunteers will collect donations on Saturdays and the days just prior to Christmas outside various local businesses. The community needs your help.

Every year, Conley Outreach receives about $2,500 from the Salvation Army Metropolitan Division to help needy families pay for rent, heat, food, clothing or other necessities. Because of the current economic conditions, this money is depleted quickly. The Christmas Kettles enable Conley Outreach to raise additional money and replenish this fund. Approximately 90 percent of all the money donated in our area kettles will stay in our local Salvation Army fund.

All local kettles have a sign stating that the money will stay in the Kaneland/Big Rock area. This past year, the fund helped more than 100 of our neighbors. As winter approaches, many more will need help.

Consider making a donation when you are out shopping this month. Donations can also be sent to Conley Outreach/Salvation Army Fund, PO Box 931 Elburn IL 60119. If you have a group that would like to staff the kettles on a Saturday or Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 23-24, in either Sugar Grove or Elburn, contact Carol Alfrey at (630) 365-2880.

Holiday Spirit needs your help

KANELAND—Holiday Spirit, a joint program between Kaneland schools and Conley Outreach/West Towns, is in need of organizations, businesses, churches and other groups to adopt local families in need this holiday season. Last year, Holiday Spirit provided assistance to 132 children in 54 families through the generous donations from this community. It is anticipated that the need will be just as great this year.

Individuals or groups interested in adopting a family can contact Nicole Pryor, social worker at Kaneland John Shields Elementary School, at (630) 466-8500, ext. 108, or You may also contact Carol Alfrey, West Towns coordinator, at or by calling (630) 365-2880.

Monetary donations are also needed to purchase last-minute gifts and gas gift cards. Checks payable to Holiday Spirit can be sent c/o Conley Outreach, P.O. Box 931, Elburn IL 60119.

School Board approves tentative levy

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday approved a tentative levy.

All but Valente and Rivas on Oct. 27 gave a thumbs up to having a tentative levy budget prepared by Kaneland Associate Superintendent Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs.

According to Fuchs’ report, this year’s tentative tax levy features a Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 1.5 percent, Equalized Assessed Value at 1.0 percent and new construction growth at $3,400,000.

The total tentative operating levy amount is $43,208,567. Fuchs’ report noted that the School Board could expect to receive approximately $824,000 more than the 2013 levy, or a 2 percent increase.

“The existing taxpayer can expect to pay approximately 2 percent more than in 2013,” Fuchs wrote in her report.

Elburn resident Mark Weintraub spoke during public comment about the 1.5 percent CPI.

“It’s such a small amount of money,” Weintraub said, urging the School Board to vote positively on the levy. “It’s money, but what is a better investment (than) in our children?”

Board members voiced their opinions prior to voting on the levy increase.

“We’ve got to slow down the spending,” Valente said. “It has to stop somewhere. It stops with us saying, ‘Let’s find a better way.’”

School Board Vice President Teresa Witt referred to Fuchs’ example of the difference from 1.5 percent to 0 percent in CPI. The estimated difference for a $200,000 home value is $60, while the estimated difference for a $300,000 is $89.

“$89 doesn’t even pay for my family to go to Chili’s,” Witt said. “There’s no question we need to levy the same amount.”

School Board member Veronica Bruhl pointed out that the price of the district’s health care will increase, and questioned where she wanted to “take more cuts of the district.”

“Everything has its buck,” Bruhl said. “I see that now.”

Rivas also weighed in on the tentative levy

“I want to think of other taxpayers,” he said. “They vote us to be their vote and voice. I don’t want to say no. I want to find a medium.”

A number of Kaneland teachers at the meeting spoke about the learning happening in their classrooms with the new technology provided by the district. Sarah Linden, third-grade teacher at Kaneland John Shields Elementary School, offered a comment regarding the School Board’s support of the levy.

“You have done a great thing for our kids,” Linden said.

Veterans Day John Stewart Nov 2014-1-8

Veterans honored at John Stewart Elementary ceremony

A flag-raising ceremony took place at John Stewart Elementary School Tuesday in honor of Veteran’s Day. Artwork and letters to veterans (right) were displayed in the school’s hallway. John Stewart students (below) wave their American flags during the ceremony. Photos by Laura Gampfer

ELBURN—Like any good military operation, there was a back-up plan for inclement weather at John Stewart Elementary (JSE) School Tuesday.

JSE Art teacher Heidi Gilkey, coordinator of the school’s Veterans Day flag-raising ceremony, said the assembly was moved into the gym because of the cold rain that fell on Tuesday.

The 15 veterans that arrived for breakfast and to be recognized on stage didn’t mind the weather a bit. George Morris of Elburn American Legion Post 630 called the whole experience rewarding.

“It really got to me, standing on the stage and seeing all the kids waving flags and smiling,” Morris said. “I’m really proud of them.”

Morris said he looks forward to attending the ceremony every year, and this year he was able to take many of the poems and letters written by the students back to the post to share with his fellow legionnaires.

Gilkey said a lot of preparation goes into the Veteran’s Day flag-raising event—from the writing to the patriotic artwork created by the kindergarten through fifth-grade students.

“After breakfast, we sit and talk with the veterans who come for breakfast,” Gilkey said. “They have so many wonderful stories to share with us.”
Veterans Day John Stewart Nov 2014-1-2
Although they don’t have time to tell their stories during the assembly, each veteran in attendance is asked to give his or her name, branch of the military in which they served, and dates of service. After the ceremony, Gilkey said some will talk with individual classes.

After the Boy Scouts posted the colors, several Kaneland High School band members were on hand to play some patriotic selections, including “The Star Spangled Banner” and a rendition of “Echo Taps.”

“It was magnificent,” Gilkey said.

Later that afternoon, Gilkey said the fourth-grade classes presented a concert of patriotic songs at an assembly.

“They do a medley of the songs representing the different branches of the military and ask people who served in each branch to stand during their song,” Gilkey said. “They had a really big crowd this year.”

Morris, who joined the Army after high school graduation, said he was a paratrooper with the 11th Airborne Division from 1948 to 1952. Attending more than one ceremony on Tuesday, he said it was a “busy but nice day.”

“It’s very humbling to be part of the John Stewart ceremony,” Morris said. “It’s just a great feeling to see the young people interested.”

Photos: Kaneland Krier takes over the Elburn Herald

Kaneland Krier staff editors on Tuesday visited the Elburn Herald office to take part in World Teenage News Takeover, a month-long initiative meant to encourage news companies to hand over some editorial and creative control to young people. The Krier members during their visit learned editing and web design techniques, and had an opportunity to write this week’s Elburn Herald editorial. Krier editor Shannon Gilkey (left) works with Elburn Herald Sports Editor Ben Draper.

Kaneland production offers ‘shout out’ to education

KANELAND—The Kaneland Arts Initiative’s (KAI) inaugural production of “Shout Out! Excited about Education” will take the Kaneland High School auditorium stage on Monday, Nov. 17.

The show will feature 11 cast members from the Kaneland community. KAI Executive Director Maria Dripps-Paulson said she knows the upcoming production is different from what KAI has featured in the past.

“It’s very different from what we’ve done before,” Dripps-Paulson said. “It is a series of live readings that are read by the author about a certain topic. And of course, our topic is education.”

Dripps-Paulson is one of the cast members, along with her son, Philip, a sixth-grader at Kaneland Harter Middle School. Other “characters” include first-grade teacher Pamela Gianakakos, author Kelly Standing and Kaneland graduate/playwright Nic Wehrwein.

Additional cast members include a Kaneland mom, paraprofessional, secretary, high school student and an octogenarian.

According to a news release, Ellen Weidner, the oldest cast member, is self-described as an “82-year-old creative optimist.”

KAI Artistic Director Diane McFarlin will be the evening’s emcee, introducing cast members one by one. Each person will have their time under the spotlight, reading from a notebook about an educational experience.

Maria noted that topics include school experiences, how one is employed in education, people in education who made a difference in their lives, what was learned in graduate school, and how people learn.

Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at or at the door prior to the show. The event will kick off at 7 p.m.

Maria said Philip will talk about a particular teacher during his part in the show. She remained mum on the teacher’s identity.

“People can come and find it out,” Maria said, noting that Philip has a “cleverly written speech.”

The audience can expect to learn more about the cast, as well.

“It’s fun to get to know the cast members through their writing,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Kaneland PTA prepares Winter Wonderland Craft Show

by Violet Marquardt
KANELAND—Kaneland Special Needs PTA will host its Winter Wonderland Craft and Vendor Show on Saturday, Nov. 15, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Harter Middle School, 1601 Esker Drive, Sugar Grove.

The Craft and Vendor Show will help raise funds for the PTA and also bring awareness to its cause.

Most Kaneland School District students who have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will attend alternative schools. And the majority of IEP students must return back to the Kaneland District after attending an alternative school. This transition can be difficult for most students, hence the reason why the Kaneland Special Needs PTA was formed.

“We wanted to include IEP students. We are working really hard to find different ways to include them,” said Tiny Murdock, president of the Special Needs PTA.

The Special Needs PTA works closely with liaisons and chairmen in every school to help bring forth more possibilities for students with an IEP. As of right now, the PTA consists of only six members: Murdock, Vice President Sarah Douglas, Treasurer Darci Davito, Secretary Gretchen Mann, Chairman of Fundraisers Pam Sorenson, and Co-Chairman of Fundraisers Katie Schutzenhofer. Despite boasting just a handful of members, the PTA works diligently to bring forth change.

“I think we are very diversified in our talents, and that’s why we work so well together,” Murdock said.

The PTA has been planning the Winter Wonderland fundraiser since Elburn Days last August.

“(Sorenson) has put hours, maybe even months, of work into this. She’s our engine behind this (fundraiser),” Murdock said.

The Craft and Vendor Show has already received many donations, either monetary or for the show itself, from local businesses such as Old Second Bank Elburn and Elburn Animal Hospital. In addition, the event will feature free childcare service, a bake sale and a visit from Santa Claus, who will stop by from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The PTA spent days posting flyers and yard signs wherever it could in an effort to spread the word about this event.

“We’re trying to get the word and awareness out as fast as we can,” Murdock said.

Although the Craft and Vendor Show will provide revenue for the relatively new PTA, the group also hopes the event will bring forth awareness and perhaps some new members.

“(Our goal) is to be there to help the people who have to learn a new language,” Murdock said, referring to families with an IEP student.

The Special Needs PTA will also host an additional Craft and Vendor Show in April for anyone who cannot make it to the November event. The PTA at the spring gathering will unveil a recipe book for families.

“We would love to make (the shows) a tradition,” Murdock said. “We’ve been told we’re an organization with a heart, and we love to hear that.”

KHS cross country sectionals Nov 2014-1

Bower finishes her cross country season at State Meet

PEORIA, ILL.—Kaneland junior Brianna Bower on Saturday stood on the 100 yard long starting line for the start of the IHSA Girls 2A State Cross Country Championships. Looking out toward the wooded hills at the south end of Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill., was a familiar sight for her, as was seeing the entire circumference of the historic 3-mile course ring lined shoulder-to-shoulder with more than 30,000 spectators.

To Bower’s left and right were 175 runners representing 25 advancing teams, and another 35 individual runners who, like her, had punched their tickets to Peoria by being one of the top-seven individual finishers from a non-advancing team at their Sectional.

This was Bower’s third trip to the big dance, where she had placed 32nd as a freshman and 37th last fall as a sophomore, on Lady Knights teams that placed sixth and fifth, respectively. What wasn’t familiar was being in the starting box without her teammates. The previous weekend, Kaneland had fallen one spot short of the fifth and final team qualifying place for the State meet at their Sectional championship, despite running their best race of the season and beating five ranked teams.

So for the first time in her cross country career, Bower was running solo in her silver and black Kaneland Knights checkerboard jersey.

Her focus was on placing in the top 25—a feat that would earn her All-State honors.

The weather earlier in the week in Peoria had been dry, so the footing was firm at this historically fast course. But the conditions were frigid with temperatures in the mid-40s and gusty winds, resulting in a wind chill near 30 degrees.

Bower has a condition known as “exercise-induced asthma” (or E.I.A.), which is a constriction of the airways in the lungs during exercise. It causes shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing during strenuous exercise. E.I.A. is not uncommon among endurance athletes, and it is often triggered or accentuated by cold temperatures. For Bower, it’s like trying to run 3 miles with a belt cinched tightly around her throat. There are inhalers she can, and does, use to ease her condition.

“Brianna got out well and was placed in the top 20 at the halfway mark, then slowed and gradually fell back more than 50 places. I knew right away she was having asthma issues,” head coach Doug Ecker said.

Despite her breathing issues, Bower on the final 600 yard uphill finishing straightaway moved up more than 10 places to finish 57th in the field of 210 of the state’s best 2A runners with a time of 18 minutes, 34 seconds. Bower ran 18:33 last year and 18:09 in 2012.
File Photo

School Board approves assistant softball coach resignations

Kristyn Crawford
Kristyn Crawford
Andrew Franklin
Andrew Franklin

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday voted 6-1 to accept the resignations of two Kaneland High School assistant softball coaches.

Board trustee Tony Valente was the lone “no” vote. He spoke about the two coaches, Kristyn Crawford and Andrew Franklin, during the meeting.

“We’re losing the majority of our staff,” Valente said.

Valente also mentioned former softball head coach Brian Willis. The School Board on Sept. 29 voted and approved Willis’ release from his coaching position.

Willis had said that a harassment charge was filed against him in May 2014.

“After an investigation, it was found to have no basis,” Willis read from a statement at the Sept. 29 meeting. “The root of the complaint was because an athlete was not playing as many innings as the parents thought she should. And they had to come up with something, thus the harassment charge.”

Valente on Monday called it “troubling” to lose three coaches at the high school, and noted that the coaches are “phenomenal teachers.”

Valente also said he was tempted to call the coaches, but decided to “stay off the dance floor.”

Kaneland Interim Superintendent Renee Goier said that the resignations were due to “personal reasons.”

Photo: Check, please!

The grand opening celebration and ribbon ceremony for Elburn’s Dunkin’ Donuts took place Monday morning. Elburn’s Dunkin’ Donuts managers Noe Zacurias (left) of Geneva and Martin Ramirez (right) of West Chicago, Ill., present a check to band director Aaron Puckett in the amount of $500 for the Kaneland High School Music Department. In return, the Kaneland High School Band performed to show its appreciation.

Search firm announces Kaneland superintendent survey results

KANELAND—Kaneland’s superintendent profile survey results are completed and now available for viewing.

A total of 305 people responded to the online survey. Results can be found at

The objective of the survey is to help educational search firm BWP and Associates determine a superintendent profile featuring characteristics the community would like to see in Kaneland’s next superintendent of schools.

BWP representatives presented a superintendent candidate profile at the Oct. 27 School Board. The profile information is based on stakeholder data received from interviews, focus groups and survey.

Dr. Mark Friedman, president of BWP and Associates, spoke at the meeting, noting the amount of people who participated in the survey.

“(Participation wasn’t) over the top, but it’s not under the bottom,” Friedman said. “300 is okay. We’d like 3,000. But we’ve never seen that.”

The majority of those who responded live in the Kaneland School District, accounting for 68.9 percent, or 210, of the 305 survey participants. More than half of the respondees were district employees.

A total of 296 responded to the question about the district’s most “significant strengths.” Most (60.8) said excellent teachers; 36.5 percent said supportive community, 33.4 percent said good school facilities; and 32.8 percent said supportive parents. Meanwhile, 9.5 percent said the district’s greatest strength is its reputation; 12.5 said effective leadership and culture in district; and 13.2 said curriculum.

Leadership, communication and financial skills were ranked the highest in terms of important skills in a superintendent.

As for the most important characteristics in a superintendent, the most common answers included good decision making, integrity/trust and commitment to community.

Several items were identified the majority of survey participants as “extremely important” in the next superintendent, including experience as a superintendent with proven success record; classroom teacher experience; personnel experience; and strategic planning experience.

Instruction experience was noted as either extremely important or important by the majority of survey participants, while Midwest experience was commonly deemed unimportant.


Kaneland grad publishes sequel to ‘The Reporter’

CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill.—Pete Gallanis’ second book didn’t take long to write, but there’s a good reason for that.

The two books were originally one.

“I wrote ‘The Reporter’ as one book, but the publisher said it was too long, so I just divided it into two books,” Gallanis said.

Gallanis, a 1980 Kaneland High School graduate, said “The Reporter: Book II – Redemption” is now available for purchase.

The second book, dedicated to his wife, Chris, follows the continuing saga of reporter Nic Pappas, now a professor with a doctorate. Admittedly not a reader, Chris said with a laugh that she’s waiting for the movie.

Like most authors of fiction, Gallanis weaves fact and fiction, basing “The Reporter” loosely on the 1993 Brown’s Chicken Massacre in Palatine, Ill.

Ten years have passed since the end of book one, and Pappas reunites with Mary Jane Santos, who has acquired through Illinois’ Freedom of Information Act what he never could: access to the full Brown’s Chicken case file. The pair assembles an investigative team and launches a nationwide manhunt to track down the killers.

Gallanis said that a percentage of the sales from all works bearing “The Reporter” name will be donated to the National Compassion Fund in memory of all affected by the Brown’s Chicken Massacre.

The fund, a program of the National Center for Victims of Crime, is a registered 501(c)(3) charity that accepts donations and gives directly to victims and families of those affected by mass, violent crimes such as the mass shootings at Sandy Hook, Columbine High School, Fort Hood and Northern Illinois University.

While touting the second book in the series, Gallanis is also working on a prequel focusing on his protagonist, Nic Pappas, as a high school student at the fictional Kane County High School, loosely resembling Kaneland High School.


At the book signing for the first entry in the series, Gallanis conducted a raffle for a chance to be a character in the prequel. The raffle was won by Sugar Grove resident and fellow 1980 Kaneland graduate, Denise Kuzlick Feltes.

Gallanis said the prequel is being written so that it complements the first two books, or it can stand alone.

Published by Abuzz Press in Bradenton, Fla., “The Reporter: Part II – Redemption” soon will be available in paperback, on Kindle and from It’s currently available at and

Gallanis can be found on Facebook, where he also has created a page for the fictional Palatine Star newspaper.

School Board OKs tentative levy

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday gave thumbs up to preparation of a tentative levy.

School Board members Pedro Rivas and Tony Valente were not in favor of the tentative levy.

The tentative levy will be prepared by Associate Superintendent Julie-Ann Fuchs and presented to the School Board on Nov. 10. The initial tentative levy will carry a 1.5 percent Consumer Price Index. However, following review, the School Board could set the CPI rate at 1, 0.5 or 0 percent.

“If the board approves the introductory 1.5 percent CPI figure, the existing taxpayer could expect to spend about 1.5 percent more than last year,” Fuchs said this week. “The number will vary based on individual property values, but the average will be close to CPI.”

However, even at a zero rate, taxpayers would still pay extra. Fuchs’ report provided examples, such as homes valued at $200,000 to $500,000 paying $87 to $220 more this year.

Examples of taxpayer impact would be about 1 to 2 percent, Fuchs noted. For instance, a homeowner who has an assessed home value of $200,000 would have paid approximately $4,916 last year. This year the approximate cost would be $5,063.

“We can only take so long before people just can’t live here,” Rivas said. “We live with what we have. That’s what we do at home.”

Valente said that programs cannot be cut now, but if the School Board had “managed along the way” in four years, it wouldn’t be where it’s at.

“We’ve got to stop voting and rubber stamping,” Valente said.

Board Secretary Gale Pavlak spoke about the reality of raising taxes from a School Board member point of view.

“I don’t think any of us are comfortable (with increasing taxes),” Pavlak said.

Fuchs will go over any updates at the Nov. 24 School Board meeting. The Dec. 15 meeting is when a levy hearing could be held and a final levy updated. Dec. 22 is the alternate date for a levy approval.

Kaneland interested in potential STEM school partnership

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Oct. 15 voted 6-0 to move from an exploratory phase to an interest phase regarding the John C. Dunham Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Partnership School.

The School Board in August expressed interest in exploring a partnership with the STEM school, and later sent partnership representatives a letter indicating Kaneland School District’s interest in becoming involved with the partnership school.

According to a district news release, the partnership school’s development stage is marked with collaboration between business, public school, higher education and non-profit professionals.

“The completed course of study will infuse manufacturing, engineering and design principles into the student learning experiences,” the release stated.

Partners include Google, DuPage Children’s Museum, Caterpillar, Nicor Gas and SciTech Hands-on Museum.

Mike Purcell, Kaneland director of Educational Services 6-12, noted that the board’s vote is not a commitment.

“We are not committed to anything,” Purcell said.

This year, nearly 150 students from the West Aurora, East Aurora and Indian Prairie school districts attend STEM at Aurora University. The students range from grades third through eighth,

Purcell said that the district would “mirror” what other districts are doing in regard to student selection, which would involve use of a lottery system. The expectation is that interested students will apply for STEM.

“We want to be as fair and equitable as possible,” Purcell said. “We want to open the doors.”

The School Board expects to receive more information regarding the potential partnership.

According to the news release, the cost of the partnership will be calculated at the lowest per-pupil-rate of all school districts participating. The report added that total cost will be offset by the Kaneland staff assigned to the partnership school. The release states that transportation for Kaneland students will fall on the School District.

School Board President Cheryl Krauspe noted what she’ll look for when the matter comes back to the School Board.

“I’d like to see what other districts are doing,” she said.

Kaneland forum updates community on superintendent search

KANELAND—The Kaneland School District on Oct. 2 held a series of forums regarding its ongoing search for a new superintedent of schools. A general community forum was held that night at Kaneland Harter Middle School in Sugar Grove.

The forum was hosted by BWP & Associates, the educational search firm hired by the School District to locate and identify Kaneland’s next superintendent. The previous superintendent, Dr. Jeff Schuler, accepted an offer in early August to become superintendent of schools for the Wheaton-Warrenville School District.

Kaneland parent Ryan Kerry, of Elburn, attended the community forum because he was “just curious (about) what was going on.” Kerry was one of 10 community members who showed up at Harter Middle School for the forum. School Board President Cheryl Krauspe, Vice President Teresa Witt and trustee Pedro Rivas sat in the back of the audience.

Four BWP & Associates representatives—all of them former superintendents—listened to feedback provided by the members of the public in attendance.

“We get good information from the people that attend,” said Steve Griesbach, associate for BWP & Associates.

Sugar Grove resident Dan Nagel during the forum expressed his concern about a tax burden on homeowners. He pointed out that he would want the next superintendent to have “wide-open eyes.”

“We sure don’t want someone to turn around and not be aware,” Nagel said.

Nagel also had a question about the next superintendent of schools in Kaneland.

“Does the person—he or she—understand the rules and rights to the taxpayer, the student body, the whole gamut?” Nagel said. “We’re not going to fool around this go-around.”

Nagel called the Kaneland School District a “$60 million business,” and listed the order of his areas of focus regarding the next superintendent: financial, transparency, safety and education.

“We want our kids and grandkids educated,” Nagel said.

Renee Dee, a Kaneland mom, founder of PEAK for Kids, Inc. and co-organizer of the Kindness Campaign, pointed out during the forum that Kaneland has nine different communities that are “all under one roof.”

“That is one of our biggest challenges,” Dee said. “Some of these communities are very solid. Some of them are new.”

Dee pointed out that income, beliefs and values are among the things that get magnified within the Kaneland School District. Dee requested that the next superintendent be able to work with community leaders and have a “respected track record.”

Elburn resident Marie Gatz during the forum recalled an event in which she had invited her neighbor to attend a Kaneland School Board meeting along with her, to which the neighbor replied, “It’s a waste of my time; they don’t listen.”

“I think it’s an issue,” Gatz said.

Dr. Patricia Wernet, associate for BWP & Associates, commented on Gatz’s neighbor’s sentiment.

“Something has to happen from the top to filter out one,” Wernet said. “There needs to be a community fire.”

Kaneland mom Susan Buerke spoke about information not getting out to the different communities via the Kaneland School District. She called it “atrocious.”

“I don’t think our district has found a way it works,” Buerke said. “There’s got to be something to get the information.”

Dr. Mark Friedman, president of BWP & Associates, said that he had heard comments similar to Buerke’s “time and time again” about improved communications.

“You’re far from alone,” Friedman said.

Gatz further commented on Buerke’s statement.

“Somebody thinks somebody else is doing the job,” Gatz said.

Montgomery resident Melissa Anderson weighed in on the concern.

“Whose job is it to do XYZ?” she said. “It’s just Bad News Bears.”

Anderson talked about the idea of doing what is best for kids first.

“It’s not always a no-brainer,” Anderson said. “I’d ask that you look beyond the accolades.”

Maple Park resident Brenda Johnson requested that the next superintendent be someone who “will discipline.”

“I lost trust in my superintendent,” Johnson said. “The safety of my child was put at risk.”

She explained an instance in which a student wasn’t suspended, and questioned if it was to save the School District money.

“I still have a problem,” Johnson said. “I had a big trust issue.”

Those who did not attend the forum can still provide feedback via an online survey that contains seven questions and takes a short time to complete. The deadline to complete the survey is Friday, Oct. 17. The survey is available at

Information gathered from the community forum, focus groups and survey will help BWP & Associates create a superintendent profile of the characteristics the Kaneland community wants to see in its next superintendent.

Other focus groups throughout the day included School Board members in a one-on-one setting, Kaneland staff, Kaneland Education Association representatives and Kaneland High School students.

The next superintendent possibly could potentially be announced at the School Board meeting on Monday, Dec. 15.

“We really have a sense of the kind of superintendent you want,” Friedman said. “We don’t know who it will be. There will be a lot of interest.”

Elburn Lions October Kaneland Kolor Fun Run/Walk

KANELAND—The Kaneland Kolor Fun Run/Walk will take place Sunday, Oct. 19, at noon at the Kaneland Harter Middle School (KHMS) campus, 1601 Esker Drive, Sugar Grove.

The event will consist of two laps, or approximately 2 miles. Entry is $35 per person and includes a white Kolor Fun Run shirt. A family price of $100 (immediate family) includes two Kolor Fun Run shirts. Additional shirts may be purchased for $10 each.

The event is less about your running time and more about having a blast with friends and family. This is an un-timed course where participants are doused in different powdered colors at many points along the course. The concept is easy: register, wear your white Kolor Run T-shirt, have fun and finish decorated in colorful hues.

The fun doesn’t end there, either. At the finish, there will be a Festival of Kolor with music, more color throws, food and ice cream. Food will be available at the festival.

To register, visit All proceeds benefit KHMS PTO.

Kaneland Theatre seeks items for performances

KANELAND—The Kaneland High School (KHS) Theatre Department is looking for a few items to help with its fall play and upcoming spring musical. The following items are needed: lamps with lamp shades and working bulbs, area rugs of varying sizes, framed paintings/wall decor, variety of brown/wood-toned paint, jewel-toned paint (dark reds, greens, and blues), painters tape, rollers (not the handles), paint trays and liners, paint brushes of all sizes (larger brushes to detail brushes), clothing items (long dresses, aprons, suit jackets for men and women, etc.).

If you are able to donate any of these items, bring them to KHS and let the office know they are for Mrs. Staker.

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Kaneland removes softball coach

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Sept. 29 voted 7-0 to release Kaneland High School softball coach Brian Willis from his duties as head coach.

Willis had spent the last five years as head coach for Kaneland varsity girls softball. He also teaches drivers education, physical education and adaptive physical education at the high school.

Willis at the Sept. 29 School Board meeting said that he had been asked to resign from his coaching position, but declined to do so. He also read a prepared statement prior to the School Board’s vote

“I am writing this letter to ask the Kaneland School Board and the high school administration to reconsider the decision to release me from the head coaching position of varsity softball,” Willis read from his statement.

Willis’ letter continued, noting his 25 years of teaching experience—13 of them at Kaneland—and 10 years of coaching with the Lady Knights.

“(I’ve) never had an accusation made against me for something I have done illegal or immoral,” Willis read from his statement. “This continues to be the case this evening.”

He said that a harassment charge had been filed against him in May 2014.

“After an investigation, it was found to have no basis,” Willis read from his statement. “The root of the complaint was because an athlete was not playing as many innings as the parents thought she should. And they had to come up with something, thus the harassment charge.”

In his statement, Willis said the reason he was informed of the decision to release him from coaching was “vague.”

“When I asked for the reason, I was told of concerns administration had about the program,” Willis read from his statement. “Those concerns were also documented in the harassment charge, and again possessed no evidence of wrongdoing—only the opinion of people who disagree with my softball philosophy.”

Willis said that he had been told any information gathered had to remain confidential and that it could not be shared with him. He noted that a person usually loses a job because of illegal activity, immoral judgment or poor performance.

Willis also acknowledged that his coaching performance last season was not equivalent to years past and by his own standards.

“The reality was, I couldn’t perform at the same mental or physical level I am accustomed to because of my ongoing battle with cancer,” Willis read from his statement. “I did my best in the classroom and on the field with tremendous support from everybody. I was not told by high school administration my performance was substandard.”

The KHS girls varsity softball team went 20-12 last season, after going 24-4 in 2013.
Regarding his release, Willis had just one question: why?

“I think that is a fair question,” Willis read from his statement. “And out of respect for my commitment towards Kaneland High School the past 13 years, I have earned the right to have that answered honestly.”

Willis said that both he and his staff worked hard to create a “winning program” on and off of the field. He said that tough decisions had been made that some didn’t agree with or like, but mentioned that he always has tried to teach his students and his athletes to be accountable for their actions.

“If you have done something out of favor, face the consequences,” Willis read from his statement. “If not, stand on the highest mountain and declare your innocence. Tonight, I stand on the mountain.”

Community members stood up to offer supporting words for Willis. Molly Cohrs, whose daughter plays for the Lady Knights, spoke of Willis putting together fundraisers for field improvements and returning Kaneland’s softball program to both a respected and winning program.

“Having recently waged a winning battle against cancer, he practiced until he could no longer stand, and then sat on a bucket so practice could continue,” Cohrs said.

She also spoke about what was expected of the Lady Knights softball team.

“Expectation is high, effort is required, and you have to be able to produce—defensively and offensively on the field, and in the classroom,” Cohrs said. “And yes, if a coach believes you are not giving 110 percent all the time; if he believes you are playing below your potential; he’s going to let you know it.”

Cohrs called student playing time the “most sensitive topic” in any high school sport played.

“I don’t think it is a coincidence that if you look back at the families and players who have complained about any Kaneland coach, their history of playtime at Kaneland will likely show that they were either cut from a program or they did not play as much as other players,” Cohrs said.

Paige Kuefler, senior Lady Knights player, wore a Team Willis gray T-shirt during the School Board meeting. She also spoke on behalf of the team about the one she calls “Coach Willis.”

“He wants the best for us,” Kuefler said. “Does he get frustrated with us? At times, yes. Because he knows we can do better; he knows how we play. He’s seen our 100 percent, and if he doesn’t, he will push us until he sees it.”

Kuefler mentioned that positions on the Lady Knights softball team had to be earned.
“Our positions were never handed to us,” she said. “Each and every athlete of the softball team had to earn a position.”

Following the meeting, Willis reflected on the support he received at the meeting.

“I’m very happy with the support I got tonight,” he said. “And the fact that even if I’m not reinstated as coach, I can lay my head on my pillow knowing that I had a positive effect on these young ladies’ lives.”


Kindness Campaign celebrates one-year anniversary

Photo: Renee Dee and Kaneland parent Sarah Ziemba at the Kindness in Kaneland booth Friday. Photo submitted by Renee Dee to

KANELAND—What started as groups organized to combat bullying has turned into a collaboration within the Kaneland School District and community known as the Kindness Campaign. And its organizers are celebrating the campaign’s first anniversary this month.

Rather than create an anti-bullying campaign, Kindness Campaign co-organizer Renee Dee said it’s more of a reminder to make good choices each day.

“It’s better to send a positive message,” Dee said. “People have started to embrace the message, and hopefully, it’s making some kind of change.”

While most of the Kaneland community is involved in some way, Dee and Leigh Ann Reusche were the impetus behind the movement.

Dee said the true purpose of the campaign is to assist with the social emotional issues of not only the School District’s students, but also the parents.

“No other organization is doing that in the Kaneland area,” Dee said.

KHS Assistant Principal Mike Rice agreed that it’s good to get the message out to remind people how important the little things are and the positive impact they can have on others.

“I wouldn’t say we never have trouble here (with bullying), but we have policies to work with students to get to the core of the problem,” Rice said.

Rather than just punish students for bad behavior, Rice said school administrators prefer to work with students to make positive behavioral modifications.

“We try to talk about with them about how their actions impact other people,” Rice said.

Along with assisting students one-on-one as needs arise, the district provides speakers. Dee has helped find speakers who can make a positive impact.

“I find resources and speakers, and act as a funnel to bring resources in to discuss things like Internet safety, healthy friendships, that kind of stuff,” Dee said.

For example, Jeff Dean, a policeman who specializes in Internet and personal safety, has spoken with students several times over the past year.

“A lot of issues are technology-related, and that brings bullying to a whole new level,” Dee said. “Jeff helps parents understand how to manage kids’ daily phone usage, raises awareness and teaches about having difficult conversations.”

Another speaker is Amy Logan, author of the book “A Girl with a Cape: The True Story About the Superhero in All of Us,” seeks to empower girls to be super.

Dee said organizers have worked with the Lions Clubs, and the Sugar Grove Library is sponsoring a writing contest during October. The event will focus on healthy friendships and being a good friend.

The most recent Kindness Campaign kicked off with a happy dance at the Sugar Grove Corn Boil last July, Dee said.

October is national bullying correction month, providing the perfect time for the start of the new campaign to raise awareness. Dee said Harter Middle School has a new program, “Project KC.”

“Last year’s theme was ‘be nice, be happy.’ This year’s theme is ‘be kind,’ and next year’s theme will be ‘be good to each other,’” Dee said.

Rice said the campaign has just gotten underway for the year with appearances at volleyball and football games last week. Various groups wore lime green in support of the campaign, and the volleyball team members presented their opponents with gift bags. The pom pon squad entertained with a special performance.

Rice said Kaneland administration and staff support the campaign, but it’s really on the student organizations to make things happen.

“It’s kind of on them to take it over, and it has gained momentum,” Rice said. “It’s nice to celebrate the good things.”

“All of these kids are good, nice kids; they just need to be reminded,” Dee said.

She said it’s important to remind kids to focus on following their own heart and their own inner voice, not the crowd.

“This campaign belongs to the community,” Dee said. “And it has taken on a life of its own. “It’s nothing we could have imagined when we started it.”

School Board approves teacher salary increase

KANELAND—The Kaneland Education Association (KEA) and Board of Education have reached an agreement to increase teacher salaries for the 2014-15 school year.

All Kaneland School Board members on Monday agreed to the salary increase, with the exception of Tony Valente.

Valente later spoke further regarding his “no” vote.

“I think there are teachers that deserve a raise and deserve to get paid what they’re worth, which is a lot,” Valente said. “The issue that I have is it’s hard to explain an additional million dollars almost to the levy next year. So we’re going to be looking at paying down our funds in our reserves. And we’re going to have issues with (the) levy if EAVs (equalized assessed value) continue to stay where their at.”

Valente said that there is no plan to pay for the increase.

“We have to have a plan,” he said. “That plan is not presented. And I think the plan is just to raise the tax levy. And I’m not for that.”

The agreement between the School Board and KEA ensures that teachers will receive a salary increase of 3.99 percent. Both sides negotiated using interest-based bargaining to work out salaries for year three of the current teacher contract period, which will conclude on June 30, 2015.

The negotiations had been in effect since December 2013.

School Board President Cheryl Krauspe said that in the last five years, Kaneland teachers have taken two salary freezes. The average salary increase during those five years was 2.6 percent.

Krauspe also confirmed that the current salaries are not competitive with other area schools.

“In terms of our beginning salary, our beginning teaching salary is ranking still near the bottom of our comparative districts,” Krauspe said. “And not just those to the east of us, but also some to the west of us. And that does concern us. We don’t want to lose our teachers.”

Krauspe spoke about there being an investment in the Kaneland staff.

“We value our staff,” Krauspe said. “And we don’t want it to be a training ground for people. Similarly, we talk about the superintendent. We don’t want our teachers to come and go through professional development and mentoring and become part of Kaneland and then not feel that they are compensated appropriately.”

The district’s Education Fund currently has a projected deficit of $2.7 million. However, Krauspe noted that the district has had four years of positive fund balance growth.

She compared Kaneland’s negotiations to those that other school districts have had.

“As in most negotiations, neither side feels that they have wanted or asked for,” Krauspe said. “Do I think it’s reasonable? I do believe that this community values its educators and wants them to remain rather than fleeing.”

KEA President Lori Shroka spoke during public comment at the meeting.

“As we move forward as a district, I want you to know that KEA is committed to fostering a strong partnership with the community, the administration and the School Board to ensure the best possible education and experiences for your children,” Shoka said.

Community can weigh in on superintendent search

KANELAND—The Kaneland community today will have an opportunity to weigh in on the qualities it wants to see in the next district superintendent of schools.

The educational search firm BWP & Associates will host focus groups consisting of stakeholders within the Kaneland School District.

“We value the voices of all of our stakeholders,” School Board President Cheryl Krauspe said. “About three-fifths of the adults that live in the Kaneland community don’t have kids in the school, so it’s important that we hear their voice, as well.”

According to Dr. Mark Friedman, president of BWP & Associates, the information gathered from the Kaneland stakeholders will help BWP form a superintendent profile for the next superintendent of schools. The profile is meant to identify characteristics the public wants to see in the superintendent.

“It’s going to be talking points,” Friedman said. “It’s going to be us listening to all these different subgroups that make up the Kaneland school community and the greater community, such as people who aren’t effectively in the schools but have an interest.”

There will be four search firm consultants on hand to conduct interviews of small groups. Kaneland School Board members will have the chance to be interviewed one-on-one to get their feedback.

Those who cannot attend the focus groups can visit beginning Friday, Oct. 3, to fill out a quick survey. The deadline to fill out the survey is Friday, Oct. 17.

All of the feedback from the face-to-face dialogues and online surveys will help BWP & Associates figure out the makeup of the superintendent profile.

“It’s not a checklist,” Friedman said. “So, it’s not like a laundry list (where) you can say, ‘Candidate A, OK, here’s the profile. Everything on the profile.’ It’s not quite like that. It’s a bigger picture.”

Friedman provided an example of someone meeting the profile, yet who lacked chemistry during their interview.

“That would be foolish if the board chose somebody just because they were the profile match but they weren’t the chemistry match,” Friedman said. “So you have to bring all of those pieces together. That chemistry is very important.”

Today’s focus group schedule is as follows:
• 2 p.m. Kaneland District Office—Kaneland High School students, Kaneland Education Association leadership and School Board member
• 3:15 p.m. Kaneland Harter Middle School— Harter Middle School, Kaneland High School teachers, middle school and high school support staff, and School Board member
• 4:15 p.m. Harter Middle School—elementary teachers, elementary support staff and School Board member
• 7:15 p.m. Harter Middle School—open forum for all, including parents, CAC, FAC, FPC, PTO’s, Kaneland Foundation and taxpayers
The next Kaneland superintendent could potentially be announced at the rescheduled School Board meeting on Monday, Dec. 15.

Blackberry Creek Run for Fund-1-4

Photos: Fun and fundraising

Kaneland John Shields and Blackberry Creek elementary students last week participated in a Run for Fund to help raise money for their respective school. All grade levels ran and/or walked outside to get in on the fundraising and the fun. John Shields Elementary fourth-graders (below) participated in the Run for Fund on Sept. 25. Blackberry Creek Elementary did its run on Sept. 26, with two kindergarten pals (above, right) showing that the event was also a great time for friendship.
John Shields Run for Fund-1-4

Winter Wonderland Craft, Vendor Show

KANELAND—Kaneland Special Needs PTA will host its Winter Wonderland Craft and Vendor Show on Saturday, Nov. 15, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Harter Middle School, 1601 Esker Drive, Sugar Grove.

The event will feature over 50 vendors and crafters, a raffle, bake sale, sensory and awareness tables, and on-site child care featuring a coloring contest and games. Concession will be available, courtesy of Kaneland Knights Boosters.

For more information on this event, like the “Fundraising by Kaneland Special Needs PTA” Facebook page or visit


KHS students, Aquascape Inc. construct courtyard pond

KANELAND—Kaneland High School students recently helped construct a courtyard pond featuring trees, shrubs and flowers.

The water recycled in the pond comes from Kaneland’s tap water, minus the chlorine. Long koi swim the water while cascades of water fall on rocks.

A group consisting mainly of Student Council, Future Farmers of America and Science Club members pitched in to turn a grassy area at the high school into a professional-looking pond. To plan the project, students worked with Aquascape, Inc. representatives from St. Charles during three non-school days last November.

The pond was impressive enough to land the high school on the Nat Geo Wild show “Pond Stars” earlier this month. Those who missed the episode can catch it on Tuesday, Oct. 7, at 9 p.m. CST on the Nat Geo Wild channel.
According to KHS Social Studies teacher Javier Martinez, who helped coordinate the pond project, there were 20 students who were nominated by club advisors to help construct the pond.

“You can hear the water running,” said Michelle McCracken, who is Student Council vice president. “And you can also hear any wind, or the birds chirping. It’s a very ‘naturey’ place to be.”

KHS senior Anna Wendling volunteered for the pond project, as she had taken an horticulture class last school year. She called the pond a “masterpiece.”

“It was so blank in there before, and it was just so plain,” Wendling said. “And just having that courtyard come alive is really neat.”

A day’s work totaled eight hours. Lessons were learned on the job.

“I think what we all had hoped, No. 1, (is) that they’d understand working together as a group,” Martinez said. “Working under a timetable, we only had three days to complete the project. (It was like) working in real life.”

Students gained some lessons from their experience creating a pond. McCracken remembered what she learned from the Aquascape representatives.

“There’s a lot more that goes into making a water feature than you would think,” McCracken said. “Because they have a lot of planning that they did right before, and then a lot of tearing up the ground.”

McCracken pondered on the overall lesson she learned from participating.

“When students come together, we can really make something great happen at school,” McCracken said. “It can really impact the school in a good way.”

Wendling learned about teamwork.

“Everything that we did, you couldn’t do alone, like the planting of the trees and everything,” she said. “We needed each other.”

“It wasn’t something super simple, but something really beautiful and amazing,” said Julia Golbeck, who is president of Science Club.

KHS junior Julia Lemp, who serves as service chair for Student Council, recalled the gathering of dirt and rolling rocks in a wheelbarrow.
“Seriously, I know I got some biceps out of that,” Lemp said. “It’s crazy.”

Ed Beaulieu, director of Contractor Development and Field Research for Aquascape, gave the students a lot to learn on the pond.

“We teach them how we design it, how we build it, the importance of the biology, the animals, the plants, everything that’s associated with the water,” Beaulieu said. “It’s a learning experience across multiple disciplines. Everything from construction and design, geometry. We’re talking about formulas, we’re talking about the biological aspects, about the plant aspects.”

KHS senior and Student Council member Samantha Payton said she worked with her friends and also made new friends while constructing the pond.

“We’ll pass it at the same time in the hallway and and be like, ‘Oh my gosh. We built that (pond),’” Payton said.

Photos courtesy of National Geographic Channels

Kaneland staff discusses textbooks

KANELAND—A Kaneland mom at the Sept. 8 School Board meeting expressed concern regarding the fact that her son currently “does not have textbooks.”

As clarification, Mike Purcell, director of Educational Services 6-12 for the Kaneland School District, recently spoke about the textbooks at Kaneland High School.

“All of our classrooms have textbooks—as many textbooks as we need—in addition to other resources in order to educate our kids,” Purcell said. “There are no classrooms that do not have the required amount of both textbooks and resources.”

He pointed out that not all classes absolutely use textbooks, and said that students have access to both a physical textbook or an online textbook.

“Most kids prefer to access their book online rather than the logistics of having to kind of carry their textbook back and forth,” Purcell said.

He added that students can check out textbooks for the whole school year.

The Kaneland parent had also noted that her son has online textbooks and that some teachers have check-in and check-out textbooks.

Purcell said that at Kaneland Harter Middle School all students primarily have textbooks distributed to them. An exception is literature classes, which uses various resources like novels, articles, texts and packets.

“At the elementary level and most of the classes at the middle school, there are textbooks,” said Dr. Sarah Mumm, Kaneland director of Educational Services K-5. “Most of them are consumable textbooks that the students can rip off the pages and take home or take the whole book home, depending on the need for the lesson of that day.”

Students in grades kindergarten through fifth use consumable math books, along with reading level books for guided reading for literacy. Fourth and fifth graders use science and social studies textbooks. These subjects’ textbooks are used as reference tools, Mumm said.

She noted that one or two students may have to share the Social Studies books.

“It’s very rare that they would need to share a textbook,” Mumm said. “And if so, it’s just because of getting an older-conditioned book.”

Mumm also weighed in on the use of technology and textbooks.

“I’m kind of excited to see where the future takes us,” Mumm said. “And see how we balance the use of devices and the use of textbooks and to really build a much more engaging learning environment. I think there’s some great things right on the horizon that we’ve been trying.”

Kaneland tabs firm to handle superintendent search

KANELAND—Kaneland’s next superintendent of schools could be working in the district sooner rather than later.

The Kaneland School Board on Sept. 17 voted 4-0 to hire BWP & Associates as the educational search firm responsible for finding the district’s next superintendent.

Board Vice President Teresa Witt and trustees Pedro Rivas and Tony Valente were absent from the meeting.

The cost of the search firm’s service is estimated to be between $17,000 and $18,400. Consultant fees total $14,900.

According to a report from Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, Kaneland assistant superintendent for business, the expenses for the firm include administrative support for $1,000, reimbursable office expenses for $975 and an electronic stakeholder survey for $200. Reimbursable consultant expenses is yet to be determined.

Fuchs noted possible expenses would be for advertisement if the School Board chooses to do so, and candidate travel if the finalist is outside this area.

The Kaneland School District also considered the services of educational search firm School Exec Connect before choosing to move forward with BWP & Associates.

Former Kaneland Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler resigned in late July after accepting an offer to become superintendent for the Wheaton-Warrenville School District.

Dr. Renee Goier is currently serving as Kaneland interim superintendent.

School Board President Cheryl Krauspe said that the board could have gone with either of the two search firms. Board Secretary Gale Pavlak pointed out what impressed her about BWP.

“To me they came across as being more in sync with each other,” Pavlak said. “Their plan was better. I mean, it was just synced up. It just sounded better.”

Board member Peter Lopatin focused on the company’s style being a “fit” for the Kaneland community.

“I think people felt comfortable that (BWP & Associates) would be a good group to work with,” he said.

It was noted during the meeting that the board will want to include various Kaneland community groups to help determine a new superintendent profile.

The community will also have a chance to have its say on the next superintendent via an upcoming online survey.

Goier summed up the consensus at the meeting.

“We need to hear from everybody,” she said. “You want to be as inclusive as possible. It’s including, not excluding.”

Goier plans to speak out about Kaneland to the next superintendent.

“I will certainly be (its) biggest cheerleader,” Goier said. “I will be telling what a great place this is.”

The biggest rival is …

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Three weeks ago, we set out to find out who was Kaneland High School’s biggest sports rival. We talked with current coaches, former coaches, players and administrators. We also had a survey on our website asking you who is the biggest rival of the Kaneland Knights. In our survey, we asked for basic demographics: male/female and age. But also about your connections with KHS: were you a graduate?; if you were a graduate, were you an athlete at KHS?

[/vc_column_text][vc_message color=”alert-info” style=”rounded”]


of current or former Kaneland athletes viewed Sycamore
as Kaneland’s biggest historical rival,
compared to only 50 percent of non-athletes

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Kaneland’s Biggest Rival

Based on the survey results, we can say with confidence that Kaneland’s biggest sports rival, both current and historical, is Sycamore High School.

Sycamore earned a whopping 81 percent of the vote for question “In 2014, who is Kaneland’s biggest rival?”
When we asked about historical rivalries, Sycamore still prevailed with 60 percent of the vote. Batavia was second with 23 percent.

2014 Biggest Rivals
1. Sycamore
2. Yorkville
3. DeKalb/Morris (tie)
5. Burlington Central

Historical Biggest Rivals
1. Sycamore
2. Batavia
3. Geneva
4. Burlington Central/Morris (tie)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]

Variations in demographics

While there was a pretty remarkable consensus for the contemporary rivals, historical rival opinions varied depending on if you were a Kaneland athlete or not. Athletes did view Burlington Central as more of a current rival than their non-athlete counterparts that favored Batavia and DeKalb.

71 percent of Kaneland athletes believed Sycamore was Kaneland’s biggest historical rival, compared to 50 percent of non-athletes. Non-athletes cited rivalries with Geneva and DeKalb as other options, while athletes voted for Batavia and Oswego for their historical rivals.

History was also divided when it came to males and females. 75 percent of males that took our survey pegged Sycamore as the top rival. Females made Sycamore their top choice, but only with 43 percent of the vote. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]

Location, location, location

Some of our internal office speculation that rivalries in old conferences would make an appearance was squashed when looking at the results. The proximity of rivals was a key component to them making the list. On average, it would only take about 20 minutes to get to the nine most-voted-for schools. The closest: Geneva at just under 12 miles. The farthest: Morris at 39 miles. Rochelle came in at just a touch under 33 miles.

None of the chief rivals were over an hour away, and six are less than a 25 minute drive.

Top 4 closest rivals
Geneva 11.7 miles
Batavia 13.3 miles
Burlington Central 13.7 miles
Sycamore: 14.5 miles[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″ css=”.vc_custom_1411698183444{background-color: #e2e2e2 !important;border-color: #dd3333 !important;}”][vc_column_text css_animation=”appear” css=”.vc_custom_1411698170420{background-color: #e2e2e2 !important;border-color: #dd3333 !important;}”]

What do you think?

Sound off in the comments below!


Kaneland considers search firms for superintendent search

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board last week discussed the search firms it may enlist to find its new superintendent.

Kaneland previous superintendent, Dr. Jeff Schuler, submitted his letter of resignation in late July after accepting an offer to become superintendent of schools for the Wheaton-Warrenville School District.

In the meantime, Dr. Renee Goier will serve as interim superintendent.

The search firms considered by Kaneland include BWP & Associates and School Exec Connect (SEC).

BWP is an educational leadership firm. SEC locates superintendents, central office administrators and principals.

Both firms provided separate presentations about their businesses and answered the board’s questions. BWP gave a range of finding an online applicant between eight to 16 weeks. Dr. Mark Friedman, president of BWP, explained who Kaneland’s superintendent could be.

“Your next superintendent is working somewhere else, possibly,” said Dr. Mark Friedman, president of BWP.

Both search firms would have a superintendent profile, which would contain a list of desired superintendent qualities and characteristics agreed upon by the School Board.

BWP also plans to talk with the Kaneland community and take the public’s desired profile to the board. SEC would gain a profile from focus groups and a survey.

Dr. Linda Hanson, president of SEC, advocated the idea to “throw the net wide” while searching for superintendent candidates.

“See what you come up with,” Hanson said.

BWP had a plan for when the candidate list came down to two or three prospects: the board would eat dinner with them to get to know them.

The board would also be coached on appropriate questions to ask candidates.

Hanson made it clear that the Kaneland School Board is not her company’s priority, stating that it is the Kaneland children who are SEC’s first responsibility when it comes to the search.

Valente expressed a concern of candidates getting the job because of “headhunting” or through personal connections.

“It’s got to be a transparent search,” Valente said. “We have to make sure there’s no hint of bias.”

Valente added that he did not want to find that a person is related to anyone in the district.

“Advertise the heck out of this job,” Valente said.

School Board Vice President Teresa Witt weighed in with her thoughts on the superintendent search.

“Cast the net, advertise, vet,” she said. “If you know someone of someone, that’s part of what you do.”

The cost of both firms’ services could range from $17,000 to $20,000.

“It is our responsibility (to) develop that profile so you do have clear marching orders,” board member Peter Lopatin said.

School Board approves 2014-15 budget

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board last week approved the 2014-15 budget.

Board member Tony Valente was the lone “no” vote.

Kaneland assistant superintendent for business Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs earlier this year provided information for the tentative budget, stating that it totaled $66.5 million, with the Education Fund at a projected deficit of $3 million.

Now that the budget information is updated, the Education Fund has a deficit projected at $2.7 million.

The tentative budget showed surpluses for both the Operations and Maintenance Fund ($115,000) and the Transportation Fund ($1.9 million). Fuch’s recent report shows that the Operations and Maintenance Fund now has a $16,000 surplus, while the Transportation Fund has a $1.96 million surplus.

“Illinois school districts are required to submit a balanced budget in the operating funds, which include the Education, Operations and Maintenance, Transportation and Working Cash funds,” Fuchs wrote. “While this year’s operating budget is not balanced, the budget does not require the district to submit a deficit reduction plan.”

The report noted that now there is about $300,000 more than in the tentative budget from General State Aid.

Fuchs wrote that GSA is prorated this year at 89 percent, or a reduction of almost $488,000. She added that last year the proration was 88.7 percent, which caused a reduction of about $341,000.

According to the report, administration and support staff salaries are projected to increase by an average of 2.7 percent this school year. However, it is not yet known what Kaneland’s teaching salary increase will be.

Valente pointed out the Transportation Fund’s surplus.

“Why were we so off with our tax levy?” Valente asked.

“That was done intentionally,” Fuchs answered, explaining that as EAV drops, the tax rate rises.

Fuchs gave examples of how money is being spent, like reduction in class sizes, two full-time Spanish teachers at Kaneland Harter Middle School, additional paraprofessional support, transportation and about 700 devices for students.

Sugar Grove Township resident Jerry Elliott spoke during public comment about the Kaneland community being “not taxpayer friendly,” and “retirees having a hard time living here, along with first-time homebuyers who can’t live here.”

“The spending is way too much,” Elliott said.

Sugar Grove resident Dan Nagel also stood up to speak.

“There is no planning at all,” Nagel said to the School Board. “You’ll leave the taxpayer holding the bag.”

2015 School Board election

KANELAND—The 2015 consolidated general election is still nearly eight months away, but School Board candidates are already gearing up for the biennial event.

Tuesday, Sept. 23, is the first official day prospective candidates may circulate nominating petitions for signatures for the April 7, 2015, School Board election.

This will be the first year that local school districts will not be involved in the School Board election process. Those duties have been moved from the School Board secretary to the county clerk or county board of election commissioners, as required under a new state law that went into effect earlier this year. The Kane County Elections Office is located at 719 S. Batavia Ave., Building B (north entrance), Geneva. It can be reached at or (630) 232-5990.

Candidates seeking information and forms should be referred to the county office responsible for the elections or to the Illinois State Board of Elections. The latter maintains a website that includes the 2015 Candidates’ Guide,

The following forms are needed from a candidate when filing:
• A Statement of Candidacy, signed and notarized
• Nominating papers bearing the required number of signatures (each signature must have an address), and a notarized signature of the petition circulator
• A receipt from the county clerk showing that the candidate has filed a Statement of Economic Interests before the day for filing, but with the year (2014). Note: incumbents only need to provide a copy of the receipt from their required May 1, 2014, filing, unless they filed electronically
• Loyalty Oath (this is optional)
Board member nominating papers must be filed with the County Board or election commissioners, as the case may be, of the county in which the principal office of the school district is located. [105 ILCS 5/9-10]

• Monday, Dec. 15, is the first day that candidates may file these papers. Monday, Dec. 22, is the last day candidates may file (filings must be made not more than 113 or less than 106 days prior to the consolidated election).
• Tuesday, Dec. 30, is the last day for candidates who have filed for two incompatible offices to withdraw from all but one of the offices with the local election official or election authority.
• Wednesday, Dec. 31, is the last day lottery shall be conducted by the local election official when two or more petitions are received simultaneously for the same office by more than one School Board candidate.
• Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, is the last day for local election official to certify candidates and the offices they are filing for to the election authority for the April 7, 2015, School Board election (10 ILCS 5/10-15). This is also the last day candidates may file notarized papers withdrawing their nomination in the office of the local election official (10 ILCS 5/10-7).
• Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015, is the last day a person may file a notarized Declaration of Intent to be a write-in candidate with the proper election authority or authorities (appropriate county clerk(s) and/or boards of election commissioners. Write-in votes shall only be counted for person(s) who have filed a Declaration of Intent. Write-in declarations are not filed with the State Board of Elections.

After the election, the county election authority has until April 28, 2015, to canvass the votes and proclaim results. A complete abstract of votes will be transmitted to each local official and the State Board of Elections.

More information regarding deadlines for candidates is available from the Illinois State Board of Elections calendar, which is also available online at 2015ElectionCalendar.pdf. IASB posted its annual school calendar of legal dates and deadlines for 2014-15 online at the end of August. Staff members proof the calendar for accuracy with the Illinois State Board of Elections calendar. IASB’s calendar includes a PDF version that can be downloaded at