Category Archives: Kaneland

Directors present strategic plan update

Kaneland—The Kaneland School Board on Monday evening was presented with a strategic Response to Intervention (RTI) plan update by Directors of Eductional Services Sarah Mumm and Erika Schlichter, and Director of Special Education Fran Eggleston. The plan seeks to help evaluators identify children who may require special education services.

The new plan further outlines the criteria necessary to determine whether or not a child is eligible for special education, and also identifies several variables that can actually create the illusion of a learning disability (lack of appropriate instruction, limited English proficiency, etc.) during the evaluation of a student.

Kaneland identifies early budget reduction targets

By Keith Beebe
KANELAND—It’s becoming clearer which areas the Kaneland School District will target in order to reduce its budget.

The Kaneland School Board on Monday was presented with a budget reduction update from Superintendent Jeff Schuler, who provided a document outlining the areas, or “cost centers,” that are slated for financial reduction in the 2012 fiscal year.

The district intends to cut projected expenditures by $1 million.

“This is just the process of reviewing all the line items in the budget in order to identify possible reductions,” Schuler said.

According to the budget reduction update, the cost centers have been simplified and narrowed down to elementary, middle school, high school and district. The projected reductions are $237,946 (23.79 percent of the targeted amount) at the elementary level, $127,911 (12.79 percent) at the middle school level, $169,884 (16.99 percent) at the high school level and $464,259 (46.43 percent) at the district level.

These figures are preliminary targets, however, and will be subjected to review before the initial cost-reduction plan is presented to the School Board on Feb. 14.

“The cost-center targets are just the starting point. As we identify cost reductions within each area, it’s highly possible that in the final cost reduction plan we put together, there may be cost centers that are either higher or lower than the initial targeted amounts,” Schuler said. “And that’s because when we put the entire plan together and look at the K-12 impact, there may be some cuts where we’ll say, ‘No, we’re not comfortable with that, but we are comfortable going further (with reductions) in one of the targeted areas.’ That certainly happened last year.”

A community forum regarding the initial list of reductions is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 22, at the Harter Middle School cafeteria.

District discusses early childhood consolidation

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday discussed a proposed move to consolidate the district’s four Early Childhood programs into just two programs for the 2011-12 school year, with the assumption that a merger of Early Childhood programs would promote scheduling flexibility, staff teamwork and efficiency in any related service.

The four elementary school buildings in the district each currently host an Early Childhood program. John Shields and Blackberry Creek Elementary are the two schools slated to have Early Childhood programs if a merger takes place, with Blackberry Creek designating a classroom to be used for students with autism.

KHS to host Health and Wellness Fair

KANELAND—Kaneland High School will host a Health and Wellness Fair on Tuesday, Jan. 25. The fair will be attended by high school students throughout the school day. The public is welcome to attend from 2:30 to 4 p.m.

There will be more than 30 booths at the event covering a variety of health topics. Sample topics include the dangers of tanning, hearing loss, blood pressure screening and fitness stations. The event is free to the public.

Elburn approves revised IGA

Move extends agreement with Kaneland for 1 year
by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—In October 2010, Elburn signed a three-year intergovernmental agreement (IGA) between local municipalities and the Kaneland School District that provided for land and cash dedications and school impact payments.

When Sugar Grove balked at signing the agreement, it was subsequently revised. On Tuesday, the Elburn Village Board voted to approve the revised, one-year agreement.

Sugar Grove negotiated with the district, arguing that the percentages developers would have to pay were based on tables that were outdated. Instead of the requested 60 percent in both land/cash and school impact fees, Sugar Grove called for 50 percent in land/cash and 0 percent in school impact fees.

Discussions ended when the district agreed to complete a new impact study headed by Roger Dahlstrom within one year and to change the length of the IGA to one year instead of three. Developers would be required to pay 60 percent in both land/cash and the school impact fees.

“The fees would be for buildings constructed this year only,” Village Administrator Erin Willrett said.

Elburn Village Board members agreed that the tables used to determine fees are outdated.

“One number used is $80,000 an acre. That’s dropped considerately. From that, everything else falls in place,” Village President Dave Anderson said. “The tables need to be updated, pure and simple. I think it’s a wise move (to sign this agreement).”

Kaneland students honored by IAEA, Sugar Grove Public Library

Brandon Abordo, a second grader at Kaneland McDole Elementary School, here along with art teacher Erin Livermore, was selected by the Illinois Art Education Association (IAEA) to have his artwork be a part of the IAEA’s 2010-11 travelling art show. His artwork, plus artwork from students from all over Illinois, was on display at the Sugar Grove Library Jan. 6. Three other Kaneland-area students had artwork displayed as well: Betse Hauser and Sydney Stacy (John Stewart Elementary), and Keely Noel (John Shields Elementary).

Photo by Mary Herra

School calendar adjusted

Kaneland—The Kaneland School Board on Monday voted 7-0 to approve a 2011-12 school calendar update, which will move a staff development day from Friday, Feb. 24, 2012, to Friday, March 2, 2012.

This schedule change is the only amendment made to the Kaneland 2011-12 school calendar, which was initially approved in October 2010.

Kaneland budget cuts loom in 2012

District seeks to limit student impact; expects to cut staff positions
by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—The financial belt-tightening continues for the Kaneland School District.

The School Board, at its meeting on Monday, discussed a budget reduction process for the 2012 fiscal year, which is currently projected to have a deficit of $1 million. Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler presented a memorandum outlining a cost-center approach that will identify and target categories of expense within the budget that are necessary to cut in order to help the School District alleviate the deficit.

“An example of a cost-center category is elementary services; every dollar that we spend on elementary education within our district—whether it’s personnel, supplies or purchased services that we have—that all goes into the cost center,” Schuler said. “And then the administrators responsible for that cost center—whether it’s one of our elementary principals, assistant principals—work together with our district administrators to look at all those expenses and develop a list of budget cuts.”

Schuler said this is the second year the district has used the cost-center strategy.

“What we did last year, and what we’ll do again this year, is give each cost center a target number that we want them to reduce, and that number is generally equal to a percentage of our total reduction number,” he said. “So, as an example, if 20 percent of our budget is allocated to elementary services within the district, the target number we give them for reduction is 20 percent of $1 million, so about $200,000.”

The memorandum presented during the meeting states that the district’s priority is to limit the effect of budget cuts on student programs by first targeting areas such as operational services (non-instructional supplies, early retirement options, etc.) and staff workload. Once all the cost centers come forward with potential reductions, the district looks at the reductions and determines what will impact students within the district.

“If there’s anything we can do with operational services, we’re going to make those cuts first,” Schuler said. “And then if there are ways we can reorganize a service to do it more efficiently, that will come second. Any cuts that directly impact student programs will be made last.”

The cost-reduction plan will be presented before the School Board on Feb. 14. A final decision on all budget cuts is required by March 14.

Staff cuts are likely to be a part of that final decision, Schuler said.

“I would imagine that cutting a million dollars would be very difficult without staff cuts,” Schuler said. “When you look at what we spend money on within the district, we’re a people business-we spend about 70 percent of our budget on salaries. I think it’s a safe bet that we’re going to need to eliminate positions to reduce a million dollars.”

Some local ‘Folk’

The Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival presented Lee Murdock’s Annual Hometown Concert at the KHS auditorium on Saturday. Lee Murdock (left) sang several songs and introduced special guest, southern Indiana farmer-song writer-actor Tim Grimm was the special guest at Lee Murdock’s Annual Hometown Concert on Saturday at the Kaneland High School auditorium. The concert was presented by the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival. Photos by John DiDonna

District seeks to eliminate budget shortfall

Kaneland—The Kaneland School Board on Monday voted 7-0 to approve development of a budget for the 2012 fiscal year. A memorandum issued by Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler states that the 2012 budget will seek to eliminate the excess of expenditures over revenue currently estimated at $1 million.

The memorandum also states that specific conditions or criteria within the budget are based on financial projections and the current economic climate surrounding both local and state of Illinois revenue.

Waubonsee scholarship deadline nears

Sugar Grove—The Waubonsee Community College Foundation is offering more than 100 scholarships for the 2011-12 academic year. The application deadline is Thursday, Feb. 3.

Scholarships are available to both new and returning Waubonsee students. Details and application forms can be found online at www.waubonsee.edu/scholarships or picked up at one of Waubonsee’s four campuses. For more information, call (630) 466-7900, ext. 2983.

KHS cheerleaders start competitive season

by Gina Jarvis
Krier Reporter

KANELAND—The Kaneland cheerleaders are stepping up from cheering on the sidelines on Friday nights to competing against other high schools in the area.

Some cheerleaders said that there are significant differences between cheering on the sidelines and cheering competitively against other teams.

“It is a lot more intense, and you have to make sure your timing is on key and make sure everyone is on the same time,” senior Lacey Lockert said.

Junior Kristen Glover said that though the time spent practicing at school is important, it’s also crucial for the girls to practice on their own time and improve their flexibility with stretches, because the competition is more challenging than their regular season.

There will be multiple judges evaluating the teams and only the judges can decide which team will win first place.

Each judge will be looking for several different things, including stunts, tumbling and motions as they evaluate squads on a set point system.

Lockert said that having confidence is important because it shows when the girls are competing.

Full doorsteps, full families

by Delaney Stryczek
Krier Reporter

KANELAND—Deprived. Hungry. Scared.

There are thousands of families that aren’t as fortunate as others. Millions of people have lost their jobs because of the economy, leaving families struggling to pay bills, buy clothes and even buy food. The mission of the Sugar Grove Food Pantry’s food drive, Fill Your Door Step, is to help these families.

Fill Your Door Step is an easy way of donating food for the pantry. Volunteers from the Sugar Grove Food Pantry go to Sugar Grove subdivisions and pick up food from the doorsteps of those who choose donate.

The dates of the drive were Oct. 30, Nov. 6 and Nov. 13—all Saturdays.

The drive started at Kaneland parent and Food Pantry director Melisa Taylor’s house early in the morning and ends at dusk. People donated food, household items, outerwear and pet supplies. The items go to the pantry and were passed out to people who need it. Every house that donated was put in a raffle. At the end of the drive, a winner was selected and received a prize.

Last year, there were 14 vehicle loads of donations from this drive. Fill Your Door Step started about two years ago.

“My sister and I started it with my mom,” senior Danielle Taylor said.

Melisa Taylor said the food drive’s goal at first was to keep the kids busy, but once it got bigger, its goal expanded. Their main goal now is to simply help people.

“Every one of us are going to fall, and we need to put our hands out to help pick each other up,” Taylor said.

A lot of teens come and help out. If students volunteer, the time can go toward volunteer hours, Taylor said.

“I do enjoy volunteering, because it helps other people out,” said Jordan Thelander, freshman and Sugar Grove Food Pantry volunteer. “I feel I have accomplished something.”

The pantry is now accepting additional food donations for the Christmas season.

The search is on for a new KHS principal

by Sara Laurie
Krier Reporter

KANELAND—Kaneland High School has begun the search for a permanent principal to replace Dr. Gregory Fantozzi, the current interim principal who filled in when former principal Tony Valente resigned in June 2009 to accept a job at Hall High School in Spring Valley, Ill.

Fantozzi, who is the retired principal of Geneva High School, is limited to working part-time because of laws that prevent retired state employees who are receiving a pension from taking another full-time state job. Initially, Fantozzi was supposed to remain at Kaneland for only one year while the district searched for a new permanent principal, but he was kept on for two years because it was easier to have Fantozzi remain at Kaneland, Curriculum Coordinator Erika Schlichter said.

Fantozzi was the leader for the upcoming schedule change, gathering the most data about the schedule switch. He took a leading role in the building immediately, whereas training a new principal to acquire the amount of information he knew would have been much too difficult, Schlichter said.

Schlichter, who is coordinating the search for the new principal with Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler, began the search in November, setting a timeline and structure for the hiring process, writing a job description and presenting the job posting to the School Board for approval.

The position was posted at the beginning of December, and both external and internal applicants can apply through the beginning of January. Schlichter said the district hopes to be interviewing by February, in a process which will include faculty, parent and student input.

“I personally would want a strong leader, (someone who is) a good speaker and physically fit, and a principal that is involved with our school,” freshman Gary Koerhing said.

Senior Thomas Whittaker said that the new principal should listen to what the student body has to say and relate to the students more.

Other students said that the district should look for a principal who is a good speaker, involved with the school, listens to students and is dedicated.

“I think the principal of Kaneland should have a good sense of humor, along with good values,” freshman Nathaniel Kucera said.

Schlichter said one of the district’s top priorities is finding a principal whose educational philosophy matches Kaneland’s and who can help support the high school’s college readiness, which is measured by ACT scores and has been the focus of a four-year School Improvement Plan.

“We need to make sure the person has the right skills to support our learning community,” Schlichter said.

Schuler will recommend the selected candidate to the Board of Education, which will either approve the choice or direct the administration to continue on the search for another option.

The new principal would start in July 2011.

Register now for February ACT Test

KANELAND—Registration is now open for the Feb. 12, ACT achievement test. Students who wish to take the college admission and placement exam must register before Jan. 7.

The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement exam. It tests what students have actually learned in school, not their aptitude for learning. The ACT also measures what students need to know to be ready for first-year credit-bearing college courses based on ACT College Readiness Standards. Every student’s results can be tied directly to these consistent standards.

The ACT has four sections—English, mathematics, reading and science—and takes about three hours to complete. Students who take the ACT Plus Writing complete an optional writing test that requires an additional 30 minutes. Unlike other exams, students are not penalized for guessing or answering all the questions on each test section. In fact, it is beneficial for test takers to answer all questions within the time allowed.

During registration, students may select up to four universities to receive their score reports. ACT scores are accepted by all four-year colleges and universities across the United States. ACT reports scores only when requested to do so by the student. Additional score reports are available for a small fee.

All students complete a detailed inventory of questions during ACT registration. Each test taker receives an ACT score report that includes a wide variety of information to assist with high school course selection, college readiness, career planning, and college admissions.

The cost for the ACT test without writing is $33. When combined with the optional ACT Writing Test, the total cost is $48. Students who qualify may apply for a fee waiver through their high school counselor.

The ACT website, www.actstudent.org, has helpful information, free sample items, and options to order inexpensive test prep materials to assist test takers get ready for the exam. However, the best preparation is to take rigorous core courses in school, study hard, and learn the academic skills needed in college.

Most students register online at www.actstudent.org. Students may also pick up registration forms from their high school counseling offices. Late registration is available from Jan. 8 to Jan. 21, for an extra $21 fee.

FVCC constructs facility to simulate burning building

by Maddy Hester
Krier Reporter

KANELAND—A bigger and better simulator is being built for the Fox Valley Career Center’s fire science program. The facility will provide an environment where the class can simulate situations in a burning building and will be shared with neighboring fire departments for training exercises.

The facility is in the first stages of being built; having broke ground and installed gravel before Thanksgiving.

“We are hoping this site will be ready to use later this spring,” Fire Science teacher Gary Baum said.

The facility will consist of six shipping containers strategically placed to simulate structures that the students, as they become firefighters, could possible encounter when called to a structure fire. It will have smoke machines and orange strobe lights throughout so students can learn to feel their way around as they would have to do in a real fire.

The funding for this project came from a grant.

“Mr. Baum applied and received the Kane County Riverboat Grant for $50,000, a little short of what we applied for. He had applied three years ago and was turned down, and also applied two years ago and was turned down,” FVCC director Larry Imel said. “He applied this year and received the grant. We have also received a lot of donated equipment and work.”

Fire science students used to travel to a simulator twice a year for practice, but having one at FVCC will allow them to use one whenever they want and enable them to do ladder drills more effectively.

“This is everything we’ve hoped for,” Baum said. “We’ve been very lucky.”

Madrigals hold 33rd dinner

by Kaley Martens
Krier Reporter

KANELAND—Complete with a brass ensemble, a recorder ensemble, actors, jesters, and singers, the 33rd annual Madrigals Dinner was held Dec. 10-12.

“(Madrigals) benefits anyone who enjoys music and wants to come watch. It also benefits us as musicians because we are given the opportunity to learn more challenging music,” said Sarah Morgan, a senior and one of this year’s Madrigal queens.

This year, Madrigals was based off the 12 days of Christmas. The event featured a dinner and concert and was one of the group’s largest events this year.

“It involved over 80 students (performing) holiday songs and Madrigals, which are Renaissance-period choral songs,” said Bryan Kuntsman, Madrigals and Concert Choir teacher.

The Renaissance-themed performance starred seniors Kendall Renaud as the king, and Sarah Morgan and Samantha Vazquez as the queens.

“Madrigals expresses our joy for music in a different way than concerts,” junior Rhys Childs said.

The group performed a number of songs, including William Bird’s “Sing Joyfully,” John Dowland’s “Come Again Sweet Love Doth Though Invite,” Stanford’s “Quick, We Have but a Second,” Jans Sweelinck’s “Chantez a Jiev,” and Morley’s “Sing We Enchanted.

“(The best part about Madrigals) was a combination between the music and skit,” Childs said.

“In part, it’s a fundraiser,” Kunstman said. “The cost of the dinner covers our expenses and other student activities.”

The dinner and performance raised money for the performance tour to Europe.

Two KHS band members march in Macy’s Parade

by Sarah Arnold
Krier Executive Editor
Amanda Schiff, Krier Editor

KANELAND—While others were visiting family, cooking Thanksgiving meals or serving food in a soup kitchen, seniors Logan Vines and Kendall Renaud were marching down the streets of New York in that other Thanksgiving classic, the Macy’s parade. Vines and Renaud participated in the All-American Band on Nov. 25, which aired locally on NBC. The parade stepped off at Central Park with the 185 members of the All-American Band. When the band reached Macy’s Herald Square, they performed for a grandstand audience, the celebrity hosts and over 50 million television viewers.

Kendall Renaud, Piccolo

Q. What gave you the opportunity to participate in the parade?
A. “When I went to band camp over the summer, they gave me the information and I sent in an application.”
Q. What was it like marching in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?
A. “It was the best thing I’ve ever done. Everyone there was extremely talented in what they do, and it was cool to be a part of something as big as that.”
Q. If given the opportunity, would you do this again?
A. “ Of course, 100 percent!”
Q. How long were you in New York City?
A. “We were in New York for a week.”

Logan Vines, Percussion
Q. What sights did you see during your trip to New York?
A. “We saw the World Trade Center (site), Times Square and the Radio City Rockets.”
Q. What was the most exciting part of your trip to New York City?
A. “Meeting new people because they were all really into it and knew what they were doing.”
Q. Was this experience challenging?
A. “ Yes, I did not get a lot of sleep, usually just two to three hours, and the rehearsals were really long.”
Q. Are you going to try and march in the parade again next year?
A. “ I can’t because you have to be in high school, but if I could I would have liked to.”

Board discusses bid process for storage facility

Kaneland—The Kaneland School Board on Monday, Dec. 13, held a discussion concerning upcoming bids for the construction of a storage facility at Harter Middle School.

Opening bids were postponed from Dec. 2 until Jan. 11, 2011.

Steve Hougsted from Arcon, the district architect, and Joe Papanicholas of Nicholas and Associates, the construction manager for the upcoming project, were present at the board meeting to take questions regarding the bid process and a recent addendum that will include a four-foot high exterior brick wall in the base bid.

Transition to 8-period day delayed an additional year

by Maggie Brundige, Editor
and Lexi Roach, Reporter

Kaneland—On Oct. 24, Kaneland High School’s administration recommended to the School Board that the switch to an eight-period day be delayed until the 2012-13 school year. The proposal also included changes to graduation requirements, reducing required credits from 28 to 22.

The Krier collected questions about the schedule change from students and posed questions to Dr. Greg Fantozzi, principal, and Cynthia Violett, director of counseling, to find out the details.

Q: Why has the district postponed the eight-period day until 2012-13?
A: “We had a significant meeting (on Oct. 20) discussing the schedule … after the reviews of the student surveys, we decided that in math, science and foreign language, students might not be able to reach the highest potential level in that particular subject,” Fantozzi said.

Q: If the amount of students meeting the science benchmarks on the PSAE is lower than in all other subjects, why is the science requirement changing from three credits to two?
A: “Because you can fit less classes in (an eight-period day). Our numbers show 83 percent of our students go to college, so 80 percent will have to take three years of science for college. Graduation requirements are only the minimum; students can always take more,” Violett said.

Q: Will the new graduation requirements be binding to the current freshmen and sophomores?
A: “There will have to be a transition that happens in the future with the freshmen and sophomore classes, but that is yet to be developed,” Fantozzi said.

Q: Will the total number of classes a student can take decrease?
A: “Yes, because students can now fit a lunch/study hall into their schedule. Students in the new schedule can take a maximum of seven credits, and block schedule can do eight credits a year,” Violett said.

Q: Will the number of electives that students can take decrease?
A: “Yes. The number of electives will go from nine to five. Now, the requirement is two years for science instead of three. Students will rely on their counselors to help them get to college,” Violett said.

Q: What happens if a student fails a core class? Will summer school be instituted? How will it be paid for?
A: “There will be a need for some type of summer school. The decision of summer school is budget driven, (so) if the district can financially afford summer school, then it may considered to be an option. There has been talk of a pay-as-you-go summer school,” Fantozzi said.
“If a kid fails a class, they can’t take it again that year if it is a (1.0 credit) class. They will have to go to summer school at Waubonsee Community College. Plans for the future is to have our own summer school,” Violett said.

Q: How many teachers, if any, do you expect to be cut?
A: “My anticipation and hope is that we will not cut any teachers. There will be a new principal when this goes into effect, and we are hoping this conflict with state funding is resolved by then … (Superintendent) Dr. (Jeff) Schuler is committed to protect the integrity of the staff. There are predicted to be 1,500 students enrolled at KHS in the next couple years, so money will be needed to keep and hire more teachers,” Fantozzi said.

Q: Will sports and clubs be affected?
A: “There is going to be an impact in the IHSA sports, it’s unavoidable. Clubs will only be affected if they meet during STEN because a STEN will not be available, although if they meet after school they should be fine,” Fantozzi said.

Q: How will students reach classes like Spanish V, if they can’t double up anymore?
A:“It’s under discussion that there could potentially be foreign language brought to the middle school,” Fantozzi said. “It has been voted down because it is not financially feasible. Next year, we will look at schedules and see what we can do.”

Q: Kaneland currently requires 28 credits to graduate, but the proposed requirement under the new schedule is 22 credits. Why do students have to pass fewer classes to graduate?
A: “Students who aspire to go to a challenging university will always do more than the average requirement. Less classes does not mean that graduating from Kaneland will be easier,” Fantozzi said.

Q: The administration wants to meet with students and parents to discuss schedules. What is the expected reaction?
A: “I think they will be grateful for us setting aside time and to help the process. Parent and student night will be held before school starts, and it will talk about traditional schedules,” Violett said.

Current graduation
requirements

Science 3.0
English 4.5
Including 0.5 of Speech
Math 3.0
Social Studies 3.0
Including 1.0 of World Cultures, 1.0 of U.S.
History, 0.5 of Government and 0.5 of
Foundations of Democracy.
PE 3.25
Driver’s Ed 0.25
Health 0.5
CTE 1.0
Includes 0.5 of Applications of
Technology and 0.5 of Economics.
Electives 9.5
Total: 28.0

Proposed graduation requirements
Science 2.0
English 4.5
Includes 0.5 of Speech
Math 3.0
Must be taken freshman through junior year to
build continuous skills.
Social Studies 2.5
Including 1.0 of World Cultures, 1.0 of U.S.
History and 0.5 of Government. Foundations
of Democracy will be eliminated and the
curriculum will be absorbed into required courses.
PE 3.25
Driver’s Ed 0.25
Health 0.5
CTE 1.0
Includes 0.5 of Applications of
Technology and 0.5 of Economics.
Electives 5.0
Including at least 1.0 of foreign
language, CTE, or fine arts.
Total: 22.0

Compiled by: Gina Jarvis
Source: District 302

Contributions by Nick Philips.

PTO donates Kindles to middle school

Kaneland—The Kaneland School Board on Dec. 13 approved a donation of 10 Amazon Kindles from the Harter Middle School PTO. The Kindles will be placed in the HMS LRC.

The donated amount for the Kindles is $1,400. The addition of these electronic book machines is viewed as a cost-reducing move, as electronic books only need to be purchased twice to be loaded onto 10 Kindles.

Board recognizesm student artists

Kaneland—The Kaneland School Board on Dec. 13 presented four local students—Betse Hauser of John Stewart Elementary, Sydney Stacy of Harter Middle School, Keely Noel of John Shields Elementary and Brandon Abordo of McDole Elementary—whose original art pieces were among the 40 works chosen for the Illinois Art Educator Association (IAEA) show.

Over 400 student art pieces were submitted to the IAEA this year.

Students write to soldiers

by John Pruett
Kaneland Krier Reporter

Kaneland—Sixty pounds of Christmas cards.

That’s what physical science teacher Joanna Edelman sent off to the troops after her students spent class on Dec. 10 writing Christmas cards for soldiers in Afghanistan.

“I am not sure exactly how many cards we sent out, but we had 60 pounds of cards that were sent to three different battalions,” Edelman said.

Freshman Morgan Modaff estimated her class mailed out over a thousand cards. Modaff herself wrote at least 20, she said.

“I said, ‘Thanks for your services and I hope you get to come home soon,’” Modaff said. “It was rewarding knowing you are putting a smile on their faces.”

Freshman Lesly Chavez said she made seven cards, but spent a lot of time on them.

“I was thanking them for what they do and put some funny things to keep them happy during the holidays,” said Chavez.

Edelman said she was inspired by her husband, who is currently a contractor in Afghanistan doing electrical work for the United States Army. Some of the bases currently used by U.S. troops are former Russian military bases, and Edelman said some soldiers had been electrocuted in the shower because of shoddy wiring jobs. Her husband is working to improve the safety at bases and will not be home for the holidays, she said.

“The post office says they will receive them before Christmas,” Edelman said. “Both the soldiers and contractors deserve recognition for what they do, and I thought the holidays was the best time to recognize them.”

Photo by Alexis Villarreal, Krier Reporter

Sugar Grove Village Board re-approves IGA with Kaneland

by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Village Board on Tuesday evening voted for the second time in two weeks to enter into an Intergovernmental Agreement with the Kaneland School District. Just like the last board vote on Dec. 7, it took a tie-breaking vote for the Village Board to authorize the agreement.

Trustee Bob Bohler’s vote in favor of the IGA broke a 2-2 deadlock between board trustees and allowed the Village Board to approve the agreement with a vote of 3-2. As a result, Sugar Grove will enter into a one-year Intergovernmental Agreement with the Kaneland School District, with Sugar Grove developers paying 60 percent of the capital-impact and transition fees issued by the School District.

The Village Board was forced to re-vote on the issue after it was determined that former Trustee Melisa Taylor’s vote during the Dec. 7 meeting was null and void due to Taylor being sworn in as a Kane County Board member prior to that Village Board meeting. Because Taylor voted in favor of the IGA, the nullification of her vote brought the board’s decision back to a 3-3 tie (Village President Sean Michels had been the tie-breaking vote). Therefore, a re-vote on the IGA was deemed necessary.

Several board trustees restated their concern that the current school impact fee structure was based on a model that was out of date. Trustee Bob Bohler asked Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler, who was in attendance, if Kaneland could guarantee a finished Dalstrom study within the next year, to which Schuler said, “Absolutely.”

“I’m pleased and appreciative of Sugar Grove’s interest in being part of the Intergovernmental Agreement. I think it’s important for the Sugar Grove residents, and I think it’s important for all the Kaneland school residents that we remain unified,” Schuler said. “I absolutely anticipate that (the new research) is going to happen, and what that research will do is affirm the data that drives the (Dalstrom) model, with the concept being that new growth should pay its fair share of the cost of educating kids.”

Michels said he was relieved to have a new IGA in place despite his reservations with the current fee structure.

“I think we have an obligation to our residents of Sugar Grove and the whole district to have a fee in place so at least the communities know that we are watching out for the School District,” he said. “Sugar Grove realizes that controlled growth is good for us and for the region, and that’s where a lot of the board and myself are having issues with this impact fee agreement, because it does keep a large portion of the fees on the high side.

“I can live with this agreement because it’s only one year in length, and we’re going to be working towards a new fee schedule over that year,” he said.

Photo Gallery: Holiday sockball fight

It was students versus a few brave teachers at the fifth annual McDole Elementary School Sockball Fight, held last Friday. Fourth grade students donated over 500 pairs of socks to the Hesed House in Aurora. The sockball fight took the place of the usual holiday parties held in the classrooms.
Photos by Ben Draper

Elburn Scholarship Fund open to Kaneland alumni, current KHS seniors

ELBURN—The Elburn Scholarship Fund will award grants for studies at the college level again this year. All applications must be postmarked no later than March 1, 2011.

Eligibility for Elburn Scholarships is limited to Kaneland High School alumni and members of Kaneland’s current senior class who will attend a local community college or one of the state universities in Illinois. High school seniors may obtain application forms in the Kaneland High School guidance office. Former recipients should follow their earlier instructions for reapplication.

Awards may also be available for Kaneland High School alumni whose pursuit of a degree was interrupted, or who would like to pursue a new career. Such applicants should call (630) 665-2776 for instructions.

Scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic achievement, extracurricular activities, citizenship, community and school service and commitment to higher education as a means of enhancing potential for contributing to society.

Applications and supporting documents should be returned to: The Elburn Scholarship Committee, 611 Plamondon Court, Wheaton, IL 60189-6305.

John Stewart program aims to expose more students to the arts

by Keith Beebe
ELBURN—The old adage of turning life’s lemons into lemonade might be a tad cliche at this point, but it’s a concept that seems to be working just fine for the art department at Kaneland John Stewart Elementary School.

“We applied for a $3,000 grant from Crayola where you were supposed to come up with a dream scenario for your arts program, and we submitted the idea of having a different artist give a presentation at the school each month,” said Bonnie Whildin, an art teacher at John Stewart. “I was sure we were going to get that grant, but we didn’t, so I just said, ‘Let’s see if we can still do this (idea) with all the connections we have.’”

As it turns out, quite a few artists have been more than willing to donate their time and energy to Whildin’s cause, as both she and her co-teacher, Heidi Gilkey, have put together an event intended to host a different artist on the second Wednesday of each month.

And these artists are not getting paid to appear, either.

“It’s really sweet of them to donate their time, because we really don’t have the money to pay them,” Whildin said.

Larry Cimaglio, an artist from Wheaton who specializes in glass blowing, visited John Stewart on Dec. 8 and gave a 90-minute demonstration that included students making their own glass jewelry.

“This event is intended to bring art into the school, bring artists into the school and give the community more exposure,” Cimaglio said. “I talked about glass art (during the presentation) and gave my viewpoint on the importance of art, and I cited two studies by the Guggenheim Museum that talked about the relativity between art education and literacy, and also art education and problem solving.”

Whildin said more than 30 people showed up to Cimaglio’s demonstration last Thursday evening.

“We thought that was a very good response for the first show, especially since we’re now in a paperless society and can’t send advertisements on actual paper home with the kids so their parents can read it,” Whildin said.

The next art demonstration is scheduled for Jan. 12 and will feature clay artists Joe Hernandez, a former ceramics teacher at Waubonsee Community College, and Cory McCrory. Additional art demonstrations are scheduled for Feb. 9, March 9 and April 13—the Wednesday following the Kaneland Fine Arts Festival, which will take place on April 10.

“We always think this (upcoming) Fine Arts Festival will be the best one ever, and even though we’re struggling with the finances, I think we’ll be fine,” Whildin said. “We have a good following, and I don’t believe there’s another event in the Kaneland School District that brings out 3,000 people like we do … and it’s free to get in.”

Kaneland School Board approves tax levy

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday approved final calculations for the 2010 tax levy with a vote of 7-0, though feelings of dissatisfaction with the levy were voiced by Board member Deborah Grant and at least two residents in attendance.

The 2010 tax levy presents an increase of 5.46 percent over operating fund taxes that were extended last year, and a bond and interest fund tax decrease of .74 percent. However, these figures will not be concrete until the tax appeal process ends in March or April 2011.

“The reality is Kaneland School District is funded primarily by property tax dollars,” Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler said. “And if we don’t levy for those dollars in the way we’re encouraged to under the current system for school funding, all we’re doing is taking revenue out of the School District and needing to further reduce money available to provide teachers and services.”

The 2010 levy total is $46,783,395, with $31,457,820 of that estimate going toward the district’s education fund. The levy for operations and maintenance is $3,774,000.

Grant hesitated before voting in favor of the proposed tax levy, and sympathized with residents in attendance who spoke against the tax levy during the public comment section of the hearing, airing concerns that a tax raise is a “fix it now” solution that will ultimately deter community growth.

“I will approve (the tax levy), but I know that we really need to make a strong effort to communicate the fact that this money goes for those (school) programs,” Grant said. “This money allows us to continue to operate the district, but it does not address the deficit.”

However, Schuler said failure to levy funds would actually increase the School District’s deficit.

“I’m sympathetic (to residents), and I understand the personal impact that the property tax bill has on people, yet we certainly have to protect the interest of everybody and be able to provide a quality educational program,” he said. “It’s obvious that we face a deficit for next year, and we’re going to have to work with the board and address the deficit with spending restrictions and budget cuts.”

Schuler said the district is looking at a current deficit of about $1.8 million.

“I would anticipate that the board is going to need to have some serious conversation about how quickly they address that operating deficit in the budget, whether it’s done immediately for next year or done through a deficit-reduction plan,” he said.