Tag Archives: Deborah Grant

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.

District 302 seeks committed candidates

by David Maas
KANELAND—Prospective candidates for the Kaneland School Board should know that if elected, they face a significant responsibility, Board President Cheryl Krauspe said.

On Tuesday, April 4, 2010, four School Board seats will be up for election.

The four-year terms set to expire April 4 currently are held by Teresa Witt, Lisa Wiet, Deborah Grant, and Diane Piazza. The members have not announced whether they will seek election.

A School Board election takes place every two years, but not for all seven board positions.

“Terms are staggered so that there are three or four seats contested at each election, and not a total turnover at once,” Krauspe said. “That’s a good thing.”

Krauspe said board members must spend an average of 10 to 20 hours a month working on board matters.

“There is a significant amount of reading and studying, and overseeing the dashboard gauges of the district progress,” Krauspe said.

“It is a big responsibility that all the members of the current Kaneland Board of Education take most seriously.”

In addition to attending regular meetings, board members act as liaisons to other committee meetings each month. That work load can be challenging, Krauspe said.

“I find it satisfying, but also stressful,” Krauspe said, “Providing the best education possible for our community’s children within the budget constraints that we are experiencing in this economic climate involves a strong commitment.”

Board members do not receive pay for their service.

Krauspe suggested that people who have served the School District in some capacity, such as volunteering or committee work, would be the best people to run for the board.

“Although it is not a requirement, I would value the prior experience and service of Kaneland candidates to the district,” Krauspe said.

According to the Illinois School Board Association, an effective school board member should be able to work on a team, become informed to take part in an effective meeting, have a desire to serve students and the community, respect the needs and feelings of others, and recognize that the school district is one of the largest businesses in the town.

To run for School Board
Those interested in running for the board must be at least 18 years old, have lived in the Kaneland School District for at least one year and be a registered voter.

Start by obtaining a nominating petition from Beth Sterkel at the district office on any business day between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Prospective candidates must file nominating petitions at the district office, 427W326 Keslinger Road, Maple Park, between Monday, Dec. 13, and Monday, Dec. 20. For more information, contact Beth Sterkel at the district office at (630) 365-5111.

KHS schedule change may be postponed

Officials consider waiting another year for 8-period days
by David Maas
KANELAND—Kaneland School District officials have set a plan in motion which, if carried out, will push the change to an eight-block schedule at Kaneland High School to the 2012-13 school year.

District officials recently announced their plan to change the KHS school day to eight periods from the current four-block schedule, starting in 2011-12. However, after surveying the sophomore and junior classes, the administration determined that the scheduling change would adversely affect the four-year plans of 10 to 15 percent of students.

“That’s too big of a number to negate,” said Dr. Greg Fantozzi, interim principle at KHS, during Monday’s School Board meeting. “The extension will provide greater communication with parents to make decisions on accomplishing a student’s four-year plan.”

The School Board did not make any decision on postponing the scheduling change Monday, but discussion took place on both sides of the issue.

Board member Deborah Grant questioned whether waiting a year until the number of students affected would decrease was the right decision, but also saw the importance of a delay.

“There is a want for the extension so we can deliver the best possible product at the end,” Grant said.

The extension would not postpone the district’s planning process for the change to the eight-block schedule, district officials said.

“We’re not going to be sitting on our hands for the next year,” Fantozzi said.

District officials said they would use the extra time to ensure that KHS counsels all students to prepare them for the change.

“If we do this wrong, that’s a year of their education they’ll never get back,” board member Lisa Wiet said.

Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler said in a letter to the board that how the district implements and utilizes the schedule will be the most important factor in supporting student learning.

Boosting basic skills

Elementary schools set improvement goals
by David Maas
KANELAND—Kaneland elementary schools will focus on continuing to boost students’ academic skills in certain subjects, particularly writing, in 2010-11, as outlined in their school improvement goals.

The Kaneland School Board on Monday reviewed the school improvement goals for each of the four elementary buildings, presented by Kaneland Curriculum Director Sarah Mumm.

McDole Elementary in Montgomery and John Shields Elementary in Elburn will focus on math and writing skills. Blackberry Creek Elementary in Elburn will focus on writing and reading skills, and John Stewart Elementary in Sugar Grove will focus on writing and phonics skills.

School Board members asked why the four schools have different goals.

“This is the second year I’ve had this worry,” said School Board member Deborah Grant. “Shouldn’t the four schools share the same goals?”

The principals from the four schools were present at Monday’s board meeting and stressed that they all are working toward achieving the same level of writing skill among students; each is using the Writer’s Workshop process to improve writing skills.

In addition, John Shields principal Laura Garland explained how doing things differently can have its advantages.

“Uniformity is not necessarily the best way to meet a student’s needs,” Garland said. “Trying something unique, and being able to let the others know, is a good thing.”

The schools’ goals are part of a comprehensive, peer-reviewed school improvement process under way this academic year in the district, Mumm told the board.

Writing progress

Percentages of elementary students district-wide meeting or exceeding state learning standards in writing, as assessed by standardized test scores:

Grade    2009-09    2009-10
Third    67%    74%
Fifth    53%    63%
Sixth    79%    81%
Eighth    56%    67%

School Board votes against a school fee increase

by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday voted 5-2 to keep school fees at their current rate.

Based on feedback from several community members that there might be support for such a move, school administrators brought a plan before the board to increase certain fees by 20 percent. According to Assistant Superintendent for Business Julie-Ann Fuchs, this adjustment would increase school revenue by approximately $38,000, depending on the number of participants in next year’s programs.

“I’m against asking parents to pay more.” board member Deborah Grant said. “Our fees are high enough; we’re already at the top for athletics.”

Grant said that with the parking fee increase and the increase in athletic fees, as well as the elimination of after-school buses, this would hit some students even harder.

Board member Cheryl Krauspe was in favor of the increase, saying that individuals within the community have said they would support such a move. She added that the Sports Boosters group has been very generous in supporting students who cannot afford the sports fees.

However, other than Ken Carter, the other board members did not support the increase.

“I agree with Diane,” board member Elmer Gramley said. “This is not the time to do this.”

Board begins cuts to address $2.6 million deficit

by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board voted on a couple of measures to begin formally addressing the district’s $2.6 million budget deficit for the 2010-11 year.

The administration, with feedback from the various cost centers, the community and the board, identified several scenarios for the board to consider that would close the budget gap.

The board came up with a variation on one of the scenarios that would eliminate five high school clubs and activities and replace sixth- and seventh-grade competitive sports with an intramural program.

The board also decided to defer all technology replacement costs for next year, which cut $230,000 from the 2010-11 budget.

“I can’t in good conscience put money into technology when we’re losing teachers,” said board member Deborah Grant, who had previously proposed that the board consider cutting from the technology budget.

School administrators agreed to a wage freeze for next year, which eliminated another $48,000 from the budget.

The board discussed raising student fees for textbooks and other curriculum-related fees, as well as those associated with sports, clubs and other activities. Although they did not take a formal vote on the issue, the straw poll taken was 4-3 against raising them.

“I don’t see that a fee increase, unless it’s huge, will have an impact on our budget, but it has a big impact on limiting participation in activities,” board member Bob Myers said.

Several parents in the community forum had recommended the increase of fees as a way to save some of the sports and other activities. However, several board members said they thought it might limit a number of students from participating in some of the activities due to family budgets.

“I know it’s a quick fix, but I don’t think it’s fair,” Myers said. “The average family struggles with some of these fees now.”

School Board President Lisa Wiet said that, in addition to the parents who said they would gladly pay the fees to keep the programs from being cut, she also heard from others that caution should be exercised with this option.

The bottom line is that, unless the increase in fees was substantial, the additional money generated would not be enough to make up the difference in the costs of some of these programs.

“The fees will never cover our expenses,” McCormick said.

The board will take a final vote on cuts, including specific personnel actions, at its March 8 meeting, and will resume the fee discussion again prior to spring break.

Board wants alternatives to current cuts

by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—The feedback from School Board members on the administration’s proposed cost reduction plan was clear: They want to see other options that don’t have such a big impact on the students.

“I see students taking a big impact, and not the administration or the teachers,” board member Ken Carter said. “I don’t see any salary freezes. Some groups are under contracts, but others are not.”

With direction from the board to eliminate a $2.6 million deficit for the 2010-11 school year, the administration has been working with the various cost centers since November to come up with ways to make up for the shortfall the district will have next year.

The cuts, mainly in the form of reducing staff and eliminating clubs and activities and cutting back on some sports programs, were proposed in a general format at the last board meeting. More specifics were provided on Monday. The plan includes a reduction of 23 positions, including teachers, other positions and administrative personnel. When retirements and attrition are factored in, this represents letting go of 12 employees.

While the size of some classes in the elementary schools will increase with the current proposed cuts, the overall average class size of 23 to 24 students would not go up significantly. However, according to Associate Superintendent Jeff Schuler, any additional cuts in the teaching staff would have a significant impact on class size, increasing class sizes up to 30 students in some classrooms.

But the part of the plan that received the most criticism from a couple of board members was the proposed elimination of 11 clubs and the cuts to some of the sports and music programs. These cuts would effectively eliminate, among other things, the elementary band program, competitive sports at the middle school level, and leave fewer opportunities for students at the high school level to participate in sports programs.

“As a parent, I’m concerned with how (these cuts) are going to impact our culture … It won’t be the Kaneland I know,” board member Deborah Grant said.

A community forum is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 8, directly after the regular board meeting. This forum is an opportunity for members of the community to ask questions of the administrative panel regarding specific budget items targeted for reduction. Community members are also encouraged to provide ideas or feedback about the plan, both during the forum and during the following week, using a format available on the Kaneland School District’s website, www.kaneland.org.

With the direction to come back with several scenarios, school officials decided to add another opportunity for the board to discuss the options. The board will meet again on Tuesday, Feb. 16, to discuss their reactions to the alternative options presented by the administration, as well as the feedback provided by the community.

“We fully anticipated this (the administration’s proposed cuts) would be the start of a community dialog,” Schuler said. “It’s a starting point for the discussion. You have to start somewhere.”

Several parents had suggestions for the administration regarding the cuts on Monday.

Parent Ryan Delahantey said that he would like to encourage the administration and the Kaneland Education Association to get together and agree to salary freezes for the coming school year. The salary increases negotiated by the teachers union for the 2010-11 school year adds up to $1.2 million of the budget.

“Let’s demonstrate to the children that we’re all in this together,” he said.

According to Schuler, the administration has yet to receive a response from the Kaneland Education Association to a request for members to renegotiate the contracted increases for next year. The contract included salary increases for Kaneland teachers over a period of three years: 4.86 percent for last year, 6.21 percent for this year, and 5.6 percent for fiscal year 2010-11.

The Elburn Herald’s calls to Kaneland Education Association President Linda Zulkowski were not returned by press time.

Another parent and former board member, George Silfugarian, proposed that rather than make some of the cuts to the sports programs, that the board consider allowing parents to pay higher fees.

“We will have some hard choices to make,” School Board President Lisa Wiet said. “We need to do everything we can do to reduce the impact on our students … We need to keep the kids number one.”

Survey finds high percent of A’s and B’s at high school

Report says data suggests 7-point scale does not put students at disadvantage
by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—In a recent study, school administrators found that nearly 50 percent of the students at Kaneland High School have an A grade-point average. Add the B grades in, and nearly 75 percent of the students are above average.

The study was conducted as an initial step in response to feedback from a number of parents in the community who asked the administration to change the school’s grading scale to make it more in line with other schools in Kane County.

Some parents said that Kaneland’s 7-point grading scale put the Kaneland students at a disadvantage when they were compared with other students from schools with 10-point scales. This could hurt them when being considered for college admissions, scholarship awards and auto insurance discounts, parents said.

In a 10-point scale, students with a score of 92 receive an A; with Kaneland’s 7-point scale, students need a score of 93 to receive an A.

Administrators conducted an informal survey of other high schools in the Western Sun Conference and the soon-to-be Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference; five of the seven schools that responded used a 10-point scale. One school left it up to each department to use either a 7-point or a 10-point scale, and another used an 8-point scale.

The survey, which looked at grade-point averages during the 2008-09 school year, found that a greater percentage of Kaneland students had an A average than the overall average of 37 percent, even though a majority of the other schools used 10-point scales.

In addition, the survey also found that the schools with the higher average of A students did not necessarily correlate with the higher ACT scores.

Although Kaneland fell third on the list in terms of A averages, its average ACT score of 20.9 falls below the average of 22 when all seven schools are included.

“The data shows there is a disconnect between grades earned and results when compared to performance,” board member Dianne Piazza said.

Administrators told the board on Monday that the initial data do not seem to support the suggestion that Kaneland’s grading scale puts the students at an unfair disadvantage.

Kaneland Superintendent Charlie McCormick said that since the administration has not reviewed at the grading scale since it was changed 15 years ago, their recommendation was to take another look at it.He said that the study should take place in the context of the curriculum department’s original plan to study grading criteria, purposes and philosophy.

The School Board voted 5-2 in favor of this recommendation.

McCormick also recommended that it follow Kaneland’s current policy that establishing a grading system is the responsibility of the administration and professional staff, and not a board decision.

“That’s why we have our curriculum directors and professional teaching personnel,” he said.

While some board members agreed that decisions about the grading system were better left to the professionals, others felt that decisions made internally would leave members of the community nowhere to go if they were still unhappy about the grading scale.

“We had a petition that came to the board,” board member Deborah Grant said.

Parents brought a petition to the board in October 2009 with 703 signatures from parents that asked the board to evaluate the current grading system this school year. The petition asked the board to consider changing the grading scale to a 10-point system rather than the current 7-point scale.

“I want our students to have the same opportunities that every other student in Kane County has, and that is a 10-point scale,” Grant said.

Board member Cheryl Krauspe said that she did not feel it was the right time to change the scale.

Board members agreed to table the administration’s recommendation for a later time.

D-302 asks teachers to return to table

[quote]School officials say multi-million dollar deficit requires strong action
by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—The Kaneland School District, faced with a $3 million projected deficit in next year’s budget, asked Kaneland teachers to renegotiate their contract ratified last year.

“It shouldn’t surprise anyone,” School District Superintendent Charlie McCormick said. “It’s in line with what municipalities are doing with their employees.”

The contract negotiated between the teacher’s union and the district last year included salary increases for Kaneland teachers over a period of three years: 4.86 percent for last year, 6.21 percent for this year, and 5.6 percent for fiscal year 2010-11.

According to McCormick, next year’s increase for the teachers accounts for $1.2 million of the district’s budget. Adding in the same percentage increases for non-covered school employees brings the total to $1.5 million.

Associate Superintendent of Schools Jeff Schuler said that in order to put the financial information in perspective, people should understand that one teaching position equals approximately $50,000 in funding.

McCormick said that in the time since the tentative budget for next year was created in June and when it was finalized in October, the reduction in projected property tax income due to lack of growth and cuts in state funding created an additional $1 million deficit.

Given the magnitude of the deficit, school officials said at the Oct. 13 board meeting that nothing was off the table, in terms of where to cut. In a budget message to Kaneland staff last week, Schuler said the “easy cuts” had already been made, referring to when the district cut $750,000 from the 2009-10 budget.

McCormick said the district sent a letter to the Kaneland Education Association last week to request the reopening of the negotiations.

When the School Board voted in October 2008 to approve the contract, the vote was split 4-3, with Elmer Gramley, Jonathan Berg, Deborah Grant and Lisa Wiet in favor of the contract, and Cheryl Krauspe, Bob Meyers and Diane Piazza opposed.

“The cost difference of this agreement is likely to be felt in the quality of our educational programs, in larger class sizes, and in the decrease or loss of services or positions intended to directly benefit students … It’s hard for me to accept,” Krauspe said at the time.

After Monday’s School Board meeting, Piazza said that her vote against the contract last October had been difficult, and that in a different economy, she would not have voted that way.

“Now, I am glad I did,” she said. “That was the right decision.”

Piazza said that the board is now faced with losing good teachers, increases in class sizes and cuts in programs.

“We spent lots of time and money to get the great teachers and paraprofessionals we have,” she said. “It will be very upsetting if we have to let teachers go.”

The teacher’s union is under no legal obligation to renegotiate its contract.

KEA President Linda Kulkowski said that she and the other members of the KEA negotiating team are in the initial information-gathering stage. She said they have been in contact with the district regarding the status of the budget.

Kulkowski said they are also talking with the Illinois Education Association to obtain advice as to what their options are, as well as what the risks and benefits would be in opening up negotiations again.

At this time, there is no meeting set at which they would ask the teachers for a vote.

“In my 25 years at Kaneland, this has never happened before,” she said.

By the numbers
• $3 million deficit for 2010-11 operating budget

• Teachers’ salary increases for next year equal $1.2 of the budget

• Teachers’ contract set teachers’ salary increases over a period of three years:
4.86 percent for 2008-09
6.21 percent for 2009-10
5.6 percent for 2010-11

Ways to make, and improve, the grade

by Ben Draper
KANELAND—Picking three to four goals to improve upon each year sounds like an over-ambitious New Years resolution. But it is commonplace for area schools.

Every year, each school in the Kaneland School District submits a School Improvement Plan (SIP) for the current school year.

District Curriculum Director Sarah Mumm presented a summary of the district school’s goals for the 2009-10 school year—ranging from three to four per building—to the School Board at Monday’s meeting at Harter Middle School.

“The interesting part is it is a struggle to get it to three to four goals,” Mumm said. “We could have 12.”

With the help of an administrative team consisting of staff and administration, each building completed a 62-page plan to improve areas of need for that specific school—however only a summary of the final goals was needed for approval by the School Board.

A discussion emerged after a brief presentation between School Board members and Mumm to the theme of universal goals versus school-specific goals.

For example, Kaneland John Stewart Elementary School has three goals for the 2009-10 school year that are not the same for Kaneland McDole Elementary School for the same time period.

Mumm explained that the strengths of each school lay in the students, but also with the educators. Some schools may be ahead of others in reading but behind in math, and vice versa.

“The difference is that we start at such different starting points,” said Mumm. “We really wanted to push this year … looking at multiple data sources and determining what’s best for your student population, knowing each individual building has a different population.”

Mumm added that the renewed focus began in the previous school year.

Mumm pointed out that universal, academic and curriculum-based goals are already present in the district.

“We really wanted the buildings to do an analysis of their strengths and weaknesses,” Mumm said. “Some found that they may have a weakness in collaborative efforts … some that they really need some writing help; the building down the street does not need writing help—they actually have a strength there—but they need help with communication.”

Board member Deborah Grant wanted to make sure that just because a school didn’t address a certain area for improvement, that it did not neglect that area.

“As a board member now, I see that each school has a focus, but as a parent I may not know (by looking at the summary) that we are OK in writing or reading,” Grant said. “And just because you are OK, if I don’t have a son or daughter that isn’t meeting, I still want some-one knowing that this is a goal.”

School Board member Diane Piazza asked that in the future, in addition to the SIP summary, that the district include each building’s strengths and weaknesses.

“We have four elementary schools, and at the board level, I would want to be sure that every student, no matter which building, is experiencing the same strides and pushes for academic improvement,” Piazza said. “It gets difficult with a summary, because we don’t have, right at the same time, what are those individual strengths and weaknesses, and this is why it makes such sense for this particular building not to have a particular academic goal and for this one to (have it).”

Mumm said that through the curriculum map, the district provides a consistent education across all buildings, although it can be difficult to implement a district-wide goal due to the difficulty to create a consistent environment for students in the different locations. She used a hypothetical goal of improving writing to explain her position.

“We can’t set a standard student achievement goal because you have some strengths and weaknesses within teachers and within staff,” Mumm said. “All staff is monitoring student progress diligently on our curriculum maps, but some staff have a strength in teaching writing, and other staff don’t. So to write that overall goal that everyone will push forth in writing, that is not going to stretch a school that already has strong writing teachers. It isn’t going to assist them to write a writing goal, where it may in another building.”

Mumm also said the district completed a District Improvement Plan in the 2008-09 school year.

“Just because these are three SIP goals for X school, it absolutely does not mean it is all we focus on—they focus on daily instruction,” said Mumm.

The summary plan was approved by the School Board 7-0.

2009-10 School Improvement Plans for each Kaneland school
These plans were put together by staff and administration from each building
For more information on the 2009-10 SIP plans, visit iirc.niu.edu.

High School
• Juniors improve ACT math composite score from 20.6 to 22
• Juniors improve ACT writing test score from 7 to average of 9
• Juniors improve performance on both applied math and reading for Information WorkKeys assessments, from an average of 5 to an average of 6
• Standardized, pre- and post-local assessments implemented in every course by the beginning of the second semester, and at least three standardized, formative assessments implemented in every course by beginning of fourth term

Middle School
• All students complete a common, local assessment based on objectives mandatory for the level’s curriculum
• Increase systematic support opportunities from zero to 80
• Successfully implement tier two interventions, improving the student achievement of at least 45 students.

Kaneland John Stewart
• The number of common team discussions focusing on student learning experiences will increase from 0-1, to 2-3 per month. Staff will increase attendance at these meetings
• 85 percent of students participating in tier two intervention throughout the year will have completed that intervention cycle
• 85 percent of student writing responses will exhibit grade-level objectives each quarter

Kaneland Blackberry Creek
• All grade levels, specials and support teams will have participated in a minimum of nine team-level meetings and nine school meetings that focus on student learning
• 85 percent of students identified as needing tier two reading assistance will have successfully completed an intervention cycle by end of year
• 100 percent of teachers in grades 2-5 will provide targeted activities to promote self-selected reading, improving that area in students by 20 percent

Kaneland John Shields
• 82 percent of all students will read at or above grade level
• Define, implement and reflect on the expectations, components and structure of the Writer’s Workshop process to improve student learning and create a collaborative culture by engaging in discussion six or more times during the school year
• Identify and implement three or more writing rubrics, per grade level

Kaneland McDole
• Use established rubric and probes to develop grade-level baselines for measuring student improvement of comprehension skills on the reading extended response for the purpose of facilitating student learning
• Increase awareness of school-wide behavioral expectations to promote a safe and positive learning community
• Maintain community awareness of student successes at McDole with monthly communication with district, parents and local community

School Board approves plans for storage building

by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday approved plans for a 6,200 square-foot storage facility at the Harter Road Middle School site. The cost for the facility, which will include restrooms and a concession area for outdoor athletic events, in addition to space to house maintenance and athletic equipment, is approximately $1.2 million.

The vote was 5-1, with Board President Lisa Wiet voting no. Wiet’s concerns were, in part, based on the fact that the board had not been involved in the design process, and did not have a chance to evaluate the alternatives.

“We went from ‘Where am I going to store my stuff,’ to a $1.2 million building,” she said.

Other board members, however, were pleased with the plan. Deborah Grant said that other school districts are building similar facilities to service the community.

Kaneland Superintendent Charlie McCormick said the money to pay for the building is in the budget, part of excess funds not used from the referendum money due to some cost savings.

Although Wiet said that the building was not part of the original referendum package, and therefore an oversight, Grant said she thought it should be assumed that a new school would need a place to store equipment and other things.

The board approved putting the project, plus some additional parking space, out to bid.

Kaneland Board accepts coach’s resignation

by Susan O’Neill

The Kaneland School Board on Thursday voted to accept the resignation of Kaneland High School coach and teacher Dennis Hansen. The vote was 5-1 in favor of both approving the separation agreement and of accepting Hansen’s resignation.

The dissenting vote was School Board member Deborah Grant, who said her vote was “in light of recent e-mails that the district has received and in lieu of additional information that may come forth.”

Hansen had been suspended from his coaching duties on May 7 and from his teaching responsibilities on May 11. The suspensions and a subsequent investigation were based on allegations made by parents, current students and graduates regarding inappropriate behavior toward students.

The six- to eight-week investigation conducted by Kane County Sheriff’s Police Resource Officer Paul Warren and school officials on behalf of the district uncovered allegations in both the teaching and coaching realm and involved about a dozen current students and recent graduates during the past couple of years, as well as several graduates who had been students in 2001.

According to school officials, the district was not made aware of the 2001 behaviors until the recent investigation, and no information was brought forth from the years in between the two timeframes. Attorney Maureen Lemon, representing the district, said the initial allegations were brought to the resource officer.

Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Jeff Schuler said that none of the behavior rose to the level of requiring notification to the Department of Children and Family Services, and no laws were broken. Lemon said the investigation also looked into his previous employment in Coal City schools and found no connection with the investigation at Kaneland.

Hansen has been with the district for 12 years as a physical education and driver’s education teacher, and more recently as a coach of the varsity girl’s softball and boy’s basketball teams.

The separation agreement specifies salary and health benefits payments to Hansen, per the teacher’s contract, through Aug. 31, 2009, and includes an agreement that neither party shall litigate against the other. It also spells out the wording for any references given to future prospective employers in writing. The reference only identifies his dates of employment and that he resigned.

Although the employment reference wording is factual and neutral, School District Superintendent Charlie McCormick explained that, for those in the education industry, that wording would be considered a red flag.

McCormick said the district decided to accept the agreement offered by Hansen in lieu of further investigation and potential termination of his employment for three reasons. First, any additional action could be appealed and overturned; second, it would involve uncomfortable situations for the students, who would be subjected to cross-examination; and three, Hansen’s resignation was the ultimate outcome the board wanted.

The investigation also brought to light a whole range of policies, procedures, climate and culture that will need to be addressed with teachers, students and parents, McCormick said.

“The current technology has outstripped our ethics,” he said.

For example, coaches typically have their students’ phone numbers listed in their cell phones and will use them to text students to notify them of a game cancellation.

Sugar Grove resident and KHS graduate Jennifer Amery, who is the parent of an 8-year-old, said she was not happy with the way the situation was handled. She said that Kaneland could just be passing on its problem to another school.

“How about a big red check on his resume?” she asked.

See the June 11 edition of the Elburn Herald for additional reporting.