Holiday Wishes

Just a few thoughts from the superintendent before we head to Christmas Break:

1.  The State of Illinois could resolve the conflict in Springfield and finalize a fiscal year budget.

2.  #1 could be accomplished so that we do not need to discuss more pro-ration of General State Aid for this year (we are probably already at least at 92% funding).

3.  The State Board of Education would reconsider the proposed change from ACT to SAT for our juniors.

4.  The Governor and legislators discontinue thoughts and proposals to freeze property taxes across the State where it was not already voted in by citizens of a county.

5.  That the momentum of a new federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act continues to move us towards more local authority in school governance.

6.  That all members of our school community have a blessed and healthy Christmas and safely bring in a wonderfully successful 2016!

Recognize our School Board Members

November 15, 2015 has been named “School Board Members Day” in Illinois.  This is an appropriate time for the District 228 community to recognize our current 7 school board members:  Christy Coleman, Heather DeBrock, Diane Olson, Doug Ford, John Puentes, Barry Snodgrass and Al VanDeWoestyne.

These individuals volunteer their time on behalf of children, their parents, and the entire school community.  They come together on the second Thursday each month for a regular school board meeting, but they spend more time reviewing important policy, financial, curricular and other types of planning materials every week.  It could be argued that school boards are members of the most purse form of representative democracy left in our society.  We are fortunate in Geneseo CUSD 228 to have such a dedicated and engaged group of elected officials.

Looking at Tax Rates and General State Aid

Recently, the Regional Office of Education provided tax rate information from the December 2014 levy, with taxes that are payable for the 2015-16 school year.  The chart included also shows changes in General State Aid, which is a function of what the State of Illinois is a “foundation” level of money adequate to educate a child in Illinois (which hasn’t changed in nearly a decade), offset by local property wealth available per student.

You can see from this 2014-15 Taxes for Blog Bureau, Henry, Stark Counties that our District is blessed to have high levels of property value per pupil in comparison to our neighbors, but this is offset by lesser amounts of state revenue.  This creates a greater burden for our district to provide greater amounts locally in comparison to per pupil costs and certainly in comparison to our Rock Island County counterparts.  We will share that data from Rock Island County when it is made available.

To give some comparative data, the local property tax rate for Geneseo Schools has remained relatively constant, while the amount of General State Aid has decreased from approximately $7M seven years ago to the $4.3-4.5M level this year.  This while our enrollment has remained relatively flat and accountability mandates have grown even greater over the same time period.


Yes, he certainly is a hero…

While Mr. Fredericks has always been known as passionate about running, caring for every one of his athletes who participates in cross country and/or track, and as one who recognizes the place for study and faith to balance out the competition of sports; now he can add HERO to the list of terms to describe him.

Students, parents, and yes– all of our school community, are grateful to you, Coach Fredericks!

Watch here for more information.

Common Core Standards Public Form

There will be a PUBLIC TOWN MEETING with State and Local Panelists (i.e. Illinois State Board of Education Superintendent, Dr. Tony Smith , and possibly Governor Rauner’s Education Secretary Beth Purvis,) at Kewanee High School Auditorium, September 17, 2015 at 6:00PM, doors open at 5:30 PM.

Many members of our school community have expressed concerns regarding the direction Illinois is heading as it relates to Common Core Standards Curriculum and in some cases, how students are being assessed on these standards.


First Day of School or “How Straight Can You Make Your Line?”

August 13, 2015 welcomes another gathering of students both new and experienced to our District.  I was blessed to have the opportunity to begin my day at Southwest School and see the smiles on the faces of children as they jumped off the bus, hugged mom and dad before entering school, or having their pictures taken at the “school sign”.  Traveling to Millikin, I was impressed with the care and deliberate attention given to students to make sure everyone was with the right teacher, heading to the right door.  At Northside, kindergarten teachers already had students into their seats, gathering information about what the students are already bringing in their minds into the schoolhouse.  Geneseo Middle School can check two new events off their list– an all school assembly to kick off the year, and a fire drill at 8:10 a.m. (That was a malfunction of our system, not someone tripping an alarm)

Finally, I was able to sit in for a few minutes of the opening assembly at Geneseo High School in the auditorium.  The student body is divided into two groups, so there is an A assembly and a B assembly.  Picture approximately 400 students in the auditorium seats.  Unless you work here you cannot fully appreciate the awe I felt when the principal opened the assembly and the student body went silent and focused attention to the stage.  Those who have worked in other districts would know that this doesn’t happen everywhere.

It gives pause to see the transformation of students from 5 year olds who started today, with teachers reviewing and reviewing everything from bathroom locations to how to keep your feet on the yellow line to come in from recess– and 12 years later in a quality school system, students are able to score a 5 on an Advanced Placement U.S. History test.  This growth does not happen randomly, but it happens when a school community comes together to embody a mission to “Teach-Learn-Care”!  Making Day One great lets us just hold that momentum to end the year just as great!


Yik Yak– Not District Endorsed

For those of you who are unaware, Yik Yak is an anonymous social media application, that is available for both iOS devices (iPhones, iPads) and Android devices.  It is designed to allow for local communities of users (within approximately a 10 mile radius) to share anonymous “chat” types of commentary on virtually any topic.  Many students in District 228 frequently use Yik Yak.

There have been reports nationally that this app has been misused in cases of cyber-bullying.  Some users like the appeal of the anonymity.  We want to discourage misuse of such an app.

District 228 has requested what is called a Geo Fence to restrict use of Yik Yak inside all of our schools.  However, as we know, many instances of cyber-bullying occur from home or at a friend’s house, etc.

Please talk to your child about their Internet and “app” use if they have devices that can access these social media programs.  Your support and training of appropriate use of these types of technologies is extremely important, and reinforces the training that you and the schools try to teach as it relates to all type of communications and interactions– whether it is communicating through speech, text, notes, letters, emails, Tweets, etc.

It helps all of us to be mindful of kindness and civility when using social media.  Thank you for increasing awareness in this area, and please keep an eye out for any Yik Yak misuse.