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District April Newsletter

District April Newsletter

April 4, 2024

Dear District 31 Community,

Welcome back!  As we enter April, we move closer to one of our favorite events of the year, the PTO’s Around the World Fun, which provides an opportunity to celebrate ALL of our families and our diverse backgrounds. 

This event that unites families is especially important in a time where politics, social media, and world events increasingly seek to divide people. District 31’s goal is to ensure that Field and Winkelman are safe places for all students and promote dialogue, empathy, and conflict resolution as well as teach students how to navigate the challenging topics that permeate our world. As we move into the spring, our staff will put emphasis on the power of words and the importance of avoiding hurtful stereotypes or characterization to further promote inclusiveness. District 31 is a special place that provides equitable opportunities for ALL students and ensures an environment that is culturally responsive to support diversity. We appreciate your partnership and look forward to seeing you at the Around the World Fun event. 

As we approach the last few months of school, there are many things to look forward to; Around the World Fun with District 31, spring concerts, Farewell to Fifth, and Graduation to name a few. Watch for communication from the PTO and your school principals to learn more about spring happenings. We also encourage you to “like” our Facebook page for fun photos, school information, and reminders.
 

In Partnership,

Dr. Erin K. Murphy
Superintendent

Field Middle School Redesignated as a Horizon School to Watch
After a rigorous application and field study process, Field was notified before break that they have been re-designated as an Illinois Horizon School to Watch by the Association of Illinois Middle Grade Schools.  Illinois Horizon Schools to Watch demonstrate academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity, and organizational structures and processes designed to support a trajectory toward excellence. Field will be presented with the award in Washington DC in June by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grade Reform.  Congratulations to the administration and staff of Field Middle School. We appreciate your hard work.

Planning for the 2024-2025 School Year
As we relish the spring and all of the events coming up, the Board of Education and administration are also turning our eyes to next year. While recognizing that our enrollment is continuing to increase (we are now over 1000 kids in District 31), we remain committed to providing the highest level of services to ALL of our students. Specifically, we have seen notable increases in social emotional and behavior supports, special education services, and English-learning programming.    Thus the Board of Education has approved a staffing plan for next year to ensure that our diverse student body can continue to receive the support they need to grow and thrive. Our future staffing plan includes ensuring a newcomer teacher at both buildings, and additional academic intervention, social work, special education, and an Assistant Principal at Winkelman.

As we approach summer, the Board of Education and administration also look at facility projects, utilizing the lens of space needs, maintenance and safety, in order to ensure our buildings provide for the best learning environments for our students and staff.  This summer we are excited that the theatrical lighting in the Field auditorium will get replaced, and additional student service rooms and offices will be created in underutilized spaces. In addition, we will be updating interior locks at both buildings.

Staff Recognitions
Sandra Luna, Coordinator of Multilingual Services
Ms. Sandra Luna received the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) “Those Who Excel” award.  Ms. Luna received the Award of Excellence for greatly improving our school community by advocating for positive change and sharing opportunities for improvement with colleagues. Ms. Luna is an integral member of our District and community.

Patience Bertana, Innovation and Instructional Technology Coordinator
Ms. Bertana presented twice at the IDEAcon 2024 Conference.  Her first session was titled Creating Opportunities for Student Led Classrooms.  Her second session was titled, Amplifying Student Voice and Choice: Empowering Learners in the Classroom.   

Megan Correll, 7th Grade Math Teacher, Field Middle School
Ms. Correll presented “Using Project-Based Learning in the Classroom to Provide All Learners Access to Rigorous Mathematics” at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. In this session, she shared that project-based learning provides an opportunity for all students to achieve, excel, grow, and explore. 

Karrie Fisher, District 31 Librarian
Ms. Fisher has presented several times this school year on her innovative and creative approach to cataloging the non-fiction collection in our libraries. Ms. Fisher’s session was tilted, Creative Nonfiction Cataloging. In addition to presenting, Ms. Fisher has two articles that will soon be published.

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2024-2025 Registration
Registration for the 2024-2025 school year is now open for all students grades PreK - 8th! Please plan to register early as this helps with school planning.  Register today at www.district31.net/registration.

Register for Little Wildcat Preschool by emailing Anabel Santiago at asantiago@district31.net.

Along with making sure to register, please also plan ahead to make sure you will have all medical forms ready for the 2024-2025 school year. Required forms are listed below.

Summary of Medical Form Requirements

  • Pre-K: Physical
  • Kindergarten: Physical, Dental, and Eye
  • 1st grade: No forms required
  • 2nd grade: Dental
  • 3rd, 4th, & 5th grade: No forms required
  • 6th grade: Physical (exam also covers interscholastic sports physical) and Dental
  • 7th & 8th grade: No forms required

Physical Exam and Immunization Record
A physical exam, with an updated immunization record on the, “State of Illinois Certificate of Child Health Examination” form, is required to be completed and signed by a licensed healthcare provider and parent/guardian. Proof of exam must be submitted upon entering Pre-K, Kindergarten and 6th grade, and/or when transferring from out of state.


If you have any questions about medical forms, please reach out to Field/ District School Nurse Eva Sahyouni at esahyouni@district31.net or 847-832-2205.

Register for PreK - 8th Grade

2024 BPAC Parent Workshop Series
The Bilingual Parent Advisory Committee (BPAC) second workshop for Multilingual Parents led by the LEAP (Language Empowers All People) Organization will take place April 5. Details are below.  The goal of these workshops is to engage and empower parents of Multilingual Learners as active partners in their children’s education. All workshops will take place at 8:30 a.m. in the Winkelman Commons.

  • April 5th: Language and Literacy
    • Discuss and compare steps to literacy development in English and represented cultures
    • Examine the relationship between language and literacy
    • Provide parents with everyday ways to support language for intermediate and middle school students
    • Review literacy supports offered in D31 schools

March Board of Education Recap
Board Meeting Highlights: 

  • Recognitions - The District 31 Board of Education was excited to celebrate and recognize the following:
    • Recognition of Field Middle School for their re-designation as an Illinois Horizon School to Watch.
    • Recognition of Sandra Luna, Coordinator of Multilingual Services who is a recipient of ISBE's "Those Who Excel Award."
    • Recognition of teachers Megan Correll, Patience Bertana, and Karrie Fisher who were each selected as presenters at various national and state conferences during the 2023-2024 school year.
    • Recognition of District 31 staff who will be receiving tenure for the 2025-2026 school year:  Athanasia Bercos (Field Special Education), Megan Correll (Field Math), Amber Egan (Winkelman Special Education), Colleen Hickey (Winkelman Music), Deb Jezuit (Field Science), Sandra Luna (EL Coordinator), Amy Rudolph (Winkelman Kindergarten), Rose Solovy (Winkelman 5th Grade), Lidda Vannavong (Winkelman 3rd Grade), and Becca Weisz (Field Art Teacher) 
  • Presentations and Discussion Items:
    • Mrs. Meg Knapik, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction shared the K-8 Social Studies Resource Adoption Recommendations.
    • Mrs. Meg Knapik, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction shared the K-8 STEM Resource Adoption Recommendations.
    • Dr. Erin Murphy, Superintendent presented the first read of an Intergovernmental Agreement between the Northbrook Park District and West Northfield School District 31.  This agreement will be presented for approval at the April Board of Education meeting.
    • Dr. Erin Murphy, Superintendent presented the first read of the summer curriculum work proposal that consists of work needed to open school, school leadership and other planning meetings, and essentially curriculum work.  This proposal will be presented for approval at the April Board of Education meeting.
    • Dr. Erin Murphy, Superintendent, reviewed legislation impacting schools.  This includes the Cook County Paid Leave Act and Senate Bill 3606 related to special education funding.  This discussion was informational.
    • The Board of Education reviewed the proposed dates for the 2024-2025 Board of Education meeting.  These dates will be approved at the April Board of Education meeting.
    • Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations, Cathy Lauria reviewed the Monthly Financial Reports for February as well as the Revenue and Expense Overview and Variance reports.
    • The Board of Education reviewed the Superintendent Report.  
  • The Board of Education made the following approvals:
    • Approved the tenure of teachers for the 2024-2025 school year.
    • Approved the Facility Use Agreement with Youth Services of Glenview/Northbrook
    • Approved the purchase of Apple iPads for grades K-2 as part of the technology replacement cycle in the amount of $126,420.
    • Adopted the resolution abating the working cash fund of West Northfield School District 31 in the amount of $850,000.  Projects to be funded by this money was discussed at length during the Buildings and Grounds Committee and includes, but not limited to, new theatrical lighting for the auditorium at Field, updated internal locks district wide, and small building projects to create student service rooms/offices in underutilized space. 
    • Approve the expenditure in the amount of $57,611.20 to Nystrom Young Citizens for the purchase of the K-2 Social Studies Curriculum Materials and Training.
    • Approve the expenditure in the amount of $32,824.03 to McGaw Hill Impact for the purchase of 3-5 Social Studies Curriculum Materials and Training.
    • Approve the expenditure in the amount of $40,750 to Discovery Ed Techbook for the purchase of 6-8 Social Studies Curriculum Materials and Training.
    • Approve the expenditure in the amount of $83,531 for Project Lead the Way Gateway for the purchase of 6-8 STEM materials and training.
    • Approve the staffing plan for the 2024-2025 school year.

The Board of Education meets monthly, usually on the last Thursday of the month, at 7 p.m. in the Field Middle School Learning Center. We welcome any member of our community to attend in person or virtually via our live stream. Agendas, minutes, and the link to the live stream can be found here. The District 31 Board of Education is composed of seven elected representatives from the District 31 attendance area. Each is elected for a four year term. Meet the members of the District 31 Board of Education here.

April Board of Education Meeting 
The next regular Board of Education meeting is Thursday, April 25, 2024 in the Field Learning Center at 7 p.m. The agenda is posted two days prior to the meeting here. The Policy Committee Meeting will take place prior to the Board of Education Meeting at 6 p.m., also in the Field Learning Center.

Overview of District 31 Advanced Learning Program
District 31 believes in having differentiated and rigorous education for all students. We invite parents and caregivers to learn more about our District 31 Advanced Learning Program by watching this 10 minute video overview. 

Do you have questions about the Advanced Learning Program? Please see the District 31 ALP webpage for more information. We also encourage you to review the information from our two February Parent University events:

Meg Knapik, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, will also be available to answer any questions you may have about our Advanced Learning Program on April 16 and April 17 at the Winkelman spring family events:

  • 4th/5th grades Tuesday, April 16, 6 to 8 p.m.
  • 2nd/3rd grades Wednesday, April 17, 6 to 8 p.m.

Upcoming State Testing in April
Upon returning from spring break, students in 3rd through 8th grade will take the state-mandated assessments that are used for accountability purposes for all public school districts in Illinois. The District asks for your partnership and support as we approach these important testing dates for our students!

Students in 3rd through 8th grade will take the Illinois Assessment for Readiness (IAR).

  • Winkelman testing dates: April 2 - April 8, 2024
  • Field testing dates: April 8 - 11, 2024

In addition, students in 5th and 8th grade will take the Illinois Science Assessment (ISA). 

  • Winkelman testing dates: April 5 - April 9, 2024
  • Field testing dates: April 17 - April 18, 2024

The IAR is a computer-based assessment designed to measure mastery of the Illinois Learning Standards Incorporating the Common Core in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics for all 3rd through 8th grade students. The ISA is aligned to the Illinois Learning Standards for Science incorporating the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and it is only given to 5th and 8th grade students. Our District 31 ELA, math, and science curricula, and therefore our student learning experiences, are also aligned to the Illinois Learning Standards.

Students in grades 3 through 8 with significant cognitive impairments take the Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM). The DLM is an alternative assessment to the state assessment of readiness for students who have significant disabilities which prevent them from participating in a traditional standardized assessment even when given accommodations. The DLM assesses students in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics.

Results from state testing are typically sent to school districts in the fall of the subsequent school year, which means you can expect a results report for your child in fall 2024. District 31 administrators, curriculum coordinators, and teachers will work together to examine the results. The data from these assessments allow us to analyze trends over time in order to evaluate our overall programming and facilitate continuous improvement of our educational programs in District 31.

To ensure our District 31 students are able to truly “show what they know”, please make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep and eats breakfast the week(s) of testing. This will help them put forth their best efforts on these state-mandated assessments. Thank you for your partnership and support!

Curriculum Review Cycle Updates
At the March 21, 2024 Board of Education meeting, the Board approved the purchase of the following Tier 1 resources that will be used to support standards-aligned instruction for all students. We are excited to provide our students with engaging standards-aligned learning experiences as we integrate these new resources into our instruction.

  • STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics)
    • Grades K - 5: Updates to the robotics ecosystem (Blue-bot, Ozobot Evo, Sphero Bolt, LEGO Spike)
    • Grades 6 - 8: Project Lead the Way Gateway Modules
      • 2024 - 2025: Design and Modeling all grades
      • 2025 - 2026: Grade 6 Design & Modeling, Grades 7 & 8 Computer Science for Innovators and Makers
      • 2026 - 2027: Grade 6 Design & Modeling, Grades 7 Computer Science for Innovators and Makers, Grades 8 Automation & Robotics

In June, teachers will participate in professional development to understand how these new resources can best guide high-quality instruction and assessment. 

We are grateful for the time, commitment, and leadership of the curriculum review committee members!

    • Social Studies Committee: Alicia Aydt, Jackie Baumann, Jenna Berkowsky, Demetria Grande, Beth LaPalermo, Jane Ricordati, Marty Frega, Kate McCowin, Noa Orgad, Melissa Kulbeda, Nino Alvarez, Shaton Wolverton, Meg Knapik
    • STEM Committee: Cali Greene, Dave Kondela, April Miller, Patience Bertana, Meg Knapik

Special Education Parent/ Guardian Checklist
If you have a concern about your child’s progress or suspect your child needs specialized instruction or support, follow the steps in the attached Parent/ Guardian Checklist.

Questions: Contact Dr. Janine Gruhn, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services at jgruhn@district31.net.

Multilingual (ML) Services 

The ML  Department is consulting with Dr. Barbara Marler to review and improve programming, resources, assessments, and the newcomer intake process in alignment with Strategic Plan Goal 2.

The MTSS component of the Multilingual Program review was completed at the end of February. The team created an Action Plan to improve district MTSS practices in the context of evidence/research based best practices and perceptual data. This plan includes: 

  • Implementing more appropriate data collection for Multilingual Learners. 
  • Establishing criteria and guidance for interventions for Multilingual Learners at Tier 2 and 3 levels.
  •  Improving the quality of instruction for MLs at Tier 1. 

The District EL Programming Committee had their second meeting with Dr. Marler where they reviewed the research and legal parameters as they apply to our current program model and what best practice dictates. The Committee reviewed several Multilingual Program models and discussed Instructional Approaches for Multilingual Learners at all proficiency levels. 

The committee’s final meeting with Dr. Marler takes place April 29 to review student needs in TBE/TPI program design. The Committee will also complete findings and recommendations and create a logic model, action plan, and conduct an analysis of the program. 

Parent Engagement Committee 
The Parent Engagement Committee held its latest meeting on March 11. This year, the Committee is discussing how to better help parents become partners in their child’s learning and working on an implementation plan for the 2024-2025 school year. If you are interested in joining the Parent Engagement Committee, please reach out to Hayley Garard at hgarard@district31.net. A draft of the Committee’s mission, vision, values and goals is available here

Upcoming Parent Engagement Committee Meeting Dates

  • Monday, April 29 
  • Monday, May 20

PTO News
View the April PTO Newsletter which includes information on important upcoming PTO events and programs.

No School in Recognition of Eid al-Fitr
Wednesday, April 10

PTO Restaurant Fundraiser at Kyoto Garden
Thursday, April 11 - All Day

5K for CATCH
Saturday, April 13
Learn More/ Register

4th/ 5th Grade Spring Concert
Tuesday, April 16 from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

CATCH Lunch and Learn: ADHD, It’s Complicated and So Are Our Kids
Tuesday, April 16
Register

PTO Spring Book Fair
April 16 from 2:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. and April 17 from 5:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Winkelman 

2nd/ 3rd Grade Spring Concert
Wednesday, April 17 from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

PTO Around the World Fun in D31
Friday, April 19

No School For Little Wildcats Preschool Students (PreK only)
Monday, April 22

K/ 1st Grade Spring Concert
Wednesday, April 24 from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Policy Committee Meeting
Thursday, April 25

Board of Education Meeting
Thursday, April 25

No School - Recognition of Orthodox Good Friday
Friday, May 3

PTO Teacher Appreciation Week 
May 6 - May 10

Ehlert Financial Group Learning to Save Series
Tuesday, May 14
Learn More/ Register

PTO Board Meeting
Tuesday, May 14

Curriculum Committee Meeting
Thursday, May 23

Board of Education Meeting
Thursday, May 23

Stress Awareness Month
April is Stress Awareness Month; a good time to evaluate your current stress level. Stress is an unavoidable, normal response to a change — even a positive change can be stressful.

Stress can also manifest mentally in anxiety, depression, and irritability. These stress responses need to be managed with good amounts and types of sleep, food, and exercise. Saying “no” to extra responsibilities and “yes” to relaxing, healthy activities can also counter stress.

If you or someone you know is experiencing hopelessness and suicidal thoughts, please seek help with these resources:

  • 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: A nationwide lifeline network operating 24/7 to provide free and confidential crisis services.
  • The Trevor Project: A 24/7 resource network for LGBTQ+ youth ages 13-24, including a free call/text crisis line.
  • NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness): Offers support groups and chapters throughout the United States.

If you are ever concerned that someone is in immediate danger of harming themselves, call 911 immediately!

For those needing professional support, consider contacting Care Solace, a complimentary and confidential service provided by West Northfield School District 31. They can help you find a mental health or substance use provider.

  • Call 888-515-0595. Multilingual support is available 24/7/365.
  • Visit caresolace.com/district31 and either search on your own or click "Book Appointment" for assistance via video chat, email, or phone.

Child Abuse Prevention Guides
Help equip your family with the tools to start important conversations about personal safety and sexual abuse prevention. Learn what to say at every age with these How-To Guides from the Hot Chocolate Talk Campaign.

Find practical advice and age-appropriate conversation starters for parents and caregivers to use with their children. Then visit HotChocolateTalk.org for additional family-engagement resources for educators.

Community Resources
The Community Resources page on the District website includes several beneficial resources to help families on a variety of different topics. The page is divided into the District’s community partners, mental health and crisis resources, health and safety resources, and academic resources. 

Caring Corner: Groceries and Personal Care Products Available
The District 31 Caring Corner is open every school day from 7 a.m. - 4 p.m.  in the District 31 Admin Office outer lobby, 3131 Techy (adjacent to Field Middle School). Groceries, staples, personal care products, and other items are available for the taking to any family who might need the items. No need to check in with the office.  Take what you need.

Homeless Information
If you or someone you know are experiencing homelessness or are a refugee, please contact Dr. Janine Gruhn, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services, jgruhn@district31.net, or 847-313-4411 for assistance and information regarding District 31. The following links are resources and a McKinney Vento Fact Sheet that describes what homelessness is and the rights of these students.