This morning the Superintendents of Adams County jointly posted an open letter regarding the school funding crisis. I have had a few people reach out to me asking for more detailed guidance on what to say in a letter or phone call to elected officials. I have put together a couple things that may be helpful.
This past week Governor Rauner gave his annual State of the State address. In it, he talked a lot about education. At the same time, we are still waiting on a state budget. Our district has done its part to step up and make difficult decisions to reduce expenses while ensuring a quality education.
Superintendents, principals, business officials, and school board members all lean on their state organizations to keep them informed. They join together to produce an "Alliance Legislative Report". Here is a link to the most recent update: ALR 99-36.
There continues to be a major butting of heads between Governor Rauner and Speaker Madigan. However, there appears to be an open dialogue between Senate President Cullerton. That's a step in the right direction, but we need more than steps because the state of Illinois is miles away from a stable financial future.
Don't get too excited. This is NOT an announcement about any specific day. Just so no one misunderstands when seeing the title. This post IS explaining another option to deal with poor weather conditions. With that, I will get back to the topic.
A two-hour delayed start will give us another option when dealing with severe weather conditions. Click below to read more about how this will play out in our district.
I have been able to have several discussions with community members over the past few months. There were 120 people at Community Night to talk about the state of the district. I have talked with people at their workplace, in their home, in my office, and over the telephone. I have met with some formal organizations and some informal gatherings of people who want to have some questions. We've had some good discussions about the complexity of the financial situation. I have certainly been grateful for the thoughtful conversation.
120 people gathered last night to talk about our partnership with John Wood Community College, the current school finance situation, and extracurricular activities. I will share some initial thoughts I have following the event. This will be my first of a few blog posts as a follow up to the community night.
Several times over the past couple years I have commented on how impressive the community support for our district has been. Often I have heard of donations from service organizations, local businesses, or people in the community that provide their time and effort.
When some people in the community expressed an interest in a new sign in front of Unity High School, I thought that was a great idea. However, I thought it would be quite some time before we raised the amount of money needed to tackle a project like that. A few short months later we have the sign installed and running. Thank you to all the generous donors who gave. A special thanks to Shaffer Enterprises and Knox Electric who volunteered their equipment and labor to complete the project.
It is that same level of support that has me excited about what the Friends of Unit 4 have been up to. This Sunday they will be meeting at 6:00 p.m. in the Unity High School cafeteria. I encourage you to come out and be a part of what they are doing. They will be discussing the upcoming Fall Festival. They will also be talking about the goals and purpose of the organization.
If you have not seen the flyers posted, keep your eye out. Or you could go to FriendsOfUnit4.com to see what all will be taking place. This is no small event that will be at the fairgrounds. There will be trap shooting, sand volleyball, bounce house, kid games, adult games, BBQ contest, live music, and plenty of food. They are working hard to prepare a special event to come together and celebrate our district. I hope you plan to be a part of it.
I'm not sure about your family, but we are looking forward to the return of the school year routine. I enjoy a little more predictable ebb and flow to the days - but I know that my calendar is going to start filling up with all the happenings around school.
As a district, we recognize the need to continually improve communication between the school and the community. One new addition to the district and school websites will be the calendar link. If you click on "calendar" at the top of the page, you will be taken to the District Activities Calendar.
It is a Google calendar, so you are able to have it automatically feed to your computer via the various methods listed above. It is presented in agenda view, but if you prefer to look at it as daily or weekly calendar, you can clock those options in the top right-hand corner.
We will try to keep it up to date with as many events and details as possible. If you think of school events that you do not see on the calendar, please contact one of the offices. This is a joint effort between the three schools and the district office. We hope you will find it helpful as you get back into the swing of the school year.
We will wrap up the school business for Fiscal Year 2015 at our June 24th Board of Education Meeting. We will approve the paying of the last round of bills for 2014. Then on July 1st we will begin the 2016 Fiscal year. This time of year I always marvel at the confusing timeline of public school finance. I felt it would be worth a few minutes to comment on it this morning.
April 1, 2015 was the third Community Night event since last spring. Each night is filled with information sharing, good questions, and honest dialogue. I'm always grateful to get ideas and perspectives from the district. I love to see people sit down and have a good discussion over these challenging questions. We don't have to agree - in fact the best thinking comes in the tension of opposing viewpoints when we have some common good in mind.