Superintendent Comments

SUPERINTENDENT’S COMMENTS

Dr. Lynda C. Andre

May 14, 2019

  • Student Recognitions:  EHS Junior Scottlynn Ballard , the EHS Journalism Team, and Do the Right Thing student awards
  • Community Group Recognitions:  District 7 School Lunch Debt Solutions and Painting the Town Gold Campaign
  • Increase in lunch prices for 2019-2020

Student Recognitions

At last night’s meeting, the District 7 Board of Education recognized a number of students for their recent accomplishments:

  • EHS Junior Scottlynn Ballard, runner-up in the National Poetry Out Loud competition held in Washington DC last month, provided a brief reading of a poem.
  • EHS Journalism students and their sponsor EHS English teacher Amanda Thrun were recognized for their recent first place finish in the IHSA State Journalism Finals held in Normal, Illinois.
  • Forty-four students were recognized at the May Do the Right Thing

Community Group Recognitions

The board also was presented with a $7,000.00 check from the District 7 School Lunch Debt Solutions committee for the 2018-2019 school year. Under the leadership of committee chair Trish Oberweis, funds were raised to help offset costs of unpaid meal balances that accrue as a result of families in financial distress. We appreciate their generosity and ongoing support for this project.

Representatives Todd Schultz, Carla Fink, and Lucas Siron from Painting the Town Gold were also in attendance to provide an overview of the September 2019 campaign to raise awareness and funds to support pediatric cancer research. EHS graduate Todd Schultz spoke about his commitment to this project and his experiences with his own cancer diagnosis and road to recovery.

Approval of Lunch Price Increase for the 2019-2020 School Year to Comply With The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010

The board approved a $0.10 increase in lunch prices at the elementary, middle and high school levels for the 2019-2020 school year to comply with The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

Under the provisions of the Act, school nutrition programs are required to move towards charging paid meal category students at a price that is on average equal to the difference between free meal reimbursement and paid meal reimbursement.

Schools that charge less than this amount are required to gradually increase their prices over time until the requirement is met. The amount of the per meal increase mandated for the 2019-2020 school year is 3.7%.

Failing to comply with the provisions of the Act would jeopardize the District’s participation in the free and reduced lunch program and could result in a loss of federal revenue of over $700,000 annually.

Superintendent’s Comments – April 24, 2019

Dr. Lynda C. Andre
April 24, 2019

  • Social Emotional Programming and Services Study
  • K-12 Science Curriculum Study Committee
  • K-12 Math Curriculum Study Committee
  • EHS Schoology Trainers
  • Appreciation for Departing Board of Education Members

District 7 is fortunate to have dedicated and professional certified staff members who contribute their expertise and talent on important projects that impact thousands of students each year. Approximately 120 teachers and other certified faculty members have been part of several curriculum study teams spending hundreds of hours aligning curricula to state standards and designing instructional programs and support services for our 7,500 students.

The programming and services provided to our children are superior as a result of their efforts. Serving on a curriculum committee is a responsibility that is in addition to the work as a classroom teacher, social worker, school psychologist, and counselor. These staff members volunteer for this responsibility because they are committed to excellence for the students they serve. We are so grateful for their participation.

Social Emotional Programming and Services Study

District 7’s Student Services and Special Education Office initiated a curriculum and services study this year to update the Illinois Social Emotional Learning Goals into support services and programming for students. A team of thirty individuals including; school psychologists, social workers, administrators, counselors, parents, and mental health experts, is working on this multi-year study. Components of the study include:

  • Review and adoption of social-emotional programs that can be delivered to all students
  • Development of a multi-tier structure for the delivery of social-emotional interventions to students who need intensive supports
  • Adoption of researched-based interventions targeting specific mental health needs
  • Updating suicide prevention programs
  • Enhancing supports for bullying prevention
  • Development of a coordinated mental health response to crisis situations

District 7 is collaborating with Dr. Lisa Horowitz of the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, MD to adapt a research-based suicide risk screening tool (ASQ) and Brief Suicide Safety Assessment for use in the educational setting. These tools will be used by school-based mental health professionals when conducting risk assessments for students demonstrating the need for such screening/assessment.

K-12 Science Curriculum Study Committee

Thirty-four teachers on the K-12 Science Curriculum Study Committee have worked intensively all year to develop a standards-aligned science curriculum that will be implemented in August. This group of teachers will continue to work throughout the spring and summer to provide professional development for other teachers and to monitor the science curriculum implementation during the 2019-2020 school year.

K-12 Math Curriculum Study Committee

The forty-one members of the K-12 Math Curriculum Study Committee continue to monitor the implementation of the new instructional materials, review pacing guides, and study results of the quarterly common assessments. These teachers have worked tirelessly for several years first developing an aligned K-12 math curriculum and then, when funds became available through Prop E, began reviewing textbooks and digital resources for the full implementation last fall.

EHS Schoology Trainers

Fourteen teachers at Edwardsville High School served as Schoology trainers this year, supporting their colleagues in the implementation of the first learning management system at EHS. Their knowledge and expertise was instrumental in this first year as teachers were able to consult with in-building experts for advice and uploading of curriculum resources.

Appreciation for Departing Board of Education Members

Monica Laurent was elected in April 2003. During her sixteen years of service, Mrs. Laurent has served on various board committees including the Policy Committee, Finance Committee, and Curriculum Committee and was the Citizen Advisory Committee Board representative. Mrs. Laurent has served as the board president for the last six years.

Paul Pitts was elected April 2007. During his twelve years of service, he has served on various board committees including the Personnel Committee, Curriculum Committee, Facilities Committee, and Policy Committee.

These volunteers were critical to District 7 during the years of growth in student enrollment which led to the construction of four schools and millions of dollars in Health Life Safety repairs and renovations to school facilities.

They were strong advocates for all students and their support of curriculum studies and updates has ensured that, even in difficult financial times, students and teachers had the instructional materials and professional development sessions needed to deliver high quality instruction within the limits of the District’s financial resources.

Mrs. Laurent and Mr. Pitts continue to be tireless supporters of financial stability and balanced budgets; their years on the school board include years of prosperity and years of financial crisis. They were both strong supporters of the recently passed increase to the Education Fund, the first increase in 40 years, and assisted with educating parents and non-parents alike on the District’s financial needs throughout the seven communities that make-up District 7.
District 7 will miss their strong leadership skills. There are no words of appreciation strong enough to recognize them for their service – except a heartfelt thank you from the thousands of students, employees, and parents across the district.

Nekisha Omotola is also concluding her service on the Board of Education. Mrs. Omotola brought a positive perspective to board governance and her service is appreciated.

We thank Mrs. Monica Laurent, Mr. Paul Pitts, and Mrs. Nekisha Omotola for their service to District 7 and wish them well in future endeavors.

Superintendent’s Comments – March 12, 2019

Dr. Lynda C. Andre
March 12, 2019

  • Approval of K-12 Science Curriculum and Purchase of New Science Instructional Materials
  • March 22 Teacher Institute Day Plans
  • School Messenger Parent Portal
  • Revised 2018-2019 School Calendar

Approval of K-12 Science Curriculum and Purchase of New Science Instructional Materials

At last night’s meeting, the District 7 Board of Education approved the revised K-12 science curriculum and the recommendation for purchase of instructional materials including textbooks, digital content, and new science equipment.

As promised during the “Prop E” Education Fund referendum, the District is on track with the plan to update all curricular areas, including the purchase of textbooks, and to restore the curriculum development cycle. The next academic area to undergo a curriculum study will be K-12 Social Science. A committee will be convened in the fall of 2019 with a planned implementation date of August 2020.

I’d like to thank the District 7 administrators and teachers on the committee, led by Director of Curriculum Cathie Wright, for completing this comprehensive curriculum revision over the course of the school year. The revised science curriculum is aligned to the New Illinois Learning Standards, which include the Next Generation Science Standards, so that our students will be receiving a standards-aligned curriculum, replacing a 10-year old curriculum. Teachers will begin professional development on the new curriculum and become familiar with the new instructional materials at the upcoming Teacher Institute Day and throughout the spring and summer. Students will receive new science textbooks for the 2019-2020 school year.

March 22 Teacher Institute Day Plans

In addition to science curriculum professional development workshops, District 7 teachers will be practicing Part 2 of the 4 E’s Program on March 22. We are very grateful to our local law enforcement partners – the Edwardsville Police Department, the Glen Carbon Police Department, and the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, for their participation in the training that will take place at each District 7 school. The 4 E’s approach to armed intruder preparedness began last October.

The District’s goal is for all 950 employees to receive training in this critical component of our emergency plans before the end of the school year. We thank our law enforcement partners in advance for their leadership and willingness to help all thirteen District 7 schools practice this training.

School Messenger Parent Portal

If you haven’t already done so, please remember to sign up for the new parent app that will consolidate all emails, phone calls, and text messages from the District into a new communications app. Parents and employees can:

  • Set communication preferences for calls, emails, texts, and more
  • Receive all kinds of school messages (classroom and group updates, activity alerts, school and district notifications) in one single app
  • Review messages on any device – smartphone, laptop, etc.

Go to http://go.schoolmessenger.com to download the SchoolMessenger mobile app for Apple and Android devices or use the web-based version from your internet browser to sign up.

With the new SchoolMessenger app, parents, employees, and community members have 24/7/365 access to important school notifications such as weather and emergency alerts.

Revised 2018-2019 School Calendar

The revised last day for student attendance is: Friday, May 24, 2019.

The revised last day for teachers is: Tuesday, May 28, 2019.

Superintendent’s Comments – February 26, 2019

Dr. Lynda C. Andre
February 26, 2019

Proposed K-12 Science Curriculum and Materials Adoption

On Monday night, the administration presented the updated K-12 science curriculum to the Board of Education for discussion. This was the second of many curricular presentations that will be made to the Board of Education over the next few years. These curricular updates are possible as a direct result of our communities’ passage of Proposition E.

A major focus of the Proposition E Plan was to provide District 7 with an ongoing revenue source to restore the curriculum development cycle, including the purchase of new textbooks and digital resources, which would support each academic subject. Curricular areas long overdue for review have been scheduled into a three-year plan for study. Last spring, the Board of Education approved the purchase of new K-12 math textbooks and digital resources which were implemented this school year.

As a result of the State’s adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards, District 7 initiated a K-12 science curriculum study according to the established curriculum development process.  A group of thirty-four (34) K-12 teachers was convened to study the Next Generation Science Standards and current research into best instructional practices before designing a complete curriculum for our students.

The District 7 curriculum review process is thorough, unique, effective, and

  • Provides consistency across all buildings
  • Removes redundancy between grade levels/courses
  • Provides pacing guides
  • Outlines research-based instructional practices

What is determined in a curriculum study?

  • Content and skills taught at each grade level
  • Amount of time spent teaching each skill/unit
  • Instructional practices required and implemented
  • Materials used to implement the new curriculum
  • Professional development needed to ensure teachers are prepared to teach the revised curriculum with new materials

One of the responsibilities of the K-12 Science Curriculum Study Committee, after the development of the curriculum, is the identification of science instructional materials and equipment needed to implement the revised curriculum. The following instructional materials were recommended for purchase:

Elementary Instructional Materials
National Geographic, Exploring Science (Copyright 2018)
Big books for Kindergarten
Textbooks for students in grades 1-5
Digital interactive student e-book (6 yr. license)
Leveled readers for each elementary school
Equipment for labs
Teachers’ guides and support materials
Total cost:  $321,000

Middle School Instructional Materials
Pearson, Elevate Science (Copyright 2019)
Student textbooks
Digital interactive student e-book (6 yr. license)
Engineering and Design Notebook
Classroom Maker Crate kits
STEM Invention Toolkit
Equipment for labs
Teachers’ guides and support materials
Total cost:  $298,000

High School Instructional Materials
Multiple publishers based on course (Copyrights 2017-2020)
Student textbooks
Digital interactive student e-books (6 yr. license)
Lab equipment
Technology
Consumables, including chemicals
Teachers’ guides and support materials
Total cost:  $422,000

The total cost of the science curriculum adoption including all textbooks, digital licenses, teacher support materials, technology, equipment and consumables is $1,041,000.00. The implementation of the revised science curriculum is scheduled for August 2019.

In 2019-2020, K-12 Social Science Curriculum Study Committee will be convened for the purpose of reviewing and revising the K-12 Social Science Curriculum.

Superintendent’s Comments – February 12, 2019

Dr. Lynda C. Andre
February 12, 2019

  • Focus on Finance Report: Implementation of Proposition E Financial Goals
  • Lincoln School Alumni Foundation Donation
  • School Messenger Parent App

Focus on Finance Report: Implementation of Proposition E Financial Goals
At Monday night’s regular meeting, Assistant Superintendent for Business Operations, Dave Courtney provided a financial update to the board and community on the progress being made toward District 7 achieving financial stability as a result of the passage of Proposition E in April 2017.

With the passage of Proposition E, the District has begun the slow process of restoring financial stability, fulfilling a promise made to the community. However, the District and Board of Education must continue to carefully monitor expenditures to avoid returning to the financial uncertainty the District has experienced since 2009.

For the first time in eleven years, the District has a balanced budget and is on track to begin reducing the Education Fund debt during the 2018-2019 school year. It is projected that, assuming financial conditions and state funding remain on track and expenditure increases are controlled, the District will pay off its Education Fund debt by the end of the 2019-2020 school year and should then be in a position to achieve a 10% fund balance reserve by the end of the 2022-2023 school year.

Two of the promises made to the District 7 community during the Proposition E campaign were:

  • Achievement of a balanced budget by June 30, 2019 as required by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and
  • Elimination of the District’s accumulating Education Fund debt.

The original 2018-2019 budget and current mid-year projection indicates that the District remains on track to reduce the Education Fund negative fund balance (debt) from $5.3 million to approximately $1.9 million by June 30, 2019.

In addition, as a result of having a balanced budget in the Education Fund this year, the District will not have to transfer tax levy funding from the Working Cash Fund ($700,000) to the Education Fund-beginning the restoration of Working Cash Fund reserves which have been depleted since June 30, 2016.

Lincoln School Alumni Foundation Donation
We are fortunate to have citizens in our community such as those in the Lincoln School Alumni Foundation who care about District 7 students, teachers, and families in the generous ways they have over many years.

Once again, this group of citizens’ generosity is only exceeded by their enthusiasm and commitment to our school district. Their donations have provided financial support to programs that benefit students; including, college entrance exam prep courses, middle school tutoring, elementary summer reading programs, and principal-led school initiatives.

On behalf of District 7’s 7,600 students and over 450 teachers, I want to express our sincerest appreciation to the Lincoln School Alumni Foundation for their most recent donation of $20,000.

SchoolMessenger Parent App
At Monday night’s board meeting, the District introduced the second of three communication enhancements for parents. After launching updated websites, District 7 is now releasing a parent app that will consolidate all emails, phone calls, and text messages from the District into a new communications app. Parents and employees can:

  • Set communications preferences for calls, emails, texts, and more
  • Receive all kinds of school messages (classroom and group updates, activity alerts, school and district notifications) in one single app
  • Review messages on any device – smartphone, laptop, etc.

Go to http://go.schoolmessenger.com to download the SchoolMessenger mobile app for Apple and Android devices or use the web-based version from your internet browser to sign up.

With the new SchoolMessenger app, parents, employees, and community members have 24/7/365 access to important school notifications such as weather and emergency alerts.

Superintendent’s Comments – January 15, 2019

Dr. Lynda C. Andre
January 15, 2019

  • Board Approves 2019-2020 School Calendar
  • 2018-2019 Calendar Reminders
  • 5Essentials Parent Survey

Board Approves 2019-2020 School Calendar
At last night’s regular board meeting, the board approved the 2019-2020 school calendar. [2019-2020 School Calendar]

Highlights of the 2019-2020 calendar include:

  • Teacher Institute on Monday, August 12, 2019
  • First day of student attendance on Tuesday, August 13, 2019 (1/2 day AM)
  • District 7 Institute – October 4, 2019, No Student Attendance
  • Parent Teacher Conferences on October 23, 24, and 25, 2019
  • Thanksgiving Break – November 27, 28 and 29, 2019
  • Last day for student attendance – end of first semester – December 20, 2019
  • Holiday Break – 10 days (December 23, 2019 through January 3, 2020)
  • Spring Break – April 6, 2020 through April 13, 2020
  • District 7 Teacher Institute – April 24, 2020, ½ day AM Student Attendance
  • Last Day for Student Attendance – May 21, 2020, ½ day AM Student Attendance
  • Teacher Institute – May 21, 2020 (PM)
  • 5 emergency days – May 22 through May 29
  • High School Graduation – May 23, 2020

2018-2019 Calendar Reminders
District 7 students will not have school on Monday, January 21, 2019, in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Day.

5Essentials Parent Survey
The Illinois 5Essentials Survey window for parents is closing on February 15, 2019. The survey takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. Here is a quick link to the survey: https://survey.5-essentials.org/Illinois/

Superintendent’s Comments – January 3, 2019

Dear Parent/Guardians:

As we open the second half of the 2018-2019 school year, I want to reassure you that school safety and security remains District 7’s highest priority. We take this responsibility seriously and continue to actively review and improve security measures to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, the safety of all students, employees, and visitors in our schools.

During the current school year, District 7 has taken significant steps to improve school safety and security through the following initiatives:

  • Expanded the School Safety Officer (SSO) program to include daily coverage from 6:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. at nine elementary schools in order to address SSO coverage of Kid Zone, the District’s before and after school child care program
  • Provided intensive armed intruder training to nearly 500 certified staff members using the national 4 E’s program
  • Conducted an analysis of all classroom door locking mechanisms with recommendations for additional safety measures to be installed by the summer of 2019
  • Increased the number of certified school social workers and school psychologists to assist in addressing student social and emotional wellness issues
  • Upgraded video surveillance systems on all school buses

In addition, the District will provide 4 E’s training to another 400 non-certified employees before the end of the school year.

Strong and active partnerships with the Edwardsville Police Department, the Glen Carbon Police Department and the Madison County Sheriff’s Office provide the foundation for all aspects of the District’s emergency response plans. We are fortunate to have the highest commitment possible from these law enforcement agencies, not only in the development of security plans, but also in the response and support needed in situations that pose possible threats to our students and staff. This support includes regular inspections of schools and regular practice drills of all types of emergency situations.

We continue to ask that students tell a trusted adult if they see a concerning post on social media or receive an intimidating message, understand that cyber-bullying will not be tolerated and that hurtful comments can have serious consequences when directed toward a classmate and understand that participation in posting or sharing a threat to school safety will be taken very seriously by both the school district and local law enforcement agencies.

I ask you to share your expectations for responsible use of social media, including text messaging, with your child. Young children often have access to these powerful communication tools and may not understand yet the long-term legal and school consequences of posting or sharing threats and inappropriate photos.

Working together can be our best strategy toward ensuring the maintenance of a safe, secure and orderly learning environment for our 7,500 students in District 7. Thank you in advance for your support.

I wish you and your family a safe and healthy start to 2019!

Respectfully,
Dr. Lynda C. Andre
Superintendent

Superintendent’s Comments – August 14, 2018

SUPERINTENDENT’S COMMENTS
Dr. Lynda C. Andre
August 14, 2018

  • Welcome to the 2018-2019 School Year
  • Blueprint for Excellence and Focus on Finance Reports

Welcome to the start of the 2018-2019 school year! District 7 schools received more than 7,500 students yesterday. Teachers and staff members have created warm and inviting classrooms and have attended countless hours of professional development and meetings with colleagues over the summer to be ready for this year.

Principals and assistant principals have been hard at work not only in professional development workshops but meeting with new families, new teachers, and other support staff hired to join the District 7 family.

The District 7 custodial, maintenance, and grounds staffs have also been hard at work preparing our 15 campuses for the year. They have done an outstanding job.

Our technology staff has also completed critical projects such as the installation of WIFI at Edwardsville High School and the installation of more than 300 new student computers at schools across the district.

The District’s newest employees in the expanded School Safety Officer Program have also received training as we increase school security services to include the before and after school Kid Zone programs.

I want to thank all District 7 parents who trust us to educate their children; it is a responsibility we take very seriously. On behalf of the Board of Education and our 978 employees, we welcome everyone to the 2018-2019 school year.

Blueprint for Excellence and Focus on Finance Reports

Beginning this month and continuing through the fall, the administration will present updates to the community through Blueprint for Excellence and Focus on Finance reports on the implementation of the second year of the Prop E plan. This year, several exciting initiatives will begin, all due to the generosity of the citizens of District 7.

  • All students received new math instructional materials and textbooks.
  • Edwardsville High School now has WIFI and a learning management system on a secure network.
  • More than 300 new computers were installed across District 7 schools.
  • The expansion of the School Security Officer program provides coverage during hours of Kid Zone operation.
  • District 7 will have a balanced budget for the first time in ten years and is on track to begin paying down a significant portion of the Education Fund debt by next summer.

I will continue to report on the status of the new curriculum, technology, and school security initiatives as well as provide updates on the District’s progress toward achieving financial stability throughout the year.