Summary of January 28, 2020 Board of Education Meeting

Summary of January 28, 2020 Board of Education Meeting



Recognition of Visitors:

Mrs. Pullara shared with the Board of Education that twenty-eight Homer students participated in the Illinois Music Educator Festival held in November at Joliet Central High School. Students demonstrated hard work and dedication by practicing every morning of the week, starting at 7:00 a.m., in preparation for this event.


This year, Mrs. Pullara had two choirs: a mixed gender choir and an all girls choir. The Board of Education and audience recognized all of our choir students and offered congratulations! A big thank you to Mrs. Pullara for her hard work and dedication for fostering musical excellence in our students!  


The Board recognized the Homer 33C Honor Chorus students who qualified to participate in the Illinois Music Education Association 2019 Festival Concert:  Samuel Alvarado, Graham Carlson, Jacon Habas, Brandon McCarthy, Cheyenne Klimkiewicz, Sophia Melody, Addison Kouba, Gabby Costello, Payton Holzhauser, Abigail Sanford, Moira Sagon, Evelyn Morack, Eve Conley, Grace Samuelson, Aubrey Groenendal, Annabeth Glowczynski, Christina Novak, Julie Perretta, Nica Pulciani, Jacqueline Tanquilut, Maya Wozniak, Valerie Ehrman, Emma DoDaro, Marcy Curry, Haley McManis, Violet Martinez, Allison Chorley, and Allison McNulty.  Students were presented with an award certificate by Board president, Debbie Martin.


A visitor shared her concern with the student numbers in second grade classrooms at Butler School. She felt students were not receiving the academic attention that they deserve.


Homer Council Report:

Co-President of the certified union, Cathy Clayton, wished everyone a happy 2020!  With a new year, the union has reflected on their priorities.  Their top priority continues to be putting students' needs first.  She shared the importance of building trusting and professional relationships.  Additionally, she said the union continues to encourage respectful and responsible use of social media by teachers and hopes Homer teachers will be treated with the same respect as professionals.


Homer Support Staff:

Co-President of support staff union, Stella Kapusta, thanked the Board of Education for a great start to contract negotiations.



●        Gertrude Zukowski - lunchroom monitor at Goodings Grove School, eff 1/24/2020


Leaves of Absence:

●        Kathleen Coopman - special education teacher at Hadley Middle School - eff. 1/6/2020 - 2/5/2020

●        Carrie Tellor - 1-4 grade special education teacher at Schilling School - eff.1/6/2020 - 1/31/2020, returning to work on 1/15/2020; 1/22/2020 and 1/29/2020, permanently returning to work on 2/3/2020

●        Rosalie Leitelt - ESL teacher at Goodings Grove School - intermittent between 1/21/2020 and the last day of the 2019-2020 school year, returning the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year

●        Christine Kuczero - EC paraprofessional at Young School - eff. 1/21/2020 - 2/10/2020 (anticipated return date)

●        Susan Shea - Title 1 math instructional aide at Homer Junior High School - eff. 2/7/2020 - 3/6/2020, returning on 3/9/2020

●        Joann Costello - bus driver at Transportation - eff. 1/7/2020 - 2/7/2020, returning to work on 2/10/2020

●        Susan Koziarski - paraprofessional at Goodings Grove School - revised eff. dates of 1/24/2020-3/6/2020, returning on 3/10/2020, contingent on doctor’s release

●        Frank Esposito - Maintenance at Transportation - eff. 12/12/19 - 2/28/2020


Employment Recommendation(s):

●        Kaitlin Ruane - instructional aide at Goodings Grove School - eff. 1/29/2020

●        David Booth - lunchroom monitor at Butler School - eff. 1/29/2020

●        Kathleen Trilla - lunchroom monitor at Goodings Grove School - eff. 1/29/2020

●        Mary Stieber - paraprofessional at Young School  - eff. 1/29/2020

●        Michael Simari - bus driver at Transportation - eff. 2/28/2020, dependent on successfully completing his criminal background check and obtaining his CDL for driving a school bus


Employment Recommendation(s) for Extra-Curricular Staff: 

●        Char Madonia - Special Olympics Sponsor at Hadley Middle School - eff. immediately

●        Cari Clarida - Special Olympics Sponsor at Homer Junior High School - eff. immediately

●        Jeff Jonaitis - Young Run Club Sponsor at Young School - eff. spring 2019-2020

●        Wendy Bruin - Young Run Club Sponsor at Young School - eff. spring 2019-2020

●        Kari Olson - Young Talent Show Sponsor at Young School - eff. spring 2019-2020

●        Lisa Estes - Young Talent Show Sponsor at Young School - eff. spring 2019-2020


Informational Reports:


Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, Mike Portwood, provided an update on staffing. He mentioned that there were open positions for substitute custodians, lunchroom supervisors, bus drivers, and utility mechanics/grounds workers. He thanked Renee Karalus for attending the ISPA conference in Springfield. Mr. Portwood shared he is revamping our job fair presence and presentation.


In regards to enrollment planning, Mr. Schoppe, Mr. Kirkus and Mr. Portwood have met with several third parties to learn more about the master planning process as it relates to our enrollment concerns and subsequent facilities discussion.


Additionally, Mr. Portwood provided an update on personnel. Currently, the Homer administration team is reviewing the new certified staff contract language and discussing changes and relevant points.


Mr. Portwood shared changes in our registration process. We will be using eCollect as our software for registration. Beginning this week, parents will be able to interface with eCollect through the PowerSchool system to choose their child’s elective for the upcoming school year.  March 3 is the date for open kindergarten registrations.  Returning student registration opens on April 1.  Mr. Portwood offered a big thank you to Mr. Kirkus, Mr. Nush and Mrs. Gritzenbach for all their hard work in the process.


Mr. Szopinski, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, shared that we narrowed our 6th-8th grade science resources down to two selections: Amplify and Glencoe iScience. The science cadre anticipates having a Board recommendation for the April Board meeting.


In addition, Mr. Szopinski reported Homer 33C had a state audit completed on our Title I, II and III grants. The state auditor reported that we did very well--only minor recommendations were given.


He reported that 7th-8th grade ELA teachers will be creating units of study and selecting resources for those units in February.


Finally, Mr. Szopinski reported that all K-2nd grade training on Wilson Fundations has been scheduled during the months of April and May.


Mr. Wysong reported that 95% of Hadley Punch List is finished. Glen shared the HVAC flushing went well, the results were good. He shared that they are still waiting on a substantial rain to evaluate the Butler School louvers. Finally, Mr. Wysong recognized and thanked his department of buildings and grounds for their superb job clearing all entering ways and parking lots on January 17 and January 24. They certainly ensured that our students and staff are safe. 


Mrs. Renee Karalus, Director of Special Services, reported that she attended a preschool roundup at the Homer Community Public LIbrary, where 25-30 parents visited our table to receive information on our preschool program.  Parents asked many questions and appeared to be excited about our program. The date of January 25, 2021, has been selected for next year's preschool roundup.


Renee mentioned the S.I. teachers were researching curricula to determine if there was a curriculum that aligned better to the needs of their students.


She also thanked Char Madonia and Cari Clarida for coaching the Special Olympics bowling team for Homer 33C, and stated that they are excited to begin by celebrating RESPECT at the same time.


She also shared that the Jan 6th special education teacher institute day was a success and shared information about the various presentations made.


During the recent audit, Mrs. Karalus shared that the audit went well and that we received a compliment that was worthy of sharing--Amiee Dagenais was praised for her SPED-IDEA grant recordkeeping as being impeccable! Way to go Amiee!


Lastly, she thanked Michelle McDougall and Julie Bernar for offering to host an online 504 plan training on February 12. Psychologists and nurses have also been invited to attend. We purchased a digital version for staff that would like to view this in the future as well.


Robert Rounsaville, Director of Transportation, reported he is the process of interviewing bus drivers in order to replace the ten retiring bus drivers. Mr. Rounsaville commended the bus drivers for getting students to and from school safely every day. He thanked them for their focus on car traffic and road conditions. Robert also commended Mr. Wysong’s buildings and grounds staff for ensuring the parking lots are cleared and safe for buses and students.   


Homer Junior High School Principal, Troy Mitchell, reported this year at Homer Junior High School has been a record breaking year in many ways with new initiatives and giving back to our community. Mr. Mitchell reported the current jr. high enrollment is 880 students: 412 in 7th grade and 468 students in 8th grade, largest class in school history. In November, 300 students and 47 chaperones made the annual trip to Springfield, our most ever to attend.

In technology, a lot of new things at HJH, we began the year with students taking Chromebooks home. We couldn’t be happier with how it has gone. They are developing charging expectations through our school leadership team. When we came back to school on 1/6/20, we were greeted by 5 new copiers: for student and staff use, great copying quality, easy to use and located in convenient locations throughout the school. In addition, Mr. Mitchell mentioned that they are using technology to have students select their elective courses for next year electronically. This will begin this Thursday, and will be completed by Valentine’s Day.

The HJH Weekly messages are also new this year, with a few clicks of the button, Mr. Mitchell has been given the tools to email out weekly messages and reminders to all of our parents each Friday morning at 10:00 am. Mr. Mitchell reported a lot of positive parent feedback.

In regards to school security, we look forward to getting more security upgrades at HJH. This year, all students, staff and visitors are wearing their I.D.s on their lanyards during the school day.

During the first quarter, HJH began the year with two very powerful assemblies. One assembly was on Anti bullying, with a focus on how we treat each other, not being bystanders to bullying and being responsible with technology. The second assembly focused on the risks of vaping, sponsored by the Robert Crown Center for Health Education. Our guest speaker discussed all of the misinformation on this topic and also talked about the scientific findings and why they should avoid vaping.

On the last school day of 2019, 12-20, HJH honored many individuals and groups of students during our Assembly of Awesomeness in the following areas: academic achievement and growth, our ILMEA Band & Chorus students, acknowledged Athletics and Honor Club. The school organized a collection Toys for tots. They filled many boxes with 265 toys for needy families, 14 more toys than last year! Student Council did their part in stocking the Lockport Fish Food Pantry and filled one and a half trucks with nonperishables, another HJH Record!

On Veteran’s Day in November, Student Council hosted a Veteran’s Day Breakfast. The breakfast began before school in the cafeteria. After breakfast, the Veteran’s left HJH Via the Parade of Champions of cheering students/staff and patriotic songs.

Natural Helpers, this organization continues to fill the roles of peer helpers and leaders. They attended the annual weekend retreat training. They were selected by their peers. During the year, this group sponsors events with the focus on acceptance. One example will take place next month for the Month of Kindness at HJH!

HJH Girls Basketball Teams, during the season, they raised $410 during the 2nd annual PINK OUT event through concessions, tickets and selling PINK OUT gear. Proceeds were donated to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Also during the Assembly of Awesomeness, our symphonic band and show choir performed, and of course were awesome! And finally, we recently crowned our Geography Bee champion, which will be followed by the Spelling Bee this Friday. There is a lot going on at HJH.



Superintendent’s Report:


Long Term Facilities Update


City of Lockport Residential Development 

Last week, Mr. Schoppe, Mr. Kirkus and Mr. Portwood  met with Lance Theis, Director of Community and Economic Development for the City of Lockport. This was our first meeting with Lance to discuss upcoming residential developments within our district boundaries. We reviewed the City of Lockport zoning map to gain a deeper understanding of where future developments may go as well as all of the open spaces that are currently open but may become zoned as residential in the future. We requested digital copies of the zoning map so that we can combine that with the zoning map for Homer Glen and digitally overlay them with our district boundary map. This will provide the district a helpful tool in identifying areas of future growth for the entire district.

Lance identified that phase three of the Oak Creek subdivision is likely to begin in the near future. He also identified a possible residential development just west of Cedar Road that is being considered and could bring a 200-plus home development down the road. We will continue to stay in contact with Lance to be aware of future residential developments in Lockport.


Demographic Study

Mr. Schoppe is currently working with the Lockport High School superintendent to identify demographers to complete a study for our district boundaries. A demographer would perform an analysis of the district’s enrollment, including a 10-year enrollment projection, and identify where the population is growing within the district. If we are able to partner with the high school in this project, we will cut our costs for the study and not duplicate the efforts for the overlapping boundaries. Some other Lockport elementary school districts are also considering collaborating with our efforts.



Since the December Board meeting, we have reached out to a few districts which are currently working through similar overcrowding issues to give us an idea how other districts are approaching the problem. The districts provided recommendations of “master planners” that they have collaborated with to assist in analyzing possible options and recommending the best course of action. We have met with five firms to get ideas on how to proceed. Although we still have further research to do and are not recommending we hire an outside group to assist at this time, it is an option we are considering.


Next Steps

1. Complete a demographic study

2. Create zoning maps with information from Homer Glen and Lockport

3. Study grades 5-8 feasibility plans

4. Study EC-4 feasibility plans

5. Timeline


Board Approved Items:

●                    Updated list of capital projects

●                    Meal reimbursement amounts for the 2020 calendar year


First Review of 2020-2021 School Year Calendar:

Superintendent Schoppe discussed the 2020-2021 school-year calendar, which he intends to submit to the Board for final approval next month.


Board Approved Items:

●        Create the FY21 budget, fix the FY21 fiscal year, and approve budget expenditures for FY21

●        Notice of retirement for Megan Browning, English/Language Arts Teacher at Homer Junior High School, subject to compliance with the applicable requirements of TRS and the District's collective bargaining agreement - effective at the end of the 2023-2024 school year.

●        School Maintenance Grant application for tuckpointing and brick sealing work at Homer Junior High School.

●        AkitaBox, new maintenance work order system

●        Sonitrol as an intrusion alarm system for all district buildings.

●        0.5 FTE spanish teacher at Hadley Middle School.

●        1.0 Title 1 math instructional aide at Goodings Grove School, effective January 29, 2020 through the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. 

●        1.0 instructional aide at Butler School. 

●        Transfer $1,000.00 from Hadley Middle School general building sub category activity fund to Hadley Middle School staff related sub category activity fund.





Next regular Board meeting will be held on February 25, 2020.