District 7 invites the community to join the planning process

Superintendent Patrick Shelton encouraged anyone interested in shaping the future of District 7 to attend the Strategic Planning Community Engagement Night at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 16 at Edwardsville High School Commons.

“That’s probably the most important thing, if you’re going to attend one, that’s the one you’ll want to attend,” Shelton said at Monday’s board of education meeting.

The event is the third of four community feedback opportunities that are part of the new strategic planning process the district began earlier this school year.

Shelton said the event will begin with an overview followed by breakout sessions to cover the objectives of the strategic planning process. Team leaders will discuss action items and attendees will have an opportunity to provide feedback.

Shelton said attendees should be done with the event by 8 p.m.

Board of Education Chairman John McDole said it’s not too late to get people involved on the “ground floor” of the strategic planning process.

“There are obviously a lot of people in our community who are passionate about the future of our district and what it looks like and what their kids are going through,” he said. “There really is no better way to help shape this than to get involved in this kind of activity.

“I’m proud of the District for being able to work on this during the times we’ve seen over the past few months and hope that with a few hurdles behind us, we can truly move this strategic plan forward as we envisioned. “

Also on Monday, several visitors addressed the members of the Board of Directors. One of them was Cornelia Smith, who is the director of diversity, equity and inclusion/student services at District 7.

Smith recognized the Lincoln School Alumni Foundation and its members for their continued support of District 7.

The district recently received two donations through the foundation to support students who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic – a $25,000 donation from the Mannie Jackson Foundation in 2021 and a recent $2,400 donation from Kim Goodner, owner of 222 Artisan Bakery in Edwardsville.

“As a result, iMpact was developed to provide a safety net for students and families,” Smith said.

Smith said iMpact identifies three main areas of support. First, academic support for students preparing to enter high school. Second, socio-emotional support for students who are experiencing anxiety due to issues resulting from the pandemic, family and school through staff member training. Third, support for families who may have been impacted financially by the pandemic and who are unable to afford the costs of extracurricular activities such as fine arts or athletics.

In addition to Smith, several people have reached out to the board to express their gratitude for their leadership and communication over the past few months.

A parent approached the council regarding the new data analysis system the district adopted in the fall. The system gathers data in one place to track academic and student attendance, student responses to socio-emotional surveys, and teacher and administrator grades. The system generates a visual dashboard allowing administrators to interpret the data and take action to improve student outcomes.

District 7 parent Erica Proctor expressed concerns about opting out of the investigative aspect of the system. Later in the meeting, Shelton said the district had yet to decide how the questions would be used. Currently, the system allows students to opt out of surveys, but not assessments. However, students are not obligated to participate in the assessments.

“What it would look like is that if your child came, we would try to administer the assessment, but if they refused to engage, we wouldn’t push it,” Shelton said. This applies to all state tests and assessments.

In another action, the board voted to extend the contract for First Student transportation services for the upcoming school year. The annual increase for the contract extension will be 8.75% or approximately $475,000. The meeting agenda cites as the reason for the increase an increase in the starting salary for drivers, an increase in the maximum salary for drivers, an increase in the salaries of bus monitors and the purchase of eight new buses. The new electric bus is not included.

The board also approved the first reading of policy updates.

“The Illinois Association of School Boards gives us these updates so that we can ensure that we are constantly reviewing and updating the policies,” said policy committee chair Jennifer Brumback. These policies can be viewed on the district’s Board Docs website.

Louisa R. Loomis