Board Meeting 1.10.22


Photo By Kevin Sigrist

At Kaneland board meetings, all attendees are allowed a specific time to speak for comments. Each person is given three minutes to talk and a timer is set to guarantee equal speaking time.

     On Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, the Kaneland school district held their semi-monthly board meeting in the Kaneland Harter Middle School cafeteria. They covered a range of topics and heard from a variety of parents and other members of the community.

     In typical board meeting fashion, the meeting began with attendance, the Pledge of Allegiance, and approval of the schedule. After this, the principal of McDole Elementary School, Jake Countryman, introduced a new physical education teacher at John Shields and Mcdole elementary school, Jacob Bachio.

     Following this introduction was the first public comment section, where the only two public comments seemed to conflict with each other in their concerns.

     Parent of three Kaneland students, including an elementary school student who was sent home after exposure to COVID, Kristen Kinsella, shared her frustration after learning how her daughter’s vaccinated peers were able to return to school while her daughter could not. 

     “I have no idea why we’re allowing the district to knowingly discriminate against the unvaccinated children, while the vaccinated kids who are getting it and spreading it are able to stay in school. I feel strongly on how it is even legal to send some kids home but not others knowing everybody can contract it and everybody can spread it,” Consela said. “To me it seems like blatant discrimination against certain students.”

     Following Consela was a comment from Dr. Lisa Tingler, a community member who could not be there in person. Superintendent Dr. Todd Leden then read aloud her comment. In the comment she expressed concern with some specifics of Kaneland’s COVID safety policies.

     “I know I don’t want my kid sitting across the table, unmasked, from someone who is day 6-10 positive and possibly still contagious. I can’t imagine many parents would,” Tingler said. “It seems like the district, like most, is hanging by a thread to stay staffed and safe. I want everyone to be as healthy as possible in school.”

     After the first public comment section, an update on a new revised student handbook was presented by John Shields and McDole Elementary assistant principal Brian Zerfas. This update addressed what the handbook will cover, how it will be formatted, topics that need more research and its schedule of production. Board members asked questions regarding what would be included in the handbooks, such as technology and social media usage on school grounds.

     Director of Buildings and Grounds Mark Payton then provided an update on solar panels being installed around district schools. Currently, four schools in the district now have solar panels. In total, the district saved around $4,500 this semester due to the solar panels.

     Director of Educational Services K-5 Dr. Sarah Mumm then shared how due to the hybrid schedule last year, the spring benchmark test taken by elementary school students was moved to this fall, and therefore feedback has not yet been provided.

     Director of Educational Services 6-12 Patrick Raleigh shared some statistics related to Kaneland High School’s student performance last year. Of the data presented, the most notable information was that 11 percent of students are showing a grade point average between zero and one, which according to Raleigh was up eight to nine percentage points from the year prior. He also shared that teacher retention was at a recent high of 91 percent compared to the past, which Raleigh claimed to be commonly between 80 and 90 percent. 

     Leden then provided general updates. The district is striving to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) but is preparing to adjust due to a warning of a change in guidelines coming soon. He expressed concern with the positive trend of all time highs of COVID cases in the state, but he also stressed that Kaneland is not independent to make a choice to go remote or hybrid but instead must listen to higher state authorities such as the state superintendent for their guidance.

     Following this update was the second public comment section, where parents and students shared concerns regarding communication and maintaining COVID safety protocols.

     Sophomore Brayden Cattero shared concern over social distancing within the classroom.

     “In my English classroom, I’m sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with other kids. I would also like to ask why an e-learning plan is not offered when it can be utilized but is not required,” Cattero said.

     Elburn community member and Kaneland parent Chris Bateman shared disappointment and requests for improvement of the school’s communication with its parents and students. 

     “I really would like to see Kaneland look towards some sort of a communication manager. I feel like the communication is spotty and inconsistent at best. The fact that we get a daily COVID email that ranges from four in the afternoon to 11:30 at night to the next morning, [alongside] late notices…and just inconsistency in the actual communications themselves [is disappointing]. I really think that the Kaneland parents and community could benefit from that,” Bateman said.

     After the second public comment session, the board initiated a board member only section, and the public viewing portion ended there.

     Next board meeting will be held on January 31, 2022.