The site of Kaneland High School's student news publication.

Kaneland Krier

  • 6/24 Board Meeting
The site of Kaneland High School's student news publication.

Kaneland Krier

The site of Kaneland High School's student news publication.

Kaneland Krier

Board Meeting 3.11.24

Photo By Sarah Slattery
Director of Human Resources Dr. Chris Adkins explains the current plan regarding incoming ninth-grade students at KIPLA if the board were to vote in favor of it. Adkins explained transportation, classes, student and teacher schedules and costs.

On Monday, March 11, Kaneland Community Unit School District 302 hosted its regularly scheduled board meeting at 7 p.m. in the sixth-grade team room at Kaneland Harter Middle School. All board members were present, with Ryan Kleisner attending over a conference call.

Following the Pledge of Allegiance, roll call and superintendent salutes, board member Aaron McCauley requested to move the amended board policy from the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) PRESS to new business. 

During the first opportunity to comment, many public comments related to the current administrative recommendation to not expand the Kaneland IgKnight Personalized Learning Academy (KIPLA) to the ninth grade.

“I’ve noticed that both the district and other community members have used a percent of students when talking about KIPLA… and I wanted to address the fact that I believe that is a very slippery slope to start down,” Virgil resident Laura Ekstrom said.

Seventh-grade student Ronin Moreno is one of the students who would eventually have to go to the high school if expansion does not go through.

“ I was forced to go (to KIPLA)…but [once] I got there, I enjoyed it. I still do, and I want to be able to stay,” Moreno said. 

Former Kaneland High School track coach, former athletic director and Kaneland alum Ralph Drendel also commented on the condition of the high school track. Recently, there was a student injury because of the state of the track. 

“Our track is no longer deemed safe for competition. We can no longer host any meet on our home track. This could have been preventable if [the board] followed the basic maintenance protocol [each year it was required], but once again, [the board] decided that student-athlete safety isn’t a priority,” Drendel said.

The meeting then went into new business, and the first item was the honorable dismissal of non-tenured teachers. Due to a decreased enrollment in career and technical education (CTE) courses, the administration had to honorably discharge first-year social studies teacher Daniel Ferrel.

“Unfortunately, we have to recommend [the] honorable dismissal of Mr. Ferrel. I want to make sure the board is abundantly [clear] Mr. Ferrel is an excellent teacher, and we very much enjoyed having him,”  Director of Human Resources Dr. Chris Adkins said.

Following the honorable dismissal, the board moved to the next agenda item. Adkins presented the minimum staffing plan.

A part of the staffing plan included the lacrosse program becoming an official sport at Kaneland. The program has been at the high school since 2018. Since then, the coaches have not gotten paid. Head coach Andre Carriere and several of his players were at the meeting in support.

The staffing plan was approved by a vote of 7-0 for the 2024-25 school year. 

The third item of new business focused on the decision to expand into ninth grade at KIPLA. When creating the academy, the district’s plan was to add a grade level each year, which would mean introducing ninth grade to KIPLA to begin the 2024-25 school year. However, the administration decided not to go through with this because of the financial realities that would accompany such a decision. The original course of action for this meeting was for board members to either vote to not expand to 9th grade next year as originally planned or to reject the administration’s recommendation and allow the expansion. 

This year, there are 12 eighth graders, 10 seventh graders, 35 sixth graders, 12 fifth graders, 13 fourth graders and 13 third graders enrolled at KIPLA. 

Adkins presented a plan that would accompany a board decision to vote to continue the expansion of KIPLA, including what it would look like for each grade level, the cost, the staffing needs and transportation.

“When we designed the high school program, we were looking at 50 students per grade level… Another piece we’ve embedded into this is that there would be no way to have enough staffing for electives and all the other coursework for KIPLA 9-12 to be a stand-alone environment. Students would have to transition between the high school and KIPLA,” Adkins said. 

The entire plan to include the freshmen level would cost $261,000. 

There was debate after the presentation by the board members on how to handle the sensitive situation. 

“This is not unknown. What we need may be unknown, but when this was rolled out and planned several years ago, the idea was to go from third to twelfth grade. [I don’t] like the perspective of the comments of being like [this process] was not known,” board member Jennifer Simmons said. 

The topic of restrictive courses was also brought up, such as some courses and services that would be limited or unavailable to KIPLA students, including Advance Placement (AP) classes, counseling services for the upperclassmen, and band and chorus electives.

“These students might not get to do these things if they choose to go there, and they know that. They’re choosing that part,” board member Dr. Aaron Lawler said. 

Another unknown revolved around their transcripts and where KIPLA students would technically graduate from.

“We have looked at a couple of different pieces and opportunities, but what would make the most sense is that our kids would graduate from Kaneland High School. Their diploma would say District 302 and Kaneland High School,” Director of Educational Services 6-12 Patrick Raleigh said. “[Also], transcripts would be the same and would be district-wide.” 

After the discussion, the board decided not to make a final decision. The board came up with different choices they could go with but wanted more information to see which would be the best option for the students and most feasible to the district. 

Those four options include deferment of 9th-grade at KIPLA, a hybrid model with students housed at the high school, an expansion to ninth grade and an expansion to the ninth and tenth grade.

This amended recommendation motion passed 7-0, with the hope of a final decision occurring at the next board meeting in April. 

The final and newly added item of new business from the consent agenda was the approval of the amended board policy stemming from the IASB PRESS Policy. The policy indicates it is not allowed for any schools within the district to ban certain books from their libraries because of a grant that goes with the policy. The board approved it 7-0. 

Next, senior and student representative Katie Pfotenhauer gave updates about the high school. 

Pfotenhauer shared that Kaneland High School hosted a career fair. It allowed for students to explore different career paths after high school. 

As far as sports, the boys track team finished in fifth at Burlington Central, and the boys varsity basketball team fell to Crystal Lake South in the Sectional championship. The boys basketball team tied last year’s program record of 26 total wins.  

Pfotenhauer also shared information about recent club successes. DECA competed at the State level. ACES competed in Sectionals, landing them a spot in the State competition.

The second round of public comments included remarks from KIPLA parents, and Elburn resident and third-generation alum of Kaneland High School Sheila Albano apologized to the parents.

“My mind is actually spinning after all the conversation this evening,” Albano said. “[I] just want to say to the KIPLA parents I am incredibly sorry for the situation that you find yourselves in. Unfortunately, that puts you at the back of the line of a long history of disappointed parents and upset kids in this district.” 

The board went into a closed session at 10:10 p.m. The next meeting will be held on Monday, April 8.

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About the Contributor
Sarah Slattery
Sarah Slattery, Design and Photography Executive
Name: Sarah Slattery   Position: Design and Photography Executive   Graduation year: 2025   A few sentences about me: Some of my hobbies include playing softball, taking pictures at a multitude of sports events, my favorite being football and basketball games, and drinking coffee. I can't wait to continue taking pictures at all of Kaneland's events and having fun with everyone.    My favorite…   Movie:  The Notebook Show: The Queen's Gambit/Breaking Bad  Animal: Elephants Hobby: Photography and Traveling Book: Divergent by Veronica Roth Food: Crab Rangoons Song: Stuck with Me: The Neighbourhood Band / Artist: Zach Bryan and The Neighbourhood