Restructuring plan approved

U-46 must restructure 10 schools feds deem failing
By Tara Garcia Mathewson

Ten elementary schools in Elgin Area School District U-46 have been deemed failing by the federal government. Administrators and leaders in the Elgin Teachers Association are working together to finalize restructuring plans for the schools, which are required by law to be implemented in the coming school year.

The plans include major changes to the governance and management, financing and staffing of the 10 schools: Channing, Garfield, Highland, Hillcrest, Huff, Lords Park, Sheridan and Washington, all in Elgin, and Laurel Hill and Parkwood in Hanover Park.

None of the schools have made “adequate yearly progress,” as defined by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, for five years in a row. But U-46 board members only grudgingly approved the restructuring plan for schools they didn’t want to label failing.

“We know that this label that’s been placed on us is not reflective of the work that’s been going on in these buildings,” said board member Traci O’Neal Ellis at the last board meeting. “It’s not reflective of the expertise that we have in our schools.”

The NCLB guidelines require schools to increase the number of students meeting state standards every year. When schools fail to make “adequate yearly progress,” as laid out by the education reform act, sanctions are imposed — the most serious of which is restructuring.

U-46 administrators had the choice of reopening the schools as public charter schools, replacing all or most of the school staffs, contracting with an outside organization to run the schools or making the changes outlined in a plan recommended by Ushma Shah, assistant superintendent of elementary schools for instruction and equity, and Kathryn Castle, president of the Elgin Teachers Association.

Read the full article here.


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