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220 Green

The Barrington District 220 Board of Education will be holding two meetings today.  Both notices were posted to the district website sometime after noon yesterday (those familiar with the Illinois Open Meetings Act take note).

A special meeting of the Board will be held starting at noon at the District Administrative Center, 515 W. Main St.  beginning with closed session.  A copy of the agenda can be viewed here.

The Board then meets again at 7 PM at the same location for their second regular monthly meeting. A copy of that agenda can be viewed here. This meeting will be live-streamed on YouTube.

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Masks JBP

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced June 10 that Illinois will move to a full reopening on June 11, but mask mandates and social distancing will remain a mainstay in Illinois schools.

Pritzker said it is critical that schools and day cares use and layer prevention strategies. The two most important ones are universal and correct use of masks, and physical distancing, which he said should be maximized to the greatest extent possible.

Pritzker has enforced COVID-19 mandates by issuing 18 disaster proclamations, a practice that is now under fire from some state lawmakers.

“We are operating and moving down a dangerous path if we allow governors either today or in the future to declare emergency declarations as long as they want without input from the General Assembly,” state Rep. Dan Ugaste, R-St. Charles, said.

Ugaste has House Bill 843 that would amend the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act to require the governor to get legislative approval of consecutive disaster proclamations.

State lawmakers are also examining other COVID-19 fallout, including failings by the Illinois Department of Employment Security and their offices remaining closed, millions spent on hospital leases that were rarely or never used, and the severe backlog of Firearm Owners’ Identifications that doubled in the past 18 months.

Read more here.

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Face Nasks Required

As school districts kick can down the road, politicization widens and deepens

“Summer school begins this week in districts all over the state. Those in charge of the largest in Chicagoland, Barrington SD220, said at a June board meeting they were keeping the status quo.

Brian Harris, the retiring superintendent of SD220, said at the board meeting it was “premature” to make any decisions on masking for the 2020-21 school year and that the job of a superintendent is to follow the guidelines set by public health agencies.

That’s certainly been true for Chicagoland superintendents, especially outgoing ones like Harris. Throughout Covid, not one super at a high school north of I-80 has said anything publicly in defiance of public health guidelines. So Harris is staying true to The Code, parachuting out with his $200k pension and likely to set up a retirement residence outside of the state paid for by Illinois taxpayers.

(Not to pick on Harris. I don’t know the man and I’m sure he’s done a good job in his district, removing Covid from the equation. But would it have been that hard for him to say something like, “I know what current public health protocols are. But with where we are now, with what the data tells us, I believe we need to re-examine those protocols and do what is best of the children of District 220 and the state of Illinois.” One definition of leadership is speaking out in the face of injustices. Opportunity missed by Harris.)”

Read the full article from The Kerr Report here.

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BHS Sign

Will students be required to wear face masks when they return to classes this fall at Barrington High School and other Barrington District 220 schools? School board members are discussing the options.

Barrington Community Unit School District 220 board members are working to define the district’s position on face mask requirements for students, ahead of the 2021-22 school year.

Superintendent Brian Harris said last week he expects the Illinois State Board of Education to come out with new guidelines for the next school year.

“The state superintendent did reaffirm that the current mitigation requirements that we had at the end of the school year carry into summer school,” he said. “They have not changed anything at this point.”

Until there are updates to the guidelines, Harris said he will continue to follow those issued by state and local authorities, unless “directed differently by the board.”

Board member Erin Chan Ding said ISBE officials said in a recent webinar that mitigation requirements are not just guidelines, and districts should consider them requirements enforceable by law. The state could withhold funding for a district not in compliance, she said.

“That’s exactly how our attorneys have interpreted that for the past 15 months,” Harris added.

But board member Steve Wang said he has heard from district parents opposed to a mask requirement.

“There are plenty of school districts out there who have already said they are not going to follow this mandate,” Wang said. “Is that something that we’re willing to entertain?”

Read more here.

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PC Groundbreaking

Staff and Board of Education members at the Prairie Middle School groundbreaking ceremony.

“Barrington 220 hosted three groundbreaking ceremonies on Thursday, May 27, 2021 to kick off the first of many construction projects made possible by a $147 million referendum, which was approved by the community on March 17, 2020.

After 15 years, the mobile classrooms at Prairie Middle School and Station Middle School will be removed this month, in order to begin construction of a classroom addition on each campus. The mobile classrooms were purchased in 2006 as a temporary solution to increasing enrollment. In addition, construction will begin this summer at Grove Avenue Elementary on a new front entrance vestibule, which will provide a more secure entrance to the building. Construction of a new classroom addition at Grove will also get underway in August, in order to replace the current mobile classrooms on that campus. The mobiles were purchased in 2018 as a temporary solution to increasing enrollment.

As much work as possible is being done over the summer in order to minimize disruptions during the school year. Construction at both middle schools is expected to last through November 2022. Construction at Grove Avenue Elementary is expected to last through December 2022. Project work across all D220 schools is expected to last through 2025.”

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BHS 2021

In an effort to social distance as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Barrington High School held four graduation ceremonies May 29, 2021 for the more than 700 Class of 2021 graduates. Students are pictured as they tossed their caps at the 10 a.m. commencement held on the school’s athletic field in Barrington. (Karie Angell Luc / Pioneer Press)

After not being able to have a live graduation ceremony for last year’s graduating class – due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, this year Barrington High School held four in-person commencements on the school’s athletic field for the more than 700 Class of 2021 graduates.

“They were resilient, they were ready for any change – and we changed many times throughout the course of the year,” retiring Superintendent Brian Harris said about this year’s class of graduates. “They’ve just been remarkable and we’re very proud of them and happy to celebrate their graduation.”

School officials said the graduating class included 703 seniors. The ceremonies were held Saturday May 29 at the BHS football stadium.

The outdoor commencements were held at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to help ensure the public health safety for participants and attendees as the pandemic continues, officials said.

Harris told Pioneer Press at the first ceremony of the day that the graduating seniors are “set for a college or career of their choice and we’re very proud of that.”

Saturday marked the last graduation Harris will preside over (thankfully) at Barrington High School as superintendent due to his upcoming retirement.

Read more here.

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220 Admin

The District 220 Board of Education meets this evening at 7 PM at the District Administrative Center. A copy of their agenda can be viewed here.

The livestream of the meeting is viewable via the Board’s YouTube channel.

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BHS 2021

Graduates await their turn to be called to the stage during the presentation of diplomas at the 10 a.m. graduation ceremony at Barrington High School Saturday.

South Elgin, Elgin, Larkin, Bartlett and Streamwood High Schools held their class graduation ceremonies yesterday an the Now Arena in Hoffman Estates. Wheaton North, Wheaton Warrenville South and Carmel Catholic High Schools held their ceremonies outdoors as a class on school grounds.

Barrington High School seniors had their ceremonies segregated into four (4) shifts at Barrington Community Stadium. The four separate ceremonies were recorded and will be made available for viewing here.

To see images from all events, click here.

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ATT

The construction of 189 townhouses and 361 apartments has been proposed around the outside of the main office and commercial building of the Bell Works Chicagoland redevelopment of the former AT&T corporate campus in Hoffman Estates. (Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer, 2018)

The redevelopment of Hoffman Estates’ former AT&T headquarters into the mixed-use “metroburb” called Bell Works Chicagoland is about to embark on its next phase: a residential component featuring townhouses and apartments.

Ken Gold, vice president of acquisitions and development for New Jersey-based Somerset Development, said his firm is in the process of submitting a formal plan for 189 townhouses and 361 apartments to the village.

Somerset is likely to stick to its original intention of selling the land surrounding the main building on the 150-acre site to another developer, which would execute the plans for housing, Gold said.

He anticipates a 4- to 6-month review of the plans by Hoffman Estates officials. If the project stays on schedule, the first townhouses could be delivered in the summer of 2022, Gold said.

Somerset’s original agreement with the village set the limit on the number of housing units at 550, though a slight variation was permitted in the ratio between types.

This phase of the project comes at a particularly strong time for the residential real estate market, Gold said.

Though the pandemic created a slowdown in the market for office space, it occurred while Somerset was in the process of renovating and adapting the lobby and atrium space. The company also was constructing 32,462 square feet of speculative office space and 2,000 square feet of retail or restaurant space on the main floor of the central building at 2000 Center Drive.

Read more here.

Editorial note: The location of Somerset Development’s planned apartments and townhomes appears to be within the Barrington CUSD 220 attendance boundary (see map here).

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220At their recent meeting, members of the Barrington School District 220 School board agreed with an administration recommendation to offer only a limited remote/virtual learning program next school year, a decision officials believe is in line with guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education.

The move by the board comes as officials say additional SD220 surveys show dwindling interest in what has been called a virtual/blended academy. In early May, 370 families had indicated a willingness to commit to have their children in an all-virtual program for the whole 2021-2022 school year. By the time of the May 18 school board meeting, that number had dropped to 301, officials said. Another survey seeking to understand family reasons for wanting the all-remote option drew only 200 responses and of those only 117 said their choices were based on COVID-19 concerns.

The Illinois State Board of Education adopted a resolution May 19 that calls for schools to resume in-person instruction full-time starting next school year, and states remote learning would be made available for students in certain circumstances, including not being eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Currently, the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer pharmaceutical company is the only one authorized for children, and only if they are at least 12 years old.

“A lot has changed since May 4,” said Matt Fuller, assistant superintendent of technology and innovation, referring both to state board guidance and declining family interest in the virtual option.

District officials expect to meet soon with families interested in the virtual option to outline course offerings and procedures, school leaders said. It is expected that the remote option will be available for families who choose it because of concerns over health issues for students under age 12 who are not eligible right not to be vaccinated, as well as for families with relatives at elevated risk for contracting the virus.

Costs for the scaled-back virtual program are estimated to be nearly $1 million, but board members were told that SD220 expects to receive about $8.4 million in federal pandemic relief funds over the next two school years. The district has spent about $1.3 million in pandemic relief funds so far, officials explained.

Read more here.

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