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220 7.13

At the often intense Barrington School District 220 school board meeting July 13, 2021, district parents and other stakeholders showed their support for the district not mandating students wear masks in school. (H. Rick Bamman / Pioneer Press)

The Barrington School District 220 board announced Tuesday night that the district will not require students in grades 6 through 12 to wear masks when they return to school next month for the new academic year, and will further discuss a phased-in approach to eliminate face covering requirements for students in pre-K to fifth grade.

Board members also agreed the district would not require masks to be worn outdoors for any students. Masks, considered personal protective equipment, were previously mandated by federal and state public health officials in all public places as a result of the novel coronavirus – and it’s COVID-19 disease – pandemic.

“I believe it’s time to return risk management back to parents,” recently-elected school board member Katie Karam said at the meeting Tuesday night. She started the discussion and was cheered by the audience.

The almost four-hour board meeting Tuesday saw more than 100 people in the audience, some often shouting at board members and demanding that no masks be required of students for the new school year. A few young school children held up “Follow the science: Unmask the kids” signs from Unmaskthekidsillinois.org, a grassroots organization started in Winnetka whose supporters are collectively “concerned with how local mask mandates were adversely affecting their young children,” according to its website.

Some SD220 parents who spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting shared data they said demonstrates that younger children are not at risk of catching COVID-19.

“We’re here today to end mask mandates for the upcoming school year and make sure that unvaccinated adults and children are not discriminated against in our district,” said Danny Olsen, who has three children enrolled in district schools and was among more than 30 who spoke during the meeting.

Read the full Barrington Courier-Review take on Tuesday’s meeting here.

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220From District 220:

“At the July 13 Board of Education meeting, the Board discussed COVID-19 protocols for the 2021-22 school year. Barrington 220 will implement a full five day/week return to in-person learning for all students. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) recently adopted the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) guidance for schools as it relates to mask requirements and social distancing. Key takeaways include:

  • Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated.
  • At least 3 feet of physical distance is recommended between students within classrooms, but not if this would be a barrier to in-person learning.

With these recommendations in mind, D220 administrators presented the Board with four options regarding masks for the 2021-22 school year. Those options included:

  • Universal masking for all students and staff
  • Masking for non-vaccinated students and staff
  • Phased masking
  • Masks optional for all students and staff

While it is recommended by the CDC and IDPH that unvaccinated students wear masks in school, the Board decided that students in grades 6-12 will not be required to do so. In addition, ALL students in grades PK-12 will not be required to wear masks outdoors.

The Board requested that district leaders develop a plan for students and staff that is based on mitigation efforts and public health data. The plan will recommend an approach that phases out masks when students in grades PK-5 are indoors. The Board will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, July 21 to review this plan. The meeting will be held at 6:30pm in the Barrington High School auditorium. Board policy 2:230 requires those speaking during public comment to identify themselves by first and last name and limit comments to three minutes. It is important to note that the district is making decisions based on current public health data and that these decisions are subject to change based on community spread.

Barrington 220 encourages all families to review the recommendations set forth by the CDC and IDPH. The district will continue implementing mitigation measures such as cleaning and disinfecting of school buildings, proper ventilation in all buildings, encouraging people who are sick to stay home, encouraging proper hygiene and maintaining social distance. ”

If you wish to watch last night’s four hour meeting, the video can be found here,

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Prairie Day 1

Construction crews are on site at Prairie, beginning work on the new classroom addition that will replace the mobile classrooms.

Construction is underway at BMS-Prairie, BMS-Station and Grove Avenue Elementary as part of the Build 220 projects! The mobile classrooms at both middle schools were removed last month, in order to begin construction of a classroom addition on each campus. Construction is also underway at Grove 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.

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. 

Editorial note:  220 very ceremoniously demolished the mobile classrooms less than two months ago. Yet new space for teachers, staff and students won’t be ready in nearly enough time for the coming school year beginning next month. What spaces, then, will be utilized in the interim if the former (and to be constructed) space was actually needed?

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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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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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220At Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, Dr. David Bein, the Assistant Superintendent of Business Services/Chief School Business Official, along with Sarah Lager, the district’s Director of Fiscal Services, presented the Board with an amended budget for the 2020-21 school year.

The budget was adopted by the Board last September, however the evolving pandemic created unforeseen financial needs that require changes. While local revenue is less than expected, overall expenditures (such as transportation, salaries) are also less than expected. Therefore, the district is looking at a larger than budgeted surplus. A public hearing on the amended budget will be held at the Board meeting on May 18. The Board is anticipated to adopt the amended budget at its first meeting in June. 

Click here to view the entire amended budget presentation.

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BEA

A wave of incumbents will return to school boards across the suburbs, alongside some newcomers, amid ongoing criticism over how school leaders have handled pandemic learning and the gradual resumption of in-person classes — an issue that sparked some of the most contentious elections in recent memory.

Emotions ran high this election season due to the pandemic affecting communities across the suburbs differently, as local school boards struggled to keep pace with evolving health guidance while facing criticism from parents and teachers alike.

In District 220, where 11 candidates were vying for four board seats, two of the winners — newcomer Erin Chan Ding and incumbent Sandra Ficke-Bradford — were endorsed by the Barrington Education Association. But union-backed candidates Lauren Berkowitz Klauer and Thomas J. Mitoraj lost.

Instead, voters picked Katie Karam and Steve Wang — endorsed by the GOP-backed ACTION PAC, or the Advancing Change Together in Our Neighborhood political action committee. They, along with fellow slate member Malgorzata McGonigal, criticized the school board for staying in remote learning last fall.

“It was more emotionally intense than any election that I remember for Barrington 220,” said Chan Ding, of South Barrington. “When to reopen schools, the approach that we should take, and the national partisan nature of that debate also filtered into our local school board election. There was an anti-teachers union sentiment that we have never seen this intensely before.”

Chan Ding said that by electing two candidates each from opposing camps, voters have signaled their desire to have a wide range of viewpoints and ideologies represented on the board. “We know that our approaches are different and at the same time we know that our goals are similar,” she said.

The divisiveness seen in this election has been long prevalent in the community, said Wang, of Barrington.

“The goal is to make sure that we provide the best possible environment for our children and to make sure that our community heals from all of this divisiveness over the last several years,” he said.

Read more here.

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BEA 1

Though results are not yet final, the 220 teachers union was only successful in getting two of four candidates (Erin Chan Ding and incumbent Sandra Ficke-Bradford) elected to the District 220 Board of Education.

Voters throughout the Northwest suburbs sent educators a message Tuesday — for the most part endorsing the gradual reopening approach most districts have taken in response to the pandemic.

In school district after school district, candidates who put a priority on listening to the health experts were elected, apparently often with the help of teachers unions.

This was the case in Glenbard High School District 87, Stevenson High School District 125, Palatine-Schaumburg Townships District 211 and Northwest Suburban High School District 214.

But there were exceptions: In Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 and Barrington Unit District 220, voters split their choices between measured reopening candidates and those who were strongly critical of the remote learning environment.

Voter concerns about the impact of the pandemic on local students did not turn out many incumbents.

Out of 34 incumbents in contested races on school board ballots throughout the Northwest suburbs, only three appeared to have been defeated, according to unofficial tallies — Janice Krinsky in Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59, Michael Shackleton in Barrington Unit District 220, and Aurora Austriaco in Maine Township High School District 207.

Unions openly backed candidates in Glenview Elementary District 34, Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59, Glenbard High School District 87, Palatine-Schaumburg Townships High School District 211, Northwest Suburban High School District 214, and Glenbrook High Schools District 225, among others.

Those union candidates were successful virtually everywhere. The lone exception was in District 220 where union-backed candidates Lauren Berkowitz Klauer and Thomas J. Mitoraj lost.

Read more here.

Related:Here’s a SHOCKER! District 220 “TEACHERS UNION endorses 4 candidates of the 11 running for a seat on the Barrington School District 220 board.” Follow the money…

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220 Green

We received file last night that appears to be a continuation of a recent post (seeSo you wanna run for Barrington CUSD 220 Board?”).  The PDF file can be viewed and downloaded here.

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With so many candidates running for various offices, we’d like to remind readers of the candidates The Barrington Hills Observer wholeheartedly endorses:

Pres VBHTrustee VBH220 VBH 1HC VBHBAL VBHBHPD VBH

If you haven’t already, Please Vote tomorrow! 

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