By Dr. Nicolas Wade, District 401 Superintendent of Schools
NOTE: This welcome message was written for the 2019-20 school year. Dr. Wade will be leaving District 401 on July 31, 2020, for a new position in South Carolina. A welcome message from his successor will be published here later this summer.
To All Stakeholders of District 401,
Welcome back to District 401, and it is exciting for the 2019-20 school year to be finally here!
The District is coming off of a big year where it most notably saw Elm Middle School and Elmwood Park High School go 1:1, the Board of Education approve full-day kindergarten for the 2020-21 school year, and the start of a facility enhancement project at the middle school.
Stemming from the progress made in the Technology Initiative, the District shifted to the use of e-texts. They offer a number of resources that are aligned to state and national standards and expectations, are accessible to parents and guardians via their respective student's access, and, perhaps most importantly, due to the acquisition of these new curriculum materials, and being a unit district, District 401 is now articulated.
This past school year saw the expansion of the enrichment opportunity for all students in kindergarten through grade 2, additional time being allocated for all the specials, and accelerated opportunities becoming available in the elementary buildings. In the 2019-20 school year, we will also see piloted courses eligible for high school credit at Elm Middle School and additional course offerings in college and career pathways for high school students that are available at Triton College, the Technical Center of DuPage and Benedictine University. In 2020-21, the District will be able to provide articulated pathways for students grades 6-12.
The District continues to expand its Department for Student Services to meet the increasingly diverse needs of the student population. The District now houses a transition program at the high school to continue its continuum, has hired full-time psychologists, occupational therapists and behavioral specialists to provide support to students, staff and administration, and continues to implement a co-teaching environment for students and staff.
The District's Social Justice League continues its pursuit of increasing the presence of a social-emotional curriculum in the classroom with last year seeing staff members and administrators pilot a social-emotional learning curriculum in all grade levels. We will continue to enhance this opportunity and improve upon services for the social-emotional needs of all students.
The District has completed a number of projects for our facilities to address life safety needs and perform routine maintenance. These projects include …
► Roof repairs at the middle and high schools
► Renovating existing space at the high school to house the new transition program
► Installing door alarms and other measures at John Mills Elementary School
► Refinishing the main gymnasium floor at Elmwood Park High School
► Installing new public address systems for both elementary schools
► Replacing the high school parking lot and walking path lights
► Repairing the tennis courts at the high school
► Tuck pointing half of the high school
Our most significant project is the one happening at Elm Middle School. This project will include adding a wing (this includes a new media center and 10 classrooms) and another gym, converting the outfield of the baseball field into a retention center, addressing documented life safety projects, and renovating the existing structure. The project started the day after school let out in May 20 1 9 and will conclude in August 2020.
In Spring 2019, the Board approved the hiring of consultants to collect information from the community concerning a potential referendum to address the needs of the elementary buildings and to determine what cost is palatable. The consultants have already issued out two (2) surveys and have held focus groups over the past few months and will continue to hold more.
The District is taking the findings of the surveys and focus groups and forwarding those to its architectural and construction firms to determine potential projects, identify logistical concerns and provide cost estimates. Options will then be presented to the community for additional feedback through additional surveys and focus groups, and those results will help the Board decide on a ballot measure to approve for the community to vote on in March 2020.
There have been some administrative changes throughout the District. The following administrators are new to the District:
There are articles up on the District's website on each of the aforementioned individuals about their history, philosophy and goals here at Elmwood Park.
I look forward to seeing the buildings full again in August, and continue to be excited about the direction the District is taking. Please enjoy the remainder of your summer.
Dr. Nicolas D. Wade
Superintendent of Schools