Message From The Superintendent
“We need, first of all, for there to be accountability, for there to be somebody who is responsible for enforcing standards and holding people’s feet to the fire.”
~ Jennifer Granholm, Former Governor of Michigan
Hopefully you have had an enjoyable summer being with family and friends. Summer is an opportune time to build memories of experiences to be cherished for years to come. You probably have noticed the construction work at Evergreen Elementary and Benjamin Middle Schools this summer which will greatly benefit our students and community.
The school board, staff, and I expect to be held accountable to the community and most importantly, our students. My letter focuses on two accountability areas: accountability to taxpayers and students as well as the new school accountability system developed by the state.
Accountability to Taxpayers and Students
Passage of the April 2017 referendum resulted in lowering the school district’s debt service tax rate by 17 percent. Consequently, the owner of a $250,000 house will save nearly $78 in school taxes. Furthermore, these projects are improving safety/security, education programming, and maintenance for our students. We are pleased that the projects actual costs are under budget, and the timelines have been met. Join us on Thursday, Sept. 27 from 6-7:30 p.m. for a community open house showcasing improvements that have been attained.
School Accountability System Is Changing
The school accountability system is being overhauled and will impact Benjamin School District 25 schools and the rest of schools in Illinois. Accountability for schools has shifted from the federally-driven No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) to the state-driven Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Under NCLB, schools were ranked, sorted, and given negative consequences that were not constructive. The implementation of the new state accountability system, ESSA, is intended to impact schools in a constructive way to improve the quality of education for all students.
The state’s long-term goal over a 15 year time period is for: (1) all kindergarten students assessed for readiness, (2) 90 percent or more of grade three students reading at/above grade level, (3) 90 percent or more of grade five students meet or exceeds expectations in math, (4) 90 percent of grade 9 students on track to graduate with their class, and (5) 90 percent or more of students graduate from high school ready for college and careers.
The Illinois accountability system will measure each school’s quality by Academic Indicators (75 percent) and Student Success Indicators (25 percent). In October 2018, schools will be rated by the state according to the following tiers: Tier 1: Exemplary School, Tier 2: Commendable School, Tier 3: Underperforming School, and Tier 4: Lowest Performing School.
Our staff members are being trained to understand the components of ESSA so we can maximize our continuous improvement efforts. The accountability system will enable us to sharply focus our efforts to further realize our mission statement of providing each child with the best educational opportunity to become a lifelong learner and achieve the highest personal growth.
Strong Schools, Strong Community, Strong Future
Continuous improvement is the hallmark of our school district for education programming, along with operations, and finance. Lisa Murkowski, U.S. senator from Alaska, sums up our view of accountability, “When you think about the children, one of the things that I am concerned about - and I’ve heard it expressed by others – is trying to find how we can build better accountability to work to provide a level of education that prepares our children for the future.”
As always, I invite you to provide feedback about our schools by using the communication connection listed on the last page of every newsletter.
Philip M. Ehrhardt, Ed.D.
Superintendent, FOIA Officer
Benjamin School District 25
District Support Staff - Accounting/Payroll
Clark, Dr. Shelley
District Support Staff - Secretary
Special Education/Intervention Consultant
Tech Info Coordinator
District Support Staff - Administrative Assistant/Board Recorder, FOIA Officer