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Board service demands commitment

On Nov. 15 of each year, Illinois takes time to recognize the unselfish service of dedicated school board members across the state.

As the superintendent of the DeKalb School District, I am particularly proud of the District 428 school board and their accomplishments during a challenging economy.

Like every school district in the county, our board attempts to find a balance between quality education and operational budget.

The Board of Education in DeKalb has asked the administration to develop a long-term plan to address our finances and facilities. As a result, District 428 has formed the Finance and Facility Advisory Committee (FFAC) made up of area business leaders, parents and District 428 staff to develop a plan which makes education a No. 1 priority and at the same time create a long-term plan for a balanced budget. It is the Board of Education’s plan to actively engage the general public to secure input into the committee’s recommendations after they are shared with the board.

In June, the school board held a retreat to better understand our district’s strengths and weaknesses, and based on that review, set goals and priorities for the administration. The following is a list of the goals/priorities that the Board of Education created during the retreat. The administration is working with the district staff to develop strategies to address each goal:

• Improve articulation, alignment and instructional practices in K-12 math in order to improve student math achievement, graduation rate and college and career readiness.

• Create a comprehensive K-12 district-wide vision for teacher and student access to technology that will support and facilitate student learning.

• The administration and staff will provide the Board of Education regular updates on the progress being made in student achievement and board approved initiatives. These updates and/or reports will be presented in clear and precise documents, summaries and presentations.

• Continue to improve communication with all stakeholders in the school and community.

• Work with District 428 staff to improve their understanding of district finances.

• Continue to improve community and parent engagement within the schools.

School board service in general requires members to commit a significant amount of their personal time, including attending many meetings and events that occur in a large school district, frequently consulting with constituents and dealing with challenging issues that exist in public education.

Our Board of Education has done that with integrity, placing students first. Again, I would like to thank the board for making education their No. 1 priority and understanding the importance of involving the community in decision-making at their local public school. I would like to ask the entire DeKalb community to take time during the course of the year to thank your neighbor who has volunteered to take time away from their family and personal obligations to step up and serve on the local school board.

If you would like to learn more about the decisions made by the District 428 Board of Education, visit our district website at and click on the school board tab at the top of the page. There, you can see detailed agendas and watch a video of the meeting.

Once again, special thanks to the men and women who serve on the DeKalb School District 428 school board: Tom Matya, president; Tracy Williams, vice president; Cohen Barnes, secretary; Jessica Lyons; Michael Lord; Nina Fontana; and Michael Verbic.

• Dr. James Briscoe is superintendent of schools at DeKalb School District 428.

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