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District 427 discusses staff reduction, safety

SYCAMORE – Sycamore School District 427 aims to be compliant with state laws regarding student safety by the beginning of the next school year.

Kreg Wesley of the district’s crisis committee said at Tuesday’s school board meeting that the current plan needs to be updated so it is consistent throughout the district.

He said students and staff need to know what to do if they happen to be outside the regular classroom setting in case of an emergency.

“If you throw a monkey wrench into it, we’re probably not as prepared as we need to be,” he said.

Sycamore police and fire departments have been scheduled at six different schools since November, and they will be training the staff within the next few weeks. He said each teacher will explain to students the lockdown drill for each classroom in March.

Wesley said the district will participate in a dry-run lockdown drill next fall.

The school board also heard a final presentation of the district’s reduction plan.

District 427 Superintendent Kathy Countryman said there is still a plan in place to reduce some positions within the district next year. It’s now up to the board to move forward with it. Board President Jim Dombek said he supports the plan.

“I’m pretty comfortable with that,” he said. “It’s similar to the framework we’ve used in the past. I think it’s a good start.”

Countryman said the enrollment projections are fairly accurate as of right now, and even new students won’t tip the scale to where the district can hire again.

Countryman said the priority of the district continues to be student achievement, and the district’s financial constraints shouldn’t hinder that.

“The district goals really do equal resource allocation when you get down to it,” she said.

Part of these resource allocations involve an intense curriculum plan, which the district’s director of curriculum and instruction, Kristine Webster, projected to cost approximately $378,000. Overall, she said the cost was a 9 percent decrease from last year’s budget.

The majority of these costs would involve textbooks, centralizing professional development opportunities for the students, accessing a database of student test scores and aligning the curriculum to common core standards.

“This isn’t new money,” Webster said. “We’re just shifting it.”

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