District 112 Art Exhibit

District 112 Art Teachers have been working this winter to select and prepare student artwork for display in the district art show : “Elementary Expressions, 2014“, at The Art Center in Highland Park. This long standing tradition celebrates the successes of our young artists by showcasing the wide variety of media, concepts, and processes learned through the district art programs. The show was set up on February 18th and runs through February 27th– more than 500 works of art are displayed in the main gallery spaces at The Art Center. There will be an artist’s reception on Tuesday, February 25th from 5 to 7 pm. District music teachers have invited several young musicians from D112 who will perform at the reception as well.

Edgewood Middle School students Skype with Oxford University expert

The students in Mrs. Suzanne Ott’s 1st and 2nd period classes had the opportunity to Skype with Oxford University’s Janet McMullin, as part of their Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland study. Ms. McMullin, who is a librarian at Oxford University’s Christ Church and an expert on Alice studies, spoke with the students and gave them the opportunity to ask questions based on the study of the book and her expertise.  There is no doubt that this remarkable and enriching educational experience ties with our district’s mission to “nurture every child to become an inspired learner, well-rounded individual, and contributing member of a global community by striving for excellence within an environment that fosters innovation, respect, engagement and intellectual inquiry.”

Message from the NSEA

Message from the NSEA in response to the report prepared by Superintendent’s Citizen Facilities and Finance Advisory Committee (SCFFAC):

The NSEA is in support of the district finding a way to restructure schools if necessary to maintain excellent school quality as well as fiscal stability. Everything the NSEA has done, including through negotiations, has been completed with careful research, school quality and the financial stability of the district in mind. The final report of the SCFFAC, however, is not accurate regarding several factors, including the negotiated raises of teachers in District 112.

Several figures in the report are misleading or factually incorrect. For example, the report states: “ …all District teachers receive a 3% annual “step” increase in salary, as well as a 0.5% increase for additional coursework/education.” That statement is not true. Some
teachers received 3% increases. Some teachers received only a 1% increase. Some teachers also received an additional increase for completing master’s degree coursework. An accurate statement would be that teachers received raises of differing percentages, many as low as 1%. Generally speaking, the most experienced and senior teachers in the school district received the lowest percentage raises.

There are other significant errors in the report. It states: “Historically, the salary and benefits established for the District’s unionized teachers generally serve as a benchmark for the compensation of administrative personnel …” That certainly is not the case for the
district’s highest ranking administrators. In his most recent contract, the Chief Financial Officer is receiving a salary that is comparable to that of the Superintendent. The CFO’s increase over the past two years is 37.5% in addition to insurance benefits (last year = $26,142 cash option), travel benefits of $5,400, and pension contributions of $18,271 (last year). The Superintendent has received, in addition to his $224,424 salary, “other pay/stipend” of $37,889. Teacher increases cannot objectively be viewed as a “benchmark” for those administrators’ raises.

The report also states: “The District needs to be prepared to assume additional pension liability starting at approximately 0.5%/year.” While there have been many ideas related to school funding and pension debated in the General Assembly in recent years, there is nothing in the current law that changes pension obligations. And there is little indication that any significant change will occur. All teachers are responsible for their own pension contributions.

The NSEA is responding to the report by attempting to correct some of the misleading figures and statistics contained therein, as well as showing those figures and statistics as compared with some administrative personnel. We believe this report puts forth potentially valuable data that may be helpful in the future. Its accuracy is of paramount importance.

Oak Terrace Students visit HPHS for Halloween Concert

For the last several years, students at Oak Terrace have enjoyed the annual Halloween Band Concert at Highland Park High School.  It has been a wonderful experience for the students to hear symphonic music performed live.  The high school students are dressed in costume and the theater is decorated with all kinds of fun and spooky props.  The director, Dr. Jim Hile, dresses as Dracula and not only entertains the kids with funny dialog, but he explains the musical selections and history of the pieces.  On some of the pieces, there is video, and on others, the audience is invited to dance or clap.  Students are amazed and engaged for the entire 45 minutes of the performance.  This year, our entire school attended and a good time was had by all!

Author Joelle Charbonneau tweets about Edgewood students

During the first quarter, Lindsey Foreman read aloud to her seventh grade students the book The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau.  After finishing, the students wrote friendly letters to the author, who in return responded to the students’ letters, answered all of their questions, and also tweeted about them on that same day!  Now, the author is planning a visit to Edgewood Middle School to meet all the students and talk about her new book coming out on January 7. In the meantime the students in Lindsey’s seventh grade class have continued exchanging emails with Ms. Charbonneau, have received care packages, and have been following her on Twitter.

Please send us some pictures once you meet the author!

Edgewood Students Helping our Environment

The ECO (environmental consciousness organization) Club from Edgewood Middle School meets weekly to plan green initiatives for the school.  At the beginning of October the ECO members met to pick apples from the tree in the outdoor classroom.  Last spring our librarian, Carolyn Lorence, passed away. The outdoor classroom was made in her honor.

The ECO students came in, outside of school, hours to prepare caramel apples to sell at lunch.  The group raised more than $180.00 to fund sustainable plants for Carolyn’s Classroom and future Green projects at the school.  We are proud of our students!

(The pictures below show the ECO students preparing the caramel apples.)

EW apple project 1EW apple project 2

Oak Terrace students raising funds for Horizon House orphanage!

Oak Terrace students in Mrs. Brady’s 5th grade class are helping raise funds for Horizon House orphanage in Ethiopia. “Our class government is raising funds to sponsor a field trip for a class at the Horizon House orphanage in Ethiopia (a place where our class president once lived).” The class has raised over $80 and will continue to work toward the goal until the end of this presidential term (Nov. 22). Best of luck to Mrs. Brady’s 5ht grade class!