Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Report to the Board of Education - November 20, 2017

Remembrances:
Ms. Renee Renfro, Retired Social Worker and substitute teacher, passed away on November 8, 2017.  She served thousands of students and families as a social worker at King Elementary School and an active member of the community.


Ms. J.C. Caroline, Retired P.E. Teacher, and NFL Chicago Bear, passed away on Friday, November 17, 2017.  Mr. Caroline was a P.E. Teacher and Coach at Urbana Middle School.  He was inducted into the College Football of Hall of Fame in 1980, and was a standout running back for the University of Illinois.  


Technology Update:
In the past two weeks, USD116 has been the target of two separate malware attacks.  These attacks have been very serious in terms of our ability to conduct our basic functions, like attendance, grading, and reporting data.  At this time, we do not have any evidence or reason to believe that any of our staff or student data was compromised or removed from our control. Student and staff data security is very important, and we will continue to prioritize data security as we move forward.  
Our Technology Team has been working with two outside vendors to move the Skyward system to a cloud-based platform, which will provide security, stability, consistency, and redundancy.  


Skyward Student, Finance, and Human Resources programs were turned on for internal use yesterday.  We are slowly expanding access as we ensure that appropriate safety precautions are put in place.  


Staff Presentations:
Dr. Scott Woods, Urbana Middle School Principal, presented a paper, “ Access to Middle Grades Programming: Examining Relationships between Middle School Concept and Schools’ Racial/Ethnic Demographics” at the University Council for Educational Administration Conference on Saturday, November 18, 2017 in Denver, Colorado.


Mr. Matt Stark, Mr. Travis Courson, Ms. Erin Ludwick, Mr. Eric Morrow, and Ms. Elaine Shpungin presented “Restorative Practices That Work” at the Leading by Learning IASB/IASA/IASBO Joint Annual Conference on Saturday, November 18, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.


CUSF Grant Announcements:
On Monday, November 20th, the Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation (CUSF) Prize Patrol will deliver over-sized checks totaling more than $37,000 to 93 teachers in Champaign Unit 4 and Urbana School District #116 Schools. The grant awards, which support 66 new projects benefiting 15,385 students, are part of CUSF’s ongoing efforts to foster creativity and elevate excellence in our local public schools.

Two projects bring teachers and students together across the Champaign and Urbana districts. A proposal titled “Mathematics Escape Room” promotes critical and logical thinking skills in a fun, unconventional way. Students will work together to solve a series of puzzles and unlock a box using clues, hints and strategy. Math teachers from Central, Centennial and Urbana High Schools will work together to bring an escape room into their classrooms as an interactive way for students to learn or review material.

The second cross-district proposal titled “Inter-city Strings in Concert with Friends” will increase the number of stringed instruments in Champaign and Urbana public schools so every student who wishes to learn a string instrument will have the opportunity to join strings class. Beth McDonald at Booker T. Washington Elementary and Tamra Gingold at Urbana High School will collaborate with other strings teachers across the districts, as well as, the Community Center for the Arts to plan a high school music composition competition and concert.


A complete list of funded projects can be found at: http://cuschoolsfoundation.org/grant-announcements

Happy Thanksgiving!


I wanted to thank everyone in Urbana School District #116 for all you do to support our students, families, friends, and colleagues.  I hope everyone has a safe and restful Thanksgiving.  

I want to thank all of the technology and administrative clerical people who have been working hard to get Skyward back online and transferred to the new, safer environment.  I appreciate how much stress the server/technology issues have caused over this entire school year, and I am optimistic about the direction we are moving.  

I am also very thankful that we live in a community that supports public education. The Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation distributed over $37,000 in extra large checks to foster creativity and elevate excellence in our local public schools.  Congratulations to the teachers who received grants, and thank you for putting in the extra effort to support your students! 

I am also thankful, humbled, and honored to work with such an amazing group of educational leaders.  Everyone from my Administrative Team to participants in our Leadership for Racial Equity professional development demonstrate their commitment to growth, change, and positive outcomes for our students.  Thank you!

Urbana High School is preparing to host its 46th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner for the community on Thursday (5-7PM).  Our students, teachers, and community volunteers will be hosting a free dinner for members of our community.  Many thanks to the UHS Student Senate and the teacher sponsors for giving back to the community.  

It is an honor to work in a district and community that values education, children, and community as much as Urbana.  Enjoy the time off.  Relax, recharge, and refuel!

Happy Thanksgiving!
DDO

Sunday, November 19, 2017

USD116 Skyward and Technology Update

We understand that this school year has been less than ideal in terms of technology at USD116 schools. In the past two weeks, USD116 has been the target of two separate malware attacks. These attacks have been very serious in terms of our ability to conduct our basic functions, like attendance, grading, and reporting data. At this time, we do not have any evidence or reason to believe that any of our staff or student data was compromised or removed from our control. Student and staff data security is very important, and we will continue to prioritize data security as we move forward. We are taking steps to not only restore Skyward access, but also create a more stable environment that is less likely to be susceptible to attacks.

 Our Technology Team has been working with two outside vendors to move the Skyward system to a cloud-based platform, which will provide security, stability, consistency, and redundancy. That work is ongoing, and will hopefully be completed in the next day or two.

 Again, we are sorry for the stress and inconvenience that this situation has caused. We are taking steps to ensure that this does not happen again.

 DDO