Thursday, September 7, 2017

USD116 Statement on DACA

On September 5, 2017, the Trump Administration took steps to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. In light of this decision, we want to be clear in stating our opposition. We support the DACA policy because it provides protections for some of our most vulnerable students in our community and in our schools. As educators, adults, and leaders in this community, we want to make sure that all of our students feel safe and supported in order to achieve their personal greatness, as stated in our district mission.

We will remain devoted to promoting welcoming, safe, and equitable learning environments for all of our students and families across race, class, (dis)ability, language, religion, sexuality, gender, immigration status, and others. We live in a diverse community that is made stronger economically, culturally, and academically by the wide range of cultures, languages, and traditions which immigrant families bring to Urbana-Champaign.

We will continue to advocate for an immigration policy that is socially just, treats individuals with dignity, and respects human rights. We will continue to uphold the Federal Educational Records Privacy Act, and we will not ask for or disclose the immigration status of any student or family.  We fully support all of our students and families.  We will continue to support efforts in this community to create a welcoming environment where educational excellence, equity, and engagement are the norm for all students and families.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

School Funding Update - September 5, 2017

On August 31, 2017, Governor Rauner signed SB 1947, a school funding compromise bill into law.  This marked a historic day for school funding in Illinois, as we move toward a more equitable and adequate model of funding public education in the state.

The funding formula is based on an evidenced based model that was created over the past three years.  The equity portions of the bill are most similar to SB 1, and we have been told that the SB 1 models are most accurate.  

The compromises involve four main areas, none of which directly affect USD116 or Urbana taxpayers at this time.
  • Mandate relief - Eases state rules about Physical Education and removes restrictions on contracting with commercial driving schools to provide driver's education training
  • Tax Credit Scholarships - Provides a 75% tax credit on any donations made to private school scholarships
  • Chicago Tax Levy - Authorizes an additional .567% levy in the Chicago Public School District to pay its debt for the Chicago teachers’ pensions
  • Property Tax Relief - Creates two systems to address high property taxes in communities that either have the highest rates or have districts that are funded at or above 110% adequacy.  Urbana does not come close to fitting either one of these categories at this time

What SB 1947 means for USD116:
  • We are currently at 76% of adequacy with our current funding, which places us in Tier 2 Funding
  • Current models indicate that we would see an increase in GSA of $160K over last year's state revenues
  • There are 27 Core Instructional Elements that are incorporated into the evidenced based formula, including class size, professional development, librarians, and others (See Chart)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Another Urbana First! Got Armadillos?

You can file this under science, climate change, animal migration, or just news of the weird.  On the morning of August 11, 2017, as they were preparing the school grounds and facilities for the arrival of students, Mr. Kevin Collins, USD116 Grounds, and Mr. Jamel Davis, UHS Custodian, spotted an armadillo running around the front lawn of Urbana High School.

District employees contacted the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the University of Illinois Small Animal Clinic, Animal Control, and Anything Wild.  All of the agencies said the same thing: Armadillos have been recorded migrating north, but this is the first confirmed siting in Champaign County.  After consulting with these agencies, USD116 Grounds Crew released the armadillo in a less populated area of Urbana.