Freeport, Illinois — I’ve always been told that the older I get, the faster time will begin to slip away. I say this because I can’t believe we’re already starting the second semester of the school year. The first semester was filled with many new, difficult, and exciting things in the Freeport School District. We now look to the second semester to continue to be filled with innovation, success, and standing firm. I want to share a few highlights from last semester, as well as some upcoming initiatives.
Finance: For the last two years, the Freeport School District did not increase the dollar amount of the levy. The district also reduced over $2 million in expenses to make room for programs, personnel, and initiatives that would benefit our students. This year, the district again did not increase the levy for citizens in Freeport. In fact, Freeport property owners will actually see a decrease in their educational levy. For the past three years, the district has taken the stance of being fiscally responsible to the citizens of Freeport. However, I have also encouraged the school board and the community to look at the amount given to the school district as a community investment rather than an expense.
Discipline: The district has continued to look for solutions to help with discipline and to address the social-emotional side of the students. The district has implemented with fidelity the Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports (PBIS) program and other character building programs. The district has also developed a Multi-Tiered System of Support framework that works with students who are at different levels of discipline and academics. We have placed a full-time social worker in every building and will be looking to study if we need to increase the amount of social work in the high school in the coming months. We also continue to review whether the discipline structure that was established in the district many years ago is still appropriate. The school board and teachers have been asking for additional administrative support to handle discipline, so this could be another area the district will look to increase in the future.
Curriculum: The biggest and most impacting curriculum change in the district has been the full implementation of an aligned Reading and Math curriculum. The elementary teachers have had their entire reading and math programs restructured and they are working extremely hard at implementing these new programs. The district has also implemented an aligned phonics program in grades K-3. Meanwhile, the high school and middle school teachers are in the second year of their new aligned math curriculum, which focuses on student collaboration, creativity, communication, and critical thinking.
A future initiative to look for in the coming months is the possibility of a new middle school grade configuration. The district is considering moving Carl Sandburg School to a 5th and 6th grade building and Freeport Middle School to a 7th and 8th grade building. We believe that this transition, the implementation of an aligned curriculum, and the PBIS program will produce great results for our middle school students.
I would be remiss if I did not also share the great work the high school is doing to prepare all of our students for a post-secondary education. Freeport High School has gone through a curriculum audit to see how we can benefit more students in their next stage of life. We expect to bring additional curriculum changes to the school board in the coming months for Freeport High School.
There continue to be many positive changes in the Freeport School District and we look forward to sharing these changes as the year progresses. Please continue to follow us on our social media sites to see the positive things that are happening in the district. You can find links to these sites through our webpage at www.fsd145.org. We thank you for your continued support!
Dr. Mike Schiffman began serving as Superintendent of Schools in the Freeport School District on July 1st, 2015.