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They didn't expect a big crowd. Sponsors of a forum on heroin reserved a room the library that was too small to accommodate the hundreds of people who came out to hear the presentation on heroin in Naperville.
Between the young people who have died or the arrest of those selling the drug, the issue is starting to resonate in the community. In fact, the south end of Naperville has been called "ground zero" in the fight against heroin. The issue does center on south Naperville but the drug plays no favorites, as has been said.
How big an issue is it in your neighborhood?
Did you attend the forum? Should there be more?
RELATED "Finally, the community is starting to care" Denise Crosby column

About 50 local teachers from school districts 203 and 204 are headed to the state capital Wednesday to make their voices heard on legislation that affects things like teacher negotiations and tenure.
If you were a teacher, what would you say to state officials? If you were a state official, what would you say to the teachers?

It appears the condemnation lawsuit filed by Indian Prairie School District has a little further to go before final resolution. A judge has ordered the district to pay the legal costs and expenses incurred by owners of property south of 75th Street and west of Route 59. The land was considered a spot for Metea Valley High School, since built on Eola Road.
District officials could decide what to do December 6. Should the district pay up? Should they appeal? What's your two cents?
UPDATE: District officials said the ruling was expected. Were you surprised?

School District 204 has been busy lately. First, board members managed to find a compromise to preserve the music technique program that so many people thought was essential to maintaining a healthy music program. They did this by instituting a fee of a little more than a hundred dollars, which was compared to the price of calculators needed for some higher level math classes.

Next, the district said it would be rehiring 70 of the 145 teachers it said it was laying off. The district also approved a new contract with teachers that freezing wages for the next school year and has teachers pay more for health care. For the following year, teachers would receive a 1.26 percent raise.

Now, the district is considering urging lawmakers to approve a "deadbeat amendment" to state law that would allow the district to withhold making tax payments to the state while the state is delinquent in its payments to the district.

What are your thoughts on these developments?

As recounted in a story in Wednesday's Sun, many schools in the area are withholding certain activities from high school seniors who have not paid all their fees. At some schools, this means they cannot attend prom. At others, they can't march in graduation.

At Waubonsie Valley, students won't march in graduation if their fees aren't paid up. In District 203, one student in the past didn't receive a diploma until his bills were paid. At Naperville Central, about 90 students owe money from past unpaid fees, current year course changes, classroom books, athletic fees and equipment. The school has sent out an average of two to three notices since January that these fees are owed. At Naperville North, 110 seniors have outstanding balances totaling $10,874.

Local schools say they understand the economy is making it harder for some families to find the money for fees and that they are willing to work with families who have trouble paying.

What do you think of the policy? Do you agree with withholding things like prom or graduation from students because of unpaid fees?

Read the full story here: http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/napervillesun/news/2208640,6_1_NA28_GRADFEES_S1-100428.article

District 204 announced Thursday that because of state budget cuts, it will have to lay off 145 teachers from its schools. This will represent at cut of 6.5 percent of the teaching staff. Average class sizes in the district will increase by two students at all levels.

The district also plans to cut 6 percent of building level administrators and 14.4 percent of central office staff. Also proposed is a pay freeze for all administrators and cutting all administrators' budgets.

What do you think of this situation? Do you think class size matters?

The Sun ran a story on Thursday detailing the funding woes in District 204. Unlike many of these kinds of stories, the district is facing millions in deficits not because of anything it did, but because the state of Illinois is failing to pay the money it owes. The state owes the district more than $7.8 million for the current year, and the district fears the state may not come through with $14 million to $20 million in funding for the next year.

Without the funds, the district may have to lay off employees and make other cuts, beyond those already made to deal with other deficits.

District 204 isn't the only one facing this problem; all of the state's schools are starting to worry about state funds in the future with Illinois projecting a $13 billion debt with no solutions in sight.

What do you think about this? Is it fair for local schools to suffer and people to lose their jobs because of the state's problems? Is there anything we can do on a local level to respond?

Recently, President Barack Obama said American students need to spend more time in school to stay competitive. According to the president, students in other countries spend 25 or 30 percent more time in school than American students.

District 203 and 204 don't have any plans to lengthen the school day or school term, and District 203 is bound to its current school year by its terms with the teachers union. Also, factors like bus scheduling have to be taken into account.

Despite the objections, do you think Naperville students should spend more time in school, either with additional days in the school year or more time per day spent in the classroom?

District 204 began the new school year with several big changes. Kathy Birkett is beginning her first year as superintendent, taking over for Stephen Daeschner. Metea Valley High School opened its doors for the first time. The district also began taking control of bus routing for the first time.

There have been numerous reports of bus problems especially in the first week, with too many students assigned to a bus, or students not knowing what bus to ride or not being picked up by their assigned bus.

What do you think of the problems District 204 has faced so far? Is the administration taking effective measures to deal with the problems? What other issues have come up?

It was revealed at Monday's District 204 school board meeting that the administration has had discussions about eliminating class rank.

Opponents of the ranking system say that among the drawbacks, rank can be misleading because in a highly competitive school district such as D204, those students lower down on the ranking list still have very good grades. In District 203, which eliminated ranks in 2006, administrators found that students were basing their choice of classes on how they would affect their rank, steering away from non-honors classes like music and technology.

Contrary to fears, D203 found that students signed up for more honors classes after the ranks were eliminated.

Some students the Sun talked to, however, were protective of their ranking, seeing it as a tangible goal and a way of comparing themselves to their peers. Others said a high ranking was a reward for hard work.

About 45 percent of high schools in the country have eliminated the rankings. Is it time for D204 to follow that course?

Naperville Potluck

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