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District 161’s ‘remote from school’ students return; teachers start getting vaccinations

Prior to discussions about reopening Flossmoor School District 161 for in-person learning through a hybrid program, schools in the system already let some students back inside their walls.

Superintendent Dana Smith reported to the board Monday, Jan. 25, that “remote from school” learning had resumed for a group of 35 students.

“It went very well,” he said. “We’re hoping to increase those numbers in our remote from school program.”

Smith also noted in his report that staff members other than nurses started getting COVID-19 vaccines on Jan. 25. He said the Regional Office of Education reached out Jan. 22 to present the district with the opportunity.

Nurses had already been vaccinated, but with several vaccination sites in the area some teachers have also been able to get in for their first dose. He said the district is encouraging them and offering to cover classrooms if necessary to make it possible. Smith said he is hoping the vaccine provides them with both physical and mental support amid the pandemic.

“Many of them were able to get signed up,” he said. “I think we can make a lot of headway on the vaccination process.”

District 161 could expand by three full-time teachers next school year
Following prior discussions on the matter, Eric Melnyczenko, director of human resources for district 161, presented a staffing plan for the 2021-2022 school year that would see an increase of three full-time teachers across all schools.

The report, for discussion only at the Jan. 25 meeting, suggests adding a teacher each at Heather Hill, Serena Hills and Western Avenue schools to keep class sizes in the district’s target range, based on projected enrollments. It also highlights fourth-grade at Flossmoor Hills and Serena Hills as areas where, if numbers get any higher than expected, administrators might need to do more to address class sizes there. There are currently expected to be 26 students per class.

“Those are class sizes that are a little above our target, so we’re going to continue to watch those,’ Melnyczenko said.

If the school board moves ahead with that plan, it is expected to cost the district roughly $210,000 at $70,000 per teacher.

Parker students selected for internships

Six students from Parker Junior High School recently were selected for the Homewood Science Center conservation ecology internship.

That includes hands-on learning through the Museum of Science and Industry, the creation of a native demonstration garden and a showcase of their work at the Walk Walton fundraiser.

Those who were involved with the internships were Nia Allen, Maeve McGrory, Nora McGrory, Gerald Okoji, Safa Siddiqui and Kinnedi Williams.

Jana Budz from Western Avenue, Jim Czerwonka of Heather Hill and Julie Tracy of Flossmoor Hills were named January’s #AboveAndBeyond winners. The award recognizes hard work and dedication to District 161.

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