TOPe Focus Header
April 2012 
In This Issue
Straight talk about our budget
Someone you should know
WHS earns PLTW certification
Long-held dream becomes a reality
Spain becomes classroom
First in the State!
Gardening enthusiasm spreads
Gavers donation will boost wellness efforts
New director named
Quick Links
Thank a
D-200 Teacher

In recognition of National Teacher Appreciation Day, Apple Creek Flowers is sponsoring an essay contest to honor outstanding D-200 teachers. A dozen roses will be presented on May 8 to one winning teacher from each of District 200's twelve schools. Contest entries are due April 30. Click here for more information.

So Close 

Although they stayed in the top 5 throughout the voting, Clay Academy did not win the Great Classroom Makeover contest. The staff and students thank EVERYONE for their dedicated support throughout the voting period.


Looking Ahead

Registration Forms and Fees Due

May 4


WNHS Graduation

May 19, 7:00 p.m.


WHS Graduation

May 20, 2:00 p.m.


Creekside 8th Grade Promotion at WHS

May 22, 7:00 p.m.


Northwood 8th Grade Promotion at WNHS

May 22, 7:00 p.m.


Last Day of School

May 23


For a detailed listing of all events by school, month, day or type, go to the Calendar on the

district website.

On the Web

Learn More About Our Schools



Dean Street 

Elementary School



Elementary School


Mary Endres Elementary School



Elementary School



Elementary School



Elementary School



Middle School



Middle School



High School


Woodstock North 

High School


Clay Academy


Board of Education


Paul J. Meyer,



Sue Palmore,

Vice President


Camille Goodwin,



Bob Birchfield


Russ Goerlitz


Dr. Kathy Lechner


Marcy Piekos


Stars Spiral 




Ellyn Wrzeski



D200 Logo on Gray


WHS sophomore Jonathan Loacker (left) and freshman Jacob Clute work together on building a gear train to analyze torque, ratios and mechanical advantage in the WHS Principles of Engineering class, which is one of six courses in the Project Lead the Way curriculum.


Straight talk about our budget

A Message from the Superintendent


For the fourth year in a row, the State of Illinois' continuing financial crisis and the poor economy will have an impact on District 200's budget. Our projections for next year show that revenues will fall short of expenditures by $2.67 million, making it necessary for us to take steps to address this shortfall. In order to balance our budget for next year, District 200 will make $1.67 million in budget reductions and use $1 million in fund reserves.                                         


The History

As many will recall, the District made $2.9 million in budget reductions in 2009 and another $3.6 million in 2010. Last spring instead of making further reductions, the Board voted to take $1 million from fund reserves to balance the budget. These funds were used to preserve jobs and maintain programs. In the fall, after the budget had been developed and approved, the State cut transportation reimbursements from 100% to 74% forcing us to make up for $800,000 by using the fund balance.


Over the past 10 years, District 200 has worked very diligently and prudently to increase our fund balance which can be equated to a family's savings account. Ten years ago the District had $500,000 in its fund balance. At the end of the 2011 school year, through careful planning and prudent spending, it had grown to $13 million. District 200 also holds $3 million in the working cash fund which gives us a safety net and can be used as an additional reserve fund. Even after accessing $1.8 million in reserves for last year's budget, we believe that our fund balance will increase to $12.5 million for this fiscal year, again because of careful budgeting and prudent spending. That is why we feel comfortable accessing it to help balance the 2012-2013 budget. District 200's main goal has always been, if at all possible, to have $10 million in the fund balance and to not use working cash, leaving us a total reserve of almost $13 million.


The Issues

There are three main factors affecting next year's budget: (1) an anticipated loss of $1.1 million in General State Aid (GSA); (2) another loss of $800,000 in transportation reimbursements; and (3) a loss of $216,067 in federal stimulus money. The loss in GSA revenue is because of the way the formula works to determine the amount received from the State. Essentially, districts with higher equalized assessed valuations (EAV) receive less state aid. District 200's GSA for the next budget year is based on our 2009 EAV which is a 3-year average of the 2007, 2008 and 2009 calendar years - a time period when we were still experiencing growth in residential property. Next year, if the legislature doesn't make any adjustments or change the formula, we anticipate we will see an increase in GSA because our new EAV will more accurately reflect current economic conditions.


There are also a number of unknown factors which have the potential of impacting our budget even further. First, action in the legislature to shift more of the pension obligation to local school districts could cost our budget another $2.2 million each year. Second, legislation being considered to limit the amount of property taxes school districts can collect when home values decline could mean we would lose an additional $7.3 million in revenue over the next three years. Third, recent developments in Springfield indicate that the State may cut the General State Aid (GSA) funding level which could cost District 200 approximately $1.8 million. Although I believe we have been conservative enough to handle the worst case scenario for next year, I am very concerned about the long-term budget challenges posed by these potential legislative actions.


Our Plan of Action

Because education is a 'people business', the largest portion of our budget reductions must unfortunately come in the form of staff. Sixteen teaching positions were eliminated at the Mar. 20 board meeting, and some additional non-certified positions will be reduced this month. Also for next year, building budgets will be reduced by 10% and district administrative budgets by over $213,000. Additionally, administrators' salaries will be frozen.


If we find ourselves in a better financial position in terms of state revenues or the fund balance, we will definitely consider adding back some of the reduced personnel. However, given current indications from the legislature, it is likely we will have to utilize these reserves to handle additional State reductions that are unknown at this time. Certainly the Board and the District realize the reductions will be hard to absorb. However, District 200 has not had to reduce any programs in areas such as art, music, P.E., library services, counseling and health services, or extracurricular activities such as theatre, athletics and fine arts. In addition, we have been able to maintain class sizes at an average of 24-25 in kindergarten through grade 2; 26-28 in grades 3-5; and 28-30 in grades 6-8. At the high school level, the overall range is approximately 28-30.


In closing, because school districts are required to develop their budgets prior to action taken by the legislature, we all need to be prepared for the likelihood of additional impacts to the budget that are yet to be determined.


This is a very complicated process, and I encourage anyone with questions or concerns to please contact me or our CFO Risa Hanson.




Someone you should know

Prairiewood 5th grader Korrin Mecklenburg understands the power of one. Inspired by a friend's charitable acts last year, Korrin wanted to do something positive to help others. A competitive swimmer with the Woodstock Dolphins, Korrin said she does a lot of thinking while swimming laps. During one of those workout/ brainstorming sessions she got an idea to earn money for the fight against cancer. With her mother's help, Korrin made more than 300 beaded pink pins. She created a poster, wrote a letter to Prairiewood parents, and scripted a message to be included in Prairiewood's morning announcements. She then met with Principal Jared Skorburg to obtain approval for her plans. Korrin sold the pins at the Prairiewood school store, and at the school's Family Fun Fair. The sales from her pins totaled $100.


To decide where to donate the money, Korrin spoke to a family friend who had battled breast cancer and asked for advice. The friend strongly recommended a local charity, the Gavers Community Cancer Foundation. On March 21 Korrin presented a check for $100 to Gavers Foundation Vice President Andy Hartlieb who praised her compassion, drive, initiative and resourcefulness.




WHS earns PLTW certification


Project Lead the Way, Inc., a nonprofit organization that is the nation's leading provider of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs, has granted national certification to Woodstock High School. Project Lead the Way is a rigorous, project-based curriculum that allows students to apply what they are learning in math and science class to real-life engineering and technology projects. The emphasis is on building critical thinking, creativity, innovation and real-world problem solving skills. Students from PLTW Certified Schools may receive college admissions preference, college credit, scholarships or other college-level recognition from over 40 PLTW affiliate universities, including the Milwaukee School of Engineering and the University of Illinois at Chicago.  


Woodstock High School has been offering the PLTW program since 2007 and Woodstock North since 2008, the year it opened. Courses include Introduction to Engineering Design, Principles of Engineering, Digital Electronics, Civil Engineering and Architecture, Engineering Design and Development, and Computer Integrated Manufacturing. Descriptions of the courses can be found in the 2012-2013 Curriculum Guide. Enrollment in PLTW courses at WHS and WNHS has grown from 26 to 73 students. Efforts are underway to attract more female students and to expand outreach to the middle schools. According to a National Business Roundtable report, America needs to award 400,000 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) four-year degrees in order to remain competitive in the global marketplace.




Long-held dream becomes a reality

For many years, the missing link in District 200's comprehensive music curriculum has been an orchestra program. Even without one, Woodstock High School has continually ranked in the top five of the state in choral and band contest results. This year, thanks to a renewable three-year Arts and Foreign Language grant from the Illinois State Board of Education, the dream of adding an orchestra program finally materialized. A string orchestra program was launched in the fourth grade. This year's grant funds were used to hire an instructor, purchase string instruments of various student sizes, and buy sheet music and teaching materials. The program is now in every elementary school with approximately 170 students participating. All receive one 30-minute group lesson each week and also attend an after school group rehearsal every other week. Next year the program will be expanded to 5th grade and to 6th grade the following year. The orchestras will combine to present two end-of-the-year festival performances on May 10 at Olson Elementary School featuring Olson, Prairiewood and Westwood students and on May 15 at Mary Endres Elementary School featuring Dean, Greenwood and Endres students. Concert times are 6:00-7:00 p.m. both days.

Orchestra instructor Becky Blaho conducts an after school practice with Greenwood Elementary School students.



Spain becomes classroom for 18 D-200 students

Nine 7th and 8th grade students in the dual language program and nine WHS juniors in Spanish II or III just had an unparalleled opportunity to immerse themselves in the day-to-day life and culture of the language they have been studying for several years. On separate two-week trips during the last part of March, the students and their chaperones attended sister schools, lived with host families and visited historic landmarks and sites in the country of Spain. Each participant paid their own way for the trip.


The middle school students have been learning in Spanish since first grade and the trip gave them a unique opportunity to practice the language and experience the day-to-day life of their Spanish counterparts. After spending three days in Barcelona and Granada which included visits to the mountain top Benedictine monastery in Montserrat and the 14th century Moorish palace in La Alhambra, the group traveled to the coastal community of La Herradura. For the next five days, the students and chaperones stayed with host families, attended three hours of language classes each morning, and took excursions and participated in local activities in the afternoons and evenings. From there they traveled to Navalmoral de la Mata, District 200's sister school, where they spent the remainder of their visit attending class with their Spanish classmates and taking various excursions to museums, parks and local landmarks with their teachers and fellow students. Lodging, hospitality and meals were again provided by local host families.


The dual language students and their chaperones visited Montserrat on the second full day of their trip. 

High School Spain Experience 

The capital city and political, economic and historic center of the country, Madrid, provided the setting for the high school students' experience. Through the Center for Cultural Interchange, a nonprofit organization that helps arrange student exchanges, the students were paired with Colegio Gaudem, a PreK-12 school in Madrid that also serves the hearing impaired. WHS principal Corey Tafoya had visited the school last year when he was in Spain. Again, the students and their chaperones, teachers Linda Radke and Gabby Mikos, stayed with host families for the majority of their visit. The families not only provided room and board for their guests but also many unforgettable informal experiences and activities. During the day, the students attended classes at Guadem and also took two day trips to Segovia/Avila and Toledo. "Immersion in the daily activities of school and home life, and real life use of the language and culture skills they learn in class" were key benefits of the experience, said Radke. She also cited new friendships and fresh perspectives on educational or career paths. All of the WHS students indicated a willingness to host a student from Spain next year as part of the exchange.  




First in the State!

Clay Academy students have won the Illinois championship of the first Keep America Beautiful Recycle-Bowl. The nationwide contest was held during the weeks of Oct. 17-Nov. 12 and was open to all public and private elementary, middle and high schools in the United States. Participants were expected to track and report how much recyclable material they collected during that time period. Winners were then determined based on which ones collected the most recyclable materials per capita. Clay students topped the other Illinois schools by recycling an impressive 20 pounds of waste per person. For their accomplishment, the school received a check for $1,000 which was presented at an all-school celebration assembly on Mar. 19. Supt Wrzeski praised the students for their "huge accomplishment". Special guest Ted Payton of Groot Industries, the D-200 Environmental Task Force and the Illinois Recycling Association, said it was "purely amazing" and urged the students to keep up the good work. Each student received a certificate honoring their hard work. No decision has been made as to how the money will be spent but ideas include supplies and/or rain barrels to collect water for a school garden or better playground equipment. 




Gardening enthusiasm spreads to CMS & PWE

A well-known nursery rhyme asks, "How does your garden grow?" The answer, in D-200, is "With the help of a diverse group of more than 30 enthusiastic students and four dedicated teachers." The Creekside Garden Club, with assistance from Prairiewood Elementary students, is planting a vegetable and herb garden under the direction of Garden Club advisor and 7th grade science teacher Todd Clement, Creekside teachers Luis Cirilo-Lopiz and Derek Lee, and Prairiewood teacher John Girard. 


Four 4x8 foot raised beds located behind the cafeteria will contain a variety of vegetables and herbs. This month students will help build the framework and prepare and plant the beds. The group plans to be as earth-friendly as possible, using natural methods like layers of old newspaper as weed barriers. Some plants such as tomatoes have been started from seed. Others, like peppers, snow peas and green beans may be purchased from local nurseries. Garden Club members researched the best choices given the area available, the climate and growing season and the work involved in successfully growing various plant varieties. The purchase of seeds and plants has been made possible by funds received through a D-200 Education Foundation mini-grant, donations from the Creekside and Prairiewood PTOs, and funds from the Food Services Department's Healthier U.S. Schools Challenge grant.


The Garden Club meets weekly during lunch time, and during the "peak season" as many as 35 students participate. Some of the students have spent years helping parents or grandparents in family gardens, while others have never planted a seed or lifted a hoe. A schedule of volunteers and meeting times will be developed for the summer months so the weeding, watering and work can continue. The four supervising teachers plan to volunteer and the Woodstock Garden Club will also be on hand to help.




Gavers donation will boost wellness efforts

A new sun safety program for all D-200 kindergarten, pre-kindergarten and elementary students, a second Fit for the Future walk, and additional curriculum materials for health education will all be possible next year thanks to a generous $15,000 donation from the

Gavers Community Cancer Foundation. Steve Gavers, founder of the foundation, is a member of the Woodstock High School Class of 1981. The sun safety program will be launched this spring in conjunction with the schools' field days which will be called "Cool It in the Sun". A multi-pronged information campaign will be used to create awareness among students and parents about the importance of protecting children's skin when they are in the sunlight. A special video, classroom art projects, posters, special informational materials, water bottles and t-shirts will carry the message, 'Slip, Slop, Slap' - "Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher, and slap on a hat". In addition, staff will role model appropriate sun safety behaviors for their students. D-200 health services director Lisa Tate says that getting the message to this age group is critical for their long-term health. An estimated 3,300 students are expected to benefit from the sun safety educational campaign.


A portion of the Gavers donation will also be used to support District 200's Fit for the Future walk next September. The first walk was held in Sept. 2011 to increase awareness about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and to raise funds for much-needed fitness and exercise equipment in the schools. Students collected pledges for a 3-mile walk around Emricson Park and raised over $10,000 for their schools. The event was so well-received by the school community that it will be held again next fall.  




New Director of Community Services named

Carol L. Smith has been selected as the new Director of Community Services for District 200. She will replace Barb Banker who is retiring on June 30 after 23 years in the position. Carol has served in similar capacities for the Springfield Public Schools and Highland Park High School District 113 and also has 10 years of private sector public relations experience. She is currently the Manager of Marketing and Business Development for the ECRA Group, Inc. in Rosemont. Nine candidates were interviewed on Feb. a rigorous committee process involving district and building administrators, teachers, community members, parents and D-200 media representatives. "Carol was the unanimous top choice among some highly qualified candidates," said Supt. Wrzeski in recommending her appointment to the Board of Education. While her official start date is not until July 1, Smith will spend some time in the district before then to get acquainted with staff, community members and her new role.




227 W. Judd St. | WOODSTOCK | IL | 60098 | 815-338-8200 


e-Focus is published online every month by Woodstock Community Unit School District 200. We welcome your comments, questions and suggestions. Please contact the editor by
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