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Citizens’ Advisory Council seeks parents, community for U46 group

The School District U46 Citizens’ Advisory Council will hold its first meeting of the year at South Elgin High School on Thursday.

The organization aims to address district-wide initiatives including projects on student-led conferences, boundary changes, the curriculum and career fair and realtor breakfasts and seminars for parents of special-needs students.

“We’re grateful for the CAC’s work on the boundary changes as they helped pave the way for the new elementary school additions and Full-Day Kindergarten which will enhance student learning for generations to come,” said U-46 CEO Tony Sanders in a news release. “This organization of volunteer parents and community members reflect the power of collaboration, and we are excited to roll up our sleeves and work together once again this school year for the betterment of our schools and communities.”

The meeting will get underway on Thursday at 7 p.m. in room B100 at South Elgin High School.

At that time, advisory council leaders will provide an organization overview and another point will be made to update more established members of this year’s launch of full-day kindergarten, which launched for more than 2,600 students across the district’s elementary schools.

The Citizen’s Advisory Council is made up by U46 parents and community members who satisfy the following criteria: live within the district’s boundaries and represents the needs, ideas and concerns of the schools and students, the release said.

Each U46 school is allotted up to seven members on the council, five of whom are appointed by the school and two at-large members, officials said.

Council representatives intend to serve as liaisons between the schools and the district, officials said. The Citizens’ Advisory Council advises and assists the U46 Board of Education and administration in supporting continued efforts to provide the best possible opportunities for students.

“CAC is one of the best avenues for parents and the U-46 community to voice their observations and advocate for students’ current and future education,” said Melissa Owens, CAC Chairperson. “Being involved in the Council is the first stepping stone to improve educational success in our ongoing efforts to improve our schools.”

The advisory council meets once a month for the sharing and discussion of district issues and initiatives. That organization also holds monthly meetings at the committee level and focuses on curriculum, family and community engagement and specialized student services.

In recent developments, the Curriculum committee has collaborated with district staff to help implement new programs for full-day kindergarten, K-8th grade science and Eureka Math.

Last year, the committee helped start a Curriculum Fair that will be launched again in 2016 as “Explore 2016: A U-46 Community Curriculum and Career Expo.” The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 1 in the J building at Elgin Community College, 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin.

The Family and Community Engagement committee aims to strengthen family and community participation through various conferences, realtor breakfasts and parent groups, such as the parent-teacher organization and the parent-teacher association.

The Specialized Student Services committee provides resources to support students with special needs. In 2013, a collaboration with the district’s Special Education Department led to the creation of instructional video, in English and Spanish, to help parents understand their child’s IEP, or individualized education program that includes a written plan to address student’s needs.

The committee will also offer a number of parent seminars throughout the year, to address community employment for special education students, recognizing anxiety attacks and impulse control, and recreational activities offered outside of school. It all starts this fall with a seminar that will cover an introduction to resources for parents whose students use Eureka Math. That meeting will get underway at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 27 in room 240 at the Educational Services Center, 355 E. Chicago St., Elgin.

The council advisory will also assist U46 staff and community members to review and update the district’s Career and Technical Education and Academy programs, officials said.

In May, the Citizens’ Advisory Council committee for enrollment and facilities was recognized for assisting with elementary-level boundary changes to improve the district’s efficiency and use of space. At a volunteer reception, Sanders honored committee chairs Roger Wallace and Carol Dimitroff.

“Joining CAC provides unique opportunities to gain a better appreciation of U-46 and the day-to-day operations of our schools,” said Mr. Wallace. “I have a much greater understanding and respect for the District and its employees than I ever had before I was ever involved in the Council. The Board of Education places a high value on input from CAC and its committees, making it an honor to serve.”

The Citizens’ Advisory Council has been serving the U46 community for nearly 60 years.