More than 350 people showed up or tuned in online last week to witness District 115 Superintendent Dr. Tim Shimp give his first annual State of the District Address.
The Vision Update event, held at Yorkville Middle School on April 8, was the district's way to keep families, employees and community stakeholders up-to-date on successes, concerns and future endeavors of District 115.
The Vision Update included musical and theatre performances, the State of the District Address given by Shimp, as well as an informational fair.
"We have made a concerted effort this year to provide our internal and external school community with more timely and transparent communication," Shimp told the audience of about 150 adults who showed up for his speech. About 200 people viewed the address via live stream. "District 115 has never been as thorough and responsive in our communication efforts."
The entirety of Shimp's address will be made available on the district's website for others to view.
"Our school community is experiencing one of the most exciting times as the educational opportunities, changing facilities, access to technology and student preparation for a world not yet defined are all at the core of our purpose," Shimp said. "...This year has been special as it has marked the sunrise of our communities' journey together, a path of new beginnings, shifts in mindset and practice, and a relentless pursuit of high levels of excellence."
By implementing the district's three-year strategic plan, District 115 is on the path to success Shimp said.
He spoke about the district's four main areas of concern: student success, the community of learners, the partnership with home and community and operational excellence.
"Each of our goals is broadly defined and allows for the work and implementation of detailed action plans and strategies to accomplish our goal areas," Shimp said. "A vision is like a dream...it will disappear unless we do something with it."
Shimp thanked the Board of Education for their support in pursuing excellence as well as being "insightful, progressive and reflective" as the district faces great uncertainty in terms of federal and state funding.
"Our challenges can not hamper our spirits, nor will they prevent us from maintaining a target focus on continuous growth, improvement and high levels of excellence."
According to District 115 Chief Operating Officer Dr. Dean Romano, the district is currently owed more than $2.7 million from the state.
With the growing population of District 115, and a future of financial unknowns at the state and federal level, the district is in a place it hasn't seen in years, Romano said.
That said, Shimp noted that the district is doing all it can to minimize the financial impact on its students.
"Through changing and technology-rich learning environments, responsible economic planning and influences, college, career and life preparedness and development of highly qualified and professional educators, we are greatly optimistic about what lies ahead," Shimp said.
The district's composite ACT score is the highest it's ever been. The district is rolling out a 1-1 technology program putting personalized devices in the hands of thousands of students, and is launching a Field Experience program that will get students engaged with local business members. These are all things Shimp's expressed excitement about.
"I ask each of you to embrace our journey," he said. "This is our call for action. We must collectively chose the most effective path to take to ensure high levels of excellence and success for all members of our school community."