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District 117 Thanks Legislators for Support on Funding Bills

State legislators Bill Cunningham and Kelly Burke visited North Palos District 117 where they were thanked by district officials for their continued support while learning firsthand how the district continues to outperform most other school districts in the state.

Board member Debbie Chafee, a data guru who led a one-woman crusade to convince state lawmakers that the original school funding bills would have been devastating to District 117 and many other local districts, provided Cunningham and Burke with an academic update on the district.

A financial analyst with J.P. Morgan-Chase, Mrs. Chafee provided data that showed how well the district's 3,500 students continue to perform academically.

She said given the data, District 117 should not be doing anywhere near as well as it is doing. Consider these statistics: Seventy percent of the students are low income; 25 percent are living in poverty (less than $26,000 annually); 40 percent are English Language Learners and 80 percent of students live in homes where English is the second language.

Mrs. Chafee and Superintendent Jeannie Stachowiak thanked Cunningham and Burke for their continued support of public education, especially District 117 and other Southland districts that originally would have seen cuts in the amount of state funding from original funding bills.

However, the new evidence-based funding bill provided District 117 with $1.7 million in new state aid this year, or about $550 per student.

The additional funding was driven mostly by the increase in ELL students," Mrs. Chafee said. "A good education is often the only means of breaking the cycle of poverty for poor children. All children deserve an education that is founded on high standards and high expectations for all."

She cited a keen focus on academic goals along with the inclusion of social and emotional learning as additional factors for the district's academic success.

District 117 is in the top one percent of districts in the state in terms of closing the achievement gap; in the top 10 percent of overall academic achievement and has three of the top 11 schools in the region recognized for Academic Excellence.

Conrady was also named a National Title I Distinguished School and two of its schools (Glen Oaks and Conrady) have won National Blue Ribbon Awards.  

Legislators Bill Cunningham (left) and Kelly Burke (to his right) visited Conrady