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D-2 adds new technology, programs

RICHMOND – Additional technology, exposure to the Spanish language and full-day kindergarten were given the go-ahead by the Nippersink District 2 School Board Wednesday evening.

Some of the votes garnered applause from the audience, which has grown since the board proposed – and subsequently approved – a $1.5 million tax abatement, effectively giving back some of the $10.4 million in reserves it has accumulated to taxpayers.

Many of the parents who have attended the meetings since the abatement was proposed have raised concerns over the state and security of the district’s buildings, the technology available to students and some of the cuts that took place when the district was in debt.

One of the programs cut was the foreign language program, which was brought back slightly modified in an unanimous vote Wednesday evening.

“It’s been on my list for nine years, so I’m doing a happy dance in my head,” Board Vice President Sharon Bianchini said.

Based off a survey of parents and staff, the district decided to bring back the exploratory Spanish class at Nippersink Middle School, Curriculum Director Belinda Veillon said. It would not impact core subjects because it would be added to the “exploratory wheel,” rotating classes that include health, art, computers and music.

The two elementary schools would share another full-time teacher, who would provide 30 minutes of language exposure per week for some of the older grades, she said.

The board also unanimously approved $450,200 worth of technology, including iPads, netbooks, smart boards and desktop communities, which would be distributed to classes and schools based on what teachers had requested, Technology Director Dale Harkness said.

Parents of kindergarten-age students will be offered full-time kindergarten this fall as well, the board decided. The district is required to also offer half-day kindergarten.

The board also decided to add another second-grade section, bringing the class size in line with kindergarten and first-grade class sizes, as well as reinstate the special education clerical position as full-time, make the band director full-time and bring the district occupational therapist position in-house.

By not going through the Special Education District of McHenry County, the district will save nearly $28,000, Superintendent Dan Oest said.

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