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4 | February 22, 2018 |

4 | February 22, 2018 | The orland park prairie News Community Consolidated School D146 Board of Education Public hearing scheduled for a possible $20 million bond issuance Cody Mroczka Contributing Editor The public will have an opportunity next month to comment on Community Consolidated School District 146’s intent to sell $20 million worth of bonds. The funds, which would increase the District’s working cash fund, are earmarked for building additions to support full-day kindergarten in 2018-2019, as well as upgrade existing facilities. Approximately $14 million is designated for additions, while $6 million is designated for art and music room upgrades, most of which are already complete. The School Board introduced a resolution Feb. 12 to authorize a public hearing for 6 p.m. March 12 at the Administration Center, 6611 W. 171st St. in Tinley Park, at which time citizens will have the opportunity to share their thoughts. Last month, The board received a presentation from a representative with Raymond James, a financial services firm, who provided information on the issuing of non-referendum bonds paid from the debt service extension base without a tax increase to district taxpayers. The district has been saving cash to pay for a potion of the projects, with the remainder coming from new bonds that will replace existing bonds, according to district documents. The exact breakdown is not Please see D146, 5 Planned additions for D146 schools Fulton School: Fulton is to gain two kindergarten classrooms with restrooms, and outdoor storage for playground materials. A new music room also is to be added at Fulton. Memorial Elementary School: Memorial is slated to gain a new kitchen and cafeteria, additional resource space and a physical education office. A new playground area is to be created to offset the loss of playground space because of the addition. Kruse Education Center: Kruse is to gain four kindergarten classrooms with restrooms, a kitchen and cafeteria, and additional resource space. Additional projects will include the addition of dedicated art and music rooms, and a new primary playground. A mobile classroom also was added last month to accommodate students. Fierke Education Center: Fierke is to gain three kindergarten rooms with restrooms, a kitchen and cafeteria, and additional resource space. Additional projects are to include dedicated art and music rooms and a new primary playground. Deb From Page 3 this, as she wanted to formatively assess students. The school’s principal suggested projecting assessments for students to take, but not all 38 students were able to see the screen because of the way her classroom was configured. Baker sometimes shares this experience with her colleagues in D230. “It was such an exponential leap in available resources [at D230],” she said. “It made teaching a whole lot easier. If you start your career at a District 230 school, you may not have that perspective.” Of Baker’s time at Sandoval, she said what she remembers most is coordinating the eighth-grade graduation, inviting Hispanic engineers and scientists to speak to the almost entirely Hispanic student population. The second CPS school at which Baker taught was Alexander Graham Elementary School, two blocks from where she grew up in Canaryville. At the time, Baker’s mother, who still lived in Canaryville, became ill. Baker said working at the school was serendipitous, because she was able to visit her mother almost every night. Of her time at Graham, Baker said she remembers when one eighth-grader in her class finished a young adult book the class was reading, closed it and said, “Mrs. Baker, that was the first book I ever read.” “I was stunned at that but thrilled I was able to provide that experience for that kid,” Baker said. At the end of the school year, Baker decided she wanted to teach high school students, and interviewed and was hired for a position teaching English at Sandburg in 2001. For two years, she worked with an interdisciplinary team consisting of math teacher Mark Peterson, social studies teacher Jim Martin and science teacher Christine Borst. They planned together and collectively taught a group of students. Baker said the team experience was unique and inspiring, but the district’s eventual decision to dissolve teams gave students greater opportunities in their schedules. Baker oversaw the English Department at Sandburg for two years and then became assistant principal of co-curricular activities at Andrew. She planned events that bolstered students’ learning experiences, including an event to welcome home alumna Christine Magnuson, an Olympic swimmer. After two years at Andrew, Baker became associate principal of curriculum and instruction at Stagg, where she helped launch the school’s literacy project. “I was really proud of the work we did,” she said. “We really explored how literacy could advance particularly reading at that school. It really was rewarding work.” After four years at Stagg, Baker became principal at Sandburg in 2014. “Someone recently pointed out to me that my office is situated in part of the building that was my classroom when I started here in 2001,” Baker said. “It’s interesting how it’s all cycling back in a physical space kind of way.” Of her time at Sandburg, Baker noted the school’s “slow, steady, strategic climb” in helping more students achieve better academic results. The school has focused on students who are at the cusp of grasping their schoolwork, helping them earn passing grades or go much further beyond passing. It also has started student advisories. Baker said the school’s English as a second language advisory helped students open up and feel more comfortable in school. Students in the advisory are even planning to give a TED Talk-style presentation to peers about their cultures. Baker’s enthusiasm and joy for teaching and learning are noticed and appreciated by her colleagues, as well. Joe Geiger, the Teachers’ Association building chairperson at Sandburg and a psychology instructor, said Baker’s door was always open, and she always made time to talk with faculty. “Sandburg is going to miss the energy she brought not only to the staff but to the students and community, as well,” he said. “Decisions she made were always student-driven and were results of what would be best for all parties involved.” Geiger recently presented Baker with her “honored retiree” polo shirt that the Teachers’ Association provides. He invited her to his classroom to observe a lesson and had a few students present the shirt. “Her infectious smile came out, and the joy she showed best exemplified who Deb Baker is as a person,” Geiger said. “Deb is someone who is caring, a good listener, loved her job and was the biggest support to make not only Sandburg but the community a better place.” Baker noted how enjoyable working in D230 was throughout the years. “We are all lucky to work in a district like 230 that is extremely supportive of not only an elite academic program but all the complimentary pieces that go with it, including elective and cocurricular options,” she said. “This is an amazing district.” What lies ahead It took Baker more than a year to decide it was time to retire. Her husband has been retired for a few years and spent some time looking for a part-time job to enjoy during his retirement. He eventually landed a summer job as a Cubs ambassador, and as a Cubs fan, it was his dream retirement job. But he still would enjoy company during the offseason, Baker said, and now is the right time. “We’re going to travel,” she said. “We’re healthy and in a position where we can travel extensively. ... Nobody I know who has retired has ever said they have regretted it. It is not the job. I’m not sick of it. At this point, I have a strong desire to do something else, and that something else is to travel.” To her successor, Jennifer Tyrrell, Baker said her advice would be to keep balance in her life. Baker often worked for 12 or more hours a day, she said. “There are times where you’ve got to stop and give time to something else,” she said. “It’s all about balance.” And as for what Baker will miss most about being part of the school community, she said it will be the people, the challenging conversations, the collective drive to help students achieve more academically, what she learned from her colleagues and, above all, the ready access to teaching and learning. “The crux of any school is teaching and learning,” she said. “That’s the core, the heart, where the rubber meets the road.” News the orland park prairie | February 22, 2018 | 5 A closer look at the mall safety discussions The Prairie examines concerns, stats and more around Orland’s retail hub Jon DePaolis Freelance Reporter During the course of the past calendar year — whether said out loud at Village of Orland Park Board of Trustees meetings or on the election trail — the question of safety at the Orland Square has been on the minds of some Orland Park residents. But for some Orland Park officials, this issue is more a matter of perception than reality. Now, with plans for an AMC movie theater to take over the soon-to-close Sears at the mall, the issue is once again at the forefront. Dropping numbers In early 2018, the Village and the Orland Park Police Department released a statement citing preliminary numbers from the Illinois Uniform Crime Report that states the Village had a reduction of 17 percent in criminal offenses in 2017 compared to 2016. Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy said the stats show the “lowest reported crime in 10 years,” during an interview with The Orland Park Prairie earlier this month. “We had only 20 burglaries this year, which was the lowest in the 25 years I have statistics for,” McCarthy added. “On top of that, theft — including retail theft — was down dramatically. Auto theft was down, and we had no arsons.” The IUCR showed crimes against persons increasing from 25 to 35 — with the largest increase being domestic-related crimes. But property offenses decreased by 241, from 1,335 to 1,094 — the biggest decrease coming from thefts, which dropped from 1,263 to 1,059. “Incidents of crime at the mall went down almost 30 percent this year from the year before,” McCarthy said. “The largest part of the reduction was retail thefts. It dropped by almost 140 retail thefts.” McCarthy said violent crime at the mall also is minor, citing just two incidents in 2017. “There is a perception problem, because crime at the mall is minimal,” Mc- Carthy said. In addition to the IUCR, Orland Park also was named a Top 20 Safest Illinois City by Safe Home Inc. Overall, McCarthy credited his officers for the crime stat reductions, including Orland Park’s retail crime specialist, who works as a liaison with Orland Square security and the local businesses, and follows up on crimes. “We hope the reductions we’ve seen [in retail theft] have been the fruits of that labor and that project,” Mc- Carthy said. The police chief also cited Orland Square’s security and efforts to make the mall a safe place. He said Simon, which operates the mall, installed a security camera system in the past few years that allows police total access. In a statement from Simon, sent by Derek Serafin of Motion PR, the business stated the Orland Park Police Department has been “a tremendous partner” with the mall and the community. “With their assistance, we are able to provide a pleasant and safe shopping environment for all of our guests,” the statement read. “This commitment to safety is echoed in the protocols and events we have in place throughout Orland Square. Whether it is our newly upgraded camera and lighting systems around the premises, or our regular coffee and family events with police, which aim to provide a forum for the community to speak with local law enforcement officials, security remains our top priority.” Raising concerns A big change soon coming to the mall will be the closing of Sears. But Seritage has submitted a proposal to redevelop that space as an AMC movie theater. That has led to questions of security at the mall, as a movie theater previously was located by Orland Square. At the Jan. 15 Village Board meeting, in response to comments made by members of the Economic Development Advisory Board, Trustee Kathleen Fenton said that safety and security at the mall was a topic of conversation in her discussions with Seritage Growth Properties, which proposed the development of the AMC. “One of the things in the meetings with Seritage that I brought up to them — and it’s a major concern in the community — is the safety,” Fenton said at the time. “Because every place AMC went into the other malls, with the exception of the Oak Brook location, they have had nothing but trouble. They’ve had to hire multiple security officers to be in there.” Reached by phone Feb. 14, Fenton expanded on those comments. “I know Orland Square Mall is safe,” Fenton said. “But I’m very concerned about AMC having the theater at the mall and what type of security measures they plan on putting in place, because one of my concerns in meetings with them when I’ve brought up some of their other AMC theaters [is that] all of them have security. At the time, when we first met, they had no intention of doing anything. So, my question is: What type of security are they planning for the theater?” Fenton said the theaters at malls that are currently in the area have a tendency to have problems, citing the theaters at the Ford City and Chicago Ridge malls, as well as some in Wisconsin. Fenton said she has met with the development group on three separate occasions. She said she has brought up the security meeting each time. “I was told at those particular meetings that they would look into it,” she said. But so far, she said she has not heard a specific plan. Asked if that was typical for a plan such as this. Fenton said, “This project is kind of being handled in an unusual manner, in my opinion — the way the whole thing was approached with the board.” Fenton said she is not concerned overall about safety and security at the mall, but if a project like the AMC theater goes through, she would want her questions answered about types of additional security measures. Speaking ‘facts and the truth’ Mayor Keith Pekau said he does not think adding a movie theater at the mall will lead to any safety problems. “For those that are indicating that AMC causes problems at malls, there are no facts that actually support that,” Pekau said. “That’s an emotional statement, not a facts-based argument. Our mall is very safe, and the stats prove that out.” Pekau said he thinks mall security concerns are a perception problem. “The only way I know how to battle that is to give people the facts and the truth, and encourage them to go the mall and see for themselves,” he said. Pekau said the police have met with Seritage, AMC and the mall about the impact of the theater on the mall and security. “The word I got from both Seritage and from Chief Mc- Carthy, independently, is that they both viewed it as an outstanding meeting,” Pekau added. So, why does that perception of a safety concern exist? “I think, in a lot of cases, it is people who haven’t been to the mall in years,” Pekau said. “For whatever reason, the perception gets stuck in people’s heads.” McCarthy, meanwhile, said it is the job of the police “to do whatever we can for all of our residents and all of our businesses to ensure that we prevent as much of crime as we can, and do the best job that we can with the crime that we have.” “If we have to go to some extraordinary measures [to ensure security], we’ll do it,” McCarthy said. “Just like we’d do anywhere else.” Seritage representatives did not respond to requests for comment regarding this story. D146 From Page 4 yet known, as bidding for Kruse Education Center and Fierke Education Center is planned for April or May of 2018. All of the projects are scheduled to be completed by the 2019-2020 school year, with Fulton School and Memorial Elementary School, the smaller of the projects, beginning next month. On March 12, the School Board will be asked to approve a resolution expressing the intent to change from half-day to full-day kindergarten. Per Public Act 100-0465, a school district must inform the State Board of Education of its intent and also provide the resolution by April 1. “The new Evidence- Based Funding formula creates an Adequacy Target for each district based on total average student enrollment and English Learner and low-income enrollment populations,” according to information provided by the district. visit us online at “Kindergarten students are assigned a value of 0.5 if they attend a half-day program and a value of 1.0 if they attend a full-day program.”