About District 88 » Community Engagement

Community Engagement

In Bellwood School District 88, our entire community comes together as a family. We celebrate our diversity, with students coming from so many different backgrounds, cultures, and communities. We all come together here, in our schools. We are truly #One88.
We work together to ensure every child enrolled in our schools is successful by providing a healthy, safe, engaging, and challenging learning environment in all our schools. This starts in our award-winning early childhood program and full-day kindergarten and continues through elementary and middle school.
Our district has improved tremendously thanks to the stable, passionate leadership of our school board and administration since 2017. We’ve strengthened our curriculum and expanded after school programs, including giving students access to STEM activities. We invest in and support our teachers now more than ever before, including helping them gain new credentials through our “Grow Your Own Program,” known as University88. We expanded ESL support for all multilingual students and are working towards dual language programming. We improved special education resources. We have updated the district’s website, and we report our progress transparently to the public.
We’ve also made significant progress improving the district’s finances. When the current leadership took over, the district was in a fiscal crisis with only 29 days cash on hand, just 16% of what the state recommends. We worked to reduce spending, increase efficiency, pay down debt, and maximize our grant revenues. Through fiscally responsible leadership, the district reached the state’s recommended reserves and achieved financial recognition status. This has allowed us to invest into improving security, infrastructure, and technology in all our buildings.
This hard work is paying off. Our students are performing better than ever. In just the past year we’ve seen student achievement in Math, English Language Arts (ELA), and Science grow even more than the ambitious targets we set for ourselves at the beginning of the year. We’ve improved our school designations, with all our schools now commendable or targeted.
However, with many of our schools looking exactly as they looked generations ago, we will struggle to improve further without making substantial improvements to our aging facilities. We do the best we can with our curriculum and technology, but our learning spaces don’t support 21st century learning. Our science labs are outdated, keeping us from providing STEM learning and maker spaces. Student and teacher furniture is old and antiquated. We need to fully secure the entrances for all our schools. Accessibility needs to be improved. Mechanicals are aging and breaking down, especially our heating and cooling systems, which struggle to control temperatures in our schools. Much of the carpeting is original to the buildings. Storage space is extremely limited. We don’t have enough gym space for physical education or all our students who want to participate in sports. One of our schools doesn’t even have a lunchroom!
Achieving the needed improvements is a challenge due to our limited access to resources, with our district being funded at only 70% adequacy, designated Tier 1 in the state’s Evidence-Based Funding Model. And while our fiscal responsibility benefits the families and taxpayers of District 88, with only 33% of our funding coming from local taxpayers, we are reaching the end of our ability to make improvements without additional resources.
Improving our facilities would help our students become more successful educationally, socially, and emotionally. Students would have expanded academic, extracurricular, and athletic opportunities in 21st century learning spaces. We’d be better able to attract and retain quality teachers and staff. All our buildings would be even safer and more secure. The entire community would benefit, helping make us a destination community with increased property values and economic opportunities.
Our kids deserve better. That’s why our community has come together to collaborate on a plan for the future of our district. Throughout 2024, we will be working together on a path forward for our schools. Please join us in this community-driven process!