Friday Updates

In our efforts to share timely information with our school community, we have committed to sending Friday Updates when important or timely information needs to be shared. We hope you enjoy this week’s installment of the Friday Update!

January 27, 2023

Renee Epstein Named Laidlaw Principal

On behalf of the D101 Board of Education, we are pleased to share that Laidlaw Interim Principal Renee Epstein was named Principal, effective immediately, by a unanimous vote Monday night. The full overview of the announcement that was shared with the Laidlaw community on Tuesday can be found here

2023-24 School Calendar Approved Monday Night

Another action item undertaken by the Board of Education Monday night was the approval of the 2023-24 school calendar which can be found here.

Board Brief

The remaining news and notes from the Board’s Regular January meeting Monday night can be found here

Referendum Information and Public Forum - Save The Date!

As has been shared in Board of Education Briefs and my Friday updates since October, D101 will include a Referendum question on the April 4, 2023 ballot. More detailed information on this topic was included in our December Board Brief (please note the highlighted section for your efficiency) and will continue to be shared in regular communications between now and the election. A Citizens Committee advocating for the passage of the Referendum has been established, and they have been hard at work compiling pertinent information to share with D101 parents and the broader Western Springs community. D101 parents can anticipate receiving communications via email from the Citizens Committee starting next month and this Committee also plans to hold a Public Forum at McClure Junior High the evening of Tuesday, February 21 at 6:00 pm. More information will be forthcoming regarding both the Referendum and the Public Forum, but parents who have questions in the meantime, or who would simply like to know how to get involved or assist in the efforts, are invited to reach out to committee members whose contact information is included below. We extend a huge thank you to our Citizens Committee - composed of current and former D101 parents from each of our elementary school neighborhoods - for their commitment in helping inform our community on this important issue.

Citizen Committee Members


All Abilities Fair

Last year, a joint collaboration between Laidlaw parents and staff resulted in one of the coolest and most impactful new experiences for students at our largest elementary school. This collaborative effort resulted in students across all grade levels not only learning about how classmates and others deal with - and overcome - a variety of physical, neurological and learning challenges, but allowed students to experience what some of these challenges felt like via a variety of real life scenarios. We are excited to share that the lessons learned from last year, and the amazing experiences our students were able to share, has resulted in this year’s All Abilities Fair expanding to each of our four schools. Parents and students will learn more about these experiences in the weeks to come, but elementary students will participate the week of February 13 and McClure students will be engaged in April. Thanks to the many parents and staff who have worked behind the scenes to make this happen, and thanks also to the Western Spring Foundation for Educational Excellence (WSFEE) for their generous financial support of these days for our students!

Anaphylaxis Focus in District 101

I want to thank the many members of the D101 school community who reached out to us following the news that a student in Texas passed away after going into anaphylactic shock while at school. This tragic news is absolutely devastating, and it provided all of us with a very real reminder of how important policies, procedures and preparedness matter in such situations. I want to further share that the news that broke over the weekend provided for conversations, a review of our own procedures, and internal communications to emphasize our preparation for a fast and appropriate response to a similar situation in our schools. The Board, at its meeting Monday night, approved revisions to our Administration of Medication to Students (Policy #5025), a policy revision that they have been working on with our District School Nurse and legal team for the past two months. District Nurse Amber Knoll reviewed and re-shared our anaphylaxis response procedures with all school nurses and main office staffs. And, our parent community weighed in about points of emphasis related to food allergies, anaphylaxis response procedures, and readiness as well. Thanks to all who engaged over the past week to share their thoughts and talents in helping to keep our students as safe as possible in this area while in school. 

5Essentials Survey Reminder

Parents and staff at each of our buildings have/will be receiving links to this year’s 5Essentials surveys. All are encouraged to be on the lookout for these messages/links from each building principal and are asked to take a few minutes to provide us with your perspectives and feedback. Thanks in advance for taking the time to share your thoughts with us via 5Essentials!

Virtual Parent Night With Emily Rubin

D101 parents (and staff) are invited to attend a virtual parent night experience with Emily Rubin on February 28, from 6-8:00 pm. Ms. Rubin is the Director of the Educational Outreach Program at the Marcus Autism Center, an affiliate of Emory University and an NIH Autism Center of Excellence and former faculty member at Yale University. D101 has been working with Emily over the past year-plus as she has helped bring tenets of the SCERTS Model to us, including professional development of our staff. SCERTS is a research-based multidisciplinary framework and educational approach that prioritizes Social Communication, Emotional Regulation and Transactional Support to support the development of children with ASD and their families. The virtual parent night is co-sponsored by D101 and LADSE, so please hold February 28th on your calendar. Virtual sign-in information will be forthcoming.          

PAC Family Event

All D101 families who have children receiving special services are invited to join PAC for the first-ever D101 Special Services Family Event that will be held on Sunday, February 12 from Noon to 2:00pm! We will be packing Kindness Keychains for distribution to all D101 students and staff, as well as decorating Valentine’s Day cards for Aspire Chicago residents. We will have keychain and craft supplies ready and set to go upon arrival! Lunch will be provided by the District at Noon. Please RSVP here so we can gather an accurate headcount for lunch planning. There is no cost associated with this event.

Happenings Around Town

Western Springs Little League Sign-Up Information

Registration for the Western Springs Little League Spring/Summer season is open. Parents interested in signing your child up can get more information  on how to register here

Building Inclusive Community Conference

The LeaderShop is sponsoring its third annual Building Inclusive Community Conference on February 4. More information on this event can be found here

Repeated Information From Past Friday Updates

April 4 Election - Ballot Question and Information

As you know, in October the Board of Education announced the District’s plan to place a ballot question before the Western Springs voters on the April 4 election. This ballot question, if approved, requests a tax rate increase for the District for the first time since 2003 that will generate approximately $2M in new revenue annually for D101. A very detailed overview of the referendum, including its connection to the December Levy Hearing (also overviewed below) can be found in the December Board Brief. The referendum question that will be placed on the April ballot was also approved by the Board last month and it can be found here

Winter Weather Information

This week’s blast of cold (and a little snow) was a good reminder to ensure that everyone in D101 is aware of our communication plans around challenging weather. Please find this year’s overview on how we will evaluate inclement weather, make decisions related to safety on these challenging days, and ultimately communicate to families and staff.