DeKalb School District 428 diversity plan created

Vote anticipated in June on plan to address changing demographics

Jennie Hueber, DeKalb School District 428 director of curriculum and instruction[]

DeKalb School District 428 Board member Rick Smith a few months ago said he did not expect such an outstanding proposal when the board approved the writing of a diversity plan to address the changing demographics of the community.

“I appreciate all the effort, and I don’t even know all of the effort,” Smith said.

District officials presented the plan during Tuesday’s school board meeting and are expecting approval of the plan during the June 5 school board meeting.

A group of social justice-trained staff members overseen by James Cohen of Northern Illinois University and J.Q. Adams of Western Illinois University wrote the diversity plan using the results of a study conducted earlier this year on how the district should respond to its changing demographics.

Recommendations included implementing professional development on cultural competence and inclusion; developing welcoming processes such as mentoring programs; strengthening school spirit and collaboration; and emphasizing nonviolent and compassionate communication.

Jennie Hueber, District 428 director of curriculum and instruction, said there is an expectation not to see any additional funding to enforce the plan. Therefore, funding available through title grants will be prioritized to support a rollout if the plan is approved.

Dana Yarak, a member of Welcoming Western Counties, a group of faith communities and organizations aimed at increasing solidarity within area counties, spoke positively about one of the recommended goals of the plan: to implement a dual-language program.

Yarak said his son experienced a true dual-language experience when his family lived in Spain and felt such an experience could be introduced locally.

“We can bring this home to the district and give that opportunity to our native English speakers to get a leg up in the 21st century,” Yarak said.