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DePue grant under review

DEPUE — The future of DePue School District’s $4.7 million Title I School Improvement Grant is up in the air.

Last week the school received a letter from the Illinois State Board of Education announcing the termination of the grant, and the transition team that was facilitating the grant packed up their belongings and left DePue.

But according to Superintendent Randy Otto, the decision is not necessarily final, and he is waiting to talk with Chris Koch, state superintendent of schools.

“All I can say now is that the district is exploring what options we have to gain more information,” he said.

In August 2010, the DePue School District was awarded a $4.7 million federal Title I School Improvement Grant to be awarded over the course of three years, one of only five schools in the entire state to receive this grant.

Transformation administrator Bob Libka and his staff, including a team of instructional coaches to work with the teachers, an intervention specialist to work on the special needs program with the existing staff, and a community and partner coordinator, have been at work ever since.

By the end of the first year of the grant, the team had started 137 initiatives focusing on bringing in new technology, improving the school climate and enhancing teaching and learning.

Libka declined to comment on the status of the grant but said it was hard for him and his team to leave DePue.

“There are no words to describe what a remarkable experience this has been for myself and our team members,” he said. “The idyllic beauty of Lake DePue is an appropriate reflection of the warmth shown to us by the wonderful people of DePue.”

Libka praised the efforts of the DePue faculty in working with the team.

“We would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the amazing and selfless commitment of the faculty, who have worked tirelessly to implement new strategies and address the specific needs of each student,” he said. “The DePue teachers love their students and are prepared to make great sacrifices to guarantee their future success.”

Whatever the future of the grant, Libka said the foundation is in place for continued improvement and sustained future success at DePue.

“The board of education has high expectations for staff and students; administrators know what they need to do; faculty and staff have the requisite skills; the technology rivals any other district in the state; and systems are in place to guarantee future success,” he said.

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