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Principal letter to seniors re. end-of-year activities 4.10.20

Sent April 10, 2020

Dear D219 Class of 2020 Students and Families,

We know that you have been wondering about the status of end-of-the-year activities, including our annual student awards ceremonies, prom and graduation. We understand how important these events are, not only in and of themselves, but also because they mark such important milestones in a year that has already been altered beyond anyone’s expectations by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are sending this note to let you know that we are actively investigating a number of possibilities and alternatives, including having some “virtual” events.  In the end, the question of whether we will be able to hold any in-person gatherings, and, if so, when those can take place, will be determined at state and local levels, and we may not have much control over these decisions. Just yesterday, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said large public gatherings should probably not take place this summer, and probably not even until an effective vaccine is available.

That being said, here are some of the things we can tell you about the options we are considering. 

Senior Recognition Awards
We are proceeding with our awards and recognitions for seniors. Although neither event will be held physically at the schools, Niles North will have its Awards of Distinction, and Niles West will have its Accolades recognitions, albeit in a different format this year. Both schools will recognize seniors for their outstanding contributions over their high school careers. Our faculty and staff members are working with our administrators to develop a vehicle that will spotlight the significant accomplishments of so many of our students.

Prom is a very important event, particularly for seniors, to mark the end of their high school careers with a celebratory and exciting night of dancing and fun. Because the original dates are so close to the “stay at home” order and we have not received guidance on what the limits on large gatherings may be after that date, we are unfortunately going to cancel the May prom dates. We are heartbroken to have to make this decision. We are considering the possibility of  holding a physical prom later in the year at one of our schools. We are also looking at possibly holding some kind of senior send off sometime in the summer. All of these alternate events would be contingent on the determination that it is safe for people to gather in groups by this time. 

The highlight of every school year is graduation. We know it is as important, or maybe even more so, for families as it is for students to mark this milestone. It is also an important opportunity to come together as a community and celebrate with parents, friends and extended family.  Our current date of graduation is scheduled for Sunday, May 24. Because of the uncertainty of whether mass gatherings will be allowed in late May, we are planning for alternative ways to mark graduation while adhering to the “stay at home” rule, should it be extended. 

Since seniors have already ordered their caps and gowns, we will develop plans to get those ceremonial garments to our graduates. Those distribution plans will of course, adhere to the social distancing guidelines that are currently in place.

One possibility is to hold a “virtual” graduation. Another possibility is to still have a physical ceremony later in the summer. We will keep you informed as developments unfold, and we will  continue to look for ways to celebrate these important life-marking events for our students at the same time we must all address the profound challenges that we are facing at this unprecedented time in our country and around the world. 

Please stay home and stay safe. We will get through this together!


Dr. James Edwards, Niles North Principal
Dr. Karen Ritter, Niles West Principal
Dr. Steven Isoye, Superintendent of Schools

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Letter to D219 families re. Zoombombing

Sent April 1, 2020 – 9:15pm

Dear D219 Students & Families,

We are sorry to report that a few remote learning sessions today at Niles North and Niles West were disrupted with incidents of “Zoombombing.” This problem is not unique to our district. Zoombombing refers to uninvited intrusions into video conferencing sessions, for example, by hackers using graphic images or hateful language. This has become a problem across the nation as more people turn to the use of video conferencing as a result of the physical distancing we are observing in response to COVID-19.

We want to exercise caution so that student remote learning sessions are not negatively impacted by any such disruptive or upsetting incidents. Therefore, we are asking our faculty and staff members NOT to use video conferencing sessions for their classes for the remainder of this week, while our Information Technology team puts in place additional safeguards that will greatly reduce the chance of such Zoombombing incidents. Class activities will continue with Google Classroom this week.

We are sending you this message to let you know about the problem. We are working as quickly as possible to come up with a plan that both allows our teachers to use remote learning methods that enhance their class offerings, while also protecting our students from inappropriate comments or content.

We are sorry to alert you to this problem at a time when we know our students are already undergoing such challenging times because of COVID-19. It is also unfortunate that we have to worry about such a thing at a time when our teachers and paraprofessionals are working so hard to develop remote learning plans that help our students move forward academically.

This is an opportune time for all of us to practice responsible digital citizenship. We encourage all of our students to remember that they should exercise online the same respect for each other and for their teacher that they would in person.

Thank you for your understanding and your cooperation.

Dr. James Edwards, Niles North Principal
Dr. Karen Ritter, Niles West Principal
Dr. Steven Isoye, Superintendent of Schools


Letter to Families re. Remote Learning extended to April 30 – 4.1.20

Sent April 1, 2020 – 11:15am

Dear D219 Families,

We hope this note finds you and your family members safe and well. Yesterday Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that, in order to slow down the spread of COVID-19, he will extend the state’s disaster proclamation and the stay-at-home order until April 30 at the earliest. Schools throughout the state will continue Remote Learning Days at least until April 30.

We are grateful to our students for their enthusiastic participation so far in our Remote Learning programs. We would like to thank our teachers and staff members for their flexibility and ingenuity in developing instruction during this difficult and challenging time.

In addition to developing Remote Learning, D219 and the sender districts are working closely with local governmental agencies to support you and your families. All of the school districts are participating in a conference call at least once a week in collaboration with the managers of our four villages, our local public health officials, Niles Township Government, the libraries and the park districts. We are working together to ensure that we are serving our families.

We know that you have many questions about year-end events, prom, graduation, grading and many other topics. We appreciate your patience as we carefully consider these topics.

Thank you for your ongoing support of our students and our schools.


Dr. James Edwards, Niles North Principal
Dr. Karen Ritter, Niles West Principal
Dr. Steven Isoye, Superintendent of Schools

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D219 Principals’ Update to Students Regarding Remote Learning 3.31.20

Sent March 31, 2020

Good morning,

We just wanted to go through some of the changes this week and moving forward. Thanks again for battling through this difficult time. Rather than give you a boatload of info all at once, let’s go through the highlights.

  1. Remote Learning: E-learning Days are now called Remote Learning (that is how the state of Illinois has designated these days)
  2. Remote Learning Days Schedule: The schedule below was based on some of your feedback that suggested that the workload with E-Learning days was too difficult to manage, given distractions and obligations you may have at home during this pandemic. The new schedule gives you more time to get work done.
  3. Return Date: We are slated to come back to school on Wednesday, April 8th. That may change in the coming days based on “social distancing” being extended. Look out for communication on that.
  4. Student Attendance: Starting this Wednesday, every day you will receive instructions on how to log into attendance using Infinite Campus. Teachers are no longer requiring attendance questions via Google Classroom for attendance. Please make sure you log in for attendance daily by 1pm.  We will be calling home after 1pm each day for those students that have not checked in. Here are the easy instructions to check in. Also, even though Mondays are Flexible Instructional Days, you must still check in with attendance on those days as well.
  5. Excused absences: If you are unable to check in with attendance due to an illness or some other circumstance that makes it difficult to participate in remote learning, please have your parent or guardian call the attendance line with the reason for the absence  (847-626-2030) at North / (847) 626-2570 at West
  6. Student/Parent Portal Access: If parent/guardian contact information has changed, please request a change in the Parent Portal. If you do not have access to the Student or Parent Portal, you can follow these instructions for setting up your account. Portal instructions link

Remote Learning Guide for Students

Just to reiterate, it is critically important that you stay engaged in your schoolwork as we move into Remote Learning Days. If you have any specific questions, you can reach out to me or your specific teachers. We are all in this together!

Be safe, healthy, and engaged !
Dr. Jim Edwards, Niles North Principal
Dr. Karen Ritter, Niles West Principal


D219 COVID-19 Update to Families 3.28.20

Sent March 28, 2020

Good afternoon, D219 Families,

We want to extend our best wishes to you and your family for good health, fortitude, and optimism during this most difficult time in our country. With our Spring Break coming to a close, we wanted to update you on some items of importance that impact our school community moving forward.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s executive order requires residents to “stay at home” through the end of Tuesday, April 7. As part of Governor Pritzker’s order, he announced that schools will remain closed, with a new tentative reopening date of Wednesday, April 8. We are expecting additional guidance from the Governor’s office on the possible extension of the closure.

Remote Learning Updates
Our team has been working diligently to address some of the concerns provided to us by students and staff after our first week. We want to thank everyone for their feedback, patience, and hard work as we strive to continue to provide meaningful educational experiences for our students during this time.

Monday, March 30 and Tuesday, March 31 are Remote Learning Planning Day — No Student Attendance on These Days
Teachers and, if applicable, their support staff colleagues, will prepare plans and assignments for the next phase of remote learning. In addition, they will explore digital resources related to best practices in remote learning, and share some of their strategies and lessons with colleagues.

The overarching grading policy during Remote Learning Days embraces the principle of “no educational harm to any child.” Grading should focus on the “continuation of learning and prioritize the connectedness and care for students and staff.”

All students should have the opportunity to redo, make up, or try again to complete, show progress, or attempt to complete work assigned prior to the remote learning period in that time frame.

Student Attendance Expectations
Remote Learning Days count as actual student attendance days.

Attendance-taking Procedures
The procedure for attendance taking has changed. Students will receive a daily email with instructions on how to check-in once a day through the Infinite Campus portal rather than per period. Students will still need to check-in for attendance by 1p.m.

Food Service
Beginning Monday, March 30, Niles Township High School District D219, in conjunction with area elementary school districts will be providing free breakfast and lunch on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to all Niles Township students ages 18 or under. Click here for more details about free breakfast and lunch.

Wifi Accessibility and Training for Google Classroom
Students who have requested a wifi hotspot should arrange to pick up the hotspot by emailing the principal. Students who need support on how to use Google classroom should contact Dr. Lacey at philac@d219.org.

Remote Learning Days Schedule
To address some of the concerns related to student learning accessibility, workload, as well as providing time for more interactive feedback between teachers and students, the district has decided to shift the schedule from an every-day, all-period schedule to a modified block schedule with certain periods scheduled on certain days.

The Remote Learning Schedule is here. When Remote Learning resumes on April 1, students will follow the Wednesday schedule on April 1, the Thursday schedule on April 2, and so on, going forward.

Emergency Days/Make-up Days
The Illinois State Board of Education has issued information to districts regarding instructional days. All of the days we have scheduled up through April 7, along with the Act of God days will count towards our 176 required days. In the event school remains closed, Remote Learning Days will continue to count. As of now, we will not have to make up days.

Testing Updates
Governor JB Pritzker’s Executive Order 2020-15 suspends state assessments for spring 2020, including the Constitution exam. This action officially ends assessment activity statewide for the Illinois Assessment of Readiness, Illinois Science Assessment, SAT, and Dynamic Learning Maps-Alternate Assessment for the 2019-20 school year.


  • The School Day SAT and PSAT scheduled for April have been cancelled.
  • The free School Day SAT provided by the state is the only opportunity many students get to take a college entrance exam. ISBE is working with the College Board on developing options to allow current 11th grade students to take the SAT in the fall. We hope to have more information on these options with guidance from ISBE.
  • The May 2, 2020 administration of the national SAT has been cancelled. Registered students will receive refunds.
  • As of now, the June 6, 2020 administration of the national SAT has not been cancelled. College Board will monitor the situation with the health and safety of educators and students as their top priority.

Advance Placement (AP) exams
The College Board has modified its AP exam administration in response to COVID-19.

  • Exams will be 45-minute online free-response exams
  • Exam content will focus on what most schools were able to complete by early March.
  • Exams may be taken on any device —computer, tablet, or smartphone. Students will also have the option to write responses by hand and submit a photo.
  • Colleges support this solution and are committed to ensuring that AP students receive the credit they have worked to earn.
  • Daily free AP Review classes are available on YouTube

We are currently living in a period of history in which our strength and unity as a school community are imperative. District 219 appreciates all of the efforts and support that our teachers/staff, students, and parents/guardians have put forward during this time of crisis. We will continue to solicit feedback from our school stakeholders to tweak areas as needed. Most importantly, we wish you and your family the best of health and optimism!

Warm regards,
Dr. James Edwards, Niles North Principal
Dr. Karen Ritter, Niles West Principal
Dr. Steven Isoye, Superintendent of Schools

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FINAL D219 COVID-19 Update 3.20.20 6 p.m.

Sent March 20, 2020, 6 pm

Dear D219 Families,

This afternoon, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order requiring residents to “stay at home” effective Saturday, March 21 at 5 p.m. through the end of Tuesday, April 7. As part of Governor Pritzker’s order, he announced that schools will remain closed, with a new tentative reopening date of Wednesday, April 8.

During this stay at home order, essential school personnel may still report to work as long as they are practicing social distancing. This is important to our district, since we have employees who will be in our schools to help assist with lunch pickup, providing technical support to students, cleaning and maintaining our buildings, and providing support from the administration.

Our main concern continues to be the health and safety of our students and their families and of our faculty and staff members. To that end, I engaged in a conference call today with the other Niles Township superintendents and government and public agency officials from our four villages. We continue to work together so that we can provide a continuity of essential services to our constituents between and among our various agencies.

We will continue to update our D219 COVID-19 website as new developments arise. You can also find information specific to your communities at the following sites:

Village of Lincolnwood

Village of Morton Grove

Village of Niles 

Village of Skokie 

Niles Township Government 

We understand that these are challenging and confusing times. We appreciate your support of our schools. Even with our schools closed, our faculty and staff members continue to work hard to provide a meaningful education for our students.


Dr. Steven Isoye
Superintendent of Schools

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March 20 COVID-19 Update to D219 Families 3.20.20 11:30a.m.

March 23 to 27 Is Spring Break
D219 will observe our scheduled Spring Break from Monday, March 23 through Friday, March 27. These days are non-attendance days in our regular school calendar, and e-Learning will NOT take place during this week. E-Learning will resume on Monday, March 30. 

School closure likely to continue
Currently, the plan is to reopen schools on Tuesday, March 31. However, we know there is a likely chance that this closure will be extended by the state and Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), or by local decision. D219 is in ongoing communication with the Skokie Health Department, the Illinois Department of Public Health, ISBE and the other area superintendents. ISBE has given a strong indication that the state closure will extend beyond March 31 and has asked districts to be prepared to implement e-Learning.  We will keep you posted and share information about any closure extension as soon as we know. 

D219, Quest makes lunch available for students during Spring Break
Although D219 does not usually offer any food service during Spring Break, in recognition of challenges our families are facing with the spread of coronavirus, D219 and Quest Food Management Services, our onsite food service provider, will be offering free lunches to students. We will provide two distributions: 

Monday, March 23, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
– Niles North Pickup at Door 12 (Athletics entrance)
– Niles West Pickup at Door 13 (South Lobby)

Wednesday, March 25, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
– Niles North Pickup at Door 12 (Athletics entrance)
– Niles West Pickup at Door 13 (South Lobby)

At each distribution, D219 and Quest will provide two or three days’ worth of meals including: cold entrees (such as sandwiches and wraps), cold sides (such as pasta salad, cole slaw, bagged chips), fruit and beverages. 

Distribution will take place outside the school building (reference the door number above) to ensure the safety and sanitation of the building during this shutdown. Students or their families may simply approach or drive up to the distribution point, and quickly pick up the meals. 

Niles Township Food Pantry offers food for eligible families 
The Niles Township Food Pantry will be making boxes of food available for families who live in the township and who have children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. Eligible families can pick up a box during one of the following times:

Wednesday, March 25, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
at the pantry’s Pop-Up Location, 8300 Lehigh Avenue in Morton Grove

Wednesday, March 25, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
at the Niles Township Food Pantry location, right behind the Niles Township Government building, 5255 N. Lincoln Avenue in Skokie

The food boxes will include a week’s worth of groceries. They include such items as: peanut butter, trail mix, canned chicken, tomato soup, canned vegetables, canned beans or vegetarian chili, spaghetti sauce, pasta, dried fruit, dried beans, brown rice, juice, water, crackers and cereal bars. 

For more information, visit the Niles Township Government website

Social Distancing
We remind families that, with our school facilities closed, students should not be on school grounds. This includes outdoor field spaces.  Everybody should be observing Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 guidelines, which include staying at least 6 feet away from others and refraining from gathering in groups. This also means avoiding picnics, pick-up games and other social gatherings. Finally, and most importantly, if you are not feeling well, please stay home until you have fully recovered.

This flyer provides an excellent summary of how to practice effective social distancing. The source of this flyer is the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA).

Technical support for students 
For those students who have requested wifi hotspots, our Information Technology staff members will be contacting students directly to arrange a time to pick up those devices once they come in.

The week after Spring Break, we will resume Technical Support Hours for students who need help with a faulty Chromebook or who need other support for e-Learning. These support hours are scheduled to take place on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. We ask students to sign up for a specific time to come in. Please check this site for an update next week, when we will include a link that students can use to arrange a specific appointment for tech support. 

Be well and stay safe!

Dr. Steven Isoye
Superintendent of Schools

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3-20-2020 Principal letter to families

Good afternoon,

Firstly, I want to wish you and your families continued good health during this unprecedented time in our history. This COVID-19 crisis has stretched families and institutions beyond anyone’s imagination. That being said, I am sure we are all seeing instances of benevolence that restore our faith in the good of humanity. Thank you for your continued support, resilience, and fortitude during this tough stretch. As we move into spring break, here are a few updates:

This week, we kicked off remote learning for the first time with huge success. Our students were active and engaged in a multitude of learning activities. Our teachers have worked hard to deliver lessons and to provide feedback to students on their learning and growth. Student participation this week will make this transition seamless and ensure that students do not fall behind. This is a time to think about what matters most in learning, what students would like to get feedback on to shape learning, as well as opportunities for improving grades. Continuity of education is especially critical for high school students who are preparing for college and career in just a few short years. We also want our students to continue to have access to certifications, dual credit, AP classes, required services, and high school requirements in general.  As a reminder, remote learning will not be in effect during spring break, March 23-March 27. We will resume eLearning on Monday, March 30th.

For up-to-date information, please visit our webpage: www.niles219.org/keeplearning. Be sure to click on the link: “Information for Students & Families.”

On another note, please remind your students of the importance of “social distancing.” While we understand that there is more idle time than usual, our young folks need to heed to this as one of the ways to ameliorate the spread of the virus.

As you may also be aware of, our district is fortunate enough to have a dedicated and caring team of family liaisons to help. Additional information about Family Liaison services can be found on the Family Liaison website at this link.

We will continue to update families on the impact of COVID-19 on our schools and decisions moving forward.  Here is the website link

Have a great weekend,
Dr. Edwards/Dr. Ritter

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March 17, 2020 update regarding COVID-19 and e-Learning

COVID-19 Website
We have created a dedicated webpage for communication and resources during this school closure. Please go to www.niles219.org/keeplearning for the most up-to-date information. We added a banner to the main web pages for District, Niles West and Niles North. For updates on COVID-19 and e-Learning, please click on the banner.

Periodic updates from the D219 Administration
The Superintendent and principals will continue to provide periodic updates to our school community on issues that impact our schools.

e-Learning Clarification regarding “Act of God” days
On Friday, March 13, 2020, Governor J.B. Pritzker issued an Executive Order for all schools to close March 17 to 30 with a plan to reopen on March 31. These Act of God days do not need to be made up at the end of the school year.

Even with the Executive Order, Illinois State Superintendent Carmen Ayala strongly encourages school districts to provide instruction during Act of God Days through whatever means possible. School districts have full autonomy to provide students with continuous learning. We are fortunate in District 219 to be able to provide students with continuous learning during this time. Working collaboratively with our Union, we successfully kicked off our first day of e-Learning today. Our teachers planned diligently to offer a continuity of education for our students.

Please note, e-Learning will not take place during spring break (March 23 to 27). E-Learning will resume on March 30.

Attendance & Grading
While we are practicing attendance taking methods for students during Act of God Days, non-attendance will not be used to penalize students. We understand that remote learning is new for many students and connectivity and access issues may arise that we will need to resolve. This week is important to us as a means of checking in with students and beginning to get used to our new remote learning.

During Act of God Days, the same concept applies to grading. Grading will be in the form of feedback for students. Grades will not be used to negatively impact students. Our teachers will continue to focus on learning and growth through constructive responses to student work.

Wifi Hotspots
Prior to the closure of school we surveyed our students to determine the needs of students concerning wifi access. If your student needs a hot spot, please fill this survey. We have the devices on order and we will contact you as soon as we receive the hotspots.

Dual Credit & AP Classes
We are working closely with our university partners and the College Board to ensure that students continue to have access to dual credit and Advanced Placement opportunities. All of our partners are ready to support our e-Learning efforts and will maintain open lines of communication with our district.

Open Meetings Act and Board meetings
On Monday, March 16, 2020, Governor Pritzker issued an executive order that suspended (1) the requirement that Board members “must be physically present” and (2) the limitations of remote participation of a meeting. The order further encouraged postponing Board meetings whenever possible. If a meeting is necessary, the Board should consider remote participation such as video, audio or telephonic meetings.

As such, we will begin to explore virtual Board meetings that allow for public participation. Posting requirements have not changed. We will still post the agenda for each meeting per usual.

Translation of Parent Letters
Our correspondence to families is translated by our family liaisons. Our liaisons then send the translated letter directly to our families. If you need translation assistance and are not already on the list of people who receive this service, please use the following link to identify the family liaison who can help you in your language. https://sites.google.com/d219.org/d219-family-liaisons/

Food Service
We sent a letter to families of students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch regarding lunch availability at our schools. If you did not receive the letter and would like the information, please refer to this link.

Sanitization of Schools
We are doing a deep cleaning of our schools at the onset of the closure. Custodial services will continue throughout the entire closure. A refresh deep cleaning will take place prior to the opening of schools.

State and National Testing
We will continue to monitor and communicate updates from the state and College Board regarding upcoming assessments scheduled for the months of April and May. As of this date, the NAEP and ISA exams for juniors, and the National May SAT exam have been cancelled.

We are also monitoring any IHSA communications related to the status of the spring sports season and will update any important developments.

Please take care and stay safe!

Dr. Steven Isoye
Superintendent of Schools

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3/16/2020: Superintendent message re e-Learning

Dear D219 Families,

As you are aware, our schools will remain closed from Monday, March 16, 2020 through Monday, March 30, 2020. Per the decision made by Governor Pritzker, Illinois schools are scheduled to reopen on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. There is a possibility that this date may change, based on coronavirus conditions. Please continue to monitor our website and personal communications such as email, text, and voicemail.

For now, District 219 is set to begin e-Learning for our students tomorrow, Tuesday, March 17, 2020. All of our teachers and staff have spent the day preparing to offer a continuity of education for our students. We are confident of everyone’s commitment during this unprecedented time. To ensure a successful and fruitful remote learning experience, we have developed the general information below to get students started.

  • School will continue to be in session daily through a remote learning environment. E-Learning requires daily active participation and attendance. Each e-Learning day is equivalent to a regular school day that counts toward a student’s attendance and grade.

  • Students will have access to their e-Learning day classwork in Google Classroom for all of their classes by 8 a.m. Each teacher will decide when the classwork is due. Students should communicate with teachers about daily and long-term assignments via email.

  • Students must complete the attendance question for each class period in Google Classroom before 1 p.m. on the e-Learning day.

  • If you receive individualized services through special education or other departments, follow the plan determined by the case manager and teacher that is working with you.

  • If a student is ill and cannot perform school work, parents must contact the attendance office in the usual manner. (Refer to the “D219 Student Handbook, Section C – Attendance and Truancy.”) Any work due can be made up per teacher instructions.

  • Check school email and the District’s webpage daily in the morning for general communications from the school.

Our website will be the best source of information. We highly encourage students and families to visit www.niles219.org/keeplearning to view our list of Frequently Asked Questions.

Dr. Steven Isoye

Superintendent of Schools