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Unit 5's Weikle Comments on Racial Justice, Encourages Reflection

Sign at Kingsley
The sign at Kingsley Junior High School, where the flag is flown at half-staff.

During a brief school board meeting Wednesday night, Unit 5 Superintendent Kristen Weikle encouraged staff and students to reflect on the work of Martin Luther King Jr.

There will be no school on Monday, Jan. 18, in observance of the federal holiday commemorating the slain civil rights leader.

“This is typically a day of service and while COVID may impact our ability to volunteer in person, it doesn’t prevent us from honoring the work of Dr. King,” Weikle said. 

She added that Unit 5 staff has been undergoing equity and anti-racism training, as well as having discussions around racial justice. “As we approach Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and think about the events that occurred last week in the Capitol, I really want our community to know that Unit 5 is committed to providing equitable opportunities for students and staff,” Weikle said. 

COVID protocols

Unit 5 students returned to hybrid learning this week following winter break, and Weikle said staff has been pleased with students’ re-acclimation to COVID protocols. The district may even consider bringing certain grade levels back to full time, in-person learning later in the semester. 

“We really wanted to get past the estimated peak of COVID prior to looking at that,” Weikle said. 

Weikle thanked Rivian and Reditus Labs for the combined $1million donation that will provide free COVID-19 testing for Unit 5students and staff. Weikle said details were still being worked our with Reditus regarding the logistics of testing that will be voluntary. 

Driver's ed fee

The board held a public heringt to discuss the renewal of a waiver that allows the district to increase the fee for its drivers education program to an amount “not to exceed $450.” The current statute allows Illinois school districts to charge a “reasonable fee” not to exceed $50, which can be increased to up to $250 after a public hearing.

Unit 5 attorney Curt Richardson explained the waiver has been in place for five years, and the only action before the board was to approve its renewal. That vote will take place at a future meeting. 

Ninety percent of drivers education fees go toward district personnel. Richardson said the increased amount allows Unit 5 to maintain a quality program and reduces the wait for behind-the-wheel training. 

Unit 5 doesn’t currently charge students the full $450 allowed by the waiver, Richardson said. “But it gives us a little room if we need to.” 

This story has been updated to reflect a correction. The board will vote on the waiver renewal at a future meeting. The vote did not take place last night, as previoiusly written. 

Sarah Nardi is a correspondent at WGLT. She rejoined the station in 2024.