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Letter to the Editor/Solar power generating facility on Open Space

April 26, 2016 Letter to the Editor


Uncle Sam

At the April 11 Homer Township board meeting, Supervisor Meyers announced that the Township’s Open Space and Operations committee approved the concept to develop a solar power generation facility at the Paul Farm.  If the Town Board eventually approves this measure, the Township would trade access to our open space land in return for financial benefit.  In my view, this plan is not a proper use of public land and the trustees should discard this idea immediately.

In 1999, township residents approved two referenda which gave Homer Township permission to buy $8 million worth of land and the 56 – acre Paul Farm was purchased in 2000 for $1.7 million.  Supporters of the referenda, which included Supervisor Meyers and current Open Space Committee member Margaret Sabo, positioned this referenda as a way for Homer residents to have more parks and open space.  Today, there are over 200 acres of land in Homer Township’s portfolio and very little of it is used for parks and open space.

Supervisor Meyers has been sitting on the open lands committee for over 15 years.  Over the last 7 years, she has had ample opportunity to bring forward long term plans for our open space portfolio which will benefit all of the citizens of Homer Township.   Our open lands have been farmed on a “temporary basis” for far too long.  Supervisor Meyers’ support of a solar power generating facility on our land makes it clear that she views our open lands as a means to generate revenue for the township.  Our $8 million investment was for land that the public could use and enjoy, not to prop up agribusiness and green energy ventures.

Supervisor Meyers does not have a mandate to support using our open space as a platform to subsidize private business ventures and I urge the Homer Township Trustees to reject building a solar power generation facility at the Paul Farm at the next Town Board meeting on May 9.



Jim Orban

Homer Glen, IL

Source: Will County News

Fresher, healthier lunch options coming to Homer 33C

News Release

Homer CCSD 33C

Goodings Grove   Luther J. Schilling   William E. Young   William J. Butler

Hadley Middle   Homer Jr. High


Contact: Charla Brautigam, Communications/Public Relations Manager

cbrautigam@homerschools.org | 708-226-7628

Picante bar with made-from-scratch salsas and tortilla bowls.


For Immediate Release:

May 3, 2016


Fresher, healthier lunch options coming to Homer 33C

A committee of parents, administrators and staff members conduct a taste test while researching various food service options for the district.



The days of serving heat-and-serve prepackaged meals are coming to an end in Homer School District 33C.

Hand-tossed pizza


The district is switching food service providers in August, enabling schools to serve healthier, made-from-scratch meals and salad bars.

Wraps, sandwiches and yogurt parfaits


“We’re excited to offer students and staff a variety of high quality foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables each day as well as freshly prepared sandwiches, wraps, pizza and pasta on a rotating basis,” said John Reiniche, the district’s assistant superintendent for finance.


In February, the district surveyed parents to find out what types of meals they would like to see served in the schools and whether they would be willing to pay more for fresher, healthier options.

Salad bar with fresh fruits and vegetables


Of the 567 responses received, 75 percent indicated they would be willing to pay more for higher quality food.


Students currently pay $3 for pre-packaged meals. For 50 cents more, Homer 33C  will be able to offer fresh fruits and vegetables each day at self-serve salad bars, artisanal breads and wraps (including options for students who are gluten-free), taco bars with made-from-scratch salsas and tortilla bowls, hand-tossed pizzas and whole grain pastas.


The food will be prepared on site by Quest Food Management Services, a Lombard-based company that currently services over 110 kitchens across the Chicagoland area.


Among the company’s clients are schools in Orland Park and Tinley Park.


Before deciding to enter an agreement with the company, several Homer 33C school board members and administrators visited Century Junior High School in Orland Park to see Quest at work.


“I was impressed,” said board member Elizabeth Hitzman who visited the school on April 26 and talked to a few students as they ate lunch.


Each one gave the food a thumbs-up — especially the wraps and sandwiches.


“It was unanimous,” said Hitzman. “They loved it.


A committee of Homer 33C parents (including one who has a child with dietary restrictions), administrators and staff members conducted a taste test while researching various food service options for the district.


They, too, gave Quest high marks for taste and quality.


By switching companies, Homer 33C will solidify its departure from the restrictive National School Lunch Program (NSLP), which benefits only about 10 percent of students.


Administrators say the program’s strict guidelines for the types and portions of food served have greatly impacted the number of students who participate in the district’s food service program. Only about 15 to 20 percent of Homer 33C students partake in the school-prepared meals.


Based on surrounding school districts that have already switched to Quest, Homer 33C administrators expect to double the number of students who purchase their meals at school.


“The food is fresh, wholesome and flavorful,” said Reiniche, “with menus prepared around seasonal and regionally available ingredients.”


Another advantage to switching programs and moving away from NSLP is that the district will be able to partner once again with its Parent Teacher Organizations to offer healthy treats from time to time, enabling the group to raise money for school programs, activities and equipment.


The opportunity was negated in recent years by NSLP restrictions, said Reiniche.



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Source: Will County News

Homer 33C Scholastic Bowl team advances to IESA State Championship Crowned IESA Sectional Champions

News Release

Homer CCSD 33C

Goodings Grove   Luther J. Schilling   William E. Young   William J. Butler

Hadley Middle   Homer Jr. High


Contact: Charla Brautigam, Communications/Public Relations Manager

cbrautigam@homerschools.org | 708-226-7628



For Immediate Release:

May 3, 2016


Scholastic Bowl team advances to IESA State Championship

Crowned IESA Sectional Champions


The Homer Junior High Scholastic Bowl team is headed to the Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) State Championship.


The team of eight seventh- and eighth-grade students earned the opportunity after winning the IESA Sectionals on Monday (May 3), defeating Woodridge O’Neill, Joliet Washington, and New Lenox Martino.


   “This is my second year coaching the team and I am so impressed by the dedication, determination, hard work, and sheer intelligence these students consistently bring whether it is a practice or a match,” said Homer Junior High teacher and Scholastic Bowl team Coach Nichole Boyce. “These seventh- and eighth-grade students worked together seamlessly to secure a sizeable point advantage during each round of Sectionals last night. It was an exciting night for the team, myself, our assistant Mrs. Rachan and spectators.”


It’s the first time in Homer Junior High School’s history that one of its Scholastic Bowl teams has advanced to the State Championship.


“On behalf of everyone at Homer Junior High, we couldn’t be prouder of our historic (first-time) state qualifying Scholastic Bowl team,” said Principal Troy Mitchell.


“Perhaps what makes this accomplishment even more special is that this competition is academic based,” he added.


The Scholastic Bowl season began in December when Boyce began working with 27 Homer Junior High students who took the school to a 6-2 record.


The coach tracked each team member’s performance during the regular season and awarded a spot on the school’s competition team to the top eight students. Those eight competed in the recent Des Plaines Valley Conference, IESA Regionals and IESA Sectionals.


“Even though we compete as a team, a match can be turned around by a single player,” said Boyce. “Each of these eight students has had a chance to be that standout team member during a match this season.”


The team will compete next on Friday (May 6) at the Peoria Civic Center. Students will be quizzed on a variety of academic subjects.


Their first match is at 1 p.m. Follow their progress using this link.


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Source: Will County News

Homer 33C teachers excited about new textbooks

News Release

Homer CCSD 33C

Goodings Grove   Luther J. Schilling   William E. Young   William J. Butler

Hadley Middle   Homer Jr. High


Contact: Charla Brautigam, Communications/Public Relations Manager

cbrautigam@homerschools.org | 708-226-7628




For Immediate Release:

May 3, 2016


Homer 33C teachers excited about new textbooks


It’s not every day that a committee of teachers agree upon the same textbook series when reviewing learning materials for the classroom.


But that’s exactly what happened in Homer School District 33C when teachers previewed and piloted three textbook series in the area of English and the Language Arts.


“Every teacher picked the McGraw-Hill Wonders Series,” said Kathleen Robinson, the district’s assistant superintendent for instruction. “That’s the first time that has ever happened.”


For two months, 25 K-6 teachers worked with the learning materials and evaluation rubric from three textbook publishers.


They unanimously agreed that the McGraw-Hill Wonders Series was the best, offering the most balanced literature approach, including a reading/writing workshop model, a rigorous vocabulary and a blend of informational and literature text.


“It’s rich in literature and informational text,” said Robinson, “something the district’s current series is lacking.”


The district’s current English Language Arts series is nine years old and aligned to the old Illinois State Standards.


As a result, teachers were always searching for supplemental learning materials to bolster their lesson plans, leading to inconsistencies throughout the district.


The new series from McGraw-Hill is aligned to the current Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Literacy.


In addition, it’s based on scientific evidence and research related to elements that have been identified as essential to literacy instruction, said Robinson, including phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and language, text comprehension and writing.


One feature teachers are most excited about is the fact that the Wonders series offers leveled readers, meaning each child can work from books at their current skill level — whether it’s “Approaching” understanding, “On” level or “Beyond” level. There’s even a leveled reader for English Language Learners.


The only difference between each book is the complexity of text and inclusion of text features, said Robinson.


The leveled readers tie in with the district’s differentiated instruction initiative, which strives to tailor lessons to meet individual student needs.


Knowing some students learn best when they are working with technology, the Wonders series gives teachers and students the option to download material onto their Chromebooks.


“The series is very versatile and addresses many of components that are lacking or missing in our current ELA series,” said Robinson.


It also complements the district’s strategic plan to:

  • Provide an effective and engaging instructional program that supports academic success for all students
  • Provide a standards-based curriculum that ensures each child will have the same essential learning opportunities
  • Commit to setting high expectations for learners and continually collect, monitor and act upon evidence of their achievement progress
  • Commit to providing differentiated instruction, timely interventions and appropriate enrichments to help every student learn


The series was formally adopted by the Board of Education on April 26. It will be integrated into the classroom this fall and carry through the 2021-22 school year.

Source: Will County News

U.S. puts China, Japan and Germany on new watch list over foreign exchange practices

U.S. puts China, Japan and Germany on new watch list over foreign exchange practices


The U.S. has put nations including China, Japan and Germany on a new currency watch list, saying their foreign exchange practices need close monitoring to gauge whether they provide an unfair trade advantage over America.

The inaugural list also includes South Korea and Taiwan, the Treasury Department said Friday in a revamped version of its semiannual report on the foreign exchange policies of major U.S. trading partners. The five nations met two of the three criteria used to judge unfair practices under a February law that seeks to enforce U.S. trade interests. Meeting all three would trigger action by the president to enter discussions with the country and seek potential penalties.

The new scrutiny of some of the world’s biggest economies comes amid a bruising presidential campaign in which candidates from both the Democratic and Republican parties have questioned the merits of free trade. Republican front-runner Donald Trump has promised to declare China a currency manipulator, and the latest report may fail to appease critics in Congress who say China’s practices have cost American manufacturing jobs.

“We will continue to watch this process closely to ensure that the president squarely addresses currency manipulation and stands up for the American people,” House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican, said in a statement on the Treasury report.

The Treasury had already been monitoring countries for evidence of currency manipulation under a 1988 law. In the latest report, the department concluded that no major trading partner qualified as a currency manipulator; the last country it labeled as such was China, in 1994.

Under the new law, Treasury officials developed three criteria to decide if countries are being unfair: an economy having a trade surplus with the U.S. above $20 billion; having a current-account surplus amounting to more than 3 percent of its gross domestic product; and one that repeatedly depreciates its currency by buying foreign assets equivalent to 2 percent of output over the year.

China, Japan, Germany and South Korea were flagged as a result of their trade and current-account surpluses, the department said. Taiwan made the list because of its current-account surplus and persistent intervention to weaken the currency, according to the Treasury.

If a country meets all three criteria, it could eventually be cut off from some U.S. development financing and excluded from U.S. government contracts.

“People in Congress who passed this law were very frustrated because they felt they’d never had an adequate explanation from Treasury why some countries weren’t found to be manipulating,” said Nicholas Lardy, a scholar at the Peterson Institute for International Economics who has studied China for more than three decades. “Congress tried to be specific so the Treasury has less discretion.”

Lawmakers working on the trade bill originally sought to include tougher penalties, such as tariffs, for currency manipulators. But the Obama administration opposed that part and it was eventually dropped.

In its report, the Treasury said China’s yuan “should continue to experience real appreciation over the medium term.” In the department’s last report, in October, it said the yuan was “below its appropriate medium-term valuation.” Before that, the department had said the yuan was “significantly undervalued,” a description it avoided again Friday.

The Treasury said more clarity from China on its exchange-rate goals, including its commitment not to devalue its currency to boost growth, would help stabilize the market. The yuan has depreciated 4 percent against the dollar over the last year, even as the Treasury estimated China has sold $480 billion of foreign exchange assets from August through March to support the currency.

The Treasury said it is increasingly important that Japan use all policy levers, including fiscal policy and structural reforms, to lift growth. Earlier in April, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew urged Japan to focus on boosting domestic demand instead of exports as the yen rises. The yen has climbed almost 13 percent this year against the dollar.

Current conditions in the dollar-yen market are orderly, and it is important for countries to keep their Group of Seven and Group of 20 currency commitments, the Treasury said, reiterating Lew comments that were seen as rebuffing Japan’s desire to potentially weaken the yen through intervention.

South Korea sold about $26 billion in foreign exchange from the second half of last year through March to prop up the won, the Treasury noted, saying the intervention represented a shift from efforts to depreciate the currency. “Appreciation of the won over the medium term would help Korea orient its economy away from its current reliance on exports,” the department said.

Germany has the second-largest current-account surplus in the world, and the excess saving could be used to boost growth in the euro area, the Treasury said.

The Taiwanese government should limit currency interventions to the “exceptional circumstances of disorderly market conditions, as well as increase the transparency of reserve holdings and foreign exchange market intervention,” the Treasury said.

Source: Will County News