DuPage schools official said funding 'greatest challenge'
Despite several challenges in 2015, the DuPage Regional Office of Education looks to the future in a positive way.
Among the obstacles are funding, Regional Superintendent Darlene Ruscitti said.
“Funding remains the greatest challenge,” Ruscitti said. “Many districts are mean and lean. There is a perception that DuPage is wealthy and has all the resources it needs to provide the highest quality of education to every child, but we have a number of districts where poverty is over 50 percent, ESL and special-needs populations continue to grow, unfunded mandates, outdated policies, a checklist mentality approach by ISBE which stifles innovation and creativity, and a general lack of vision and leadership at the state level.”
DuPage schools also face a new state assessment that will be implemented. The school system will now use the PARCC test. Schools will also start preparing for the PERA requirements in 2016, which will increase infrastructure and technology needs, Ruscitti said.
Despite some obstacles, the school system is still one of the most competitive in the state, Ruscitti said. She cited some important statistics for the school, “Lowest dropout and truancy rates in the state, highest college attendance rates, some of the highest ACT scores, National Merit Scholars, as well as top scores in state assessment.”
Changes are something that every school system deals with, and Ruscitti is no stranger to implementing changes, citing several of which she is proud, including "entrepreneurial focus, cost-saving strategies; grant dollars brought into the county; model policies and programs in many areas, but especially in school safety (used by the entire state); partnerships with other entities, especially businesses on behalf of our schools; implementation of dual credit; a strong voice for DuPage schools at the state level; implementing measures to show effectiveness of services," among others, she said.
Despite this year's challenges, Ruscitti said DuPage schools can still count on the highest quality of education.