When the classroom doors open in Naperville-area schools in the next few days, much will feel familiar — but not everything.
Officials in Naperville District 203 and Indian Prairie District 204 are preparing for an array of changes they’ll enact for the 2013-14 academic year. From new faces to physical upgrades to fresh lunchtime fare, each school system is making modifications in various ways.
Indian Prairie students will find lunch looks different — in a good way, planners hope — when they return to school Thursday. Many of them also will have more say in what goes on the plate than they have in the past.
The district’s new contract with Aramark includes some high-tech features.
“We’re engaging our customers a little more and doing more to involve them,” said Melissa Pementel, the district’s general manager of food service.
Students will have a chance to taste potential cafeteria offerings at sampling stations, and use an online tool to register their preferences on an ongoing basis.
Indian Prairie also has established an enhanced partnership with Healthy for Life, a web-based program for students in kindergarten through high school.
“It’s an overall wellness program, but we will be expanding this portal to include online parent resources and more engagement as well,” Pementel said.
Dietitians will be available to address such issues as vegetarian concerns and gluten-free options.
“It’s a two-way receiver,” she said. “It enables us to stay current, relevant and up to date on the preferences of our customers, whether they’re three feet high or six feet high.”
Changes reflecting the students’ input, likely to appear several weeks into the school year, won’t conflict with standards contained in the National School Lunch program, but a la carte choices will offer new options.
“We have put out kind of the fan favorites in the beginning, but then each high school would like us to poll their students separately,” Pementel said.
Along with the launch of all-day kindergarten on seven elementary campuses — Ellsworth, Elmwood, Beebe, Naper, Mill, River Woods and Scott — District 203, where school begins Wednesday, will also exhibit the impact of the convergence of technology and contemporary realities, in at least once instance ushering out a rite cherished by many.
The district on Thursday posted classroom and teacher assignments for elementary students on its Infinite Campus portal. Junior high students also are able to access their schedules through Infinite Campus, and parents can use the feature remotely as well.
Susan Rice, the district’s communications director, acknowledged the change marks the end of an era when going to school to see who was in whose classroom was a cherished tradition for elementary-aged kids.
“I think most of us can remember the excitement of that day for ourselves or our children,” Rice said in an email. “Unfortunately, there are other concerns today. With access to secure technology, making classroom assignments available online is one more step that can be taken to protect the privacy and safety of our students.”
The district also is in various stages of an array of construction upgrades, including an entirely new gym and additional space at Elmwood Elementary School.
Steve Mathis, director of buildings and grounds, said that in addition to the $1.7 million project at Elmwood, crews reroofed Naperville Central High School and Lincoln Junior High; replaced the rooftop heating and cooling units at both high schools; remodeled a lab at Naperville North; completed the first half of a heating pipe replacement project at North; remodeled the press box at Naperville North and the varsity baseball box at Central; and installed a new playground at Steeple Run Elementary.
Mathis said the weather overall has been cooperative this summer.
“June was a little wet,” he said. “We lost several days with roofing. But other than that, most of the projects went well.”