District 202 Community

Dr. Lane Abrell Superintendent of Schools | 4/18/2019, 12:07 a.m.
I returned to District 202 about six years ago, first as Associate Superintendent for a year, and for the past ...
Dr. Lane Abrell

I returned to District 202 about six years ago, first as Associate Superintendent for a year, and for the past five as superintendent.

After a nine-year stint as Assistant Principal or Principal at Plainfield High School (now, Plainfield High School -- Central Campus), I served as Superintendent in a small, rural school district.

There, I could touch every aspect of school district operations daily, if not hourly. In 2013, I was honored to be able to return to lead the district where my heart has always been.

As I reflect on the last six years (and finish my 33rd in education), a few thoughts come to mind:

First, the old cliché is true – time really does fly.

And second, but much more important, is that we have accomplished so much together as a large, diverse public-school community.

Of course, everything we do must be seen through the lens of our size and the immense growth we experienced from the late 1990s to the early 2000s.

From 1990 to 2008, we grew from 3,500 students in five schools to about 30,000 students in 30 schools and saw significant shifts in demographics and socioeconomics as well. Those changes created challenges for our community that no other could begin to understand.

Then, just as that growth peaked, the Great Recession hit. Suddenly we were a very large ship trying to simply stay afloat on very choppy seas thanks to unpredictable state funding.

Well, I am proud to say that not only did we stay afloat, we kept moving forward.

Thanks to the vision, talent, creativity, dedication and patience of our tremendous team of staff, administration and Board members, we achieved a long list of accomplishments over the last six years.

In no specific order of time or importance, we:

• Increased technology to almost a 2 to 1 student-to-laptop ratio at the schools at all levels as part of our efforts to increase and improve use of technology in the classroom;

• Implemented Algebra 1 for high school credit at middle school;

• Implemented Foreign Language for high school credit at middle school;

• Increased high school dual credit classes;

• Renovated high school athletic stadiums and installed artificial turf;

• Settled two collective bargaining agreements with both of our employee associations;

• Increased services and parent outreach to English Language Learner (ELL) students as our ELL population increased by nearly seven percent;

• Approved a plan to build an 18th elementary school as part of the work to offer full-day kindergarten to all eligible students;

• Began a “grow your own” administrator program;

• Improved our financial rating and stability;

• Saw our AP Exam scores and participation rise to record-high levels;

• Continued to perform very well on state standardized tests even as the state changed both the standards and the tests;

• Began the process to hire 20 new social workers to address the difficult issue of student anxiety which affects classroom achievement, culture and climate.

This progress is amazing on its face.

It’s even more impressive considering the extra challenges created by our size and all the moving parts that must work together for anything to work at all.

District 202 is truly like a large ship. When you turn the front, sometimes it takes a bit for the rear to come around, but once the front is pointed in the right direction, the rest of the ship will follow.

It’s been an amazing six years. I could not be prouder of our students, staff, families and community.

Who knows what else we might achieve in another six, as we continue to work together to prepare learners for the future.

Dr. Lane Abrell

Superintendent of Schools

Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202