USD #116 Ask Me – Q&A page


Dr. Owen, Superintendent of Urbana School District #116 and his Tiger Staff are looking to answer your questions about Urbana Schools, education in general, blogging as the superintendent, and the weather! Ask your question here! Answers will be posted below.  If you have a questions that needs an individual response, please include your name and contact information (phone and/or email).  Names and contact information will not be published with the questions on the web site.


Why isn’t the UHS track available 24/7? 6. April 2016

A:  Thank you for your question about the track in the McKinley Athletic Fields, at Urbana High School.  We invite our neighbors to use the UHS track on a limited basis, however, we ask the public’s understanding that the facility is first and foremost, a place of learning for our students. We do not allow continuous public access to any of our learning environments, however, we understand our track is a unique space and asset to the community.

The renovation of Urbana School District 116’s McKinley Athletic Complex provides world class athletic fields for Urbana students for physical education, interscholastic athletic opportunities, and extracurricular activities. The field’s were renovated in 2011 with our students in mind – to provide them the best facility possible for academics and athletics. The complex was built using funds raised from the 1% sales tax and funds from the Life Safety budget line. These are the same funds that have been used to complete the renovations of the Cobb Memorial Auditorium in UHS, as well as the construction of Urbana Early Childhood School and Prairie Gymnasium at Dr. Preston L. Williams Jr Elementary and will continue to be used for projects throughout the District.USD #116 believes in being good financial stewards, as well as good managers of the properties and buildings we have throughout Urbana’s many diverse neighborhoods.

In the Rights and Responsibilities for High School Students it is stated that…adults have the responsibility to promote…freedom from fear of insult or injury…with a later mention of a safe environment. What is the procedure for addressing concerns of intimidation and verbal threats by school personnel? 31. March 2016

A:  Thank you for your question.  Any concern that a parent or student has with a member of the school staff should be brought to the school administration.  If the issue is with an administrator it should be brought to the District Superintendent.
Rule of thumb at the Urbana High School, if the issue causes you to pause then contact the school.  If not sure who to contact, then contact Principal Stark.

It’s 28 degrees right now with a windchill of 16. Why is there a group of kids outside on the playground at Yankee Ridge School right now? I’m so tired of my child coming home sick because she’s forced to be outside in fridged temps! 12. January 2016

A:  Thank you for your question.  Students need time to play both inside and outside.  Our principals use National Weather Service wind-chill guidelines to make decisions about which days are “outside” recess days.  Principals and teachers are always on the lookout for kids who do not have appropriate cold weather gear.  Cold air does not cause sickness. If your child has a medical condition that is triggered by cold air, please make sure you communicate that to the teacher and/or principal.  With the weather finally getting to normal temperatures for this time of the year, it is a good time to remind our students to dress appropriately for weather and to be weather aware.

When does school start after winter break 2. January 2016

A: Thanks for your question!  All Urbana schools (Early Childhood, all elementary, UMS, and UHS) begin school after winter break on Monday, January 4 at normal start times.

Does the district have plans to improve gifted education? I have been very disappointed with the differentiation approach. How can teachers more effectively meet the needs of gifted children in their classrooms? 8. December 2015

A: Thank you for your question!  In USD 116, we believe in educating all students through inclusive classroom environments. We believe that heterogeneous grouping of students within a regular education setting provides opportunities for each student to contribute positively to the learning environment.  Within the classroom setting, teachers are expected to differentiate instructional methods and content in order to help each child succeed. With regards to the education of highly talented and gifted students, this might include, but is not limited to, clustering students with similar abilities on a task- or content-specific basis, varying instructional strategies to match the specific learning styles of the students, curriculum compacting and/or extension and enrichment activities.

All USD 116 teachers are supported to strengthen skills in differentiated instruction through ongoing professional development, professional learning communities, and opportunities for collegial collaboration.

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