By Bob Susnjara
Round Lake Area Unit District 116 Superintendent Constance Collins launched a communications initiative this week that's more common to big-city school systems.
District 116 now has a weekly show on low-power WRLR 98.3-FM in Round Lake hosted by a rotation of administrators, students and staff from all nine schools. The focus will be primarily on District 116 issues, with some bigger-picture education chatter.
Collins said the one-hour "Destination Excellence — 212° & Rising" will air at 4 p.m. Tuesdays until early June. She and Deputy Superintendent Veronica Lake co-hosted this week's debut program.
Lake and Collins discussed their vision for District 116, which has dramatically improved its finances and has formed a five-year strategic plan.
Collins, who became superintendent in 2010, said the radio show is another move by District 116 to bolster communication to residents.
"I want us to show where we are and where it is we're going," she said.
While uncommon on the suburban level, radio shows have been a staple at Chicago Public Schools and in other big cities.
Now on WBEZ 91.5-FM, CPS' monthly "Schools on the Line" features Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard and a station host addressing issues and taking telephone calls.
Collins said while WRLR is not yet equipped to take phone calls on the air, District 116 has a spot on the front page of its website where questions may be submitted for "Destination Excellence — 212° & Rising." She said the show's name plays off how water boils at 212 degrees, with momentum creating steam to power a locomotive.
She said she sees District 116 as having positive momentum.
WRLR President Bish Krywko complimented District 116 officials for launching the weekly program, which he said will bring benefits to students and the overall community. He said the relationship with District 116 may lead to creation of student internships at the station.
"There are many students who are not tops in athletics or academics at their schools, and those who are lost when seeking an extracurricular activity that resonates with them," Krywko said. "There's that large group in the middle who can find a variety of interests at a community radio station."
District 116 Executive Director of Human Resources Lee Palmer and Jerri Ryan, a labor relations and support consultant, will co-host on WRLR from 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesday. Topics are to include education reform and the district's performance in the human resources department.