Highlights from the meeting include:
Whittier Student Council, PTA and Playground Updates
The Board of Education listened to presentations by the Whittier Student Council, PTA and Playground Committee. The Whittier Student Council said that their school’s recent fundraisers helped PADS, Feed My Starving Children, the American Cancer Society and other nonprofits. The Whittier PTA presented some of their recent accomplishments, which included organizing books fairs and penny wars; planning the variety show; and offering after-school enrichment in the arts, foreign languages, robotics and other subjects.
The Whittier Playground Committee announced that after four years (two years of planning; two years of fundraising), they have reached their playground fundraising goals and will soon begin the public bid process to build a new, updated Whittier playground. They appreciated District 58’s and the community’s support of the project, and they look forward to their new playground.
Pierce Downer’s Heritage Alliance – Little Sprouts Program
Ken Lerner of Pierce Downer’s Heritage Alliance presented the Board of Education with a check for $1,000 in support of the Little Sprouts program at Lyman Woods.
“Pierce Downer’s Heritage Alliance is proud to support this environmental education program, incorporating this valuable natural resource, as part of our mission to preserve and promote appreciation of our community’s natural heritage,” Lerner said.
Spotlight on our Schools: Special Education
Assistant Superintendent for Special Services Jessica Stewart shared a spotlight on District 58’s special education services.
One of the District’s strategic goals is to develop and support consistent special education procedures for all grade levels. Last year, the District formed a steering committee to help achieve this goal. The committee created an individualized education plan (IEP) reference guide and other updated special education protocols. The District also began using Power IEP, a new electronic workspace that streamlines and organizes legal special education documentation. They piloted these updates at five schools last spring. They sought staff feedback, which they used to revise the protocols over the summer. This fall, they provided staff training and fully implemented the new protocols.
Stewart also shared that the District’s special programs continue to offer all students, regardless of abilities, access to a high-quality education. The District’s special programs include Grove Children’s Preschool; the Developmental Learning Program; the Behavioral, Emotional and Social Training Program; and the Reaching Independence through Structured Education Program.
Stewart said that the District will continue to review its special education services and evaluate its protocol pilots.
Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli shared updates with the Board including:
- Super Retreat: Boards from several local agencies convened at Downers Grove South last month for a Super Retreat. The agencies shared successes, challenges and areas for collaboration. Dr. Cremascoli thanked the Board for their participation.
- IASB DuPage Division Dinner Meeting: Member Roberta Diehl and Dr. Cremascoli recently attended this IASB event, which offered a constructive opportunity to discuss and reflect with statewide school board representatives.
- Teacher Workday: Staff participated in a successful day of planning and collaboration during the Oct. 11 Teacher Workday.
- Curriculum Workshop: The Oct. 24 Curriculum Workshop will provide the Board with school improvement plans, ELA Committee updates, STEM Committee updates and more. All are welcome to come.
- Math Professional Development: The District will provide specialized math professional development for teachers during the next two weeks. Staff will attend the professional development training in the morning and collaborate with grade-level teachers to incorporate new ideas during the afternoon.
- Parent-Teacher Conferences: These conferences will take place Nov. 16-17. Parents will receive an email soon regarding online signup.
- Special Education Transportation: The District continues to struggle with some special education routes. Many local districts are experiencing similar struggles, and the District is working hard with the bus company to make improvements.
- Demographer’s Report: The District has provided the demographer with all information requested and expects a full report during the November Board meeting.
- Draft Calendar 2017-18: The District prepared three draft calendar options for 2017-18 and reached out to staff for input. The District used this input – which included heat concerns and Monday-start date concerns – to create a final draft calendar option. This proposed calendar would begin the 2017-18 school year on Thursday, Aug. 24, which is one week later than District 99. However, this calendar option would also align school holidays and breaks with District 99. The Board echoed support for this calendar and will likely vote on it later this fall.
- Superintendent’s Contract: Please see notes under the Superintendent’s Contract section below.
Assistant Superintendent for Business David Bein shared the monthly business report with the Board:
- The District recently received its property tax receipts.
- Two District investments matured and will be rolled over into new investments.
- The Consumer Price Index, or CPI, affects the District’s ability to raise funds. The CPI for 2016 will likely be close to 1 percent, marking the fifth consecutive year of low CPIs.
- The District will likely only receive two of its four annual mandated categorical payments from the state this fiscal year, which would create an unbudgeted revenue shortfall of about $840,000.
- The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability published a comprehensive report last month that found that increased investment in education results in increased long-term earnings and an improved economy. Mr. Bein hopes legislators review and take this report seriously.
- Mr. Bein recently met with Lisle, York and Milton township assessors, who reported an estimated 3-7 percent property value increase this year. This value increase is primarily due to residential properties.
Board Committee Reports
Member Sallie Lupescu reported on the Sept. 20 Policy Committee meeting and made the following recommendations for first reading:
Revise Policy #1150 – Community Relations – Citizen Communication with the Schools and the Board. As the Board expands its community engagement and offers more opportunities for two-way discussions, they sought clearer context regarding public comment decorum. These proposed revisions incorporate the Illinois Association of School Board’s (IASB) suggested best practice policy language regarding school board communications.
- Revise Policy #5131 – Students – Student Behavior and Discipline. The proposed revisions clarify alternate program transfers and special education discipline legal language.
- Create Policy #5131.1 – Students – Bus Conduct. This proposed policy provides guidance regarding bus safety and appropriate bus behavior.
- Revise Policy #8255 – Internal Board Operations – Board Communications. These proposed revisions clarify the Board’s communication procedures with staff and the community, using IASB’s suggested best practice policy language regarding school board communications.
The Board moved to approve the first reading of all three policy revisions and one policy creation and place them on the November board agenda for final approval.
Financial Advisory Committee
Mr. Bein reported on the Oct. 3 Financial Advisory Committee meeting. The committee discussed long-range financial forecasting to ensure the District is fiscally prepared. The committee reviewed fund balances and discussed some merits of a fund balance policy that could be considered for the future. The committee also reviewed board report enhancements, the proposed tax levy and CPI.
The Legislative Committee did not meet in September or October.
Tentative 2016 Property Tax Levies Discussion
Mr. Bein led a discussion on the tentative 2016 property tax levy. He explained that the tax levy is the way that District 58 receives most of its revenues. The tax levy the District receives is equal to the CPI (which is currently a very low 0.7 percent) plus the taxes associated with any new construction. Based on his review, Mr. Bein proposed an aggregate increase of 2.22 percent, but cautioned the Board that actual receipts will likely be less.
“While our revenues are tax-capped, our expenses are not and can increase at a much higher rate, causing budget challenges,” Mr. Bein said.
The Board adopted the Truth in Taxation Law Resolution. The final levy will likely be adopted on Dec. 12 and submitted to the county clerk.
Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee Discussion
Following the recent Board self-evaluation and a September Board meeting discussion, Board Members Elizabeth Sigale and Doug Purcell reviewed opportunities to increase the Board’s community engagement and two-way conversation opportunities with teachers, staff and other community stakeholder groups.
They recommended the creation of a Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Board Committee, which would comprise Board members, the teacher’s union, administration and other stakeholder groups. They requested the entire Board’s support to continue planning the structure, focus and goals of the committee moving forward. They received this support and will prepare a committee plan by next month. The Board hopes this new committee will provide valuable community feedback regarding the District’s goals and Strategic Plan moving forward.
Board Member Orientation Discussion
Board Members John Cooper and Elizabeth Sigale reviewed the District’s existing Board orientation processes, as well as the Illinois Association of School Boards’ (IASB) orientation best practices. They recommended the Board consider incorporating additional types of prospective board member, elected board member and board president trainings into the District’s board orientation. Members Cooper and Sigale will move forward with updating District 58’s board orientation procedures.
During her Superintendent’s Report, Dr. Cremascoli requested the Board not vote on her contract renewal at this meeting. She noted that the contract proposal has become a distraction to the good work being accomplished thus far this school year, and she would rather focus on continuing the District’s tremendous strides to ongoing improvements in teaching and learning.
Per her request, the Board voted to table this action item. However, Board members voiced support of the contract, noting that the District has consistently achieved its annual Strategic Plan Action Goals under Dr. Cremascoli’s leadership. During both receptions of visitors, the Board listened to several community comments in support of and against the proposed contract.
During the meeting, the Board also:
- Approved minutes from the Sept. 12 Regular Board Meeting, Sept. 14 Super Retreat and the Sept. 26 El Sierra Building Tour and PTA Meeting.
- Approved all items on the Consent Agenda as presented in the packet materials.
- Adopted a resolution reauthorizing the Imprest Fund.
- Moved to support and expand upon the Board’s community engagement and improvement efforts, as a result of the recent Board Governance and Self-Evaluation Workshop.
- Thursday, Oct. 20 at 9 a.m.: PTA Presidents/Administrators Meeting at Longfellow
- Monday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m.: Curriculum Workshop at Longfellow
- Thursday, Nov. 3 at 7:30 a.m.: BOE Coffee with the Staff at Fairmount School
- Tuesday, Nov. 8 (NEW DATE) at 3:45 p.m.: Legislative Committee at the ASC
- Monday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m.: Regular Board Meeting at Longfellow
District 58 Board of Education members include: John Cooper, president; Doug Purcell, vice president; Roberta Diehl; Christopher Heppner; Sallie Lupescu; John Miller; and Elizabeth Sigale, with Dr. Kari Cremascoli, superintendent; and Pam Osika, board secretary.