December 2016 Board Briefs

The District 58 Board of Education held its regular business meeting on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016.  View the agenda and presentation links.

Highlights from the meeting include:

School Presentations

Highland Student Council & PTA; Kingsley Playground Committee

The Highland Student Council reported several of their recent successes. For example, proceeds from their school fundraisers helped support important school updates, including a refillable water bottle station. The Student Council also led several charitable activities, including creating Veterans Day cards for veterans and collecting toys and winter weather accessories for the Highland Giving Tree. The Highland PTA also shared updates with the Board. Due to a very successful Fun Run in September, the PTA successfully reached their fundraising goal for this school year, allowing them to host a variety of family events, including a Roller Skating Party, Holiday Shoppe, Book Fair and more.

Kingsley Playground Committee Chair Kim Breier presented the Board with a Kingsley playground improvement project update and requested their support moving forward. Breier said that the Kingsley PTA organized the Playground Committee two years ago and began researching playground improvement options. Since Kingsley hosts the SASED special education program, they would like to fundraise for a new, fully-accessible playground. The Kingsley Playground Committee has collaborated with the District 58 administrative team to ensure all playground improvement needs and protocols are met. The committee feels confident in their research, and requested the Board’s support as they begin fundraising for the project. The Board thanked them for their hard work, and encouraged them to begin.

Spotlight on our Schools: Education Foundation Grants


Community Relations Coordinator Megan Hewitt recognized the Education Foundation’s teacher grant recipients. This year, the Foundation awarded a record-breaking 31 grants to 46 teachers and staff, totaling $22,705. Each grant supports highly innovative school projects that align with the District’s curriculum and strategic goals. Education Foundation President Liz O’Toole and Director Rep. David Olsen attended the presentation and formally presented the check for $22,705 to the Board of Education.

The Foundation annually awards grants to teachers and staff who have a good idea with a solid plan, but lack funding to implement it. This year’s grants funded several makerspaces, 3D printers, classroom libraries, thermal energy cameras, a podcast studio, a recording studio, a writing toolkit, a cello, cooking experiences for special needs students, and a program to promote parent engagement.

Proceeds from the Education Foundation’s fundraisers—which include Oktoberfest, the spring concert, the Harlem Wizards game and the Green Apple program—cover the cost of the grants.

This school year’s grant recipients include:

  • Meghan Beard, Lester third grade teacher
  • Jeff Berger, Herrick LRC teacher
  • Brittany Cerny, Hillcrest fifth grade teacher
  • Diane Claver and Mary Loversky, El Sierra 3rd grade teacher and LRC teacher
  • Kelly Coleman, Whittier LRC teacher
  • Matt Cunningham, Herrick ELA teacher
  • Lauren Diamond, Anna Kupsco, Erik Andrews and Lauren Braverman, Hillcrest speech pathologist and resource/DLP teachers
  • Megan DuPass, El Sierra reading specialist
  • Lucy Elford, Pierce Downer LRC teacher
  • Nicole Ferroli and Kate Nickell, O’Neill ELA teachers
  • Genevieve Hahn, Herrick reading specialist
  • Beth Hatlen and Kristy Hopkins, Indian Trail kindergarten teachers
  • Janet Hecht, O’Neill music teacher
  • Jill Henry, Jessica Atkins and Randie Johnson, Herrick science teachers
  • Leslie Hesterman, Hillcrest LRC teacher
  • Maria Ibarra Lorence, Kingsley K-1 biliteracy teacher
  • Irene Jackson, Lester LRC teacher
  • Deanna Jacobs, Lianna Marino and Hayley O’Reilly, Kingsley teachers
  • Jason Lynde, El Sierra principal
  • Tricia Miller, Belle Aire sixth grade teacher
  • Joan Mommsen, Belle Aire/Indian Trail LRC teacher
  • Carin Novak, Lester principal
  • Hayley O’Reilly and Liz Stroud, Kingsley fourth grade teacher and Fairmount LRC teacher
  • Barbara Potocki, Fairmount kindergarten teacher
  • Alecia Probst, Grove Children’s Preschool teacher
  • Deb Roach, Katelyn Morgan, Kayla Kinder and Alison Wagner, O’Neill resource and special education teachers
  • Shar Sombeck and Michelle Schmidt, Kingsley kindergarten teacher and occupational therapist
  • Julie Spring and Madelyn Fiene, O’Neill, Fairmount, Hillcrest and Indian Trail music/orchestra teachers
  • Liz Stroud, Fairmount LRC teacher
  • Alison Swade, Herrick English-language arts (ELA) teacher
  • Bev West and Addie Kostellic, O’Neill ELA teachers

Superintendent’s Report

Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli shared several updates with the Board including:

  • Annual Survey: District 58 recently opened its annual survey for parents, students and teachers. Survey results will help district and building leaders with their district/school improvement efforts. Dr. Cremascoli encouraged all parents to complete the survey by Dec. 16.
  • Science Fair: Dr. Cremascoli reminded the Board and community that Science Fair registration will close on Friday, Dec. 16. Science Fair is an annual District 58 tradition, and she encouraged all students to consider participating. Likewise, Science Fair will also need several volunteers to be successful. Volunteer signup information will be shared soon.
  • Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee: The Board held a productive first meeting of the newly established Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee. Dr. Cremascoli noted that several parents expressed interest in joining this committee, and the PTA Council held a drawing to randomly determine committee placement. Dr. Cremascoli said that some of the parents not selected for the new committee may be interested in joining one of the Board’s other committees: Policy, Legislative or Financial Advisory. She requested the Board’s approval in extending invitations to these individuals to consider participation on these committees and to expand committees to include greater parent representation.
  • Superintendent’s Advisory Council: In addition, Dr. Cremascoli shared that she would like to offer yet another opportunity for parents and community members to more directly connect with district leadership. After winter break, she hopes to form a Superintendent’s Advisory Council. This Council will aim to build stronger relationships between the district and the community. Council members will serve as liaisons between the District and community. More details will be announced in January.
  • Curriculum Committees: Several of District 58’s curriculum committees met this past month and continue to make good progress toward accomplishing their goals for the year. The second session of teacher math professional development is underway. The English-Language Arts (ELA) Committee created a timeline for piloting and adopting new ELA curriculum materials. The STEM Committee participated in a very productive District Science Collaborative. The Technology Committee completed their review of student devices and plans to recommend that the District replace iPads with Chromebooks at the middle school level. They will likely make this recommendation to the Board formally in the coming months.
  • Assessments: Dr. Cremascoli noted that winter assessments will begin after winter break.
  • PTA Reflections:  Dr. Cremascoli, as well as several principals, attended the recent PTA Reflections Ceremony, a national art program. The ceremony recognized more than 150 District 58 students who excelled at the District level, and announced 69 students who will advance to the regional level.
  • Preschool Open House: Grove Children’s Preschool will hold open houses for current and prospective families on Jan. 25 from 6-7 p.m. at Henry Puffer School and on Jan. 26 from 6-7 p.m. at Indian Trail School. Preschool registration for the 2017-18 school year will begin shortly after the open houses.
  • Harlem Wizards: The Education Foundation looks forward to hosting a Harlem Wizards vs. District 58 basketball fundraiser game on Sunday, Feb. 12. More information will be shared immediately after winter break. Dr. Cremascoli encouraged the community to support the Foundation and attend this event.

Business Report

Assistant Superintendent for Business David Bein shared the monthly business report with the Board:

  • Revenues and expenditures are generally on target. The State of Illinois, however, still owes District 58 about $800,000 from the 2015-16 fiscal year, as well as about $789,000 for this current school year.
  • The District is monitoring fund balances and if needed may recommend working cash transfers in the spring, as have been done in the past.
  • As was mentioned last month, the District has recommended for action to move the District’s medical reserve bank account to Community Bank of Downers Grove. This bank is a District 58-approved depository.
  • Bein shared that he recently met with several area school district business managers. All business managers reported that their school districts experienced significant increases in transportation costs this year, due to driver shortages and other factors. Some districts noted that their costs increased 25 percent or higher. Bein pointed out how this issue demonstrates how challenging it is for school districts to accommodate uncapped cost increases, when most revenues are capped.
  • Gov. Bruce Rauner continues to advocate for a permanent property tax freeze. Should this occur, it could have a tremendously negative impact on District 58 and many suburban school districts, which rely on property taxes for the vast majority of their school funding.

Board Committee Reports

Policy Committee:

Member Sallie Lupescu reported on the Nov. 22 Policy Committee meeting and made the following recommendations for first reading:

  • Revise Policy #3430 – Business – District Property to ensure its language aligns with best practices, provided by the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB).
  • Accept for first reading draft Policy #8360 – Internal Board Operations – Board Member Compensation; Expenses. District 58 School Board members do not receive any type of compensation from the District. The Board is creating this policy to follow new legislation, which requires school districts to adopt a policy regarding school board member expenses and compensation.
  • Accept for first reading draft Policy #3324 – Business – Use of Credit and Procurement Cards. District 58 recently acquired a credit card for utilities and technology procurement as appropriate. This new policy will regulate the new credit card’s use.

The Board moved to approve the first reading of all three policies and place them on the January board agenda for final approval.

Member Lupescu also noted that the Policy Committee discussed possible updates to policies involving Board Communications, but the Committee would like the entire Board’s feedback before moving forward. According to the Illinois School Code, only FOIA requests are required to be listed on Board agendas. To promote transparency, the District traditionally lists all Board communications received from members of the community, including non-FOIA requests. However, challenges sometimes arise when communications are received late or when they contain private information regarding specific individuals. The Policy Committee will continue their discussion regarding these policies at its January meeting.

Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee

Member Elizabeth Sigale reported on the Dec. 6 inaugural meeting of the Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee. The committee reviewed its purpose, goals and next steps. Members divided into five groups to create committee mission statements. Member Sigale said that all five mission statements reflected similar themes, relating to the committee providing a venue for regular, truthful communication and feedback to review district progress on its goals and to develop a road map for updating the District’s Strategic Plan.

Member John Miller said he noticed that three schools were not represented on the committee, and he requested the committee to consider expanding to include these schools. Member Sigale said that the actual Strategic Plan process will be very broad and include representation from all schools and the community at large. In addition, meetings are open to the public and any member of the community is welcome to attend. The committee will consider expanding to include representatives from all schools.

Legislative Committee

The Legislative Committee did not meet since the last Board meeting.

Financial Advisory Committee:

The Financial Advisory Committee did not meet since the last Board meeting.

During the meeting, the Board also:

  • Approved minutes from the Nov. 14 Regular Meeting, Nov. 28 Financial Workshop and the Nov. 30 Hillcrest Building Tour and PTA Meeting.
  • Approved all items on the Consent Agenda as presented in the packet materials.
  • Adopted the 2016 Certificate of Levy at the amount of $53.4 million.
  • Accepted the 2015-16 District 58 Audit Report.
  • Approved modifying District 58’s flex spending account eligibility rules to permit permanent part-time employees who have access to health benefits or related benefits.
  • Adopted a resolution recognizing Community Bank of Downers Grove as a District 58 depository.
  • Adopted a resolution permitting interlocal contracts for cooperative purchasing between District 58 and governmental agency purchasing cooperatives.
  • Entered into a three-year contract with Sunrise Southwest, LLC for special education transportation services and management beginning July 1, 2017.
  • Approved second readings on two policies: Policy #5150.2 – Students – Student Athlete Concussions and Head Injuries; and Policy #8022 – Internal Board Operations – Meetings. Revisions to both policies were adopted.

Upcoming events:

  • Tuesday, Jan. 3 at 7 a.m.: Financial Advisory Committee at the ASC (date may be changed)
  • Monday, Jan 9 at 7 p.m.: Regular Board Meeting at Longfellow
  • Tuesday, Jan 10 at 6 p.m.: O’Neill Building Tour and PTA Meeting at O’Neill
  • Thursday, Jan. 12 at 7 a.m.: Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee Meeting at Longfellow
  • Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 3:45 p.m.: Legislative Committee at the ASC
  • Thursday, Jan. 19 at 7:30 a.m.: Coffee with the Staff at Indian Trail

District 58 Board of Education members are: 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.