Board Briefs – March 2017

The District 58 Board of Education held its regular business meeting on Monday, March 13, 2017.  View the agenda and presentation links.

Highlights from the meeting include:

Flag Salute and Presentation: O’Neill

O’Neill Middle School Student Council Members Teagan, Riley, Jozette and Logan shared how they strive to be positive role models in their school and community. This year, they led several service projects, including a pumpkin-themed fundraiser for FISH Pantry and a candy cane sale to help District 58 families in need. This week, they aim to raise $5,200 through their annual St. Baldrick’s fundraiser.

O’Neill Principal Matt Durbala shared a PTA update. The PTA recently hosted a candidate forum for District 58’s Board of Education candidates, and they are planning a progressive wine tasting fundraiser for this April.

Spotlight on our Schools: Math Committee

Several teachers joined Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Matt Rich to present a Math Committee update to the Board.

Since launching the Math Blueprint last fall, the Math Committee has increased its focus on teacher professional development. All teachers who instruct math have completed three of four professional development days led by the Metro Chicago Math Initiative (MCMI). During these opportunities, teachers spend the morning with MCMI developing advanced teaching techniques to add increased depth to their instruction. They spend the afternoon collaborating with grade-level teachers on Math Blueprint refinement and math instruction implementation.

For example, through the trainings, teachers learned to effectively lead number talks. Number talks are structured classroom discussions that motivate students to exercise mental math and improve their math communications. As a sample, a first grade teacher demonstrated how she might ask students to mentally add three numbers. The teacher will also ask students to consider different ways to make the calculation. Finally, the teacher will ask students to vocally explain the ways they found the answer.

“Like language, students need to learn to speak mathematically before they can write mathematically,” said Henry Puffer First Grade Teacher Katie Hurckes, a Math Committee member. “Our goal is to teach students to become mathematical thinkers.”

The Math Committee also partnered with the DuPage Regional Office of Education to advance their math assessment practices and consider the development of common assessments. The Math Committee also previewed four assessment item banks, and selected two – Inspect and Certica – to extensively review.

During the rest of the school year, the Committee will continue reviewing assessment item banks, refining the Math Blueprint and refining the math acceleration process.

View the Math Committee presentation.

Lester Playground Committee Update

The Lester Playground Committee requested the Board’s support as they officially launch their playground campaign. The Committee aims to raise between $300,000 and $500,000 to build a new playground by 2019. The Committee brainstormed fundraising ideas and began the process to create a 501(c)(3). The Board gave their support for this endeavor.

Superintendent’s Report

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

  • Lester facility update: Dr. Cremascoli deferred to David Bein for this report. Bein shared that the District has met twice with its architect, Wight and Company, to initiate the feasibility study for a Lester School addition. Wight and Company is analyzing Lester’s interior and exterior spaces, as well as developing and designing options. They expect to present their results at the April Board meeting.
  • Enrollment: Dr. Cremascoli shared that registration for the 2017-18 school year will open April 12. She encouraged families to submit their registration promptly, as the District uses enrollment numbers to plan staffing. She noted that the District is carefully monitoring enrollment at Highland, Belle Aire and El Sierra schools. If recent trends continue, the District may consider possible boundary changes for these schools in future years.
  • Kindergarten Roundups: Each elementary school hosts a Kindergarten Roundup event to welcome incoming kindergarten parents to the school, provide helpful information and initiate the kindergarten registration process. These events occur throughout March and April. Parents may access the Kindergarten Roundup schedule at
  • Reading Games: Dr. Cremascoli shared that The Reading Games event was a tremendous success last weekend. She thanked the many parents, teachers and staff who volunteered their time for The Reading Games.
  • Festival of Music: Annually, Herrick and O’Neill music students gather for a choir, band and orchestra performance, called the Festival of Music. This event will take place March 15 at 7 p.m. at Downers Grove North. All are welcome to attend.
  • Summer School and Extended School Year: Registration for these two programs will open Wednesday, March 15 and are due Friday, April 14. A District-wide message with more information was sent to parents on March 13.
  • ELA Pilot: Middle school English-Language Arts (ELA) teachers received training on the new ELA pilot resources, which they will pilot in their classrooms after spring break. The teachers are eager to explore the new resources to enhance instruction. Meanwhile, elementary schools began their ELA pilot this past week. The ELA pilot is taking place in the classrooms of District 58 teachers who serve on the ELA Committee, along with the classrooms of their grade level teaching partners.
  • Parent Engagement: Dr. Cremascoli thanked all parents and community members who expressed interested in joining a Board committee, Education Foundation and/or the new Superintendent’s Community Advisory Council. She shared that the Legislative, Policy and Financial Advisory committees each added three new parent members. The Education Foundation will welcome all prospective new members to an information meeting next week. Finally, Dr. Cremascoli said she is very excited to kick off her new Superintendent’s Community Advisory Council on April 3.

Business Report

Assistant Superintendent for Business/Chief School Business Official David Bein shared the monthly business report with the Board. His report included the following information.

  • The State annually makes four categorical payments to District 58. At this point in the year, the District should be receiving its third payment of about $0.8 million. To date, the District has not received either of its first two categorical payments for this school year, a shortfall of $1.6 million. Bein will continue monitoring the payments, but cautioned that it is appearing likely that the District will experience a shortfall of $1.6 million in State revenue this year.
  • The Business Office has made a recommendation for action from the Board, requesting a transfer of $6 million from the Working Cash Fund to the Education Fund. This transfer occurs annually and will support the Education Fund until the District receives spring property tax receipts.
  • The State’s “Grand Bargain” proposed legislation has been derailed. This legislation comprised several bills, including a few that would very negatively affect District 58’s revenue. Although this bill package no longer exists, Bein cautioned that many of its bills may likely return in a new format this session. He will continue to monitor the situation.
  • There is a projected increase in the cost of public borrowing this year, both due to rising Fed rates and the State’s lack of a budget and overall poor financial condition.

Board Committee Reports

Policy Committee:

Member Sallie Lupescu reported on the Feb. 21 meeting and made the following recommendations for first reading:

  • Revise Policy #1150 – Community Relations – Citizen Communications with the Schools and the Board. This revision clarifies citizen communication procedures.
  • Revise Policy #2050 – Administration – Board Secretary. As the current Board secretary will retire this summer, the Policy Committee reviewed and updated the job description.
  • Revise Policy #8341 – Internal Board Operations – Duties of the Secretary of the Board. As the current Board secretary will retire this summer, the Policy Committee reviewed and updated the job description
  • Revise Policy  5133.1 – Students – Exemption from Physical Education. This revision updates the District’s physical education exemption policy.

The Board moved to approve the first reading of all four policy revisions and place them on the April board agenda for final approval.

Legislative Committee:

Member John Miller reported on the Feb. 15 Legislative Committee meeting. Committee members drafted and reviewed the Legislative Breakfast questions and discussed the event’s format. Miller also shared that the March 10 Legislative Breakfast went very well. Rep. Patti Bellock and Rep. David Olsen attended and shared their frustrations with the budget impasse, along with insights on education issues affecting District 58.

Financial Advisory Committee:

The Financial Advisory Committee did not meet in the past month.

Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee:

Member Elizabeth Sigale reported on the March 2 Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee meeting. The committee began its substantive review of the Strategic Plan by participating in a deep discussion on the District’s use of technology in learning. In small groups, the committee discussed its overall impressions of the District’s progress in technology and shared ideas for what the District will need to consider for technology in the future.

During the meeting, the Board also:

  • Approved minutes from the Feb. 13 Regular Meeting, Feb. 16 Coffee with the Staff and the Feb. 27 Curriculum Workshop.
  • Approved all items on the Consent Agenda as presented in the packet materials.
  • Adopted a resolution to transfer $6 million from the Working Cash Fund to the Education Fund.
  • Approved student fees for the 2017-18 school year.
  • Approved the contract extension for regular education transportation with First Student for the next two school years, reflecting a rate increase of 3.5 percent for 2017-18 and 2.5 percent for 2018-19.
  • Awarded a bid for playground equipment removal and installation at Whittier School to The Kenneth Company for $26,783, as well as a bid for playground excavation and concrete curb installation at Whittier School’s west playground to Continental Construction for $15,895, and an alternate bid for Whittier’s east playground to Continental Construction for $12,095. The Board thanked the Whittier PTA for their substantial donation, which funded this project.
  • Awarded a bid for playground mulch installation at eight schools to Cedar Valley Express Blower for $41,200.
  • Approved second readings on two policies: Policy #2010 – Administration – Superintendent of Schools and Policy #4017 – Personnel – General Personnel; Expenses. The Board adopted revisions to Policy #2010 and adopted Policy #4017.
  • Adopted resolutions to honorably dismiss 27 teachers and 23 educational support personnel employees, as well as to dismiss six part-time educational support personnel employees. Annually, positions are reduced pending enrollment and staffing plans for the upcoming year.

Upcoming events:

  • Wednesday, March 15 at 3:45 p.m.: Legislative Committee Meeting at the ASC
  • Tuesday, March 21 at 7 a.m.: Policy Committee Meeting at the ASC
  • Tuesday, March 21 at 6:30 p.m.: Building Tour and PTA Meeting at Whittier
  • Monday, April 3 at 7 a.m.: Financial Advisory Committee Meeting at the ASC
  • Tuesday, April 4: Election Day
  • Tuesday, April 11 at 7 p.m.: Regular Board Meeting at the ASC

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.