Board Briefs – August 2017

The District 58 Board of Education held its regular business meeting on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. View the agenda and presentation links. Highlights from the meeting include:

Spotlight on our Schools: Strategic Goals Action Plan

The Board of Education approved the District’s Strategic Plan in 2011. Since then, District leaders annually review the plan and create annual goals that align with it. Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli presented the District’s 2017-18 Strategic Goals Action Plan to the Board. District 58 focused its 2017-18 goals to help administrators, teachers and staff better prioritize and plan for the year. Goal areas include:

  • Strategic Planning: Since the District has achieved the 2011 Strategic Plan’s overarching goals, the District plans to launch a new strategic planning effort. This effort will involve extensive community input as the District plans its future.
  • Student Learning: Curriculum, Instruction & Programming: District 58 will provide meaningful and engaging growth and achievement opportunities for all students, focusing on curricular and professional development in English-language arts, mathematics, science, social studies and middle school exploratory classes. The District will also evaluate its assessments and explore new parent partnership opportunities.

  • Student Well-Being/Social-Emotional Learning (SEL): The District will continue to monitor its SEL implementation and explore student emotional well-being supports to meet the needs of all students.

  • Technology for Teaching and Learning: The District will continue to use 1:1 devices to enhance learning and review its use of 1:1 technology.

  • Facilities, Finance, Operations and Maintenance: The District plans to update its phone system, develop a forecasting and analysis approach to support financial stability, and implement a plan to resolve the District’s facility usage and constraints.

The Board voted to approve the 2017-18 Strategic Goals Action Plan.

Superintendent’s Report

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

  • School Offices Reopen: School offices reopened Aug. 1. Early August marks a very busy time of year, as administrators and secretaries work hard to prepare for the upcoming school year.  The District’s annual Principal Retreat went very well. This two-day meeting provided principals and administrators with professional development and planning time for the upcoming Teacher Institute days.
  • SAMRI Camp: District 58 and District 204 collaborated to organize SAMRI Camp on Aug. 2 at Metea Valley High School. This annual camp is a free teacher-led professional development opportunity for educators statewide. More than 350 teachers participated in a productive day of learning and discovery!
  • ELA Curriculum: The District’s new ELA resources have arrived! District administrators and phase one teachers received training to use the new materials this summer. They provided very positive feedback regarding their training experiences. District 58 will launch phase 1 of its ELA resource implementation this school year, with at least two grade levels at every school using the new curricular resources. The District will fully implement its new ELA resources in every grade level for the 2018-19 school year.
  • Teachers Return: District 58 welcomed 40 new teachers on Monday, Aug. 14 for New Teacher Week. Returning teachers and other certificated staff will return to District 58 on Monday, Aug. 21 for Teacher Institute Day at Benedictine University.
  • Teacher Assignments: The District will email elementary parents their child’s teacher assignment on Monday, Aug. 21 after 4 p.m., and middle school students will receive their class schedule during locker setup nights next week.
  • Whittier Playground: Dr. Cremascoli is very happy to announce that construction on the new Whittier playground is complete, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony has been scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 22 at 3:30 p.m. Dr. Cremascoli thanked the Whittier PTA for their generous donation to build the playground.
  • Summer Work: Dr. Cremascoli thanked the Buildings and Grounds Department for their hard work this summer. Each summer, maintenance and custodial crews accomplish an incredible amount of work to ensure the District’s facilities and grounds will be in excellent shape for the upcoming school year!
  • Reception of Visitors Update: Based on Board Self-Evaluation feedback, the Board adjusted its Reception of Visitors guidelines on a trial basis. The adjustment will offer guests one mid-meeting Reception of Visitors opportunity, during which they can speak on any topic. The Board requested this adjustment in an effort to be more respectful of its visitors’ time, as it would allow visitors to comment earlier in the meeting, rather than having to wait until the end. The Board will try this format for a few months and re-evaluate in the late fall. 

Business Report

Assistant Superintendent for Business/Chief School Business Official David Bein provided the Business Report to the Board. Key highlights include:

  • The District’s auditors are completing onsite fieldwork this month. Their work is going smoothly, and they will present the District’s annual audit results this fall.
  • Bein will present an update regarding the District 58 budget during the District’s Budget Workshop on Aug. 28.
  • As shared previously, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1 in May. This bill would rewrite the State’s education funding formula using an evidence-based model. Gov. Bruce Rauner recently received the bill and issued an amendatory veto to it. His amendatory veto made several changes that undermine the bill’s ability to provide a long-term solution for education. For example, his amendment does not account for inflation over the years and freezes teacher salary costs at 2017 levels.

  • Last month, the State passed a budget. The budget mandates that school district funding be distributed via an evidence-based funding model. Until the State approves a model, school districts will not receive any state funding for the 2017-18 school year. Despite this lack of funding, District 58 will be able to open school on time and provide a full year of education. However, the District relies on the approximate $5 million it receives annually from the State and will closely monitor the bill’s progress.

Board Committee Reports

District 58’s Financial Advisory Committee, Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee, Policy Committee and Legislative Committee did not meet since the last Board meeting.

Discussion: Lester Project Update

Architects Amy Fuller and Brad Paulsen from Wight & Company shared an update regarding the possible Lester School facility project with the Board of Education. District 58 has worked with Wight & Company for the past several months to develop a solution that address Lester’s space issues while being fiscally responsible.

This summer, Wight & Company used feedback from the Board and District administrators to create architectural schematic drawings that incorporate minor improvements and cost-saving measures to their previous designs. They prepared a very comprehensive cost estimate that placed the project’s final cost at $2.03-$2.25 million, closer to the Board’s $2 million budget.

The project would add three new classrooms to Lester’s east side, as well as new ADA-compliant bathrooms, additional storage space and an additional resource room. The new classrooms would also allow Lester to split into two wings: an elementary wing and an intermediate wing. The project would use sustainable materials to capture energy savings, and the outdoor entrance would include an ADA-compliant entrance ramp.

After discussion and asking several questions regarding the project, the Board directed the administration to have the architects continue to prepare the project for public bid.

View the Lester Facility Update presentation.

Discussion: Project Altitude

The Downers Grove Economic Development Corporation (EDC) asked District 58 to consider Project Altitude, a proposal to permit an established manufacturing business currently located in Downers Grove to phase in new property tax payments over 10 years via a tax abatement. The business currently operates in an obsolete building, and would generate new property taxes by expanding its business and building a large, state-of-the-art facility.

Under this proposal, District 58 would not lose any existing property taxes from this business, and would benefit from its expanded business after 10 years. In addition to remaining in Downers Grove, this global company is currently considering many new sites nationwide for the new facility. Offering incentives to attract or retain businesses is a common practice worldwide.

Board members asked questions regarding the proposal and confirmed with the EDC that this business would likely relocate to another municipality should they not receive the tax abatement. The Board is expected to vote on this proposal during the Aug. 28 Budget Workshop. In order for the proposal to pass, District 99 and the Village of Downers Grove must also vote to approve it.

Read the Project Altitude proposal.

During the meeting, the Board also:

  • Approved minutes from the July 10 Business Meeting.
  • Approved all items on the Consent Agenda as presented in the packet materials.
  • Approved the 2017-18 schedule for “Spotlight on our Schools.”
  • Approved the intergovernmental agreement on reciprocal reporting of criminal offenses.
  • Approved hazardous pedestrian areas for the 2017-18 school year. This allows students who reside within these designated areas to be eligible for fee-based bus transportation services, despite living within the 1.5 mile limit.
  • Adopted the “Resolution Authorizing the Distribution of Personal Property Replacement Taxes for the Fiscal Year 2018.”

Upcoming events:

  • Monday, Aug. 28 at 7 p.m.: Budget Workshop at Belle Aire School
  • Monday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m.: Regular Board Meeting at Downers Grove Village Hall
  • Thursday, Sept. 14 at 7 a.m.: Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee Meeting at Longfellow
  • Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 7 a.m.: Policy Committee Meeting at ASC

District 58 Board of Education members are: Doug Purcell, president; Elizabeth Sigale, vice president; Greg Harris, Darren Hughes, John Miller, Jill Samonte and Beth Taylor, with Dr. Kari Cremascoli, superintendent; and Melissa Jerves, board secretary.