January 2017 Board Briefs

The District 58 Board of Education held its regular business meeting on Monday, Jan. 9, 2017.  View the agenda and presentation links.

Highlights from the meeting include:

Flag Salute and Presentation: Belle Aire

Belle Aire Student Council Members Kate, Addison, Maddie, Maddie and William shared some of their recent school service projects and activities with the Board. For example, they sponsored the school’s new LRC mural and hosted several spirit days. They also held a stuffed animal drive and fundraisers to support needy families during the holiday season.

Belle Aire PTA President Kelli Janczewski and President-Elect Sue Helsdon also shared an update with the Board. This year, the Belle Aire PTA hosted its first Fun Run, and more than 170 runners participated. They also launched online PTA registration, introduced Kindness Week activities and started a Health and Wellness campaign for students. They have begun exploring ideas to improve their playground.

Spotlight on our Schools: Website Update Review

Director of Innovative Technology and Learning James Eichmiller presented an update on District 58’s new website, which launched Jan. 3, 2017. The District’s Technology Committee started an effort to refresh the District’s website last year after careful consideration of user input that the existing site was not easy to navigate or update.

The new District 58 website offers an easy-to-use, easy-to-search responsive design, accessible from any mobile device. The site will adjust and conform to the end user’s screen size. The site also features a dynamic Google search bar to help visitors find information immediately.

District 58 staff built the entire website in-house using the free, open-source WordPress platform. Going forward, the District will also independently maintain the website and securely host it on its servers. Hosting the website internally will provide taxpayers with a cost savings now and in the future.

“It’s a good use of our resources,” Eichmiller said.

Website visitors can also access teacher webpages through each school’s Directory page. District 58 provides technical support for teachers who use Google Sites for Teachers. However, Eichmiller noted that the District gave teachers freedom to create and maintain their webpages using the third party tool of their choice, such as Weebly, Wix and others.

“The website is one of many tools that teachers use to communicate with parents and students,” he said.

Eichmiller noted that the new www.dg58.org is a work in progress, and there may be some glitches. Additional content will be added as needed on an ongoing basis. The District encourages community members to explore the new site. If a community member notices any broken links or missing information, please contact James Eichmiller or Megan Hewitt for District webpage updates and the school principal for school webpage updates.

Superintendent’s Report

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

  • School Board Candidates: Dr. Cremascoli reported that seven community members submitted School Board candidate nomination papers to the DuPage County Election Commission, announcing their intention to run for the District 58 School Board during the April 4, 2017 election. District 58 has four open School Board positions. The District and Board invites the seven candidates to attend the upcoming Board meetings and workshops, including the School Board candidate briefing at the upcoming IASB DuPage Division Spring Dinner Meeting.
  • IASB DuPage Division Spring Dinner Meeting: This annual meeting will take place March 16 at Metea Valley High School. Dr. Cremascoli shared that Board members from District 58, District 99 and other area school districts were interested in attending together to gain collaborative professional development experience.
  • Science Fair: The Science Fair will take place on Jan. 21. This annual event involves more than 600 students eager to share their scientific discoveries with family, friends and the Science Fair judges. The Science Fair still seeks volunteers to serve as judges.
  • Mid-Year Assessments: District 58’s winter testing period is taking place. These assessments provide mid-year markers for student growth and development. Teachers use this information to monitor student progress and re-evaluate programs. Winter assessments include the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) and AIMSweb, as well as the ACCESS test for ELL students.
  • Mid-Year Strategic Goals Progress Report: The District recently reviewed its Strategic Goals Action Plan for 2016-17 and drafted its mid-year progress report on each of its goals. Annually, the District’s progress toward accomplishing these goals is reported in a variety of ways, including during Board Meeting Spotlight presentations, the Mid-Year Progress Report and the End-of-Year Report.  This progress will be formally presented during the February Board meeting spotlight.
  • Planning for the 2017-18 School Year: The District has begun planning for the 2017-18 school year, including staffing needs. The District is currently interviewing and hiring for several important positions within the District, including two principal positions, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction position, and the secretary to the superintendent/board secretary position. The District hopes to make recommendations for these positions in the coming months.
  • ELA Curriculum Review: The District’s English-Language Arts Committee continues to make progress in its review of resources and blueprint. They have begun to review potential publisher series and materials, and have several meetings scheduled in January to continue this work. The Committee aims to select and pilot materials at the end of this school year and next year. Additional information will be forthcoming as the Committee prepares to make a recommendation in the upcoming months.
  • Substitute Teachers:  District 58, like many school districts across DuPage County and the State of Illinois, is facing a shortage of substitute teachers. It is essential to have high quality substitutes in classrooms, and it is critical to ensure that teachers have the opportunity to participate in valuable professional development experiences and curriculum committee meetings outside the classroom. The District and union leadership are brainstorming ideas for additional solutions to assist in addressing the shortage. The District continues to accept applications for substitute teachers, and encourages potential candidates to apply to be a sub via the District’s website.

Business Report

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

  • During the last month, the State of Illinois paid District 58 approximately $760,000 of what it owes for last school year. However, the State owes District 58 about $1.6 million for this year. Bein hopes the State will meet its mandated categorical payments this school year, although there may be a shortfall of one $800,000 payment.

  • On the current board agenda and like in years past, the District is recommending a loan from the Working Cash Fund to the Transportation Fund to cover the shortfall of funds until the next receipt of property taxes. The District continues to monitor all its fund balances and will make Working Cash Fund loans to other funds if needed.
  • On Jan. 18, the December 2016 and the Annual 2016 Consumer Price Index (CPI) will be announced. Bein estimates that the Annual 2016 CPI will likely be 2 percent or a little less. The CPI is used to calculate the amount of the District’s property tax levy for next year.
  • This month marks the mid-point of the fiscal year. The District has several reporting requirements, including preparing W2s and 1099s. The Business Office is busy ensuring all work is done on time.
  • The Illinois General Assembly returned to session this week. There are two bills looming that, if passed, would freeze property taxes. A property tax freeze would significantly limit the District’s ability to raise funds to pay for cost increases. Major Illinois education associations are advocating for the State to shift to an evidence-based funding model that considers student demographics and community wealth when setting funding allotments. Under this model, no school district would lose funding. Districts with higher needs would gain additional funding. Bein hopes the state legislators consider this model.

Board Committee Reports

The Board’s Policy Committee, Legislative Committee, Financial Advisory Committee and Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee have not met since the December School Board meeting.

Facilities Discussion

Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli, Assistant Superintendent for Business/CSBO David Bein and Director of Buildings and Grounds Ken Young led a discussion regarding the District’s facilities.

Dr. Cremascoli noted that both Bein and Young are new to their positions, but bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to their leadership roles. The two worked with Assistant Director of Buildings and Grounds Geoff Neustadt and the Buildings and Grounds team to thoroughly review all facility surveys, studies and analyses to date, including the Wight & Company Comprehensive Facility Assessment Report completed in 2012, the 10-year life safety studies, the 2013 and 2016 demographer reports, the 10-year buildings and grounds plans and others.

They have begun aggregating their findings into a single, internal database that will more clearly demonstrate the District’s needs and priorities, as well as track and plan for the District’s ongoing and future projects. This database will help the District develop long-term facility maintenance plans that will be guided, in part, by the the District’s upcoming Strategic Plan review process.

They also developed a Facilities-at-a-Glance Booklet, which offers a quick glance at each District 58 facility, providing the building’s enrollment, age, acreage, square footage, number of classrooms and recent improvements. The booklet rates all key building infrastructure components (i.e. electrical, plumbing, heating, etc.) on their current condition. Ratings of the various components throughout the District range from excellent to poor. Bein and Young hope this booklet provides the Board and public with a greater understanding of the current condition of District 58’s facilities and needs, as the District begins its long-term facilities planning.

For the immediate future, Bein suggested consideration of Lester School’s building needs. Given Lester’s enrollment and recent demographic results, space limitations will continue at the school. Not only does Lester struggle to fully accommodate the Optional Kindergarten Enrichment and Enhancement (OKEEP) program, the school also has limited spaces for flexible grouping, special education intervention services and special programming. Lester would benefit from a long-term solution to these capacity challenges. Bein and Dr. Cremascoli asked the Board to consider the District’s preliminary review of a possible Lester School addition.

The Board requested District administration to prepare information regarding the costs, requirements and potential timeline for a Lester School addition, with the goal of completion prior to the 2018-19 school year; a consideration of Lester School needs for the 2017-18 school year; and a review of how redistricting might or might not be a viable solution. The District will prepare this information for the February or March Board meeting.

Superintendent’s Contract

All Board members present voted unanimously to renew Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli’s contract for an additional three years, beginning July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2020.

Dr. Cremascoli has served as District 58’s superintendent since July 2012. During Dr. Cremascoli’s tenure, the District has annually achieved its strategic goals while maintaining a balanced budget and the highest possible financial recognition for the District.  

Some of the District’s major accomplishments over the past five years include:

  • Making significant facilities improvements, such as building safety and security enhancements and new roofs, new flooring and mechanical systems improvements
  • Adding several educational programs, such as the District’s 1:1 technology program, with District recognition as an Apple Distinguished Program; the Optional Kindergarten Enrichment and Enhancement Program (OKEEP); the Biliteracy Program; the MAP assessment program; instructional coaching; expanded in-district special education classes; and enhanced differentiated instruction to ensure students receive the support and the academic challenge that they need
  • Updating the curriculum review process to include strong collaboration with teachers and administration, incorporating the new, more rigorous Common Core State Standards, and working to provide teachers with additional resources and professional development to enhance their instruction
  • Expanding social emotional and special education programming;
  • Adding additional opportunities for partnership and communication with the community at large. The Board looks forward to launching a new Strategic Planning process this spring.

The Board acknowledged comments from three Downers Grove Elementary Education Association (DGEEA) representatives that questioned the Board’s ability to fairly evaluate the superintendent and receive input regarding her performance from stakeholders. Member Elizabeth Sigale shared that she spent a tremendous amount of time considering her support of the contract.

“I have spent time weighing the input of a lot of our district administrators, including meeting with our principals as a group and with our principals individually. I met individually and in a group with our DGEEA leaders. I heard their input on behalf of the teachers they represent,” Member Sigale said. “I listened to all of the parents who shared their thoughts at Board meetings, and by email and personal phone calls and in private meetings, and there have been a lot of those over the last few months. I have talked with other districts’ leaders, I talked with other school boards and administrators, and I benchmarked the terms of this contract against county and state averages.”

Sigale noted that she used all of this information to make an informed decision regarding the superintendent’s contract.

“There are changes that do need to occur, and many of those changes are already occurring, but in my opinion, stability in our leadership is better for our District,” Member Sigale said. “Our District has had problems, but I think we’re moving forward in the right direction even though I don’t think we’re where we need to go yet, but I personally believe that Kari and her team are the right people to move us forward.”

During the meeting, the Board also:

  • Approved minutes from the Dec. 12, 2016 Regular Meeting
  • Approved all items on the Consent Agenda as presented in the packet materials.
  • Recognized the 2016-17 Student Council officers
  • Approved a resolution opposing the detachment of property from District 58 and annexation to District 53.
  • Approved a resolution authorizing the transfer of $1.2 million from the Working Cash Fund to the Transportation Fund
  • Awarded the bid for single student and small group transportation service to Kids Kab based on the route rates provided.
  • Awarded the bid for 80 Epson LCD projectors to CDW Government LLC, for a total cost of $39,012.80
  • Authorized the assistant superintendent for business/CSBO to authorize and execute a contract within the next eight months for the purchase of electricity not to exceed 24 months in length ending in June 2021 and not to exceed a fixed energy rate of $0.03689
  • Approved second readings on three policies: Policy #3430 – Business – District Property; Policy #8360 – Internal Board Operations – Board Member Compensation, Expenses; and Policy #3324 – Business – Use of Credit and Procurement Cards.

Upcoming events:

  • Wednesday, Jan. 11 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
  • Monday, Jan. 23 at 7 a.m.: Financial Advisory Committee Meeting at the ASC
  • Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 7 a.m.: Policy Committee Meeting at the ASC
  • Monday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m.: Regular Board Meeting at Longfellow

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.