Board Briefs – Spring Budget Workshop

The District 58 Board of Education held its spring Budget Workshop meeting on Monday, April 24, 2017.  View the agenda and presentation links.

Highlights from the meeting include:

Retiring Board Member Recognition

board recognition 2017Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli and Board Members Doug Purcell, John Miller and Elizabeth Sigale led a ceremony to recognize District 58’s retiring Board members: President John Cooper, Roberta Diehl, Christopher Heppner and Sallie Lupescu. Together, these four Board members have served District 58 for 24 years.

“Board Members John Cooper, Sallie Lupescu, Roberta Diehl and Christopher Heppner… have always placed the interests of children ahead of all others,” said Member Doug Purcell. “They have worked hard to ensure that District 58 has met its mission of challenging and engaging each child by providing quality educational programs and support services that excite minds, touch spirits and challenge abilities. These Board members have done their best to prepare our children to make significant contributions to their world.”

Purcell added that these outgoing Board members have led the District through many important decisions and challenges, including the adoption of the Common Core standards, increasing financial strains, new education programs and enhanced professional development opportunities, among others.

board recognition 2The outgoing Board members shared sentiments from their service. For example, Member Roberta Diehl thanked the Board and community for the opportunity to give back.

“I’ve really enjoyed these six years on the Board, as well as my 21 years serving District 58 as a teacher,” Member Diehl said. “District 58 is a part of me, and it’s always been a part of me. My heart is here, and I really wish our new Board members the best!”

Pierce Downer Principal Appointment

Christine ClavennaThe Board of Education appointed Christine Clavenna to the Pierce Downer principal position, effective July 1, 2017.

Clavenna currently serves as the assistant principal at Pierce Downer and Hillcrest schools, a position she has held since 2015. She previously served as the assistant principal of O’Neill Middle School for three years and as a principal and assistant principal in Mokena School District 159 for two years. Clavenna also worked as a fifth grade teacher for 16 years prior to entering administration.

“It is my distinct honor to recommend Chris Clavenna for the position of principal at Pierce Downer Elementary School,” said Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli. “Mrs. Clavenna has risen to the top of a very strong candidate pool, and interview teams were especially impressed by her instructional leadership, her knowledge of elementary teaching and learning, her focus on students, and her collaborative approach to leadership.”

Learn more about Clavenna’s appointment to the Pierce Downer principal position.

2016-17 School Year Calendar – Last Day of School

The Board of Education approved Friday, June 9, 2017 as the last day of school for students, noting that no emergency/snow days were used during the 2016-17 school year. June 9 will be a half-day of attendance for students.

2017-18 School Year Calendar – Revision

The Board of Education approved two revisions to the 2017-18 school year calendar. The revised calendar added two half days to the calendar – Jan. 26 and April 27. On these days, students will attend classes in the morning and be dismissed at lunchtime. Staff will remain to participate in professional development and school improvement activities in the afternoon.

The District hopes that these additional half days will provide staff with valuable professional development time, without taking teachers out of the classroom during the regular school day.

2017-18 Tentative Budget Presentation

Assistant Superintendent for Business/Chief School Business Official David Bein led a discussion regarding the tentative 2017-18 budget. He emphasized that budget considerations are tentative and subject to revision. The 2017-18 budget reflects the continuation of existing programs, the purchase of a new English-Language Arts (ELA) curriculum resource, an increase in health insurance costs and other adjustments, as appropriate.

View the entire budget presentation.

2016-17 Budget Recap

The 2016-17 fiscal year will conclude June 30, 2017. To date, District 58’s expenditures are on target. The District’s revenues have a shortfall, due to the State’s missed payments. The State provides funding to District 58 for special education and transportation through four categorical payments. Three of these four payments have been vouchered for this year, but none have been paid. Currently, the State owes District 58 $2.5 million. The District hopes to receive two of its four State payments by the end of this fiscal year.

2017-18 Budget Assumptions

While preparing the 2017-18 budget, Bein said that the District considered several revenue and expenditure assumptions.

District 58 anticipates that federal and general state aid revenues will remain flat. The District also expects to receive four mandated categorical payments from the State – two late payments from 2016-17 and two timely payments for 2017-18.

For expenditures, the District anticipates that salary increases will follow negotiated agreements.

Bein noted that health insurance claims have trended higher than expected. To account for these increases, the 2017-18 budget tentatively factored in a 10 percent increase in health insurance premiums at an increased cost of $633,000 to the District.

The District has made several recent efforts to enhance its special services to support more students with significant needs within its in-district special education programs, rather than outplacement programs. These efforts have resulted in an expected $200,000 decrease in outplacement tuition payments.

The District expects transportation, facility and O&M (operations and maintenance) spending to be relatively flat year over year. The 2017-18 budget also accounts for curriculum, professional development and staffing budgeting recommendations, as outlined in the below sections.

The 2017-18 preliminary budget currently projects $66.5 million in revenues and $67.1 million in expenditures. The District will carefully watch its cash flow, especially if the State continues to miss its payments. Short-term borrowing could be needed to fund cash flow needs. If a Lester addition is approved, the District will need to add a bond issue to its final or amended budget.

The tentative 2017-18 budget is expected to be adopted in July 2017, and the final budget is expected to be adopted in September 2017.

Curriculum and Professional Development Budget Recommendations

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Matt Rich and Director of Innovative Technology and Learning James Eichmiller reported on anticipated curriculum and professional development budget updates for the 2017-18 school year.

The District plans to adopt an ELA curriculum for an estimated incremental $600,000 ($1.2 million split over two years, although the final cost and proportion paid in each year is still uncertain). This funding will cover resources and contracted professional training. The District also budgeted for a middle school technology refresh at an incremental $150,000 ($450,000 over three years). The 2017-18 budget also accounts for science curriculum training, ongoing Spanish program implementation costs, and a math common assessment bank. The District anticipates reduced start-up costs related to the kindergarten enrichment program.

The 2017-18 budget will continue to support staff professional development, especially in English-language arts, math, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), reporting mechanisms and technology.

Staffing Budget Recommendations

Based on enrollment projections, the District tentatively recommends the additions of a 1.0 FTE (full time equivalent) elementary classroom teacher and a 1.0 FTE biliteracy teacher, as well as the reduction of 0.2 FTE related services staff, 0.5 FTE middle school teacher and a slight decrease in instructional assistant positions.

After a careful review of programs and supports in accordance with the District’s Strategic Plan Action Goals, the District also recommends the following staffing additions for the 2017-18 school year:

  • Replace 1.0 FTE LRC teacher position
  • Add 1.0 FTE special programs coordinator position
  • Add 0.5 FTE assistant principal position
  • Add 0.5 FTE English learner and biliteracy coordinator position

LRC Teacher: District 58 administrators, learning resource center (LRC) teachers and principals worked this school year to collaboratively review the LRC teacher’s responsibilities to provide consistency across all schools. They also began to develop an updated LRC curriculum blueprint with common instructional objectives for each grade level to ensure instructional continuity.

As a result of these efforts, District 58 administrators recommend that the Board of Education replace the LRC teacher position that was placed on hold last year. This will enable each District 58 school to have its own LRC teacher on staff during the 2017-18 school year.  The District will continue to employ a full-time LRC assistant at each school as well.

Using this model, all LRC teachers will be scheduled to fulfill primary roles and responsibilities, which include teaching LRC lessons, collaborating with other teachers, and managing the LRC.

Since schools vary widely in enrollment and needs, the amount of time it takes for an LRC teacher to fulfill these responsibilities will vary from school to school. Depending on each school’s enrollment and needs, LRC teachers will be scheduled to provide varying amounts of additional secondary instructional supports, such as small group instruction in the classroom and interventions. These secondary roles will help keep the LRC teachers’ workload consistent district-wide.

“For the past several years, the majority of our elementary LRC teachers have provided instructional supports to students in addition to teaching the weekly LRC lessons. We have looked more closely at the instructional support role to identify the potential benefits of establishing that practice district-wide,” said Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Dr. Jayne Yudzentis. “As a result of that review, we believe this is an effective way to utilize the LRC teacher position to directly benefit students and are recommending a model that will include LRC teachers providing instructional support for students in each of the 11 elementary schools.”

During the 2016-2017 school year, teachers implemented consistent LRC instructional time. Every preschooler has 20 minutes of weekly LRC time, and every kindergarten-through-sixth grade student has a 30-minute weekly LRC lesson, plus a 15-minute weekly book checkout time with the LRC and classroom teachers. Finally, middle school LRC teachers teach and co-teach quarterly LRC lessons through English-Language Arts classes to seventh and eighth graders.

Throughout the 2017-2018 school year, the administration will work with the LRC team to provide professional development focused on effective methods and approaches for collaboration and co-teaching, as well as continue developing the LRC curriculum at each grade level.

Special programs coordinator: The Special Services Department continues to evaluate all students’ unique needs and expand its highly-specialized in-district programs that can accommodate the more intense needs of students, such as the Developmental Learning Program, Reaching Independence through Structured Education (RISE Autism) Program and the Behavioral, Emotional and Social Training (BEST) Program.

To better support the students, families, teachers and staff who participate in these specialized programs, District 58 recommends the Board hire a special programs coordinator.

Assistant principal: Highland School’s enrollment has steadily increased, exceeding 350 students for the past three years. The District recommends the Board approve a part-time assistant principal to support professional development, teacher evaluation and support, and special education facilitation, among other responsibilities at Highland.

English learner and biliteracy coordinator: The District’s Biliteracy Program will begin its fourth year in 2017-18, and the program has grown to more than 50 students. In addition, 240 District 58 students receive English learner supports. The District recommends the Board approve a new, part-time English learner and biliteracy coordinator position to lead program development and implementation; curriculum development and resources; and parent, student and staff support.

Facilities Budget Recommendations:

Studies have found that carefully-constructed and well-maintained school facilities can normally last 50-60 years. By comparison, District 58’s newest schools, Belle Aire and El Sierra, are each 48 years old. Other schools range in age from 50-89 years of age, and continue to function due to careful maintenance.

Bein and Director of Buildings and Grounds Ken Young projected District 58’s facility needs from present day through 2040. Their analysis showed many significant maintenance needs totaling $69 million during this timeframe. This cost estimate accounts for 3 percent inflation. The District used its 2012 Wight & Company Comprehensive Facility Assessment Report, life safety study and local knowledge to determine the District’s needs.

The most common maintenance needs include roof replacements ($30 million), HVAC/plumbing ($15 million), asphalt ($6 million) and electrical service ($6 million). Assistant Director of Buildings and Grounds Geoff Neustadt reviewed each District 58 facility’s unique needs, costs and an expected timeline of work.

To fund these facility projects, the District may explore fund balances, non-referendum debt and referendum debt in the future.

Lester School Space Needs

Bein concluded the budget presentation with a review of Lester’s space needs. The Board heard a presentation describing possible Lester School space solutions during the regular April Board meeting. The cost estimates for the solutions ranged between $1.7 million and $4.2 million. The District’s fund balances are insufficient to cover this cost; however, the District could issue non-referendum debt in early 2018 to fund this construction project. The Board will continue to consider its Lester School addition options during upcoming Board meetings.

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.