Board Briefs – June 2017

The District 58 Board of Education held its regular business meeting on Monday, June 12, 2017. View the agenda and presentation links.

Highlights from the meeting include:

Spotlight on our Schools: Spring Learning Data Update

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Matt Rich reviewed spring Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment data with the Board.

Dr. Rich shared that many District 58 grade levels achieved their highest-ever median scores on the Reading and Math MAP assessments this spring.

In Reading, all grade levels achieved a median score at or above the 73rd percentile. The national median percentile is 50. Median scores at or above the 73rd percentile indicate that not only are many District 58 students exceeding national norms, more than half of all students within each grade level of District 58 are scoring at or above the 73rd percentile nationally.  Five grade levels earned a median score at or above the 76th percentile.

In Math, all grade levels met or exceeded a median score at the 63rd percentile, with four grade levels also exceeding the 71st percentile.

Dr. Rich also evaluated District 58’s student-projected MAP growth goals. Growth assesses students where they began the school year and analyzes their growth compared to other students with similar fall MAP scores.

“For example, a second grade student who earned a 190 in the fall in Reading was compared to a national population of second grade students who earned a 190 in the fall in Reading,” Dr. Rich said.

District 58 exceeded national growth norms in 18 out of 18 indicators in Reading and 16 out of 18 indicators in Math. Nationally, only half of students are expected to reach their growth goals.

“It is very difficult for a high-achieving school district to also be a high-growth district, yet District 58 consistently accomplishes this goal,” Dr. Rich said.

View the Spring Learning Data presentation.

Spotlight on our Schools: Strategic Goals Action Plan End-of-Year Report

Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli shared a progress report on the District’s 2016-17 Strategic Goals Action Plan with the Board. The District annually creates its Strategic Goals Action Plan to align with the District’s mission, vision and core beliefs, as well as the Board’s Strategic Plan that was established in 2011. The 2016-17 report showed significant progress in many areas. For example, the District:

  • Offered staff enhanced math professional development through the Metro Chicago Math Initiative, as well as through focused grade-level and faculty learning opportunities.
  • Explored and piloted new ELA resources and designed a preliminary ELA curriculum blueprint.
  • Worked with the Learning Resource Center (LRC) team to develop a consistent LRC program based on current library standards.
  • Offered increased staff training and support related to student engagement, student goal setting and assessment development.
  • Collaborated with staff to refine the teacher evaluation process. The collaboration included surveys and meaningful small and large group discussions. The Joint Committee of teachers and administrators used all feedback as they began incorporating student growth goals into the evaluation process.
  • Launched a new, user-friendly website in January 2017.
  • Worked with the Board to provide additional community engagement opportunities, including starting the new Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee, expanding Board committees and expanding the receptions of visitors at Board workshops. In addition, Dr. Cremascoli started two superintendent’s communication groups to gain additional stakeholder feedback.
  • Developed a Facilities-at-a-Glance document, providing a detailed review of each District 58 facility’s status, needed work and a rough timeline. This information was also presented to the Board at the April Budget Workshop.

The Strategic Goals Action Plan End-of-Year Report will be posted on the Board’s Strategic Plan webpage. District 58 will present its 2017-18 Strategic Goals Action Plan proposal to the Board in July for review and in August for approval.

Superintendent’s Report

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

  • 2017-18 Board Meeting Locations: Per the Board’s request, Dr. Cremascoli offered a few alternative Board meeting locations for the 2017-18 school year. For one option, she suggested the Board consider rotating meetings at different schools, to give the Board and audience a wider exposure to the District’s facilities. Alternatively, she suggested the Board hold regular meetings at Village Hall and workshops at rotating schools. Village Hall could be a preferable location to the Longfellow Center because it holds a larger capacity and is air conditioned. The Board asked Dr. Cremascoli to pursue the latter option.
  • 2017-18 School Year Planning: While students are off for the summer, the District’s administrators and support staff are very busy planning for the upcoming school year! Principals are currently interviewing and hiring staff, and all administrators are monitoring enrollment as they prepare for another successful year.
  • Summer Projects: District 58’s maintenance crews are busy cleaning schools and completing minor summer projects, such as paint touchups. Thanks to a generous donation from the Whittier PTA, construction on the new Whittier playground will take place this summer.
  • Summer School: Most of District 58’s summer school and extended school year programs will begin this Thursday, June 15 and run through mid-July. Additionally, the District partners with the public library and PTAs to support additional, flexible summer learning opportunities in reading and in math. Dr. Cremascoli looks forward to welcoming students back to District 58 to continue their learning discoveries this summer.
  • Curriculum Work: The District will continue its curriculum work throughout this summer to best support students, teachers and staff next year, and is planning to continue its enhancements of professional development and curriculum conversations in the upcoming school year.

English-Language Arts Committee Update

Administrators Dr. Matt Rich and Justin Sisul and Teachers Christina Forzley, Deanna Bloom and Craig Young reviewed this year’s English-Language Arts (ELA) Committee work with the Board. The ELA Committee is comprised of two parts: an elementary committee and a middle school committee.

Last fall, the elementary and middle school ELA committees developed preliminary templates for their future ELA curriculum blueprint. Throughout the fall and early winter, they analyzed and selected potential ELA resources to support learning within the blueprint. This spring, committee members piloted the following resources in their classrooms:

  • Grades K-5: Benchmark Advance and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journeys
  • Grade 6: Benchmark Advance, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Collections and StudySync
  • Grades 7-8: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Collections and McGraw Hill StudySync

This May, the committees reviewed their pilot experiences. Both committees found strengths among each piloted resource, but each selected one they found would best meet student and teacher needs. They also noted that no single resource will fully complete the ELA curriculum blueprint. The ELA committees will work this summer and next school year to continue building the ELA blueprint using the primary resources selected, along with supplementary resources to meet all curricular needs.

The elementary committee reached a strong consensus that Benchmark Advance will best meet grade K-5 student and teacher needs. They found that this resource did the best job of challenging students through complex questioning, offering standards-focused assessments, and providing sufficient differentiation opportunities to meet the needs of all learners.

The middle school committee recommended that McGraw Hill StudySync will best meet the needs of teachers and students in grades 6-8. They shared that StudySync offered students daily challenges through quality assignment and classroom discussion prompts, provided a dynamic current event reading library, and gave teachers strong differentiation opportunities to meet all learner needs.

The District plans to launch phase 1 of ELA resource implementation in fall 2017. Teachers identified for phase 1 implementation will use the new resources as their primary source of ELA instruction for the 2017-18 school year. Throughout the school year, the ELA committees will use these experiences to refine the ELA curriculum blueprint with supplementary materials, as needed. Meanwhile, the District will provide thorough ELA resource professional development to all staff.

The District plans to launch phase 2 of ELA implementation in fall 2018. During phase 2, all District 58 teachers will use the new ELA resources and follow the refined ELA curriculum blueprint. During the 2018-19 school year, phase 2 teachers will benefit from the experiences of their phase 1 teaching colleagues, as well as the refined ELA curriculum blueprint.  

View the English-Language Arts Committee presentation.

Business Report

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

  • The State of Illinois owes District 58 about $1.75 million in mandated categorical payments. To date, District 58 has only received one of its four State categorical payments for the 2016-17 school year. With the fiscal year ending June 30, it is unlikely that the State will make the four payments budgeted for this year.
  • The current Springfield budget stalemate has prevented the State from passing an education budget. The General Assembly approved Senate Bill 1, and it is currently pending the governor’s approval. Senate Bill 1 would rewrite the State’s education funding formula using an evidence-based model. Regardless, without a budget in place, there will be no money to fund this model.
  • Possible property tax freezes continue to be considered in Springfield. A property tax freeze would have a very negative impact on District 58’s finances, as the District relies on property taxes as its primary revenue source.
  • Both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s decreased the State of Illinois’s bond ratings, which will make it more expensive for public entities, including school districts, to borrow money.
  • District 58 has begun receiving its June property tax payments, which has helped relieve its cash flow pressures.

Board Committee Reports

Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee:

Members Elizabeth Sigale and Jill Samonte reported on the May 11 and June 8 Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee meetings. The May 11 meeting continued its discussion on school finance. David Bein presented information on property taxes, revenue sources, the basics of school finance and District 58 facility needs.

The June 8 meeting featured a social-emotional learning presentation by Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Dr. Jayne Yudzentis and Assistant Superintendent for Special Services Jessica Stewart. They shared an overview of how District 58’s social-emotional learning curriculum has evolved and improved over the past 10 years.

The Policy Committee, Legislative Committee and the Financial Advisory Committee did not meet since the last Board meeting.

Discussion: Lester Facilities

The Board of Education thoughtfully discussed Lester School’s facility needs and reviewed several options to expand the school. Currently, Lester is at capacity and lacks space to fully accommodate the OKEEP kindergarten program. Based on current enrollment, core facility needs exist relative to bathrooms and intervention/resource space as well.    

This spring, the District’s architect, Wight & Company, completed a detailed Lester feasibility study. The architect reviewed Lester’s needs, site conditions and available building space, among other considerations. They also interviewed District and Lester administrators to gain additional insights. During the April 2017 Board meeting, the architect presented its findings to the Board, along with five possible renovation scenarios.

District 58 and Lester administrators carefully reviewed the pros and cons to each renovation scenario as well as financing options, and recommended the Board consider Option 4. This option would add additional classroom spaces, bathrooms and a flexible resource space to Lester School. When considering the District’s finances and Lester’s needs, the administration believed that this option would provide Lester the best space solutions for the lowest cost. The estimated cost range for Option 4 is $2.2-2.5 million.

Assistant Superintendent for Business/Chief School Business Official David Bein reported that the District can issue up to $6 million in debt, which is sufficient to finance a Lester addition. Current debt payments extend through levy year 2024, and any new bond issues would require restructuring existing debt. Bein added that any funds borrowed would not contribute a deficit to the District’s operating budget, as it would be levied through the District’s debt service.

“I have looked at several scenarios, and generally speaking as long as rates do not rise more than about 1.5 percent over where they are now, it makes financial sense to only issue the amount needed for an addition next year, and then issue additional debt for other facility needs a year later,” Bein said.

The Board reflected on the District’s direction and discussed different perspectives. A few Board members believed that Option 4 would provide Lester School with the best solution for the lowest cost. However, Member John Miller pointed out that the least expensive option, Option 1A, carried an estimated cost of $1.7-$2.0 million and resolved Lester’s kindergarten space issue. Option 1A, however, would only address this issue and would not resolve Lester’s bathroom and resource space needs. In addition, Option 1A would require extensive and costly work to move a gas line. Some Board members voiced that it would be more effective to spend money on improving Lester’s physical spaces than on moving a gas line. Finally, several Board members expressed concern over Option 4’s cost estimate. At $2.2-$2.5 million, this estimate exceeds the Board’s desire to keep the project below $2 million.

The Board concluded their discussion by directing the administration to pursue the next step of architectural schematic drawings using Option 4. They requested drawings and a firmer cost estimate for Option 4 as presented, as well as Option 4 without the bathroom renovation. They also requested the administration to work with the architect to cut any costs possible to bring the cost estimate closer to $2 million. The District 58 administration will proceed with this guidance and provide the Board an update in August.

For more information, view the Lester Feasibility Study. (Presented to the Board in April 2017)

During the meeting, the Board also:

  • Formally recognized retiring Board Secretary/Secretary to the Superintendent Pam Osika for her 26 years of service to District 58.
  • Thanked Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Matt Rich for his five years of service to District 58, and wished him well as he leaves to become a superintendent in another school district.
  • Approved minutes from the May 8 Business Meeting.
  • Approved all items on the Consent Agenda as presented in the packet materials, including the appointment of Bonnie Osborne to the special programs coordinator position, starting July 31.
  • Approved the District 58 Title 1 District Plan.
  • Approved a resolution to permanently transfer $19,264.22 from the Working Cash Fund to the Sinking Fund.
  • Approved a health insurance premium increase of 10 percent, to offset rising medical insurance claims and the declining Medical Reserve Fund.
  • Accepted a proposal from Aetna to provide dental insurance for the 2017-18 fiscal year for an administrative fee of $3.74 per employee per month.
  • Accepted a proposal from Voya for Life and Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) Insurance for two years (July 1, 2017-June 30, 2019) at the rate of $0.10 per thousand of covered benefit for life insurance and $0.02 per thousand of covered benefit for AD&D insurance.
  • Accepted a proposal from Voya for Specific Stop Loss insurance coverage at an estimated cost of $483,648 for the 2017-18 fiscal year.
  • Approved property, casualty and liability insurance coverage for the 2017-18 fiscal year from Liberty Mutual, Chubb and Hartford for a grand total of $407,828.
  • Approved a 36-month managed Internet access contract with Net56 for a monthly cost of $2,070 and a total cost of $74,520.
  • Accepted a five-year lease agreement proposal for a Cisco VOIP telecommunications system from CDW-G for $232,183.57, as well as a one-year 0 percent annual lease payment of $46,436.73 and four 0 percent annual lease payments of $46,436.71. This proposal will provide the District with improved telephone service for a lower cost.
  • Awarded a food service management bid to Aramark Educational Services for the 2017-18 school year for $379,819.20.
  • Set the 2017-18 cost for a reimbursable paid lunch at $2.70 for students, based on the Paid Lunch Equity Calculation.
  • Awarded the bid for painting miscellaneous areas of 10 schools to Allied Painting Services for a total cost of $26,400.
  • Awarded a bid for ink cartridges, drums and printheads for the 2017-18 school year to The Office Pal for $52,826.64
  • Awarded a bid for custodial supplies for the 2017-18 school year to Ramrod Distributors for $72,161.37 and Interboro Packaging Corp for $4,768.56.
  • Approved a prevailing wage resolution for District 58 public works laborers, works and mechanics. The District will also file the resolution with the State’s Department of Labor and publish it in a local newspaper.
  • Appointed David Bein as the District 58 treasurer, effective July 1, 2017.
  • Named John Miller as representative to the Village’s Plan Commission for 2017-18.
  • Approved a second reading on and adopted Policy #5121 – Students – Search and Seizure.

Upcoming events:

  • Monday, July 10 at 7 a.m.: Financial Advisory Committee Meeting at the ASC
  • Monday, July 10 at 7 p.m.: Regular Board Meeting at the ASC
  • Monday, Aug. 14 at 7 p.m.: Regular Board Meeting at TBD
  • Monday, Aug. 28 at 7 p.m.: Budget Workshop Meeting at TBD

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 Pam Osika, board secretary.