Board Briefs – December 2017

The District 58 Board of Education held its regular business meeting on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. View the agenda and presentation links. Highlights from the meeting include:

Spotlight on our Schools: English-Language Arts Curriculum

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Justin Sisul provided the Board an update on the District’s English-Language Arts (ELA) curriculum. He shared that all middle school ELA teachers and one-third of elementary teachers are using new McGraw Hill StudySync and Benchmark Advance ELA resources this school year. The remaining two-thirds of elementary teachers are receiving training and instructional strategies to prepare to use these new resources next school year.

The ELA Committee recently asked teachers using the new resources to reflect on their experiences so far. The teachers shared that the materials are rigorous and challenging. Students are engaging in rich discussions, accessing new online tools and applying higher-levels of thinking. In addition, staff said they appreciated the training they received during teacher institute days, as well as the paced approach to integrating the new materials into the curriculum.

Meanwhile, the ELA Committee – which comprises teachers and administrators – continues to build and refine the District’s ELA curriculum blueprint to include teacher feedback. District 58 will fully implement the new ELA resources and blueprint district-wide in fall 2018.

View the ELA curriculum update presentation.

Spotlight on our Schools: 1:1 Technology Survey

District 58 surveyed teachers, students and parents last spring to gather feedback on the District’s 1:1 technology. Survey results found that students enjoy learning with iPads and regularly use the devices for projects, IXL and other schoolwork. Teachers reported that the iPads enhanced creativity, student engagement and classroom collaboration. However, a few teachers noted that some iPad apps can cause classroom distractions. Heeding this feedback, students’ ability to add apps to their iPads has been restricted this school year, and this seems to have helped. Parent responses varied widely. For example, 41 percent believe that iPads help engage their child with schoolwork, while 32 percent disagreed. Several parents believed iPads are never used, while many others commented that they are overused.

Eichmiller said that the Technology Committee will use this feedback and gather more data before making a recommendation on the future device refresh for the District’s 1:1 initiative for next school year.

View the 1:1 technology survey presentation.

Discussion: Highland School Enrollment

The Board approved Option 4 to address Highland School’s current and forecasted enrollment growth. Option 4 maintains Highland School’s current boundaries but caps enrollment for kindergarten, first grade, third grade and fourth grade next school year. These specific grade levels will be capped to provide equitable access to educational programming and to ensure the school enrollment does not grow beyond its classroom capacity. Incoming kindergarten students with older siblings attending Highland will receive priority enrollment to ensure family togetherness for existing families at Highland.

New students moving into these grade levels beyond the identified cap will be administratively transferred to nearby Belle Aire School with District-provided transportation available. New families with children in both capped and non-capped grade levels may choose to transfer all their children to Belle Aire School, if desired.

This option ensures that both schools will have adequate classroom space, a dedicated art/music room and small group instructional space. The Board will revisit this solution in two years in light of actual enrollment and the new strategic plan.

View the District 58 enrollment recommendation memo for more information.

Superintendent’s Report

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

  • The District’s curriculum committees continue to make significant progress. The ELA Committee is implementing the new ELA curricular resources adopted this school year and refining the blueprint while helping to guide ongoing ELA professional development planning. The Math Committee continues to review the math blueprint, which guides math instruction in grades preK-8, building upon and supplementing the District’s primary math curricular resources, which were adopted in 2012-13. The Math Committee is also exploring the District’s use of common assessments, which are new this year, and reviewing curricular supports and acceleration practices. The STEM Committee is reviewing current topics of study and beginning to pursue the exploration of materials and revisions to the District’s scope and sequence of grade K-8 instruction.
  • The District is developing its 2018-19 school calendar with feedback from staff.
  • A Lester neighborhood meeting will be held Dec. 13 to update the Lester neighborhood on the proposed Lester addition.
  • Dr. Cremascoli has participated on the District 99 Citizen Task Force, which seeks input on proposed facility projects and funding options. Next steps for District 99 relative to their facility plan are expected to be discussed and decided upon at its upcoming school board meetings.
  • The Superintendent’s Community Advisory Council met last week. David Bein gave a presentation on and led discussion about the District’s business, finance and facilities and asked for council input to guide the District’s strategic planning in these areas.
  • The PTA Reflections ceremony took place Dec. 6. Dr. Cremascoli thanked the PTA for organizing this wonderful event.
  • Science Fair registration is open through Dec. 22.

Business Report

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

  • The District has received nearly half of its expected revenue for the 2017-18 fiscal year.
  • The proposed tax reform legislation may eliminate advance refunding of tax-exempt bonds, which could impact the District’s cost to issue bonds to fund the Lester addition.
  • The Illinois General Assembly is still considering a property tax freeze, which would have a tremendously negative impact on funding for District 58.
  • The topic of tax increment financing, or TIF, districts came up during the recent Financial Workshop. There are three TIF districts that affect District 58. For last year’s levy, their combined impact was approximately $1.3 million. District 58 will not be able to levy for this additional tax revenue until the TIFs expire, the first of which will not take place for several years.

Board Committee Reports

Policy Committee: Member Greg Harris shared that the Policy Committee discussed draft administrative regulation 8255, which clarifies Board communications, during its Nov. 21 meeting. Revisions to Policy 8255 are not recommended at this time. The committee also made the following recommendations for first reading:

  • Revise Policy #2041 – Director of Buildings and Grounds and Policy #2042 – Manager of Business Services to clarify job titles referenced.
  • Revise Policy #5150 – Students – Wellness to incorporate updated nutritional and physical activity goals.

The Board approved the first reading of all three policies and will place them on the January agenda for final approval.

Legislative Committee: Member Beth Taylor shared that the Legislative Committee discussed Legislative Breakfast question topics during the committee’s Dec. 6 meeting.

Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee:  Member Elizabeth Sigale provided the Board with a strategic planning update during her report on the Dec. 7 Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee meeting.

The District partnered with Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates (HYA), an independent research firm, to conduct its strategic planning process. HYA will lead community forums and focus groups this January to obtain input from District 58 community members. In addition, HYA will administer an online strategic planning survey in January to capture additional feedback.

View the strategic planning news release for more information.

District 58’s  Financial Advisory Committee did not meet since the last Board meeting.

Fairmount Flag Salute and Presentation

Fairmount Student Council members Audrey, Julia, Olivia and Zevian led the Board and audience in a flag salute and Pledge of Allegiance. They shared that Fairmount has proudly led several service activities this school year, including fundraisers to help Hurricane Harvey and California wildfire relief efforts. Locally, they collected canned food for FISH pantry and gathered donations for their Giving Tree.

The Fairmount PTA also shared school year highlights. The PTA’s annual Trivia Night fundraiser netted $35,000 to support the PTA’s projects, which include Fairmount LRC donations, cultural and science extracurricular activities and a teacher grant program.

Fairmount Principal Lisa Niforatos closed the Fairmount presentation with a school update on positive parent partnerships.

During the meeting, the Board also:

  • Recognized students who advanced to the regional level in the PTA Reflections art competition.
  • Adopted the 2017 Certificate of Levy.
  • Listened to a financing presentation by Tammie Beckwith Schallmo, the District’s financial adviser. Beckwith Schallmo provided information regarding the District’s ability to issue bonds to fund the proposed Lester addition.
  • Approved a resolution declaring the intention to issue $2.81 million in working cash fund bonds for the purpose of funding the Lester addition and another resolution to hold a public hearing concerning this proposed bond sale.
  • Approved minutes from the Nov. 13 Business Meeting and Nov. 27 Financial Workshop.
  • Approved all items on the Consent Agenda as presented in the packet materials.

Upcoming events:

  • Monday, Jan. 8 at 7 a.m.: Financial Advisory Committee at the ASC
  • Monday, Jan. 8 at 7 p.m.: Regular Board Meeting at the Downers Grove Village Hall
  • Wednesday, Jan. 24 at 7 a.m.: Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee Focus Group at Longfellow

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.