Board Briefs: February 2019

The District 58 Board of Education held a regular business meeting on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. View the agenda and presentation links. Meeting audio and video will be posted here.

Highlights from the meeting include:

Spotlight on our Schools: Parent Partnerships in Learning

District 58 set a strategic goal in fall 2017 to improve parent partnerships and student progress reporting. This work continued in fall 2018 in alignment with the new Strategic Plan,

which directs District 58 to focus on communication, collaboration and consistency.

Last month, District 58 surveyed parents to better understand which types of progress reporting they most value. Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Dr. Jayne Yudzentis shared the results, which found that most parents consider parent-teacher conferences, student work samples and report cards to be the most effective forms of student academic progress communication. The survey also asked parents for suggestions and additional feedback, which will be used to inform improvements.

District 58 administrators and staff presented other ways that schools build strong relationships with parents. For example, Hillcrest Principal Michelle Rzepka shared that she creates a weekly parent newsletter that highlights important school and district news, school celebrations and reminders. Director of Innovative Technology and Learning James Eichmiller, Art Teacher Sarah David, and Instructional Coach Jenny Lehotsky each shared ways the Seesaw app has been used to communicate student progress and partner with parents. Jason Lynde, El Sierra’s principal and a Fairmount parent, discussed how the Seesaw app has helped him better visualize what his own children are learning at school.

View the entire presentation to learn more.

Spotlight on our Schools: Parent School Environment Survey Results

Community Relations Coordinator Megan Hewitt shared results from the parent school environment survey, which 1,343 parents took in November and December 2018. District 58 first offered this survey in 2011 to measure its progress improving social-emotional learning and school climate, as directed by the District’s former 2011 Strategic Plan.

Hewitt reviewed highlights from the survey’s quantitative questions, including historical trends, as well as the survey’s two qualitative questions. These open-ended questions ask parents to share one thing their school and/or District 58 does well, and one thing that could be improved. These comments were analyzed, and several themes and keywords emerged. Communication, core curriculum and social-emotional learning were the three major themes that parents most frequently said their school/District 58 does well. In addition, core curriculum, communication and facility improvements/upgrades were the three major areas that parents most often said their school/District 58 should improve upon.

District 58 administrators, principals and school leadership teams use survey results to guide district and school improvement efforts.

View the presentation to learn details.

Visit the District 58 Survey webpage.

Superintendent’s Report: Emergency Day Makeup and E-Learning

Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli shared updates and information on several topics, including science curriculum resource recommendations, superintendent search, upcoming curriculum workshop, Education Foundation’s Harlem Wizards fundraiser, and the emergency day makeup and e-learning.

Dr. Cremascoli said that due to the inclement weather cancellations this school year, District 58 will need to use four emergency days. The 2018-19 District 58 calendar designates emergency days at the end of the school year. Provided that no additional emergency days are needed, District 58 would anticipate Tuesday, June 11 being the last day of school. It would include a half day of student attendance and a half day of staff school improvement activities. The District hopes to bring the final 2018-19 calendar to the Board for approval in March.

Dr. Cremascoli said she has received questions regarding the possibility of making up school with an e-learning day. At this time, District 58 does not yet have procedures in place to accommodate this type of emergency day makeup; however, she said the District would like to consider these opportunities for the future.

“Some of our neighboring districts are considering the same for future years, and there are a handful of suburban districts that are piloting this approach at the elementary level this year,” Dr. Cremascoli said. “We hope to learn more from their experiences and to consider options for various emergency day makeups in the future.”

Dr. Cremascoli also noted that the State recently changed how it counts and calculates a school day, and it is possible that this may change again, limiting the District’s ability to offer e-learning. District 58 will continue to monitor State attendance requirements to help inform District 58’s emergency makeup day options in the future.

Business Report

Assistant Superintendent for Business Todd Drafall reported that District 58 recently received some State funding reimbursements, which will help revenues. District 58’s expenditures are on budget.

Committee Reports

Board Member Elizabeth Sigale reported on the Jan. 23 Legislative Committee meeting. The committee set Friday, March 15 as the date for the Legislative Breakfast, and two legislators have already committed to attending. The committee also began discussing topics for the event.

The Policy Committee, Financial Advisory Committee and District Leadership Team have not met since the last Board meeting.

Facility Planning Discussion

Assistant Superintendent for Business Todd Drafall, along with Wight & Company Architects Amy Fuller and Brad Paulsen, presented the Board with a facility planning update. As part of its Strategic Plan, District 58 formed a Facility Planning Council last summer to create a master facility plan. So far this school year, the Council has conducted a facility assessment to analyze the quantity and quality of learning spaces in all schools. The Council also conducted visioning meetings with staff at all schools, as well as the community, to better understand how staff, parents and community members envision the future of District 58’s schools.

Next, the Council will conduct a gap analysis that takes into account the current facilities and future needs. At the March Board meeting, the District plans to ask the Board to approve an agreement with Wight & Company for the remaining steps of the master facility plan’s development.

View the facility planning update presentation to learn more.

View the full facility planning report. (February 2019)

Professional Learning Discussion

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Justin Sisul reported that District 58 updated its English-language arts curriculum resources this school year and plans to update its science resources in 2019-20, math resources in 2020-21 and social studies resources in 2021-22. To ensure these resources are implemented with fidelity, teachers and staff will need additional professional development.

The District’s new Professional Learning Council, which comprises teachers and administrators, considered a variety of professional development models and surveyed 24 surrounding elementary districts for exemplars. Survey results found that 23 districts use student release for professional learning, with most using an early release model.

The Council, in conjunction with District administration, recommends that District 58 implement a weekly 2 p.m. student dismissal for grades K-8, with weekly professional learning time from 2:15-3:45 p.m. for all K-8 certificated staff. This recommendation also includes maintaining four existing teacher institute days, removing the equivalent of two existing teacher work days, and adding 10 minutes to the student school day. This model would yield a gain in student instructional time.

The District is evaluating the impact this shift would have on transportation, after-school care, after-school events, instructional assistants and substitutes. The District has already met with grade K-6 teachers to hear their feedback, and will meet with middle school teachers and specialists during this week’s teacher inservice day. The District will also solicit parent feedback on ways families can be supported during this transition.

The District also recommends the creation of a part-time curriculum coordinator position. This position would spend half his or her time supporting district-wide curriculum implementation and half his or her time serving as a school assistant principal.

View the presentation to learn more.

Science Curriculum Resource Approval

The Board of Education approved the purchase of two science curriculum resources to be implemented districtwide next school year. They approved the grade K-5 science resource, TCI Bringing Science Alive, for $373,087.50 and the grade 6-8 science resource, Activate Learning IQWST, for $407,315.

The STEM Committee, which comprises teachers and administrators, recommended the adoption of these resources. Teachers who serve on the STEM Committee are piloting different science resources in their classrooms this year. During the Feb. 4 STEM Committee meeting, they reflected on their experiences and reached consensus to recommend these resources.

STEM Committee Update

Learn more.

2019-20 Student Fees Approval

The Board approved student fees for the 2019-20 school year. Most fees stayed the same or increased 2.1 percent (inflation rate), with a couple of exceptions noted below.

The District’s preschool programming will increase from four-days-per-week to five-days-per-week in 2019-20. This change adds 27 additional school days to the preschool calendar, and the proposed preschool tuition rate accommodates this increase. In addition, the District completed a program cost analysis and recommended that outdoor education fees increase by an additional $20, plus CPI, to better reflect the program’s actual per-student costs.

View 2019-20 student fees.

El Sierra Spotlight

The El Sierra Student Council, PTA and principal shared school news, including their service projects, fundraisers, social-emotional learning programs, academic growth and school pride.

View their presentation.

View a 44-second video highlighting El Sierra’s vision statement.

During the meeting, the Board also:

  • Recognized the more than 500 students who participated in the Science Fair.
  • Approved minutes from the Jan. 14 regular meeting, the Jan. 16 special meeting, the Feb. 4 special meeting, the Nov. 28 Board tour/PTA meeting and the Jan. 24 Board tour/PTA meeting.
  • Approved all items presented in the Consent Agenda as presented in the agenda materials.
  • Designated the following as surplus equipment: Toro Powershift 824 two-stage snowblower; Toro 624 two-stage snowblower; Toro Proline 36″ lawnmower; large safe; and pneumatic floor machine.
  • Approved revisions to the following six policies: Internal Board Operations- Policies #8021-Code of Conduct, #8022-Meetings, #8100-Membership and Terms of Office, #8102-Vacancy on the School Board, #8130-Board Member Development, and #8140-Membership in School Board Associations.
  • Approved the deletion of one policy: #8023-Abused and Neglected Child Reporting. The content of this policy is duplicated in another existing policy.
  • Received comments from one visitor related to the District’s current K-6 elementary school model.

Upcoming events:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 7 a.m.: Policy Committee Meeting at the ASC
  • Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 6 p.m.: Board Building Tour/PTA Meeting at Henry Puffer School
  • Monday, Feb. 25 at 3:45 p.m.: District Leadership Team Meeting at Fairmount School
  • Monday, Feb. 25 at 6:30 p.m.: Staff Meet & Greet with the Board at Fairmount School
  • Monday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m.: Curriculum Workshop at Fairmount School

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