Board Briefs: August 2019

The District 58 Board of Education held a regular business meeting on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. View the agenda and presentation links. Meeting audio and video will be linked here. Highlights from the meeting include:

Spotlight on our Schools: Staffing Update

Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Dr. Jayne Yudzentis presented a staffing update. As guided by the Strategic Plan, last year District 58 formed the Resources Review Council to evaluate District 58’s staffing structures and make improvements. Through this work, last spring District 58 set the following class size targets for the 2019-20 school year:

Preschool: 15-18 students per class

Grades K-2: 80 percent of classrooms will have 24 or fewer students

Grades 3-8: 80 percent of classrooms will have 26 or fewer students

Dr. Yudzentis reported that thanks to the Board’s support, this year District 58 improved staffing allocations to decrease class sizes and make average class sizes more equitable districtwide. She shared that most grade levels are expected to meet their class size targets.

She added that building principals and central administrators closely evaluated each classroom that did not meet its target to ensure each would have the necessary supports to provide all students with an excellent education. Building principals will communicate the rationale behind these decisions with affected families.

“Rather than only looking at the number of students in a classroom, we also evaluate the classroom’s learning environment. We ask, ‘What does the learning experience look like and feel like for students in this classroom? Are there supports in place to provide all students with an exceptional learning experience?’” Dr. Yudzentis said.

For example, based on tentative enrollment projections, Belle Aire and El Sierra schools both have classrooms that exceed their class size targets. Belle Aire and El Sierra are District 58’s smallest schools, which means that their support staff (such as the teacher librarian and reading specialist, among others) have greater schedule flexibility than similar staff members in larger schools. This flexibility will allow them to assist larger classrooms with additional small group instruction and learning supports. Belle Aire held a parent meeting last spring, and El Sierra will hold a meeting later this month, to explain this rationale in greater detail.

Dr. Yudzentis also reported that several District 58 schools have challenging space constraints. She said that District 58 must have bigger conversations with the community addressing District 58’s school model and priorities to ensure all schools can continue to provide all students with an excellent education now and into the future. Possible areas of consideration may include: capping classes, offering combination classes, readjusting boundaries, repurposing buildings, shifting to a two-section elementary school model, and shifting to a grade 6-8 middle school structure, among others. District 58 will continue its facility planning community engagement this fall, and these topics will likely be a part of the conversation.

View the presentation.

Facility Planning Update

Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell gave a brief District 58 facility planning history to the Board. He reported that District 58 hired architect Wight & Company to conduct a comprehensive facility assessment on all District 58 schools and buildings in 2012. This assessment identified the long-term facility work District 58 would need to complete, and the District began prioritizing projects. During the District’s 2018 strategic planning effort, facility planning emerged as one of the community’s major priority areas. District 58 formed a Facility Planning Council who, with community and staff input, analyzed the District’s current facility needs and began developing a Master Facility Plan.

During last month’s Board meeting, Wight & Company architects presented draft cost estimates for the work identified through the master facility planning process thus far and recommended District 58 consider a third party to facilitate facility planning community engagement this fall. The Board asked the District to seek third party consultant proposals. 

During this August meeting, Wight & Company architects shared a draft Master Facility Plan guiding document that broke down the initial facility cost estimates into greater detail for the Board’s review. Dr. Russell emphasized that the guiding document is a draft and will most certainly change with community feedback. He also shared that District 58 received several qualified proposals for third party facility planning community engagement consultants. His team evaluated each proposal using a rubric and recommends that the Board select Paul Hanley from George K. Baum & Company. Hanley provided community engagement for nearby Community High School District 99 in 2017-18, so they are already familiar with the Downers Grove community.

District 58 Board members agreed that a third party community engagement consultant will help the District better understand the community’s priorities and modify its facility plans to ensure they align with these priorities. Later in the meeting, the Board approved a motion to develop a contract with Paul Hanley to provide facility planning community engagement services.

View the draft Master Facility Plan guiding document and its related memo

View the third party community engagement proposal and memo.

Superintendent’s Report

Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell provided the Board with information and updates, including:

  • Schools are Ready!: Buildings and Grounds crews worked hard this summer to clean all schools and prepare them for students. All schools are ready to open!
  • New Curriculum Resources: District 58 will provide all students with new science curriculum resources this school year, and some classrooms will also pilot new math resources. The District’s Math Committee aims to roll out new math resources districtwide next school year.
  • Finance: District 58 will ask the Board to approve the 2019-20 budget during the September meeting. The administration intends to present a balanced budget, but cautions that the budget will be very tight.
  • Public Relations: The District’s Annual Report will be mailed to all residences in District 58 this week. The report features an eye-catching format with more photos and graphics.
  • Personnel: The start of the new school year is filled with late enrollments, hiring and other staffing-related topics. Dr. Russell thanked Dr. Yudzentis and the District’s administrators and support staff for preparing for the upcoming school year.
  • Community Engagement: Several District 58 and Board committees and councils meet throughout the school year. Input and feedback are the cornerstones of a strong school district and District 58 needs more members to serve. Community members who are interested in serving on any of these committees may please contact Melissa at the District office (630-719-5803).
  • Data Breach: Last week, Pearson notified several local school districts regarding a student data breach with their AIMSweb product. District 58 did not receive this notice, but to be cautious, independently contacted Pearson to inquire if the District was part of the breach. Unfortunately, Pearson responded that District 58 was involved. The District immediately notified all parents, and Pearson has offered free credit monitoring to affected families.  Please know that this was not a District 58 data breach; rather it was a Pearson data breach. District 58 has and will continue to strive to keep all data confidential. The District is not happy with Pearson and will continue to follow up with them to determine how something like this will be prevented in the future. Learn more.

Business Report

Assistant Superintendent for Business Todd Drafall reported that the 2018-19 final budget closed with a small surplus. In addition, District 58 recently received its annual General State Aid payment, and it was more than $50,000 higher than expected. 

Through the Health and Wellness Committee’s work, the District will, later in this meeting, recommend the Board approve a contract with Livongo to provide diabetes management services for District 58 employees with diabetes. When reviewing claims data, the Health and Wellness Committee learned that last year the District paid more than $37,000 in avoidable costs related to diabetes care. The Committee will continue to monitor these claims and evaluate whether Livongo’s services will help to mitigate them.

Committee Reports:

Board President Darren Hughes reported on the Aug. 9 Financial Advisory Committee meeting. The committee reviewed potential new investment options and facility planning updates (with an emphasis on the Longfellow Center). They also reviewed how the District manages money in the Medical Reserve Fund.

Board Vice President Greg Harris reported on the District’s Aug. 6 Health and Wellness Committee. Harris participates as an ex-officio member and reports updates to the Board. He reported that July health claims were their lowest in three years. In addition, the committee received a comparison report of ER visits for January-May 2018, and the same period of 2019. ER costs were down by $26,000, which may be contributed to the District’s new $200 ER copay, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. Harris also reminded the Board that the Health and Wellness Committee previously recommended the Board increase health insurance rates 9.9%, effective July 1, 2019. That was the first step of a two-step process where rates, going forward, will change on Jan. 1 of each year after the open enrollment process that allows staff to choose their plan. The Health and Wellness Committee will be bringing to the Board of Education a new rate recommendation at the October meeting, which will be in effect Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2020. 

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

During the Meeting, the Board Also:

  • Approved minutes from the July 8 regular meeting.
  • Approved all items presented in the consent agenda.
  • Moved to engage Livongo to assist in diabetes management for individuals who participate in the District’s insurance plan. Memo. More information.
  • Approved the District’s serious hazard designations for the 2019-20 school year. This allows students who reside within these designated areas to be eligible for fee-based bus transportation services, despite living within the 1.5 mile limit. View maps.
  • Designated 392 iPads and 292 Apple TVs, purchased between 2011 and 2013, as surplus equipment. Memo.
  • Received one visitor comment that suggested, in light of the Pearson data breach, the District consider making public the names of all third parties with whom District 58 contracts, along with a list of the student data District 58 provides them.

Upcoming Events:

  • Monday, Aug. 26 at 5 p.m.: Board Budget Workshop at the Longfellow Center
  • Tuesday, Aug. 27 at 3:45 p.m.: District Leadership Team Meeting at the Longfellow Center
  • Monday, Sept. 9 at 7 p.m.: Regular Board Meeting at Downers Grove Village Hall

District 58 Board of Education members are: Darren Hughes, president; Greg Harris, vice president; Kirat Doshi, Emily Hanus, Steven Olczyk, Jill Samonte and Tracy Weiner, with Dr. Kevin Russell, superintendent; and Melissa Jerves, board secretary.