Board Briefs: February 2020

The District 58 Board of Education held a regular business meeting on Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. View the agenda and presentation links. Click here to access meeting video and audio (to be posted soon). Highlights from the meeting include:

Board Approval: Math Curriculum Resources for 2020-21

The District 58 School Board approved new math curriculum resources for 2020-21 district-wide implementation. They approved Bridges in Mathematics for grades K-5 and Big Ideas Math for grades 6-8. Learn more

The District’s Math Committee recommended these resources after thoroughly vetting several potential math resources last school year and piloting four options this school year. Learn more about the Math Committee’s work.

Board Approval: Serious Safety Hazard Designation for O’Neill

The Board designated the intersection at Fairview Avenue and 59th Street as a serious safety hazard for O’Neill Middle School as it meets the requirements defined in the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) safety hazard rubric (this intersection already qualified as hazardous for Fairmount School). The District will send IDOT this recommendation, and if IDOT approves it, O’Neill students who reside east of Fairview Avenue would begin receiving bus transportation to school. Learn more.

Spotlight on Our Schools: Professional Learning Update

District 58 began its Professional Learning Mondays program in fall 2019 to provide staff dedicated weekly time to master new curriculum and collaborate with colleagues to improve their instructional practice. These sessions rotate among three structured formats: district-directed, building-directed and teacher-directed.  

Each week, staff complete a brief survey providing feedback on the session’s value. In addition, last fall, more than 1,100 parents completed a survey providing professional learning feedback. 

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Justin Sisul, Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Dr. Jayne Yudzentis and Teachers Shor Costello, Bob Luciano and Katie Hurckes shared this feedback with the Board. They said that District 58 staff provided positive feedback regarding Professional Learning Mondays, with nearly three-quarters reporting that they felt that the day’s professional learning session would impact their students either “immediately” or “within the next week,” and 85% of staff sharing that their time was used productively and efficiently (less than 1% said it was “not at all productive”). Teachers also appreciated the District taking a more proactive and consistent approach to curriculum preparation. However, a few teachers also shared that traveling to other schools on district-directed days presents challenges, as do shortened middle school periods on Mondays. The District will use all feedback to shape future sessions.

District 58 schools dismiss at 2 p.m. on Professional Learning Mondays. District 58 surveyed parents to understand its impact. While there were certainly some families who noted a significant impact, most parents said the program had a minimal or small impact on their families, and the majority said they felt the District had communicated the program’s value. However, open-ended comments suggested that parents want to know more about what staff are doing during Professional Learning Mondays and how it will affect their child. Some also wanted to know about affordable childcare options and if substitute usage had decreased.  

District 58 plans to increase its professional learning communications and explore additional childcare options for affected families. While substitute usage has decreased slightly since the program’s start, the District will continue to focus on decreasing the time teachers are out of the classroom for meetings and professional learning. 

View the presentation.

Spotlight on our Schools: School Environment Survey Results

Community Relations Coordinator Megan Hewitt shared results from the parent school environment survey, which 1,123 parents took in December 2019. 

Mrs. 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, caring/supportive environment and curriculum were the three major themes that parents most frequently said their school/District 58 does well. In addition, curriculum, communication and facility maintenance/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.

Lester Flag Salute and Presentation

The Lester Student Council, Principal Carin Novak, Assistant Principal Katie Novosel and PTA Vice President Stephanie Brockway shared some of Lester’s recent achievements with the Board. 

The Student Council holds fundraisers to support charitable organizations as well as local families in need. This spring, they plan to add an addition to the Lester flower garden in memory of Sophya Barry, a Lester student who passed away in 2017. View their presentation.

Mrs. Novak shared that Lester has seen steady improvements on its Illinois Assessment of Readiness scores and is on pace to achieve its performance strategic goals. She said that teachers/staff appreciate Professional Learning Mondays, as well as other opportunities for professional development. This year, Lester worked with the police and village to establish new Lester traffic patterns, resulting in a smoother drop-off and pickup process. Finally, Mrs. Novak said that Lester is proud of its community partnerships, including the Lester Community Playground Committee, which recently reached its playground fundraising goals. View her presentation.

Ms. Brockway said that the PTA aims to support student learning, growth and happiness. They actively engage the entire Lester community and lead several fundraisers, which support classroom resources and teacher grants, after-school clubs, and family social events, such as last weekend’s Daddy Daughter Dance.

Superintendent’s Report

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

  • Curriculum and Instruction: The District 58 Board will hold a Curriculum Workshop on Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. at Hillcrest. The workshop will offer several mini-workshops for parents highlighting different facets of District 58’s curriculum. In addition, the District will provide all teachers who teach math with professional development on the new math curriculum resources during the Feb. 28 County Institute Day.
  • Finance: The State of Illinois authorized District 58 to apply for $180,000 in State funding to support El Sierra playground renovations. The State selected El Sierra as the first District 58 playground to receive funding because it is one of the District’s only playgrounds with pea gravel, as well as outdated equipment; the school also does not have the same fundraising capacity as other District 58 schools. District 58 and its architect are preparing El Sierra playground plans for the State. If and when the State officially approves funding for the El Sierra playground project, District 58 will inform the community. Through the State’s 2019 capital bill, many District 58 playgrounds were earmarked for State funding; however, it may take several years for the State to fulfill these requests. 
  • Facilities: District 58’s Citizen Task Force met Jan. 22 to discuss District 58’s facility needs and whether the District should consider moving to a grade 6-8 middle school model. On Feb. 3, the School Board held a special meeting to review the Task Force feedback and prioritize next steps. Based on the feedback received, the School Board recommended that the Task Force wait to launch its facility planning community engagement effort and instead reconvene on March 2 to more fully develop viable facility plans and continue the prioritization effort. Following the March 2 meeting, the District will inform the community of next steps. Visit for updates.
  • Public Relations: Dr. Russell shared that parent-teacher conferences went very well. He also continues to visit all 13 school PTAs to directly inform each about the District’s progress on its strategic goals, particularly Goal 3: “Securing the Future.” Last week, District 99 and its five feeder districts, including District 58, hosted a Realtor Breakfast for nearly 100 realtors. All six superintendents participated in a panel discussion; Dr. Russell shared his pride for District 58 and highlighted the work being done to accomplish the Strategic Plan.
  • Personnel: District 58 is conducting the Indian Trail principal search; three rounds of interviews are taking place, with the goal of recommending a candidate to the Board in March.
  • Technology: District 58 contacted NWEA, the company that administers the MAP test, in January with concerns regarding the accuracy of some winter MAP growth projection data. NWEA assured District 58 that the data was correct. However, NWEA recently acknowledged that they had, in fact, made a calculation error and some students’ growth projection data were incorrect. District 58 emailed all parents regarding this NWEA error last week, and on Feb. 10 the corrected growth projection information was placed on SQUIRREL. NWEA’s error only affected some student growth projections, and did not impact RIT scores or achievement data. 
  • Special Services: Building Bridges is a parent/teacher group under the Downers Grove Area Council of PTAs working to help families of children with special needs build bridges between themselves and the school community. They will host a parent forum next Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. at Hillcrest School. All interested parents are encouraged to attend.
  • Other: Dr. Russell reminded families that there is no school on Monday, Feb. 17 for Presidents Day, and no school for students on Friday, Feb. 28 for the countywide Institute Day. 

Business Report

Assistant Superintendent for Business Todd Drafall explained that District 58 pays employees every two weeks. This means that during two months each year, employees receive three paychecks. January 2020 was a three-paycheck month, which caused the District’s expenditures to appear to be running behind. This should even out by spring. Expenditures and revenues are otherwise trending as expected, or even slightly better than expected. 

Drafall also noted that the Board will be asked to approve several supply bids for the 2020-21 school year, as well as a school maintenance grant application that, if awarded, would provide District 58 with up to $50,000 in maintenance funding.

Committee Reports

Member Jill Samonte reported on the Jan. 21 Policy Committee meeting. The Policy Committee is updating the District 58 policy manual with the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) policy manual customization service. IASB presented its first draft of the new District 58 policy guide. The Committee is reviewing and editing the draft guide, with the goal of finalizing it by spring break and requesting the Board’s official approval in June.

Member Kirat Doshi reported on the Jan. 22 Legislative Committee meeting. The Committee finished planning its annual Legislative Breakfast, which took place on Feb. 7. This year, four elected officials, as well as the district director for Congressman Bill Foster, attended the breakfast and participated in a discussion that focused on school facility funding and school mental health needs. Guests also had the opportunity to talk directly with the elected officials at the event’s start. It was a very positive opportunity for District 58 to directly discuss education issues important to its stakeholders with local legislators!

Vice President Gregory Harris reported on the Jan. 16 Health and Wellness Committee meeting. The committee discussed how the increasing costs of prescription drugs have affected District revenues and began brainstorming opportunities to cut costs.

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

During the Meeting, the Board Also:

  • Recognized the 444 students who participated in the Science Fair. View list.
  • Approved minutes from the Jan. 7 Board tour/traffic safety meeting at Kingsley, Jan. 13 regular meeting and Jan. 14 Board tour/PTA meeting at Belle Aire.
  • Approved all items presented in the consent agenda.
  • Approved a resolution to levy a supplemental tax to pay the principal of and interest on outstanding District 58 limited bonds. View memo.
  • Approved resolutions to transfer $1 million from the working cash fund to the transportation fund and $8.4 million from the working cash fund to the education fund. The District will repay its loans to the working cash fund after receiving early levy year 2019 taxes.
  • Awarded a general office supply bid for the 2020-21 school year to Twist Office Partners for an estimated $28,997.73.
  • Awarded an art supply bid for the 2020-21 school year to Cascade School Supplies for an estimated $19,367.16.
  • Awarded a paper bid for the 2020-21 school year to Midland Paper for an estimated $46,288.60.
  • Approved a 60-month lease with NeoPost for postage meters for $161.47/month. Learn more.
  • Approved District 58’s application for a School Maintenance Project Grant. This is a dollar-for-dollar state matching grant program, providing awards up to $50,000 for school maintenance. Learn more.
  • Received one public comment. A Kingsley parent thanked District 58 for listening to parent feedback and complimented the District on recent improvements involving student Internet safety, professional learning and class size.

Upcoming Events

  • Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 7 a.m.: Policy Committee Meeting at the ASC
  • Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 6 p.m.: Building Tour/PTA Meeting at Fairmount
  • Monday, Feb. 24 at 3:45 p.m.: District Leadership Team Meeting at Hillcrest
  • Monday, Feb. 24 at 6:15 p.m.: Staff Meet and Greet at Hillcrest
  • Monday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m.: Curriculum Workshop at Hillcrest

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