Board Briefs: Special Meeting and Tentative Budget Workshop

The District 58 Board of Education held a virtual Special Meeting and Tentative Budget Workshop on Monday, April 27, 2020 using Zoom and a YouTube livestream. View the agenda and presentation links. Click here to access the meeting video. Highlights from the meeting include:

Tentative Budget Workshop
Assistant Superintendent for Business and Chief School Business Official Todd Drafall led a Tentative Budget Workshop presentation. Unlike previous years, this spring’s workshop includes more financial uncertainty, as the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are not yet fully known. 

District 58 expects decreases in funding due to delayed county property tax payments and fee collections. However, the District also expects some funding increases due to additional federal funding for food service and through the CARES Act. The District is also saving some money through reductions in overtime and substitute costs, as well as in supply and transportation costs. Earlier this fiscal year, the Business Office analyzed its transportation program for efficiencies; this effort resulted in approximately $100,000-$150,000 in savings. 

Drafall forecast District 58’s cash flow through October by conservatively estimating only 52% of last year’s property tax collection to ensure there are funds on hand to cover payroll and accounts payables. Even at this decreased rate, District 58 forecasts adequate cash on hand to make payroll and pay all anticipated bills. However, if there are delays in property tax collection, the District may have limited funds available at the end of the fiscal year. Earlier this school year, the District’s Financial Advisory Committee recommended District 58 create a fund balance policy to ensure the District would have an appropriate level of cash on hand to cover expenses during the low cash point in the year, and to build its capital funds for projects and facility repairs. Drafall noted that the 2020-21 tentative budget does not include facility work, as these needs were part of the District’s facility planning process. The District temporarily paused its facility planning work due to COVID-19. However, District 58 continues to require significant facility work. He outlined the District’s highest-need capital items, which total $1.4 million. 

District 58’s Strategic Plan guided the creation of the 2020-21 tentative budget, which accounts for Strategic Plan-aligned educational adjustments and enhancements, including:

  • Curriculum: Budgeted Math and Science curriculum resources and Social Studies curriculum resource pilot materials
  • Personnel: Potential increase of 1.8 FTE social workers and 3.8 FTE special education staff; Potential decrease of 0.75 FTE general education teachers and 9 FTE instructional assistants. These projections are based on need and can change.
  • Technology: Budget increases to support new faculty and middle school devices, as well as a new website host; budget decreases in software development contractual services; potential new revenue from the sale of 2013 teacher devices

Currently, the 2019-20 budget is projected to finish at a surplus, but this may change due to anticipated delayed payments from the Illinois State Board of Education. The tentative 2020-21 budget is currently projected to be balanced. This current projection is closer to a best case scenario because it estimates a zero increase in evidenced-based funding and normal payment of categorical payments. If either decreases, the District will not have a balanced budget. 

School Board members shared concerns regarding the economic uncertainty due to COVID-19, as well as the District’s lack of capital project funding to pay for emergency repairs that could arise. They also inquired how District 58 would handle staffing if remote learning continued into the 2020-21 school year. Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell shared with the Board the requirements for staffing per the Governor’s Office and the Illinois State Board of Education.

View the Tentative Budget Workshop presentation to learn more.

Update: Remote Learning
Dr. Russell and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Justin Sisul updated the Board on District 58’s remote learning experience so far.

District 58 received nearly 1,900 individual survey responses and more than 3,000 open-ended comments on its most recent family remote learning survey. The District received an additional 343 responses and nearly 600 comments from its certified staff survey. This feedback directly informed the District’s remote learning plan revisions, which include:

  • A shift in videoconferencing focus to include both social-emotional learning and academic content for students in grades 1-8
  • Districtwide identification of essential learning standards by grade level/department to ensure consistency of instructional focus during remote learning 
  • Additional, optional enrichment material posted on remote learning documents for families seeking additional student engagement opportunities

In addition, the next feedback survey will be administered May 7 with new questions to inform end-of-the-year, summer and fall planning.

District 58 recognizes that remote learning is not ideal; however, the District continues to build and refine a remote learning plan that far exceeds the State’s requirements and continuously incorporates family and staff feedback. District 58 is proud to share that 98% of District 58 students are meaningfully engaging in remote learning, and District and school staff continue outreach efforts to engage the remaining 2% of students, most of whom have extenuating circumstances.  

The District will provide families with final guidance on third trimester grading and report cards during the week of May 4. The District is also considering different options for summer learning and end-of-year celebrations. Student devices (with the likely exception of eighth grade) will not be collected at the start of summer break, but instead, remain with families to support summer student learning. It is possible that devices will be collected at some point over the summer in order to prepare for the upcoming school year. District 58 awaits official Illinois State Board of Education guidance, but is already working internally to prepare for the eventual shift to on-site learning to ensure all students are well-supported during this transition. As decisions on the above topics are made, District 58 will inform the community.

View the Remote Learning presentation.

During the Meeting, the Board Also:

  • Noted that Administrative Professional Day was last week, and thanked all District 58 secretaries and support staff –and especially Board Secretary Melissa Jerves– for their dedication. 
  • Approved the personnel report, which included the appointment of Leland Wagner as principal of Pierce Downer School, starting in July 2020. Learn more.
  • Approved a three-year agreement with Campus Suite for website hosting services and implementation for a total cost of $42,899.64. View memo.
  • Approved an agreement with transportation provider First Student for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. Through this agreement, District 58 will pay 40% of the daily rate established in its current contract for those school days where students did not attend classes in person. View memo.
  • Received one public comment from District 58 Teacher and DGEEA President Craig Young thanking the Board and District 58 administration for their flexibility, support and collaboration during remote learning.

Upcoming Events

  • Monday, May 11 at 7 p.m.: Virtual Regular Board Meeting

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.