Board Briefs: Sept. 14, 2020

Board Briefs: Sept. 14, 2020

The District 58 Board of Education held a regular business meeting on Monday, September 14, 2020 at Herrick Middle School and via YouTube livestream. View the agenda and presentation links and access the meeting video. Highlights from the meeting include:

Spotlight on our Schools: Defining and Pursuing Educational Equity in District 58

Assistant Superintendent Justin Sisul and Dr. Ivette Dubiel from the DuPage Regional Office of Education shared a presentation regarding educational equity. While components of educational equity appear in the District’s mission, vision and strategic plan and the majority of staff have participated in professional development, in recent months conversations about equity have come to the forefront. Dr. Dubiel gave the Board an abbreviated version of the presentation she has used with staff. Staff feedback on the training has been overwhelmingly positive. Next steps include scheduling implicit bias training for all staff, developing an ongoing training program, creating a District 58 equity team, reviewing curricula through an equity lens, and providing staff with developmentally appropriate lessons and materials to discuss current events with students in the coming months.

View the presentation.

Superintendent’s Report

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

Curriculum: Families will receive information from their school regarding Curriculum Nights, which will be held virtually on Sept. 22 (Grove Children’s Preschool), Sept. 23 (Belle Aire, Henry Puffer, Highland, Lester, Pierce Downer, Whittier and O’Neill) and Sept. 24 (El Sierra, Fairmount, Hillcrest, Indian Trail, Kingsley and Herrick).

Personnel: In accordance with the Illinois School Code, salary and compensation reports for Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) employees, teachers and administrators are presented to the Board and will be posted on the District website as required by law. 

Finance: The Board will hold a special meeting and budget hearing on Sept. 28 to approve the FY21 budget.

Facilities: The custodial maintenance staff worked above and beyond to set up buildings both inside and outside to welcome students for transition days.

Technology: District 58’s network is performing well during remote learning. The technology team made some configuration adjustments to ensure consistent speeds even with heavy Zoom traffic. The Technology Department continues to support hundreds of help desk requests from students, families and staff. Despite the high volume, the average response time has been less than six hours. Users with urgent requests are encouraged to call. A text message contact option is now available as well.

Public Relations: Continuing to connect with key community groups remains a priority. The Wood-Grove meal cooperative has been extended through the end of December, allowing the District to provide six free breakfasts and lunches to all children in the community. The Education Foundation is still accepting donations to its COVID-19 relief fund for families in need. District 58 has won 12 state and national communications awards from the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) and its Illinois chapter. The state awards were presented during a virtual award ceremony on Sept. 11.

Return to School presentation

Dr. Russell presented an overview of the framework for return to school from the DuPage County Health Department (DCHD). The framework provides needed clarity and a path forward for onsite instruction, but it will cause the District’s existing plan to be modified. The DCHD anticipates that the county will move between moderate and substantial levels of community transmission of COVID-19 throughout the fall and winter. District 58’s initial modified onsite plan aligned with a minimal level; a hybrid plan aligns with a moderate level, while remote learning aligns with a substantial level of transmission. This framework is one of many factors, including the impact on the educational process for staff and students, that must be considered before pivoting from one learning model to another. Next steps for District 58 include a series of formal and informal planning meetings, in which the District must build multiple plans for onsite, remote and excluded students, account for frequent student and staff absences, and ensure that all plans are flexible and in sync with one another to ease the transitions between them. The administration will present a plan for a return to onsite instruction at the next Board meeting on Sept. 28.

View the presentation.

Business Report

Assistant Superintendent for Business Todd Drafall reported that since a tentative budget was approved in August, the Business Office was able to create Year-to-Date reports for both July and August. The July report is notable in that there were three payrolls this year compared to two in July 2019. Overall expenses and revenues are in line with previous years. However, due to additional COVID expenses, as of August 31 almost 11% of the Operations and Maintenance budget has already been spent, approximately double the spending at the same time last year. 

Committee Reports

Member Tracy Weiner reported on the Aug. 18 Policy Committee meeting. The committee reviewed the latest policy updates, including a series of policies written to comply with Title IX. The most urgent policies were approved by the Board in August, and the committee will review the remainder and put them on the next Board agenda for first reading.

President Darren Hughes reported on the Sept. 4 Financial Advisory Committee (FAC) meeting. The FAC discussed the work of the Health and Wellness Committee and the impact that health insurance rates will have on next year’s budget; reviewed the FY21 budget; and discussed upcoming capital needs and the Consumer Price Index forecast.

President Hughes also reported on the Aug. 31 District Leadership Team (DLT) meeting. The DLT serves to monitor progress toward strategic plan goals. The priority placed on communication in the strategic plan has been especially important this year. The curriculum adoption timeline included piloting new social studies resources this year. The Social Studies committee decided that grades 6-8 will continue with the pilot, while grades K-5 will postpone the pilot process for a year. The new district website has launched, and a redesigned Annual Report has been shared with the community. Regular communication to staff and the community continues.

Vice President Gregory Harris reported on the Sept. 3 Health and Wellness Committee meeting. The committee is preparing a recommendation to the Board on health insurance rates. The past year has seen lower health care claims, which will inform the rate recommendation.

The Legislative Committee has not met since the last Board meeting.

During the Meeting, the Board also:

  • Approved minutes from the Aug. 10 Regular Meeting, Aug. 18 Special Meeting, and Aug. 24 Special Meeting/Budget Workshop.
  • Approved all items presented in the consent agenda.
  • Appointed Member Emily Hanus as delegate and Member Kirat Doshi as alternate delegate to the 2020 Illinois Association of School Boards’ Delegate Assembly.

Upcoming Events

  • Tuesday, Sept. 15 at 7 a.m.: Policy Committee meeting via Zoom
  • Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 3:45 p.m.: Legislative Committee meeting via Zoom
  • Monday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m.: Special Board Meeting/Budget Hearing at the Downers Grove Village Hall

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.