Board Briefs: Sept. 28, 2020

Board of Education

The District 58 Board of Education held a special meeting and budget hearing on Monday, September 28, 2020. The meeting was live streamed to the public on the Village of Downers Grove YouTube channel. View the agenda and presentation links and access the meeting video. Highlights from the meeting include:

Public Hearing on the 2020-2021 Budget

Assistant Superintendent for Business/CSBO Todd Drafall gave a presentation on the proposed 2020-21 budget. This year’s budget goals are to navigate the pandemic, provide consistent services to students and staff, manage the deficit, and put the District on a path back to surplus and sustainability.

View the presentation.

Losses in revenue for fiscal year 2021 are projected to total $2.64 million over last year, while expenditures will increase 0.75% over last year. Some of these increases are costs directly related to COVID-19, such as increases for personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning supplies, and rental of tents and storage containers.

The projected deficit of $1.65 million for fiscal year 2021 has both short- and long-term impacts on the District. In the short term, Drafall noted that the District will most likely need to borrow funds for 30 days to meet payroll and other expenses in the spring when cash on hand is traditionally low, and listed several options that the District could consider. Forecasting to fiscal year 2022 and beyond, expected reductions in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which determines the amount of future tax levies, will lower property tax revenue received by the District. Some COVID-19 related expenditures, such as enhanced cleaning and other operational costs, will continue long term. Facility needs continue to arise and the District’s fund balance needs to grow. All of these factors will further expand the deficit in 2022.

In response, the District will develop a new three-year financial plan to provide a long-term framework for budget planning. The plan will be updated each year with schedules for curriculum updates, program changes, capital needs, technology updates and fund balance targets. This long-term financial planning will include community input through the Citizen Task Force, which was originally formed to help guide the District’s facility planning work. The re-engaged Citizen Task Force would help develop criteria to prioritize resource allocation for the next three years and make recommendations.

Return to Learn Plan Update

Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell outlined recommendations for a return to onsite instruction in a hybrid model. The District reviewed various health metrics, experience in managing positive cases, success of the Transition Days, staffing levels during those days and throughout remote learning, student absences, and how well health guidance coming from the state and county could be implemented. DuPage County Health Department recently released a Return to Learn Framework that gives clearer information about reopening depending on the level of COVID-19 transmission in the community.

Dr. Russell explained that, in making a recommendation, the District prioritized the health and safety of students, staff and families; the value of in-person instruction; and how to minimize educational disruptions. He reviewed the guidance that directly applies to District 58 from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and DuPage County Health Department (DCHD), particularly the Return to School Framework from the DCHD. The District also considered information from school districts who have been in-person since the beginning of the school year, feedback from staff, and data from the recent survey of families. 

The recommendations for a return to onsite learning are as follows:

  • Preschool: 90 minutes of instruction onsite five days per week, with asynchronous activities available daily. Students will be assigned to one of three sessions, with breaks in between for cleaning. Students in PreK, DLP and RISE programs will attend daily for two hours and 15 minutes.
  • Elementary: All students attend daily for 2.5 hours onsite. Students will be assigned to a morning or afternoon group based on factors such as siblings, transportation needs, and academic needs. The offsite portion of the day will include a combination of synchronous and asynchronous instruction. Kindergarteners will only receive onsite instruction.
  • Middle School: 7th and 8th grade students will attend onsite on alternating days. The 8-period day onsite will occur from 8:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. and asynchronous instruction will occur for the remainder of the day. 

A fully remote option taught by District 58 certified staff will still be available. For more information, view the presentation. Additional information will be sent to families in the coming days and weeks.

During the Meeting, the Board Also:

  • Adopted the final budget for 2020-21.
  • Approved the administration’s recommendation to return to onsite learning in a hybrid model beginning Oct. 20. 
  • Approved for first reading several policies regarding new Title IX regulations, board meeting procedures during a disaster declaration, and student data privacy and security.

Upcoming Events

Wednesday, October 14, 7 p.m - 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.