Board Briefs: Oct. 14, 2020

Board members

The District 58 Board of Education held a regular business meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020 at the Downers Grove Village Hall and via YouTube livestream. View the agenda and presentation links and access the meeting video. Highlights from the meeting include:

Spotlight on our Schools: Tax Levy

Assistant Superintendent for Business Todd Drafall gave a brief presentation on the tax levy process. Property taxes, both residential and commercial, are the District’s largest revenue source. While there has been steady growth in new property, tax cap legislation limits District 58 to $1.4 million that it can borrow to fund capital improvements without a referendum.

View the presentation.

Superintendent’s Report

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

  • Facilities: The Pierce Downer roof was installed in 2001 and a recent assessment confirmed that it has reached the end of its useful life and additional short term repairs will no longer be cost effective. To begin the replacement process, a proposal for roof design and engineering services is before the Board.
  • Public Relations: Dr. Russell provided an update on the Return to Learn plan. View the presentation. Oct. 20 brings a return to in-person learning for many students. 84% have selected a hybrid schedule, while 15% will be fully remote. 
  • Curriculum and Instruction: Dr. Russell answered some of the most common questions he has received. 
  1. Why not wait until the end of the trimester to switch? There will never be a perfect time to change, and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) guidance emphasizes in-person instruction. The District delayed its original Oct. 5 target date to allow more time to meet with staff to plan both the hybrid option and a robust remote option for those families who need it. 
  2. Why do some teaching assignments need to change? It is simply impossible to offer both onsite (adhering to social distancing guidelines) and remote instructional models without moving some students and staff.
  3. Why weren’t all of the details mapped out prior to Board approval? While a framework was approved by the Board, plans could not be finalized without firm commitments from our families. Our plans have been developed with feedback from our staff and families, which helps us to deliver quality experiences for our students.

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Justin Sisul presented further information about asynchronous instruction in the hybrid model, MAP testing, and grading and progress reports. The District has decided to conclude the marking period on Oct. 15, at the transition point between instructional models. Recognizing that a typical reporting period is 12 weeks and there have been only six weeks of instruction, families will receive a progress report instead of a traditional report card. Middle school letter grades will be non-binding, and the District will collaborate with District 99 regarding appropriate high school placement.

Families have been concerned about what asynchronous instruction will look like in the new models. Both hybrid and fully remote students will receive the same amounts of synchronous and asynchronous instruction; the only difference is that remote students will receive their synchronous instruction via Zoom. Preschool will have 90 minutes of synchronous instruction and 60 minutes of asynchronous instruction, primarily utilizing a Choice Board of activities. Kindergarten students will receive 150 minutes of synchronous instruction and no asynchronous instruction. Grades 1-6 will receive 150 minutes of synchronous instruction and 150 minutes of asynchronous, which is being created so that most students can complete it independently at each developmental level. Middle school students will follow the same eight-period schedule each day, receiving their synchronous instruction either onsite or via Zoom. Asynchronous learning will resemble typical homework.

The MAP assessment window concludes Oct. 15. Grades 2-8 took the assessment remotely, and the District will be cautious in interpreting the data due to the unique circumstances. Individual data will be sent to families on Oct. 26; district-level data will be shared at the Curriculum Workshop.

Business Report

Assistant Superintendent for Business Todd Drafall reported that revenue has caught up to some extent compared to last month due to the receipt of property taxes. However, revenues will continue to trail last year due to the loss of OKEEP tuition and reduced interest income.

Committee Reports

Member Kirat Doshi reported on the Sept. 23 Legislative Committee meeting. The committee discussed proposed resolutions from the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) and will make recommendations to the Board on whether or not to support each one. Member Emily Hanus will represent the District at the Delegate Assembly in November. The committee also began planning a virtual Legislative Breakfast, an annual event bringing together local legislators and neighboring school districts to discuss issues affecting education.

Vice President Gregory Harris reported on the Oct. 8  Health and Wellness Committee meeting. The District’s PPO and high deductible/HSA plans have the majority of participation, and both will have surpluses due to fewer large claims in the past year, and changes in how people use their healthcare due to the pandemic. The committee has recommended a rate decrease of 5% for the high deductible plan, and no change to the rates for the other plans.

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

During the Meeting, the Board also:

  • Approved minutes from the Sept. 14 Regular Meeting and Sept. 28 Special Meeting.
  • Approved all items presented in the consent agenda.
  • Approved changes to medical insurance rates, which include a 5% decrease for the high deductible with Health Savings Account plan, and no change to rates for the other plans.
  • Approved changes to the employer-sponsored 403(b) plan.
  • Amended bussing contracts with First Student and Sunrise to approve payment of 40% of the daily rate for routes not being run during remote learning.
  • Accepted a proposal for roof design and engineering consulting services for Pierce Downer School.
  • Awarded a bid for snow removal to The Service Innovators.
  • Designated a band saw and tractor as surplus equipment.
  • Adopted several policies regarding new Title IX regulations, board meeting procedures during a disaster declaration, and student data privacy and security.

Upcoming Events

  • Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 3:45 p.m.: Legislative Committee meeting via Zoom
  • Monday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m.: Curriculum Workshop at Indian Trail School

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.