Board Briefs: January 2022

boe january 2022 board briefs

The District 58 Board of Education held a Regular Meeting on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022 at O’Neill Middle School. Please view the agenda to see all meetings topics and to access all meeting documents. View the meeting video on the District 58 YouTube page.

Featured School: Lester School Flag Salute and Presentation

The Lester Student Council led the Board and audience in the Pledge of Allegiance and presented some of the recent school spirit and service projects they’ve led. They also helped Principal Katie Novosel and Assistant Principal Lauri Smith create a video that shared some of their school’s recent achievements, which they showed to the Board. Lester PTA President Lisa Kelsey highlighted Lester’s successful Fun Run, as well as how the PTA adapted its programs during the evolving pandemic to best support the Lester community. 

Spotlight on our Schools: Education Foundation

Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell reported that the Education Foundation awarded 21 grants worth over $11,000 this school year, to enhance education. The Foundation continued to adapt its programming due to the pandemic. When the Bonfield Express Foundation announced the retirement of its Thanksgiving Bonfield Express fundraiser race, the Education Foundation partnered with two other local organizations (Rotary Club and Roadrunners Soccer Club) to organize a similar Thanksgiving race, now called the Grove Express. The inaugural Grove Express had 4,700 participants and raised $100,000; of which the Foundation will receive approximately $35,000. 

Superintendent’s Report

Dr. Russell provided several updates, including:

Outstanding Administrator Award: The Illinois Music Education Association will award its “Outstanding Administrator Award” to District 58 Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Justin Sisul on Jan. 27 in Peoria. “Justin’s leadership in this area is well-known throughout the State of Illinois, and we couldn’t be more proud of him for achieving this major accomplishment,” Dr. Russell said.

Teacher Institute: On Jan. 3, District 58 certified staff participated in the third Institute Day of the school year. Nearly 90 sessions were prepared for this conference-format day, in which all staff attended a keynote session and four additional sessions on a variety of topics. “We were thrilled to welcome Jimmy Casas, a nationally renowned speaker who inspired and motivated our staff,” said Dr. Russell. “Feedback from all of our sessions was overwhelmingly positive, and as always we received thoughtful suggestions for improvement, mostly regarding logistical improvements.”

Longfellow Center Move and Sale: Over winter break, District 58 completed its move out of the Longfellow Center and into the District Service Center (formerly known as the Administrative Service Center) on 63rd Street. The DSC will now house the materials for technology, maintenance and curriculum. Further, Buildings and Ground staff, as well as some Technology and Curriculum staff, will be housed at this location. District 58 completed the sale of the Longfellow Center on Monday, Jan. 10. It was sold to McNaughton Development for $4.155 million. “The sale of this building has been discussed for decades and we are grateful that we are now able to move forward on much-needed capital projects with the proceeds from the sale,” Dr. Russell said.

Personnel: Like every school district in Illinois, District 58 is experiencing staffing shortages due to the pandemic. Last week, staff absences ranged from 88 to 107. On Monday, Jan. 10, absences were back in-line with what the District typically experiences. Dr. Russell thanked the many staff members who went above and beyond in the past week to ensure District 58 could continue to offer onsite instruction, despite the staffing shortages. 

Parent-Teacher Conferences: The Technology Department is preparing a new software system to support parent-teacher conference signups. The previous system District 58 used for this purpose was not reliable and experienced outages with high demand. More information on signups and the new system will be shared next week.

Thank You Nurses!: Dr. Russell thanked District 58’s nursing team for their work processing the increased number of COVID-19 cases in the school district.

Whittier & Fairmount HVAC Repairs: Whittier School’s HVAC controls are from the late 1980s or early 1990s and are no longer viewable. The system is very outdated and a system update would require a computer that can read a floppy disc and program the cards for the controllers. Over break, some classrooms lost heat; an assessment determined that the school needed new HVAC controls in order to restore heat when school resumed. This emergency repair cost approximately $23,000. In addition, Fairmount experienced a moderate pipe leak in its main office and beneath its gym’s stage, which crews repaired.

COVID Guidance and Updated Letters: Dr. Russell noted that District 58 anticipated receiving updated COVID-19 guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health (This guidance was received on Tuesday and communicated promptly). In addition, Dr. Russell shared that the District planned to stop sending daily COVID-19 notification emails and to instead update its COVID-19 dashboard daily, starting with Thursday, Jan. 13.

Business Report 

Assistant Superintendent for Business Todd Drafall reported that the District’s fall tax funds have come in. The District’s fiscal year budget is in a good position. Expenses tend to outpace revenues in the winter and early spring; this should be balanced when spring tax funds come in. 

District 58’s independent audit firm, Miller Cooper & Co., Ltd., formally presented District 58’s audit report. Later in the meeting, the Board approved the 2020-21 audit report. 

Committee Reports 

Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell reported on the Jan. 5 Legislative Committee meeting.  The committee prepared questions and the format for the upcoming Legislative Forum. While the event will be in person, there is a backup virtual plan, in the event legislative guests cannot attend in person.

President Darren Hughes reported on the Jan. 7 Financial Advisory Committee meeting. The committee reviewed the 2020-21 audit and upcoming capital projects. Mr. Hughes thanked the District 58 Buildings and Grounds team for their hard work maintaining District equipment, noting that some nearby school districts are replacing equipment from the 1990s, while District 58 continues to maintain similar equipment from the 1960s and 1970s.

The Board’s other committees have not met since the last Board meeting.

Discussion: Update on Portrait of a Graduate and Key Performance Indicators

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Justin Sisul updated the Board on the ongoing District 58 work on its Portrait of a Graduate and Key Performance Indicators. Since the Board most recently discussed this topic in November, several District stakeholder groups have reviewed this work and provided input. Mr. Sisul shared updated descriptors and an updated timeline for full Board review. He hopes to present final recommendations on these topics to the Board at the Feb. 28 Curriculum Workshop with Board approval in March.

During the Meeting, the Board Also:

  • Received one public comment from a parent who shared his perspective regarding District 58 academic outcomes, DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion), and other topics.
  • Approved minutes from the Dec. 6 Regular Meeting.
  • Approved recommended deletions to the Board Policy Manual. 

Upcoming Events

  • Tuesday, Jan. 11, 7 a.m. ~ Policy Committee Meeting at Herrick
  • Wednesday, Jan. 12, 3:45 p.m. ~ Legislative Committee Meeting at Herrick
  • Friday, Jan. 28, 7:30 a.m. ~ Legislative Breakfast at O’Neill 
  • Tuesday, Feb. 1, 7 a.m. ~ Policy Committee Meeting at Herrick
  • Monday, Feb. 7, 4 p.m. ~ District Leadership Team Meeting at O’Neill
  • Monday, Feb. 14, 7 p.m. ~ Regular Board Meeting at Village Hall

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