School Report: Whittier School
Whittier School Student Council representatives led the Board and audience in the Pledge of Allegiance and reported on the service projects and spirit days that they organize. PTA Co-President Maggie Kurcz Wiecinski shared this year’s Whittier PTA’s goals, which focus on re-engaging families, building a sense of community, improving communication and digitizing documentation. Whittier Principal Michael Krugman reported that Whittier’s school theme is “Be the Dream” and highlighted their school improvement process, using District 58’s new ECRA data review process. He noted that based upon spring 2022 data, Whittier students overall are achieving expected academic growth, with higher growth in math and slightly lower growth in reading. The Whittier Instructional Leadership Team completed a deep analysis of academic data and set a 2022-23 school improvement goal related to strengthening instruction for the reading concepts of the main idea, supporting details and text evidence. The team developed an action plan related to this goal that includes training, implementation support, reflection opportunities, progress checkpoints and data collection to measure whether improvements to these academic areas are being made.
Spotlight: Fall 2022 Data Snapshot
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Justin Sisul presented a fall data snapshot of the District’s recent Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) and aimsweb assessments. Last school year, District 58 partnered with ECRA, an education strategic planning firm, to more deeply analyze its assessment data to drive informed improvements. Sisul’s presentation included additional data produced through this new process.
The MAP assessment is administered to all students in grades K-8. District 58 looks at both student achievement and growth data. Achievement shows how a student performs on the MAP test at a single point in time. Growth measures how a student’s scores change over time, or, in other words, how much he or she grows academically. Aimsweb is an assessment that measures student performance on specific literacy and numeracy skills. The test is administered to students until they meet its exit criteria.
Sisul reported the following highlights regarding fall 2022 assessment results:
- District 58 grade levels placed between the 84th-98th percentile in reading and the 83rd-98th percentile in math, when compared to the more than 7,800 schools nationally that take the MAP test.
- All grade K-8 fall MAP data is within the expected growth rate; 88% of students achieved high/expected growth in reading and 78% in math
- Aimsweb Plus Early Literacy in Grade 1 has returned to pre-pandemic levels for District 58 (this was an area of focus last year)
- Herrick and O’Neill math growth is lower than expected; all other schools are achieving expected growth in math
- Fairmount and Kingsley reading growth is higher than expected; all other schools are achieving expected growth in reading
- All subgroups are within expected growth in reading, with English Learner students showing greater than expected growth
Dr. Russell provided several updates, including:
- Whittier Thank You: Dr. Russell thanked the Whittier students, staff, principal and families for presenting to the Board. He also thanked Justin Sisul for this work on the fall data snapshot presentation.
- District 58 Audit: District 58’s auditors are working on District 58’s audit and will issue a report to the Board when complete, likely at the November or December meeting.
- Extracurriculars: School principals are working with staff to offer a variety of extracurricular activities for students. While these activities might differ from school-to-school, every elementary school will offer the same number of activities; likewise each middle school will offer the same number of opportunities.
- Parent-Teacher Conferences: Nearly 4,900 parent-teacher conferences have been scheduled through the District’s parent-teacher conference scheduling system. If a family has trouble scheduling a conference, they should contact the Technology Office via a Help Desk ticket (dg58.org/help).
- Immunization/Physical Deadline: The State requires all mandated childhood immunizations and physicals be complete and reports submitted to schools by Oct. 15. School districts are required to exclude students who have not completed this process from school after this date. There are exceptions for students who are homeless, and DIstrict 58 helps families remove barriers associated with health access. Please note: the COVID-19 vaccine is not a mandatory immunization.
- Committee Recruitment: District 58 received 53 applications to its Strategic Plan councils and Board of Education committees. Almost all applicants have been placed on a committee, and the District is hoping to place the remaining applicants this week. District 58 annually recruits new members for its councils and committees, as it gives the District an opportunity to add new voices with diverse perspectives to enrich discussions and inform decisions.
- Playgrounds: District 58 continues to partner with elementary schools scheduled to receive new playgrounds. The State awarded most of District 58’s elementary schools with a grant for playgrounds; District 58 funding and school fundraising efforts are supplementing the grant. District 58 is grateful for each school’s efforts and looks forward to opening new playgrounds for students.
Assistant Superintendent for Business Todd Drafall reported that District 58’s year-to-date report is as expected. He noted that expenditure percentages for this time of year may seem high, but that is because District 58 purchased iPads at the beginning of the school year. This purchase was funded primarily by a federal grant, and the grant funding reimbursement is expected. Because District 58 took receipt of the iPads in June, this expenditure will be included in District 58’s 2022 audit. The District presents its audit on a modified accrual basis; however, the budget and year-to-date report presented monthly is on a cash basis.
Member Melissa Ellis reported on the Sept. 27 Legislative Committee meeting. The committee discussed the 2022 IASB Resolutions Committee Report.
Member Tracy Weiner reported on the Sept. 19 District Leadership Team meeting. The team reviewed the most recent Strategic Plan progress updates and also discussed initial plans for District 58’s next Strategic Plan.
Vice President Greg Harris reported on the Oct. 3 Health & Wellness Committee. The committee discussed employee medical insurance rates for 2023. District 58’s medical plans had lower usage than expected, so rate increases will not be as large as originally anticipated. District 58 offers four medical plans: three will have zero rate increase; one (Universal PPO) will have a 5% increase in employee premiums.
During the Meeting, the Board Also:
- Received two public comments from community members regarding District 58’s referendum.
- Approved minutes from the Sept. 12 regular Board Meeting.
- Approved all items posted in the consent agenda.
- Appointed Kirat Doshi as delegate and Emily Hanus as alternate delegate to the 2022 Illinois Association of School Boards Delegate Assembly.
- Approved calendar year 2023 employee medical insurance rates.
- Approved District 58’s applications for the School Maintenance Project Grant. This is a dollar-for-dollar state matching grant program, providing awards up to $50,000, for building maintenance and upkeep. District 58’s 2022 grant application focuses on Henry Puffer asbestos abatement projects.
- Friday, Oct. 14 at 7 a.m.: Financial Advisory Committee Meeting at O’Neill
- Tuesday, Oct. 18 at 7 a.m.: Policy Committee Meeting at O’Neill (tentative meeting)
- Monday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m.: Curriculum Workshop at O’Neill
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.