Board Briefs: November 2022

board briefs November 2022

The District 58 Board of Education held a Regular Meeting on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022 at Downers Grove Village Hall. View the agenda. The meeting video will be posted on the District 58 YouTube page within the week.

School Report: Indian Trail School

Indian Trail School Student Council representatives led the Board and audience in the Pledge of Allegiance and shared their school goals: Spirit, Teach, Acts of Kindness, Love Our School, Loyalty, Inspire, Organization, New to It, and Service. (The first letter of each goal collectively spells, “Stallions,” the school mascot). PTA President Beth Johnson shared how the PTA supports students, partners with staff, and engages families, and focused on the PTA’s recent efforts to raise funds for a new playground. Principal Tracey Ratner reviewed Indian Trail’s data-driven school improvement plan. Overall, Indian Trail is making expected academic growth in Math, and slightly lower than expected growth in English-Language Arts. The school improvement team completed a deep analysis of academic data and set a school improvement goal that focuses on using the Science of Reading school-wide through professional learning and goal setting to improve reading outcomes in students. The team also developed a goal action plan with strategies and checkpoints to keep them accountable and help them measure progress. On a positive note, during the team’s data analysis, they noted improvements in vocabulary, which was a school improvement goal from last year. View the presentation.

Spotlight: School Report Cards

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Justin Sisul reviewed the recently-released 2022 Illinois Report Card for District 58. This report card shares metrics on every Illinois school, including student growth, school funding and demographics. It presents Math and English-Language Arts (ELA) academic proficiency and growth data using results from the 2022 Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR), which is the state test students in grades 3-8 took last spring. 

District 58’s IAR results found that 46.2% of students are proficient in ELA and 51.1% are proficient in Math. To help contextualize these results, Mr. Sisul compared them at state and local levels:

  • When compared to all Illinois school districts, District 58’s Math proficiency is in the 94th percentile (meaning District 58 performed better than 94% of Illinois school districts) and its ELA proficiency is in the 84th percentile.
  • District 58 is considered a large elementary school district. When compared to all 13 DuPage County large elementary school districts, District 58’s Math proficiency ranked third highest, and its ELA proficiency is fourth highest.
  • District 58 is one of six elementary school districts that feed into District 99 for high school. When compared to these districts, District 58’s Math proficiency ranked the highest, and its ELA proficiency is third highest.

The Illinois Report Card also gives each school a summative designation, designed to help families and communities understand how well schools are serving all students. For 2022, Hillcrest School earned an Exemplary rating, the State’s highest rating, and all other District 58 schools earned a Commendable rating. The State uses a variety of data points to calculate school ratings, including academic growth and proficiency, chronic absenteeism and climate survey participation. Mr. Sisul noted that each of these data points is important and contributes to individual schools’ overall score. For instance, student/staff climate survey participation hasn’t been the District’s highest priority (when compared to instruction), and at least one school would have earned an “Exemplary” rating had their survey participation rate been slightly higher. New this year, the report card traced schools’ progress on the Equity Journey Continuum. This continuum is an informational tool that helps districts track their progress toward closing gaps in student achievement, opportunities and supports. District 58’s report showed the District had minimal or small gaps in equity. This is encouraging, but the District will analyze this report more deeply.

View the presentation.

Superintendent’s Report

Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell provided several updates, including:

Referendum: District 58’s referendum passed with approximately 67% of voters supporting the measure. Dr. Russell thanked the community members, staff and Board members who participated in the facility planning and engagement process, noting that it helped determine the final referendum question. He said that the District will continue to update the community on referendum-related work and will partner with established committees to ensure transparency and fiscal responsibility.  

School Board Award: The Illinois Association of School Boards formally recognized District 58’s Board of Education on Nov. 2 as a recipient of the 2022 Board Governance Recognition Award. District 58’s Board is one of only 33 Illinois school boards to earn this honor this year. Congratulations!

School Board Members Day: District 58 is celebrating the statewide School Board Members Day on Nov. 15. This annual recognition gives an opportunity for school districts to show support for their school board members, who volunteer their time for the benefit of students and the community.

“Please join me in recognizing our school board members this evening, tomorrow and throughout their terms of service for all that they collectively do for our students, staff, families and community members,” Dr. Russell said.

Congratulations Dr. Wagner: Pierce Downer Principal Leland Wagner successfully completed his doctoral degree and defended his dissertation. Congratulations, Dr. Wagner!

Personnel: District 58 has begun the process to fill two administrative vacancies for the 2023-24 school year, due to the well-deserved upcoming retirements of Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Dr. Jayne Yudzentis and O’Neill Principal Matt Durbala. District 58 hopes to recommend the new assistant superintendent for personnel in December or January, and the new O’Neill principal in February or March.

Technology: Last spring, District 58 learned that it would receive a new private fiber optic network to connect our school networks through a combination of state and federal funding (no District funding). This project has been underway since summer. Currently, all indoor work is complete and outdoor work is complete at all but two schools. District 58 hopes the new network will become functional by the end of the school year and anticipates that it will save District 58 over $100,000 in costs per school year going forward.

Preschool: District 58’s gold-rated Grove Children’s Preschool recently completed its mandatory state audit. 

Grove Express 5K: District 58 invites the community to participate in the Grove Express 5K on Thanksgiving morning. Not only is this a fantastic community event, but a portion of the proceeds will benefit District 58.

Winter Weather Procedures: District 58 is sending its annual winter weather procedures email to families this Tuesday; please review this information so you can be prepared in the event of a winter weather school closure.

Facilities: This month’s Business Report includes a review of playground work completed in District 58. Playground updates are not a part of District 58’s referendum scope. However, through a combination of state grant funding and local community funding, District 58 is able to make playground updates. Many playground projects will be taking place this summer. This upcoming summer will not see a lot of referendum work due to the timeline of the design and bidding process.

Happy Thanksgiving!: Dr. Russell concluded his report by wishing the community a very Happy Thanksgiving.  

Business Report and Referendum Update

Assistant Superintendent for Business Todd Drafall reported that the budget is in a good position, but will need to be amended at the end of the fiscal year to reflect referendum proceeds. 

Mr. Drafall also shared next steps following last week’s passage of the District 58 bond referendum. There are two primary next steps: 1) issuing bonds and 2) hiring a construction manager to work with the District and architect on the referendum’s projects.

A bond issuance requires several steps:

  1. District 58 will ask the Board to approve two resolutions to issue school bonds during this meeting.
  2. District 58 is presenting to the Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s credit rating agencies this week.
  3. The District anticipates receiving credit ratings by the end of November; this will help price the bonds.
  4. Next month, District 58 plans to complete its initial bond sale. By law, District 58 can only issue tax-exempt bonds that will be spent within the next three years. District 58 anticipates that a significant amount, but not all, of its referendum funding will be spent in this timeframe. To that end, the District plans to complete two bond issuances: the first next month, and the second in the future.
  5. Once the initial bond sale is complete, District 58 can move forward with finalizing designs and beginning the public bidding process for referendum-related facility work.

Mr. Drafall also reported that the Board would be asked to approve a contract with Bulley & Andrews, a construction management at-risk firm. Last summer, through the Financial Advisory Committee’s recommendation, District 58 interviewed several firms and presented three finalists (with Bulley & Andrews being the top choice) to the Board for approval. Since the referendum passed, the District can proceed with this contract. As District 58’s construction management at-risk firm, Bulley & Andrews will manage the referendum projects, ensure the projects run on a timely schedule and on budget, and will hold all liabilities involved. 

Later in the meeting, the Board adopted a resolution to issue up to $179 million in general obligation school bonds for the purpose of altering, repairing and equipping school buildings, providing for the levy of a direct annual tax sufficient to pay the principal and interest on said bonds, and authorizing the sale of said bonds to the purchaser thereof. The Board also adopted a resolution to issue up to $3 million in taxable general obligation limited tax refunding bonds, for the purpose of refunding certain outstanding bonds, providing for the levy of a direct annual tax to pay the principal and interest on said bonds, and authorizing the sale of said bonds to the purchaser thereof. 

In addition, the Board approved a construction management contract with Bulley & Andrews. View the contract memo. All contract documents are linked in the agenda.

Committee Reports

Dr. Russell reported on the Oct. 26 Legislative Committee meeting. The committee discussed proposed resolutions submitted by school districts across the state in the 2022 Resolutions Committee Report. Each year, the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) membership votes on these resolutions during the Delegate Assembly in November. Member Emily Hanus is the District 58 delegate. After the vote, IASB will advocate for the approved resolutions at the state and federal levels. 

The Legislative Committee made recommendations on how Hanus should vote on behalf of District 58. These recommendations were shared with the Board, who then publicly discussed them during the Nov. 14 meeting. During the consent agenda later in the meeting, Member Hanus requested a separate vote regarding one of the proposals; after a discussion, the separate vote reversed the Legislative Committee’s recommendation on proposal 3 regarding the proximity of firearm dealer locations to schools. The Board approved all other proposed resolutions in line with the Legislative Committee.

President Darren Hughes reported on the Nov. 10 Financial Advisory Committee meeting. He said that the committee discussed the bond issuance process and construction management at risk contract process in depth. The committee also discussed the 2022 tentative tax levy. Since the consumer price index is above the tax cap of 5%, District 58 will hold a Truth in Taxation public hearing at next month’s Board meeting.

During the Meeting, the Board Also:

  • Approved minutes from the Oct. 11 Regular Meeting and the Oct. 24 Curriculum Workshop.
  • Approved the Financial Reports and Personnel Report.
  • Adopted the 2022 American Education Week Resolution, which celebrates public education.

Upcoming Events

  • Monday, Nov. 21 at 3:45 p.m.: District Leadership Team Meeting at O’Neill
  • Monday, Nov. 21 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.