Equity in District 58
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Justin Sisul provided an overview of District 58’s educational equity work.
The District’s primary areas of focus in educational equity include:
- Ensuring students, staff and families feel safe and welcome in District 58, and part of our community
- Ensuring all students have access to an education that helps them reach their potential
- Ensuring opportunities are available to all students
- Building an understanding of educational equity among all stakeholders in our community
- Acknowledging and seeking to understand and learn from the experiences of individuals in our school community
Educational equity work is an ongoing District 58 focus, and it is required by the State’s Strategic Plan, District 58’s Board Policies and District 58’s community-created 2018 Strategic Plan. Mr. Sisul emphasized that this work does not intend to eliminate programs or remove opportunities for students; it is not rooted in political issues or perspectives; and it is not intended to be divisive or suggestive of any individual or group being “wrong.” The District also does not anticipate making significant changes to its instructional experiences for students.
District 58 has engaged in educational equity work for many years, and increased its focus through the 2018 District 58 Strategic Plan. This work includes professional learning offerings on equity; analyzing and improving staffing/curriculum resource allocation equity among schools; offering free summer school programming for at-risk students; and more. The District also formed the District Equity Leadership Team (DELT) in fall 2021 to develop an initial needs assessment, build background knowledge of educational equity, and use data to make recommendations for additional improvements.
One type of data the DELT is reviewing is state equity data. The Illinois State Board of Education’s (ISBE) Equity Journey Continuum is a new informational tool that helps districts track their progress toward closing gaps in student achievement, opportunities and supports. This data assesses school districts on the educational gaps between students in special populations versus students in non-special populations. Overall, District 58’s report shows minimal and small gaps in equity, but the DELT is examining the data to identify opportunities for improvement.
Another data set the DELT is reviewing is the District’s draft Equity Audit Report. The audit took place last school year and involved District 58 students, parents/guardians and staff. This report will be publicly posted when finalized. The third-party firm that led the audit analyzed equity survey and focus group data to create several recommendations. The DELT reviewed these recommendations as well as the audit’s open-ended survey comments.
Using the data outlined above, the DELT created several proposed next steps, which include:
- Develop clear language/definition for District 58 around educational equity, likely beginning with ISBE’s statements on equity.
- Communicate that definition and develop/engage in continued professional learning related to equity to help the community gain a better understanding.
- The DELT will continue to analyze the findings of the ISBE continuum and equity audit. Key areas to be considered will include:
- Reviewing discipline data and outcomes districtwide
- Reviewing how District 58 recruits highly-qualified and diverse employee candidates
- Considering equity learning opportunities for the community and Board
- Developing an understanding of culturally responsive/relevant teaching practices
- For example, District 58 educates students from all backgrounds, and this bullet point would focus on ensuring that students can see themselves reflected in curricular materials. It will also include ensuring that our curricular materials are current and do not contain outdated and inaccurate information.
For additional context, please consider viewing the meeting video of the Equity in District 58 presentation (video starts at the beginning of this presentation).
Proactive Safety Measures in District 58
Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell provided an overview of District 58’s current and proposed safety structures and practices. District 58 currently maintains the following committees/trainings that each carry out unique work related to safety:
- Emergency Management Committee
- District Threat Assessment Team
- Building Safety & Threat Assessment Teams
- Crisis Prevention Institute Training
The first two groups comprise District 58 staff and Downers Grove emergency responders. The latter two include representative District 58 staff. Together, these groups/training opportunities provide District 58 and local emergency responders with detailed plans and systems to appropriately prepare for and respond to school emergencies.
District 58 will continue the above practices, but also has plans to introduce additional proactive safety measures. Proposed safety improvements include:
- Building secured entrances at every school, using referendum funding. The next steps for this project are completing design work and developing a work timeline.
- Initiating the Raptor System in late winter/early spring 2023. Raptor is a visitor management system that enhances school security by scanning visitor driver’s licenses (or other state-issued approved IDs) and alerting schools if the individual appears on sex offender or similar databases.
- Initiating an enhanced staff and middle school student ID and lanyard system in the 2023-24 school year.
- Providing enhanced ALICE staff and student crisis training, in conjunction with emergency responders in spring 2023 (staff) and fall 2023 (students).
- Continuing to educate students on acceptable versus unacceptable statements. This education will involve a combination of age-appropriate conversations with students, additional District and school communications, and other family education opportunities.
For additional context, please consider viewing the meeting video of the Proactive Safety Measures in District 58 presentation (video starts at the beginning of this presentation).
- Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 3:45 p.m.: Legislative Committee Meeting at O’Neill
- Friday, Dec. 9 at 7 a.m.: Financial Advisory Committee Meeting at O’Neill
- Monday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m.: Regular Board Meeting at Downers Grove 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.