Board Briefs: Feb. 27 Special Meeting and Curriculum Workshop

Seven members of the board of education

The District 58 Board of Education held a Special Meeting and Curriculum Workshop on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023 at O’Neill Middle School. View the agenda. Watch the meeting video.

As part of the Special Meeting portion of the agenda, the Board approved several action items:

Full Day Kindergarten

Board approves for 2023-24 school year

The Board approved a full-day kindergarten program for the 2023-24 school year, ending the tuition-based OKEEP full-day program. The move allows all D58 students to participate in the full-day program, which enhances a half-day program by providing young students with increased discovery opportunities, additional instructional and socialization time and meaningful play-based learning. Administrators noted the benefits of full-day kindergarten, especially for those with special needs, students who need academic support and students whose families are experiencing hardship. 

Three key changes in the District’s finances put it in a position to now offer kindergarten without paid tuition. The passing of the facility referendum allows capital projects to be paid through the referendum bonds rather than operating funds, thus freeing up monies.  Second, the dissolution of the downtown TIF (Tax Increment Financing District) provides a property tax revenue increase.  Finally, there are additional funds available through the state’s Evidence-Based Funding model that counts kindergarten students as full-day rather than half-day students. These three factors ensure the financial sustainability of a full-day kindergarten program.

“Full-day kindergarten boosts young students’ achievement, it also strengthens their social and emotional skills and I’m thrilled that we can offer that full-day option to every child in District 58,” said Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell.

District 58 currently offers a traditional, free half-day (morning) kindergarten program and an optional, tuition-based half-day (afternoon) enrichment program, called OKEEP. By state law, school districts must offer a half-day kindergarten option. The District will seek out interest in a half-day program. 

New Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction

Board appoints Elizabeth Ehrhart to the role

Board appoints Elizabeth Ehrhart photoThe Board approved the appointment of Mrs. Elizabeth Ehrhart as Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, effective July 1, 2023. 

The interview teams described Mrs. Ehrhart as “experienced, relatable, child-centered, supportive of staff, hard-working, and dedicated,” said Dr. Kevin Russell, superintendent. Additionally, Dr. Russell noted that “Mrs. Ehrhart is a strong leader with a great deal of experience supporting staff in the areas of curriculum, instruction, and assessment. She values collaboration, mentoring, staff and parental input, and strong relationships.” She will succeed Mr. Justin Sisul who was appointed as assistant superintendent for personnel. Read more here

Outdoor Education

6th grade program approved for this spring

​​The Board approved an Outdoor Education experience for 6th graders at Camp Manitoqua in Frankfort, IL this year. The day trip extends the science curricular learning with hands-on, real-life experiences and team-building activities. Because of the pandemic, the 2020 and 2021 two-and-a-half-day overnight outdoor education trips were not held. Due to the continued uncertainty of COVID, planning for this year’s trip didn’t begin until this fall. Administrators acknowledged that while this experience is not overnight, it meets most of the goals for outdoor education. The district will review feedback on this experience and review a variety of  options in determining next year’s plan. The cost is $80 per student for the 2023-24 experience. 

Outdoor Education meeting photo collage

Curriculum Workshop

Mini-Workshops were held on the following topic areas where board members and the public could learn the status of the programs, examples of what students are learning and participate in interactive lessons. The above photos feature presenters from the following topics:

  • Elementary music
  • Social studies/inquiry
  • Writing pilot program
  • Middle school advisory
  • Dual language

Committee Updates

The Board also heard updates on the following committees, including the current status and year-end targets:

English Language Arts (ELA) Committee: The committee continues its work using the established curricular review process that includes reviewing best practices in ELA instruction, analyzing student growth data and reviewing resource vendors. Their next steps are to explore the possible replacement of core and/or supplemental materials, the need for pilots, the need to change the current scope and sequence, and what professional growth would be needed. Recommendations for next steps will be made later this spring.

Writing Committee: The committee is reviewing the workshop writing model pilot K-5 and determining resources and next steps in partnership with the ELA committee. 

Dual Language Committee: The group is delving into ongoing training and aligning the program with state standards for Spanish Language Arts. They are also working on expanding the Bilingual Parent Advisory Committee. The team is also preparing for the 1st grade Dual Language program for English and native Spanish speakers in 2023-24 as kindergartners move up a level, and is getting ready for a new group of kindergartners in the dual language program.

Social Studies Committee: The team is supporting the implementation of the new K-5 social studies curriculum and plans to finalize its review of scope and sequence, update assessments and vet resources.

Gifted Committee: The group is continuing its work to assess the current program, research other schools’ programs and best practices and create a professional learning plan for differentiation. The goal is to recommend a structure for a gifted program to be implemented in 2024-25; this recommendation will be made in the Spring of 2023, to use the 23-24 school year to further develop the recommended structures.

Positive Behavior Support Systems Committee: This committee, formed in 2022-23 and the result of staff feedback, is reviewing evidence-based behavior systems in other districts, obtaining feedback from D58 educators and developing a consistent district-wide set of behavioral expectations among all schools.

Curriculum Council: In addition to its continued review of the curricular review process, the group has focused on how to improve access and information to families regarding curriculum and instruction. They will develop a consensus on how to integrate that into and improve upon the website. 

Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) Committee: The team is continuing to work on developing a clear and consistent structure and providing training on how to support all students.

Differentiation and Assessment Committee: The group is partnering with the gifted committee, developing a gap analysis of the current system and updating the assessment system and calendar.

Special Education Committee: The committee is continuing its work to strengthen the transition process between schools and programs, and building systems for more inclusive practices. 

Assistive Technology Committee: The team continues its work to help level the playing field for those with disabilities by exploring and promoting the use of assistive technology. The committee helped establish a liaison role in each building to promote assistive technology.

Threat Assessment Team: The team conducted a safety audit and is now practicing possible scenarios through tabletop exercises.

District Equity Leadership Team: The team is reviewing recommendations from the final equity audit report and is determining next steps for District 58; a further report will be made to the Board later this spring.

Professional Learning Council: The group reviews feedback from every professional learning opportunity and is determining improvements based on feedback and strategic plan goals.

Math Committee: This committee, which first met in October 2012, celebrated its final meeting in January. The next math committee will convene in the fall of 2026 to consider any possible changes in math curriculum and instruction.

View the slideshow presentation 

Public Comment

The Board of Education received no public comments. 

Upcoming Meetings

  • Friday, March 10 at 7 a.m.: Financial Advisory Committee Meeting at O'Neill
  • Monday, March 13 at 3:15 p.m.: Parent Teacher Advisory Council 
  • Monday, March 13 at 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.