Featured School: Belle Aire
The Belle Aire Student Council led the Board and audience in the Pledge of Allegiance and presented a monthly list of school activities they’ve led, including raising $323 in donations to support the Illinois Veterans’ Home in LaSalle for Veterans Day, a Giving Tree and workshop to help families in need in December and a soup fundraiser during Super Bowl as well as many others. PTA President Beth Green talked about the myriad activities that the PTA sponsored this year, many that were resumed following the pandemic and helped create a sense of community, including the Family Color Run and Parent Trivia Night. The PTA also sponsors a number of clubs and programs and also supports the school and staff with funding and appreciation days. Principal Brent Borchelt highlighted some of the school’s Points of Pride, such as developing common expectations for student behavior in various school settings, creating opportunities for student recognition and involvement and collaborating with staff on restorative practices and growth mindset. He also presented IAR test score results, which noted students showed considerable growth and stronger-than-expected growth, especially in 2022-23 compared to last year. From those results, he noted, School Improvement Plan (SIP) goals included incorporating various writing strategies. Another SIP goal is to establish a culture and climate rooted in positive psychology.
Spotlight on our Schools: District Equity Leadership Team
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Justin Sisul presented an update on the work of the District’s Equity Leadership Team. He reiterated the findings of the initial equity audit and noted that ensuring equity is rooted in the District’s Strategic Plan and in Board policies 6:10 and 7:10. Also, the strategic plan of the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) includes specific educational equity goals, including rating each district on an Equity Journey Continuum annually (which began in the Fall of 2022)
He said that equity means having high expectations for every learner and providing supports and resources so each learner can meet those expectations. He noted that District 58’s work is not rooted in a political perspective, nor will it remove or significantly change opportunities for students.
This year, the team reviewed qualitative and quantitative results of the audit, the ISBE continuum and developed a statement regarding educational equity in District 58. The team’s work, including the full audit report, is highlighted on the District’s website.
The next steps for this team will be informed by the results of District 58’s Strategic Planning efforts; we expect to continue staff professional learning around educational equity as well as continually reviewing our resource allocations and equity of student access across all 13 buildings through an educational equity lens.
Dr. Russell provided several updates, including:
- Registration: Dr. Russell reported that about half of families have registered their children for the 2023-24 year and urged families to complete registration. The numbers will be used to finalize staffing allocations for next year. Related to that, it is also the time of year when the District conducts necessary reduction-in-force/honorable dismissals of staff, but when enrollment and staffing needs are finalized, the District hopes to rehire them, as early as May and June.
- Institute Day: The April 4 Institute Day was another successful day of professional learning for teachers. Most presenters were District 58 teachers, coaches and administrators with some outside presenters. Dr. Russell thanked the presenters and noted that certified staff reported an extremely positive experience.
- Assessments: IAR testing began this week, will continue over the next two weeks and conclude on April 21. Dr. Russell thanked students for their efforts and positivity, staff for their flexibility and encouragement of students, and families for their partnerships. He also noted that participation in the assessment is the highest since IAR began with only 10 test refusals.
- Finance: Tax bills will be arriving in homes at the end of April and the bonds from the referendum will appear on the bills. However, they will show a smaller tax rate than what was originally anticipated for the referendum bonds. Originally, the District projected an increase in the bond rate of 25 cents this year, but the actual increase is 23 cents. The overall increase will be 30 cents (75% coming from the bonds and 5 cents coming from the increase on the operating tax levy). All DuPage County Schools are subject to a tax cap and are limited by law regarding increases. The Property Tax Extension Law Limit (PTELL) limits a school district’s operational increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or 5% whichever is less. This is the first time since 1992, when tax caps were enacted, that the CPI was 5% or higher. This is also the first operating increase for District 58 in eight years. To learn more about tax caps and PTELL, click here.
- Raptor Visitor Management System: Since Spring Break, the Raptor Visitor Management System has been in place in all 13 District 58 schools. It was implemented as one more piece in the District’s ongoing commitment to enhance student safety. Dr. Russell complimented school office staff for their success in implementing the new system.
- Safe Return: District 58 Special Services Department and the Downers Grove Police Department are presenting an information night on comprehensive safety planning for families of students with special needs. The program will be held on Tuesday, April 18 from 7-8:30 p.m. at Herrick Middle School’s Library.
- Facilities Update: Dr. Russell said that the architects/engineers and construction manager have updated the phasing for construction. As part of a comprehensive review, the Construction Manager reviewed the original age of construction of the school buildings and proposed renovation costs. Additional criteria included a review of the additions and when they were constructed, immediate facility needs, recent facility work completed, and the available existing air conditioning (a/c) spaces. Additionally, it was recommended to pair two large projects with two smaller ones in addition to the larger middle school projects. The updated construction phases are as follows:
- Phase 1 Construction/ Summer of 2024: Whittier, Henry Puffer, Hillcrest and Highland
- Phase 2 Construction/ Summer of 2025: Fairmount, Kingsley, Lester and Indian Trail
- Phase 3 Construction/ Summer of 2026: Pierce Downer, Belle Aire and El Sierra
*The middle school work will take place during all three phases
Dr. Russell noted that the schedule is tentative, subject to change and that decisions were not related to political or socioeconomic reasons or the geography of the schools. He said the District will continue to take the advice of its architects and construction manager. A tentative budget for each elementary school will be presented to the Board in May. Please note that if a school is scheduled for the third summer and does not have a comprehensive a/c system, the District will work to relocate as many window units as possible in classroom settings while accounting for the electrical capacity of the school.
- Hiring of Owner’s Representatives for Facilities Project: The District is contacting references related to the two top firms who have been identified to serve as Owner’s Representatives. An Owner's Representative acts as the owner's advocate and represents their best interests during a large, complex facilities project. A contract will be considered by the Board in May.
- Select 58: Dr. Russell said the District is pleased to report that 53 8th graders were notified this week that they will be honored with Select 58 Awards from the District 58 Foundation for service and citizenship. They will be celebrated at a ceremony on May 3.
- Board elections: Dr. Russell congratulated board members Emily Hanus, Kirat Doshi and Steve Olczyk on being elected to the Board for another four-year term during the April 4 election. The three will be sworn in at the Board’s reorganization meeting in May.
Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Todd Drafall reported that there will be an amended budget presented to the Board in June as a result of the referendum bond sale and other adjustments. He also noted the Rexnord tax abatement and explained its rationale to support employment in the community and said the five-year financial planning process will help inform next year’s budget.
During the Meeting, the Board Also:
- Approved minutes from the March 13 Business Meeting.
- Approved minutes from the March 20 Strategic Planning Workshop.
- Approved all contents in the consent agenda.
- Approved the honorable dismissal of 22 full-time teachers for the 2023-24 school year. Annually, positions are reduced pending enrollment and staffing plans for the upcoming year. As in years past, as soon as enrollment needs are finalized for next school year, it is hoped that most teachers will be rehired.
- Approved the honorable dismissal of eight part-time educational support staff.
- Approved amending the Articles of Agreement for SASED, which revises the governing structure so that the Board of Control would be composed of superintendent representatives, and the Governing Board to be composed of member district board members.
- Approved an intergovernmental agreement with public schools in DuPage County to provide voluntary mutual assistance in the event of a crisis.
- Approved a tax abatement of $40,990 under an agreement with Rexnord Aerospace related to the expansion of its facilities.
- Declared a number of items, including 1,500 Chromebooks from 2015, 23 Mac Minis from 2014 and other items as surplus equipment so that they could be sold.
- Approved the purchase of 292 wireless access points and associated equipment in order to upgrade the wireless network for $242,342 from CDW-G.
- Approved low bidder Murnane for $64,712 that will supply copier paper to all schools for 2023-24.
- Approved low bidder Runco for $26,234 for general office supplies.
- Approved low bidder School Specialty for $24,865 for art supplies for all DG58 schools.
Ken Lerner from Pierce Downer Heritage Alliance presented a $900 check from the organization, which will offset the cost of a field trip to Lyman Woods. Students from all 11 schools participate in the field trip.
- Tuesday, April 18 at 7 a.m. Policy Committee Meeting at O’Neill
- Monday, April 24 at 7 p.m. Budget Workshop Meeting at O’Neill
- Friday, April 28, 7 a.m. Financial Advisory Committee Meeting 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.