The Board of Education held a workshop meeting on April 24 on the topics of finance and curriculum.
Five-Year Financial Plan
As it does yearly, the Board heard a report on the District’s five-year financial plan as part of its annual budgeting process prior to adoption in the fall. Assistant Superintendent for Business Todd Drafall said that the District is in good financial shape and noted that because of the referendum and subsequent bond sale as well as other changes, an amended budget will be brought to the Board in May to be put on display for 30 days. The budget will be considered for approval at the June Board meeting. He said the upcoming budget will be balanced, is tied to the Board’s vision, mission, and goals, and reflects maintaining the Board’s 35% fund balance policy. Some of the key items that have allowed the District to continue to meet student needs, add a full-day kindergarten program next year, and maintain the programs in the District have come from:
- Increase in property taxes from the downtown TIF dissolution last year,
- Increase in other non-property tax revenue such as interest income, and Corporate Personal Property income tax from the state,
- The dissolution of the Ogden Avenue TIF in 2026, resulting in added commercial property to the tax base,
- Continual controlling special education program costs by working to expand in-district programs and reduce dependency on outsourced services,
- Reduction in health insurance increases over the last three years.
Next year’s proposed budget also reflects some potential staffing changes – revisions that are designed to provide equity among schools, address class size needs, and to continue to provide special education services within the district. Included in these are recommendations for a new assistant principal position at Herrick, two classroom teachers, three RISE teachers, three occupational therapists and reduction of five instructional assistant positions, among other changes.
The 2022 tax bill, payable this year, is the first year the referendum property tax increase will be reflected on tax bills. However, DG58’s tax rate, despite the bump, will continue to be the lowest tax rate of all large elementary districts in DuPage County.
Food Service Update
Mr. Drafall gave an update on plans to provide hot lunch service to the elementary schools, in keeping with parent surveys and the Strategic Plan. The District is currently working with the Illinois State Board of Education staff in getting the RFP approved before posting for bidders. Bids would then need to be reviewed and approved prior to making any final decision. In addition, in order for the District to implement an option for lunch at the elementary schools it will need to purchase equipment, both to make the food at the middle schools and to keep it warm at the elementary schools. Please note that due to procurement of equipment, staffing needs, and space issues, the elementary food service program may not be able to begin at the start of the year.
Gifted Committee Update
The Gifted Committee is studying all aspects of the gifted program, which currently “pulls out” eligible 4-6 graders from all 11 DG58 elementary schools and buses them to Henry Puffer once a week for reading, English Language Arts (ELA), history, problem-solving and other activities. In 7th and 8th grades, eligible students take gifted classes in Reading/ELA.
They plan to recommend a new model for the 2024-25 year but take next year to prudently define a program structure and hash out details. At the elementary level, the committee will recommend a push-in model where eligible students will participate in gifted program instruction in their home schools throughout the week. The benefits to a push-in model are that students would feel more of a sense of belonging by remaining in their home school, the gifted curriculum could connect with the current curriculum, students would not miss a full day of classroom work or their accelerated math work. The program would continue to be higher-level inquiry-based and project-based but tied more closely to the curriculum.
At the middle school level, the committee would like to offer additional areas of gifted programming for eligible students, expanding to include social studies in 2024-25. “The goal is to take next year and be very thoughtful in developing a program that improves upon many things and meets the specific needs of our learners,” said Assistant Superintendent Justin Sisul. Along with these changes, the committee will review and likely revise its process to evaluate students for eligibility in the program. The committee discussed the addition of a cognitive assessment, as well as weighting students’ most recent performance more heavily when considering eligibility.
There are no changes planned for the 2023-24 school year. The elementary program would be introduced one year at a time so that only newly eligible 4th graders would enter the revised gifted program, and only newly eligible 7th graders would begin with social studies in 2024-25.
ELA Committee/Curricular Review
The committee examined ELA curricular materials for grades K-5 and 6-8 and invited select vendors to present and answer questions. In choosing new materials, the committee queries teachers about the material, how much they supplement it, achievement data and best practices. For example, if achievement data dips in one area, the committee wants to ensure that the new curriculum is especially strong in that particular area.
After investigating the resources, the next step is to pilot two different resources in classrooms in each school and report results to the Board in February with potential adoption of new materials in March 2024 for implementation in the fall of 2024.
Writing Committee Update
The committee piloted two new writing resources for grades K-5 this year, and reported its findings to the Board at its workshop meeting in March. At the Board’s meeting next month, the committee plans to recommend adoption of a new resource, School-Wide Writing Fundamentals, for implementation in grades K-5 for the 2023-24 school year. The materials focus on narrative, opinion and informative writing. Additionally, the works provide explicit instruction and strategies for writing, embed grammar use and use different texts for different writing purposes. For grades 6-8, the committee is currently piloting two different resources as potential new curriculum and will share results with the Board in February with potential adoption in March 2024.
- Friday, April 28, 7 a.m. Financial Advisory Committee Meeting at O’Neill
- Monday, May 8, 7 p.m. Regular Business Meeting, 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.