Update on Referendum Projects Building for Success
The Board heard an update on referendum construction projects from the owner’s representative, who said that the projects are in the “thick of design.” The next step is planning for the bid openings on August 22 for major electrical and mechanical equipment that have long lead times. In fall, the plan will be submitted to the village and the Illinois State Board of Education for approvals. Neighborhood meetings are planned later in the year at the middle schools to outline the construction plans to residents and to answer any questions. The owner’s representative works as a liaison with the architects/engineers and contractor to ensure that the work is aligned with the budget and that the work is progressing as planned.
Assistant Superintendent of Business Todd Drafall gave a report saying that the budget is on track and noted that the display budget is out and approval of the final budget will be next month. He said that the 23-24 budget is reflected in the five-year financial projections, which was presented to the Board in May.
Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell noted that all certified positions are fully staffed and said he was proud that District 58 remains a destination district for teachers. Unfortunately, 15% of instructional assistant positions remain unfilled but the District continues to employ new and traditional advertising methods for recruiting. The District increased the hard-to-fill stipend for instructional assistants later in the agenda to assist with filling the remaining vacant positions.
The District continues to monitor student enrollment and at this time only has a handful of sections that are above class targets and are working with principals on possible scenarios and next steps. A full enrollment report will be provided to the Board at the September meeting.
- Curriculum and Instruction
The District welcomed 30 new teachers for the first day of New Teacher Week. Teachers will be introduced to District resources, will learn about the culture and philosophy and will have an opportunity to meet with their mentors. Year 2 teachers will have two days of training. He thanked teachers, coaches, coordinators and administrators who are conducting this comprehensive training.
The vast majority of curricular materials have been delivered to the schools, as the teachers are getting their classrooms ready for instruction. There are a few back-ordered items, but those materials are expected to arrive this week.
The tentative budget has been posted on the District’s website and notice was published in the local newspaper. The final budget will be recommended to the Board at its meeting in September.
Summer projects are complete, including student device setup and the installation of our new wireless access points. In addition, student schedules were posted on the parent portal today.
- Special Services
The Extended School Year (ESY) summer program for eligible students with special needs has wrapped up and staff is busy preparing for the upcoming school year. Of 100 students enrolled, 98% of them maintained or made progress on their identified skills. Dr. Russell said this should be recognized and celebrated as it speaks to strong programming designed and delivered by dedicated ESY staff.
Summer masonry work was finished at El Sierra and Henry Puffer and will be completed soon at Highland. The School Maintenance Project Grant abatement, flooring and casework project at Puffer has been completed.
Both fire alarm systems at Highland and Henry Puffer were installed and tested.
Lester's playground is complete and ready to use. Engineers visited the site for a final punch list of items that need to be adjusted.
Pierce Downer’s playground still needs the pour-in-place rubber surfacing, which is scheduled for this week.
The Puffer preschool playground and the North play area are making great progress. The contractor completed much of the work before the equipment arrived in August.
The Indian Trail playground still needs a bit of asphalt and sod but should be ready by the start of school.
The Kingsley playground equipment and gravel base and installed. Rubber and mulch surfacing and asphalt are still needed but the contractor indicated it will be ready by the opening of school.
For Belle Aire and Fairmount, the District continues to push hard for the contractors to finish. As of the Board meeting, the contractors informed the District that it is likely that Fairmount and Belle Aire will not be done prior to the start of the school year.
The Fairmount playground is still sitting idle which is frustrating. We believe the contractor spread itself too thin and cannot get enough laborers. This is compounded by heavy rain in July and supply chain issues.
The Belle Aire equipment is installed but there is a great deal of other site work to be completed.
We will continue to work with building principals on backup plans as necessary as well as communications. We completely understand why families are frustrated. We cannot apologize enough for the delays and will do everything possible to get these projects completed. Like everyone else, the District wants nothing more than for the playgrounds to be completed on time and ready to go for the first day of the school year.
- Public Relations
The Foundation has had a very busy month. They are planning the New Teacher Luncheon, gearing up for their Teacher Grant program and planning their biggest fundraiser, Oktoberfest. Please save the date for the 10th Annual Oktoberfest on Friday, Sept. 15 and Saturday, Sept. 16. The Foundation is seeking sponsors right now and is always in need of volunteers. There is more information and tickets on their website at www.58foundation.net.
- Annual Report
The Annual Report is being finalized and will go to the printer next week and be mailed to all residents the week of Aug. 22.
- District 58 Student Handbook
The Schools of 58 Handbook is online again this year, saving costs on printing. On the first week of school, principals will send families a paper form asking parents to sign off saying they read and understand the handbook.
Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell gave an update on SASED. He said that the two co-superintendents have been appointed and that they are focused on increasing morale in the organization.
During the Meeting, the Board Also:
- Approved a recommendation for training 40 staff members in Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) at a total cost of $37,960
- Approved a recommendation to increase the stipend for hard-to-fill positions for instructional assistants from $1,200 to $2,000
- Approved a recommendation to recognize a number of areas as “hazardous” walk areas, and thus approve fee-based transportation services for students who live in those areas (the designations are the same as last school year)
- Approved a recommendation for a landscape design proposal for both middle schools as part of the referendum projects at a cost of $30,000
- Approved a recommendation for reimbursable lunch costs, $4.25 for a meal and $.45 for milk
- Approved a recommendation for a third-party technical plan review of building permits and inspection services during construction of $83,450
- Approved a recommendation for third-party commissioning services, which will provide technical design review and field oversight of testing and startup of major new equipment and systems as part of the referendum projects at a cost of $229,800
- Sept. 8, 2023, 7 a.m. Financial Advisory Committee Meeting, O’Neill Middle School
- Sept. 11, 2023, 3:45 p.m. District Leadership Team, O’Neill Middle School
- Sept. 11, 2023, 7 p.m. Regular Board 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.