Board Briefs: Dec. 11, 2023

Photo of 7 board members standing against brick wall

The District 58 Board of Education held a Regular Meeting on Monday, Dec. 11, 2023, at Downers Grove Village Hall. View the agenda. The meeting video will be posted on the District 58 YouTube page within the week.

School Report: Pierce Downer

The Pierce Downer Student Council members led the Board and audience in the Pledge of Allegiance and reported on their fundraisers and service activities planned this year. Sponsor Heather Howland added information about student council activities. Principal Leland Wagner outlined the importance of the words, the PD Promise, and how it is infused in everything they do. He reported on a recent assembly where students were taught expectations for winter and celebrated for reaching specific goals related to the PD Promise: Be Safe, Be Responsible and Be Respectful. He reported on math and ELA scores, saying that in math 74% of students are in the high or high-average range and in ELA 82% of students are in the average or above range. He outlined efforts to work on student achievement growth areas, saying the school is focused on long-term goals, rather than short-term reactive goals. For instance, the Instructional Leadership Team is working on enhancing language skills by teaching more morpheme understanding or vocabulary development. This work shows gains in all areas of the curriculum. 

PTA Co-Presidents Liz Rossi and Jennifer Klemz reported on a series of fundraising and community-building events for the 2023-24 school year and the many ways the PTA supports staff and students.

SASED Spotlight

In the spotlight, the Board heard a report on District 58’s partnership with special education cooperative SASED. SASED Interim Directors Jim Nelson and Dr. Jimmy Gunnell gave a history of the partnership, program and enrollment numbers and recent climate and culture enhancements such as boosting communications and “Learning Walkthroughs” to share data and build trust. District 58 Assistant Superintendent for Business Operations Todd Drafall reported on financial costs related to SASED, noting that even though there are increased needs of students, costs for District 58 have remained even in the last six years.

View the report

Board approves construction bid

The largest bid related to the middle schools’ referendum construction was approved by the Board on Monday, coming in $1.8 million under projections. In that bid, called Bid Group #2 Middle Schools, there were 18 trade groups and 56 subcontractors, which the owner’s representative deemed “good participation.” Bid Groups #1 and #2 represent 76% of the middle school work. The Board approved Bid Group #2 for $62,580,964. 

View the report
View the bid award recommendation 

Board approves calendars for 2024-25 and 2025-26 school years

The Board approved two years of school calendars in preparation for construction and also to meet the planning needs of parents. The calendar next year will be condensed to maximize construction time in the summer, meaning that classes will end prior to Memorial Day in 2025 and in the following calendar year start after Labor Day 2025. 

Highlights of the 2024-25 calendar include:

  • First Day of School: Friday, Aug. 16, 2024 (this aligns with District 99’s first day)
  • Thanksgiving Break: Nov. 27-29, 2024
  • Winter Break: Dec. 23, 2024-Jan. 3, 2025
  • Spring Break: April 1-4, 2025
  • Last Day of School: Friday, May 23, 2025 (if no emergency days are used)

2024-25 calendar
2025-26 calendar

Superintendent’s Report

In the Superintendent’s Report, Dr. Kevin Russell reported on the following:

  • Curriculum and Instruction
    The District PTA held its annual Reflections Arts program awards ceremony Dec. 5, recognizing 89 student art works, 39 of which are advancing to regionals for another round of judging. We are extremely proud of our students and grateful to our PTA for organizing the program to celebrate the arts and recognize students.
  • Finance
    The District has received a draft of its Annual Financial Report (AFR), which is filed with the State Board each year. Looking ahead, the audit will be presented to the Board in January. Finally, the Financial Advisory Committee (FAC) will meet Jan. 12 to review the audit and discuss next steps with food service. 
  • Technology
    The technology department has been collaborating with the facilities department on preparing the request for proposals (RFP) for network cabling in the Phase I elementary project. This proposal will be posted on the e-rate portal and eligible for partial reimbursement. The RFP will be posted this month and a proposal will be selected in late January. The work will be completed this summer in conjunction with other referendum Phase I projects.
  • Special Services
    District 58 has partnered with ReferralGPS to provide a curated database of mental health professionals at no cost. Funding is made possible through the recent state grant that District 58 earned from the Illinois Department of Public Health. School district staff and families may access ReferralGPS by contacting a District 58 Student Services team member such as a social worker, psychologist, or counselor to seek out personalized provider lists or by visiting the District website to search for treatment resources or connect with a live Care Navigator anonymously. 
  • Facilities
    On Saturday, Dec. 23, the District begins construction with asbestos abatement of floor and/or ceiling tiles at Herrick and O’Neill. Getting a jump start on this work allows construction to begin immediately after school ends in May. 

    These projects meet all applicable regulations and will be performed by an Illinois Department of Public Health licensed Asbestos Abatement Contractor utilizing workers trained, accredited, and licensed to perform asbestos abatement in Illinois Public School Buildings. In addition, the project will be monitored at all times by TEM Environmental, Inc.  

    During asbestos work activities, the sections of the building where work is occurring will be isolated and restricted to the licensed asbestos abatement contractor and environmental consulting team only. Construction barriers and signage identifying the abatement areas will be posted at entrances to building areas that are restricted. Access to these areas will remain restricted until all regulatory clearance requirements have been met, including aggressive air sampling.

    Concurrent with abatement work, there will be other minor work in both buildings, including exterior door location changes. ​​​​
  • Public Relations
    • District 58 thanks the following organizations for their generosity:
    • Downers Grove Roadrunners Soccer Club donated holiday gifts for 130 children in need.
    • Blessings in a Backpack continues to provide weekend meals for children facing food insecurity.
    • St. Joseph Knights of Columbus donated 76 winter coats for our students in need. 
    • EM5 Foundation provided snow pants and boots for 23 students
    • Sharing Connections donated hats, gloves and scarves for 100 children. 
    • St. Joe’s Vincent DePaul provided toys for 25 students and winterwear for approximately 72 students.
    • The Downers Grove Loyal Order of Moose Lodge donated three large boxes filled with hats, gloves and scarves.
    • Immanuel Lutheran Church provided 350 Thanksgiving and Christmas meals for families in need.
    • Stitches to Share created and donated 30 hand-knitted scarves, hats and mittens for students
    • The Downers Grove Junior Woman’s Club provided snow pants and boots for 15 students.  
    • Downers Grove First United Methodist Church's Mission Justice and Community Program donated eight $25 Target cards to each school for families facing extreme hardship.

Committee Reports

Board President Darren Hughes reported on the Dec. 8 Financial Advisory Committee meeting, noting discussions on school fees, construction bids, upcoming negotiations for electricity rates and upcoming determination about the elementary cold lunch program. 

Business Report

Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Todd Drafall reported that revenues and expenditures are as expected. He noted that since the January meeting comes up quickly after winter break, the business department won’t have all the statements in time for the meeting. He noted that the Financial Advisory Committee (FAC) has discussed upcoming fees, which will be brought to the Board in January, and will recommend continuing the model of tying the fees to the inflation rate. The FAC will evaluate food service models at its January meeting, which will also be brought back to the Board in January.

During the meeting, the Board also: 

  • Approved a resolution authorizing the participation in social media litigation along with other school districts
  • Approved the minutes of the Nov. 13, 2023 regular meeting
  • Approved all items in the consent agenda

Upcoming Events

  • Monday, December 18, 3:45 p.m. ~ District Leadership Team ~ O'Neill Middle School
  • Tuesday, December 19, 7 a.m. ~ Policy Committee ~ O'Neill Middle School
  • Wednesday, December 20, 3:45 p.m. ~ Legislative Committee ~ O'Neill Middle School
  • Monday, January 8, 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. To view all Board meeting topics, view the agenda.