Board Briefs: May 13, 2024

Board Briefs: May 13, 2024

The District 58 Board of Education held a meeting on Monday, May 13 beginning at 7 p.m. at Downers Grove Village Hall. The public may view the agenda here and the meeting on the District’s YouTube channel.

Featured School: Herrick 

Herrick Student Council led the Board and audience in the Pledge of Allegiance and highlighted service and school activities they’ve led, including Spirit Weeks, Advisory Class door competitions and lunchtime raffles, among others. Also highlighted during the presentation were PTA activities, school clubs, activities and athletics; and the RISE program at Herrick. 

Assistant Principals Kelly Novotny and Samantha Inglima presented information on the school’s assessment data, noting that winter MAP results showed lower-than-expected growth in math and expected growth in English Language Arts. School Improvement Plans are to work toward more common assessments in math as well as other measures to bridge the gap. IAR scores were “outstanding,” noted administrators, with 94% meeting or exceeding growth targets.

View the presentation

Spotlight: 6-8 Middle School Transition

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction Liz Ehrhart and Assistant Superintendent for Student Services Jessica Stewart updated the Board on work of numerous sub-committees and the steering committee working on Strategic Plan Goal #4: Building for Success (Implementing the new K-5 and 6-8 models). The overarching goal is to ensure a smooth transition to the new model of a 6-8th grade middle school, especially in the first year of transition when two-thirds of the student body will be new to the school. They detailed the work of four sub-committees in order to develop plans for next steps. The subcommittees are:

  • Scheduling and Staffing
  • Student Supports
  • Transitions grades 5-6 - 6-7 
  • Liaisons

They outlined the work to build staff capacity, provide professional growth opportunities related to the critical components of a successful middle school and establish liaisons at both the elementary and middle schools. The timeline is as follows:

  • Professional Learning – Spring of 2024 and ongoing
  • Schedule Framework – Fall of 2024 
  • Student Transition Planning – Fall of 2024
  • Student Support – Winter of 2025 
  • Staffing and Facility Utilization – Spring of 2025 
  • Transition Year 2025-2026
  • Full Model Implementation – Fall 2026

Board members asked about the staffing process and whether all 6th-grade staff would move to the middle schools. Assistant Superintendent for Personnel and Staff Development Justin Sisul noted that he has met with all 6th-grade teachers to inquire about their plans. Many will move, but some have indicated they would prefer to stay in the elementary school and several have initiated or received middle school endorsements. The Board will hear further updates at its meeting in the spring of 2025 as well as from the District Leadership Team (DLT), which meets quarterly and oversees all Strategic Planning initiatives.

View the presentation

Spotlight on Professional Learning Mondays (PLM) 

Assistant Superintendent for Personnel & Staff Development Justin Sisul gave an update on Professional Learning Mondays and what is accomplished during that time. Students are released at 2 p.m. each Monday so teachers and staff can work on training, school goals and student needs and support. This is the fifth year of the program. In exchange for early release, the District eliminated the need for two half-day institute days and one teacher work day. They also reduced the use of substitutes.

Acknowledging the difficulties for families of early release, Sisul said that teaching and learning and thus students have benefited from the program. “If we’re taking this classroom time from teachers and students; we want to make sure there’s a lot of value,” he noted. The time has allowed teachers to not only implement new curriculum but have time to reflect and collaborate on effectively teaching it. There have been five new curricular updates since 2019. It has also allowed teachers to learn new instructional strategies on helping students with executive functioning, trauma-informed practices and others. And, it provides time for “data meetings” where teams of educators analyze student assessment data and determine how best to support each student in their learning. Following each Monday session, teachers are surveyed about how valuable, relevant and productive the time is. “Year over year we try to get more targeted, more detailed to ensure that all 400+ staff members are having a rich and meaningful experience,” said Sisul.

Board members also recognized the effect on families and students, emphasizing that the return must be worthwhile.

View the presentation

Superintendent’s Report 

Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell gave his monthly report on the following:

Herrick Presentation

He thanked the Herrick students, staff, and PTA for a wonderful presentation and said he enjoyed learning about the great activities at the school.


Dr. Russell announced that the Board tonight is set to approve the rehiring of many teachers who were honorably dismissed in April, thanks to timely registrations that confirmed student enrollment numbers. He thanked secretaries and administrators for reaching out to families and noted that additional hiring of a few new teachers is expected in the coming months.

Curriculum and Instruction

The District is updating its e-Learning plan for state renewal next school year. This allows for the use of e-Learning days in lieu of emergency days, which could be especially useful this year if they are needed due to construction emergencies or unknowns. The Board will review this plan in July. 

Summer School plans are underway. Session I will include current grade-level skills for students. This is the final year of funding for this program, which addresses learning loss using federal pandemic emergency relief funds, called ESSER III ARP funds. Session II will focus on a preview of upcoming grade-level standards and art appreciation. Session III will be a summer band and orchestra program that will help jumpstart and review skills prior to school starting in August. 


The agenda includes a partial property tax abatement for the Rexnord Aerospace facility in Downers Grove, marking the 5th year of a 10-year agreement.


The technology department is planning summer projects in collaboration with maintenance and construction teams, including relocating and reinstalling technology and working on student devices and PowerSchool setup for the 2024-2025 school year.

Special Services

SASED announced changes for the upcoming school year, including new program locations following a review of space needs overall and construction at O’Neill. They also announced the introduction of the Structured Learning Environment (SLE) program, which combines the strengths of the former Multi-Needs and STARS Programs. Satellite classrooms will be hosted across SASED member districts, including classrooms in District 58 at Hillcrest and Kingsley.  The Pathways Program will integrate the Southeast Alternative School and Directions Programs to better address social-emotional and behavioral needs. The new Supportive Medical Needs Program (SMNP) will open in Lisle, focusing on students' medical and educational requirements. Both the District and SASED are committed to supporting families during these transitions.


Middle school construction continues despite rain delays. Herrick’s kitchen addition and O’Neill’s storm sewer work are progressing. Phase I elementary schools are preparing for packing and moving, with storage containers arriving and work shifts starting from 4:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Public Relations

Podcast Club in Springfield – Henry Puffer Podcast Club participated in Student Advocacy Day at the Illinois State Capitol, showcasing their use of technology in learning. The club's podcasts are available on Apple and Spotify.

Select 58 Recognition Awards – On April 22, the District honored 58 eighth graders with the Select 58 Recognition Awards, sponsored by the Education Foundation of District 58.

Foundation Fundraiser Bougie Bingo – The Foundation's inaugural Bougie Bingo on May 3 was a success, with some administrators participating as bingo callers, and District 58 families and staff in attendance. Plans are underway for another event next year.

Treasurer’s Report

Assistant Superintendent Todd Drafall reported that the District is in good financial shape and noted this is the time of year when it is at a low cash point. Tax bills went out on time by the County Treasurer’s office with a June 1 due date. He noted that District 58 will receive early distribution of tax proceeds prior to the first due date. He noted that later in the meeting the Board will be asked to vote on Owner’s risk insurance for construction of Phase I elementary schools. This is a standard purchase for construction projects. 

During the Meetings, the Board also:

  • Held a public hearing on the Physical Education Waiver application, a routine application that reflects no changes in the current PE program. The Board subsequently approved the application. 
  • Approved the first reading of draft policy updates, which align with new legislation, based on the Illinois Association of School Board’s PRESS recommendations. Policy Committee Chair Gregory Harris said because the updates were perfunctory, there was no need for a policy committee meeting. 
  • Heard a report on the May 7 Health and Wellness Committee from Gregory Harris. He said the committee is retooling the employee wellness incentive program and noted that the committee is “cautiously optimistic” about reasonable future insurance premium increases.
  • Approved a recommendation adopting the final 2023-24 calendar, declaring Wednesday, May 29 as the last day of school and that no emergency days were used
  • Approved the 2024-25 Board of Education meeting calendar
  • Approved a recommendation for a tax abatement agreement with Rexnord, an agreement that has been approved annually since the 2019 tax year 
  • Approved a bid purchase of 25 projectors for the middle schools for a total cost of $37,175.00 from CDW-G.
  • Approved a recommendation to purchase of 100 MacBook Airs as part of the staff device refresh cycle for a total cost of $77,900.00 from Apple; this replaces many laptops purchased in 2015 or earlier. 
  • Approved a recommendation to purchase of 560 Chromebooks for 7th graders, for a total cost of $127,680.00 from CDW-G. The new Chromebooks will not have touch functionality, like previous ones, as they are more prone to screen damage. 
  • Approved an amendment to the Downers Grove Educational Support Personnel contract to include registered nurses in the bargaining unit
  • Approved a recommendation to designate older surplus equipment – floor machine, folding lunch tables, Chromebooks – as surplus so that they can be sold
  • Approved a recommendation to authorize construction for Phase I Elementary Schools: Henry Puffer, Hillcrest, Highland and Whitter
  • Approved a recommendation for Builder’s Risk Insurance for the Phase I elementary school projects for $40,980 from Liberty Insurance
  • Approved a recommendation for installation and site improvements for the Whittier playground to Bulley & Andrews at a cost of $164,217.49. After PTA contributions and a state grant, the District’s portion will be $28,000.
  • Approved three bids, one for each of three schools, for moving and relocation services at a total cost of $70,595.82. 

To view all Board meeting topics, view the agenda.

Public Comment

There was no public comment during any of the comment opportunities.

Upcoming Events

  • Monday, May 21, 3:45 p.m. ~ District Leadership Team ~ O'Neill Middle School
  • Friday, June 7, 7 a.m. ~ Financial Advisory Committee ~ O’Neill Middle School
  • Monday, June 10, 7 p.m. ~ Regular Board Meeting ~ 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.