Board Briefs: May 2017

The District 58 Board of Education held its regular business meeting on Monday, May 8, 2017.  View the agenda and presentation links. Highlights from the meeting include:

Flag Salute and Presentation: Herrick

Herrick Middle School Student Council Members Saoirse, Alexa and Jade presented Student Council highlights to the Board of Education. The Student Council hosted several school spirit days, fundraisers, a dance and service projects. For example, they started a new box top collection that supported the Herrick Green Team, they hosted a Herrick Snack Shack during sporting events that raised $416 for the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois, and, most recently, they collected $1,650 in one week to support the Ride Janie Ride nonprofit.

Herrick PTA Co-President Erin Guth and VP of Fundraising Leah Thulin shared PTA highlights. The Herrick PTA ended last school year in a positive financial situation, so they asked Herrick teachers to send classroom “wish lists.” The PTA used their extra funding to enhance instruction at Herrick, providing new books, calculators, heart rate monitors, digital microscopes, 3D molecular models, sensory area accessories and much more!

The Herrick PTA also supported several school assemblies, programs, extracurricular clubs, field trips and donations to families in need.

Spotlight on our Schools: Communicating and Reporting Student Learning

Several District 58 principals and central office administrators shared an update on the District’s Elementary and Middle School Report Card Committees. Each committee comprises two District administrators, two principals and several teachers representing grade levels, subject areas and schools from across the District.

This year, the committees sought to improve the way the District reports student progress. They considered best practices, parent survey input (spring 2016 survey), a researched-based book on student reporting and sample report cards from local schools, among other resources.

The committees reviewed the District’s current learning standards and developed clear descriptions for each standard. These descriptions will better inform teachers as they assess students, and will improve parent understanding of what each learning standard means.

The committees also revised its learner behaviors, which include skills such as respect, organization and participation. Learner behaviors will be included on next year’s report cards.

Committee members shared updates and draft report cards with teacher colleagues during the November Inservice Day, the March and April faculty meetings, and the April K-6 grade level professional development collaboration meetings. They also provided an update to parents at March and April PTA meetings. They used feedback to make improvements.

Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Dr. Jayne Yudzentis shared that the Report Card Committees decided that District 58 report cards will:

  • Report progress in relation to the Illinois Learning Standards/Common Core State Standards
  • Accurately and clearly reflect student achievement
  • Communicate in a manner that is easily understandable for students and parents
  • Report information quarterly
  • Not be the primary or only means of communication between parents and teachers

The 2017-18 report cards are still in draft format. The Report Card Committees will meet later this month to discuss and decide at which grade level to start providing letter grades, to finalize definitions for performance indicators, and to continue developing professional development.

View the presentation.

Superintendent’s Report

Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli shared several updates with the Board including:

  • 2017-18 Registration: Registration for the 2017-18 school year is open. Dr. Cremascoli encouraged families to complete registration by the Friday, May 12 deadline.  Accurate enrollment information helps the District to plan staffing for the upcoming school year.
  • Spring Assessments: Schools are currently administering spring assessments, including the MAP and AIMSweb.
  • Curriculum Committee Updates: Dr. Cremascoli visited the Math Committee’s May 1 meeting. The committee offered positive feedback regarding their work developing common math assessments using the new assessment bank. They have begun linking additional math assessment materials into the District’s math blueprint. The ELA Committee is piloting its new ELA curriculum resources and will review and discuss their experiences and recommendations moving forward during the committee’s May meetings.
  • Superintendent’s Community Advisory Council: Dr. Cremascoli looks forward to hosting the second Superintendent’s Community Advisory Council meeting on Monday, May 15. The meeting will focus on common questions that Council members have regarding District 58. Dr. Cremascoli extended an invitation to the Board to attend the meeting.
  • Summer Learning: District 58 continues to offer a variety of fun summertime learning opportunities for students. The District recently opened registration for its Parent-Led Summer Book Club program. In partnership with the Downers Grove Public Library and PTA, summer reading programs and a summer math clubs are also available to students. The District will also host a Summer School program which offers a variety of courses, including academic, art, STEM and music options. Other community partners are also offering additional learning opportunities for students and families to explore. Families can learn more at
  • Board Meeting Location: Dr. Cremascoli said that a Board member requested the District consider alternative locations for Board meetings next school year. Possible ideas included holding the meetings at Village Hall or rotating the meetings among schools. Dr. Cremascoli requested the entire Board’s feedback. Since she expects the June meeting to draw a larger crowd, she suggested the Board consider hosting the June meeting at Village Hall, which would offer ample space as well as air conditioning. In the upcoming school year, the District will explore options for rotating Board Meetings throughout its school facilities.
  • Village Facility Planning: The Board has asked Dr. Cremascoli to follow up with the Village of Downers Grove regarding their facility planning efforts in hopes of exploring future partnership opportunities. Dr. Cremascoli met with Village Manager David Fieldman last month to discuss the Village’s current and future plans. The Village’s facility planning efforts are currently on hold pending additional review; however, the Village offered to share available space for District meetings.
  • Lester Facility Planning: A Lester School facility planning discussion will be placed on the June agenda for the Board’s consideration. At that time, District administrators will seek direction from the Board regarding next steps on this potential project. Several Board members requested additional details regarding funding and design options.
  • Staff Appreciation Day: May 10 is Staff Appreciation Day. The Board has kindly offered to deliver treats to each school to thank District 58 staff for their hard work.
  • End of Year Events: The DGEEA recently hosted its Celebrate 58 event to honor District 58 retirees and the Teacher of the Year. This year’s event was a wonderful celebration and enjoyed by all who attended. The Education Foundation annually hosts two spring award programs: Select 58 and the Distinguished Service Awards. Select 58 recognizes 58 eighth graders (29 from Herrick and 29 from O’Neill) who exhibit excellent community service. The Select 58 recognition banquet is Wednesday, May 10. The Distinguished Service Awards program honors exceptional staff. The DSA ceremony is Tuesday, May 16. The District looks forward to recognizing the fantastic achievements of its eighth graders and staff!

Business Report

Assistant Superintendent for Business/Chief School Business Official David Bein provided the Business Report to the Board. Key highlights included:

  • The State of Illinois made its first of four mandated categorical payments for the 2016-17 school year. This payment was originally due in late September 2016. The State currently owes District 58 about $1.6 million. Bein anticipated a shortfall of state revenue this fiscal year.
  • The month of May marks the District’s lowest cash flow point, as property tax receipts will not arrive until June. The Business Office is carefully watching receipts, expenditures and cash balances, as well as liquidating long term investments as needed, to ensure the District has sufficient funds.
  • Health insurance expenses continue to run high, and the Medical Reserve Fund is declining.
  • State legislative discussions regarding school funding continue. Legislation regarding pension reform and property tax freezes may emerge again. The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn at the end of May, so it is possible that some education-related legislative decisions may be made later this month.

Following Bein’s report, Member John Miller asked if any changes had been made to the District’s proposed 2017-18 budget since the April 24 Budget Workshop. No changes had been made yet. However, updated enrollment numbers and ELA Committee decisions could affect the tentative budget, which will be formally presented to the Board in July.

The current proposed budget carries a $600,000 deficit, but it also accounts for a 10 percent increase in health insurance costs for the District (about $600,000), as well as new ELA materials (about $600,000).

Member John Miller said he was not comfortable supporting an unbalanced budget. Board members discussed different possible solutions to the budget imbalance, and requested District administrators to analyze the budget for any other areas that could be cut. District administrators said they already have carefully reviewed costs and any potential savings in developing the proposed budget and would continue to try to identify additional cost-saving measures, but cautioned that the District has faced significant cuts over the past five to 10 years. Additional cuts could have a material impact on students and services.

Board Committee Reports

Policy Committee:

On behalf of Retired Member Sallie Lupescu, Dr. Cremascoli reported on the April 18 meeting and made the following recommendations for first reading:

  • Revise Policy #5121 – Students – Search and Seizure. The Committee reviewed the District’s new draft search and seizure policy with legal consultation, and found that no substantial revisions were needed. The Committee only suggested a minor verbiage revision: adding reference to “the superintendent or designee.”The Board moved to approve the first reading of this draft policy and place it on the June board agenda for final adoption.

In response to a comment made during the March Board meeting, the Committee also reviewed Policy #1150 – Community Relations – Citizen Communications with the Schools and Board. After further review, the Committee decided no additional revisions were needed at this time.  Dr. Cremascoli stressed that all communications sent to any member of the Board are shared with all other members of the Board of Education.

Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee:

Member Elizabeth Sigale reported on the April 13 Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee meeting. The committee discussed the tentative strategic planning timeline, and listened to a presentation on school finance by David Bein.

The Legislative Committee and the Financial Advisory Committee did not meet since the last Board meeting.

During the meeting, the Board also:

  • Recognized students who volunteered in the 2016-17 Safety Patrol program.
  • Approved minutes from the May 1 Reorganization Meeting.
  • Approved all items on the Consent Agenda as presented in the packet materials.
  • Appointed Melissa Jerves as District 58 Board of Education secretary, effective July 1, 2017, for a two-year term at a salary of $7,500 per year.
  • Adopted a resolution to transfer money from the Working Cash Fund to the Debt Service Fund.
  • Approved the school treasurer’s bond for David Bein at an annual premium of $11,854 and a limit/penalty of $21,850,000.
  • Approved an agreement between the Board and the School Association for Special Education in DuPage County (SASED) from Aug. 11, 2017 through Aug. 10, 2018.
  • Accepted a proposal from Group Alternatives, Inc., (GAI) and entered into a three-year contract between the District and GAI for insurance benefits consulting services with a 90-day termination clause.
  • Accepted a proposal from Eye Med for vision insurance starting July 1, 2017 at an estimated annual cost of $49,839 with a four-year rate guarantee.
  • Approved a three-year contract with Illuminate Education for a total cost of $91,632 over three years for math assessment platform services.
  • Approved the purchase of 21 Cisco Catalyst 2960-X 24 port POE switches and two Cisco Catalyst 2960-X 48 POE switches and associated maintenance contracts for a total cost of $38,815.90 from Meridian IT.
  • Approved second readings on two policies: Policy #5131.1 – Students – Bus Conduct; and Policy #5138  – Students – Prevention of and Response to Bullying, Intimidation, and Harassment. The Board approved revisions to both policies.

Upcoming events:

  • Thursday, May 11 at 7 a.m.: Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee Meeting at Longfellow
  • Tuesday, May 16 at 7 a.m.: Policy Committee at the ASC
  • Thursday, June 8 at 7 a.m.: Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee at Longfellow
  • Thursday, June 8 at 5 p.m.: O’Neill Eighth Grade Promotion Exercises at Downers Grove North
  • Thursday, June 8 at 7 p.m.: Herrick Eighth Grade Promotion Exercises at Downers Grove North
  • Monday, June 12 at 7 p.m.: Regular Board Meeting at TBD

District 58 Board of Education members are: Doug Purcell, president; Elizabeth Sigale, vice president; Greg Harris, Darren Hughes, John Miller, Jill Samonte and Beth Taylor, with Dr. Kari Cremascoli, superintendent; and Pam Osika, board secretary.