Board Briefs: June 2021

Board Briefs: June 2021

The District 58 Board of Education held a Regular Business Meeting on Monday, June 14, 2021 at O’Neill Middle School and via YouTube livestream. View the agenda to access presentation links, memos and related information. The meeting video is posted on the District 58 YouTube page.

Spotlight: Spring Data and Curricular Updates

Spring 2021 MAP Data:

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Justin Sisul presented an overview of District 58’s spring 2021 Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment results. The data showed that District 58 students earned high achievement percentiles but lower-than-usual growth percentiles. Mr. Sisul said the District will analyze, but not rationalize, the data, noting that several factors contributed to a unique testing year, including this year’s unconventional learning models, inconsistent testing environments, and higher-than-typical student achievement in fall 2020 (higher achievement during one testing period typically makes high growth more difficult to attain during the subsequent testing period). In addition, student percentiles are calculated using nationwide data collected in past, pre-pandemic years. It is uncertain how District 58 would perform if the percentiles were calculated against current, pandemic-era data.

District 58 will continue to provide rigorous curriculum and instruction for all students, and is using the data to inform curricular improvements and supports at the District, school and classroom levels. For one example, the District welcomed 200 students who attained lower-than-expected growth this school year to participate in a free Summer School program aimed at getting them back on track.

Curriculum Updates:

Social Studies:
Mr. Sisul shared that the Middle School Social Studies Committee piloted three curriculum resources this school year and recommended that District 58 implement the National Geographic social studies curriculum resource for the 2021-22 school year. This resource is on display at the Downers Grove Public Library and the Administrative Service Center for the public to review, and the Board will be asked to vote to approve the resource during the regular July meeting.

During the 2021-22 school year, the Elementary Social Studies Committee will pilot the McGraw-Hill and Savvas elementary social studies resources and possibly the National Geographic elementary resource.

Curricular Program Review:
District 58 engages in continuous improvement planning for all curricular programs. In the 2021-22 school year, areas of particular focus will include a review of writing instruction districtwide, the dual language program, the gifted program, elementary specials, student interventions and supports, and the implementation of math (year 2) and science (year 3) curricula, as both of these implementations were affected by COVID-19.  

Equity Audit
Next school year, District 58 also looks forward to completing an equity audit, with the goal of ensuring students have equitable access to all educational opportunities. The District will work with Dr. Ivette Dubiel and her consulting firm, Systemic Educational Equity, LLC, for the audit. During the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years, District 58 worked with Dr. Dubiel, who then served as the executive director of equity and professional learning at the DuPage County Regional Office of Education. District 58 looks forward to continuing its partnership with Dr. Dubiel. Sisul explained that Dr. Dubiel’s team will conduct research, lead community focus groups and offer surveys to ultimately identify areas of strength and needed improvement regarding equity in District 58. After their report, the District, Board and community will review the results. Any subsequent action steps will be decided and developed by District 58. More information will be shared with the community in the fall of 2021.

Spotlight: 2020-21 School Environment Survey

Community Relations Coordinator Megan Hewitt shared results from the parent and guardian school environment survey, which 1,373 parents and guardians took in February and March 2021.

Mrs. Hewitt reviewed highlights from the survey’s quantitative questions, including historical trends, as well as the survey’s two qualitative questions. These open-ended questions ask parents to share one thing their school and/or District 58 does well, and one thing that could be improved. These comments were analyzed, and several themes and keywords emerged. Communication, caring/supportive environment, curriculum, good teachers and staff/strong leadership, and the District’s COVID-19 response were the major themes that survey-takers most frequently said their school/District 58 does well. In addition, COVID-19-related topics, particularly those related to curriculum and communication, were among the most frequent themes that parents and guardians remarked that their school/District 58 should improve upon.

District 58 administrators, principals and school leadership teams use survey results to guide district and school improvement efforts.

Visit for survey results and more information.

Superintendent’s Report 

Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell provided several updates, including:

Congratulations!: Dr. Russell congratulated the eighth graders who were promoted to high school last week. “This group of children had a very unique middle school experience and persevered through the pandemic,” Dr. Russell said. “We are extremely proud of this group of students and look forward to watching them grow and accomplish their dreams.”

Curriculum and Instruction: District 58 hopes to receive its ESSER II funding this fiscal year, and will apply for the ESSER III grant once applications are ready. In the meantime, the District is identifying which expenses to include for ESSER III reimbursement. The District is also preparing for next fiscal year’s Title, Preschool for All, and IDEA grants.

Facilities: The District’s custodial and maintenance staff are deep cleaning schools and preparing for a variety of critical facility projects that will take place this summer. The District also completed a voluntary round of water testing over the past two weeks, and will post the results to its water testing webpage when they are ready.

Community Relations: The District 58 Education Foundation donated $9,500 worth of grocery store gift cards to District 58 families in need during the last two weeks of school. District and school staff discreetly distributed these gift cards to families in need. These donations came from the Education Foundation's COVID Family Support Fund, which has donated a total of $23,500 in grocery store gift cards for families in need this school year. Thank you, Education Foundation, for organizing this effort and helping our families during this difficult year.

The Education Foundation also recently recognized 58 eighth graders for exceptional service to their schools and community through their annual Select 58 Recognition Award Program. 

Personnel: In this month’s Personnel Report, District 58 is excited to rehire the majority of teachers who were RIF-ed, as well as hire several new staff to fill open positions. There are still  a small number of open positions; District 58 is in the process of identifying quality candidates for hire in July.

Business Report 

Assistant Superintendent for Business Todd Drafall reported that District 58 is on budget, has received the first round of property tax receipts, and is in a good cash position. He also reviewed several of the business-related Recommendations for Action that the Board would be asked to vote on later in the meeting.

Committee Reports

President Darren Hughes reported on the June 11 Financial Advisory Committee meeting. The committee reviewed the District’s amended budget and workers’ compensation, property and casualty insurance coverages; discussed the District’s new wellness incentive program; and considered possible format changes to the year-to-date report. They also noted that some property tax revenues arrived earlier than anticipated this year, and they noticed a slight decline in the corporate personal property replacement tax (CPPRT) revenues.

Member Tracy Weiner reported on the May 17 District Leadership Team meeting.  This team meets quarterly to review progress toward the District’s three strategic goals: Focusing on Learning, Connecting the Community, and Securing the Future. Read about their progress.

The Board’s Policy Committee, Legislative Committee and Health and Wellness Committee did not meet.

Discussion: E-Learning Plan

The Board discussed the benefits and drawbacks of District 58 developing an official e-learning plan in lieu of using emergency days. Such a plan could be used on days when school cannot be open in person, such as after a heavy snowfall or on an extremely hot or cold weather day. Board members pointed out that in-person instruction is usually a better learning environment, especially for students with special needs, and they noted that an occasional snow day might give students and staff a welcome break. On the other hand, using snow days, (also known as emergency days), would require District 58 to add days to the school calendar in June, when classrooms are warmer and students are eagerly awaiting the start of summer vacation. Furthermore, if schools are required to be closed for multiple days due to a weather event, it would be beneficial to have an e-learning plan on file, even if the District intended to use snow days/emergency days for one-day occurrences. 

After discussion, the Board asked District 58 to prepare a draft e-learning plan to review before deciding on next steps. Should the Board decide to move forward with an e-learning plan, they would be required to hold a public hearing on the plan during the July 12 Board meeting before formally voting to adopt the plan.

During the Meeting, the Board Also:

  • Held a public hearing on the proposed amended 2021-22 budget. Later in the meeting, the Board approved the amended budget. The District sold $3.335 million in bonds this winter in order to pay for critical summer 2021 capital projects. This bond sale was not planned in the original 2020-21 budget, so the budget was amended to reflect this funding, along with additional federal stimulus revenues. 
  • Received one in-person comment and one remote comment regarding the Longfellow Center.
  • Approved minutes from the May 10 Regular Board Meeting.
  • Approved the consent agenda, which included the three administrative appointments.
  • Rescinded Policy 2:232 - Temporary Rules for Public Participation at School Board Meeting During COVID-19 Emergency, effective July 14. 
  • Reappointed Todd Drafall as school treasurer and approved a Surety Bond of Treasurer resolution. 
  • Accepted an Aetna proposal for stop-loss insurance coverage at a cost of $1,597,331 for the 2021-22 fiscal year. 
  • Approved an updated employee wellness program, as recommended by the Health and Wellness Committee. 
  • Renewed the District’s property, casualty and workers’ compensation insurance for the 2021-22 fiscal year for $490,606.
  • Accepted a masonry and wall assessment services proposal from Inspec Inc. for $40,280. 
  • Nominated Member Steven Olczyk to serve as District 58’s representative to the Downers Grove Plan Commission for the 2021-22 fiscal year.

Upcoming Events

  • Thursday, July 8 at 6 p.m.: Special Meeting at O’Neill Middle School
  • Monday, July 12 at 7 p.m.: Regular Board Meeting at 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.