Board Briefs: April 2022

board briefs april 2022

The District 58 Board of Education held a Regular Meeting on Monday, April 11, 2022 at Downers Grove Village Hall. Please view the agenda to acces all supporting Board meeting documents and presentations. The meeting video will be posted on the District 58 YouTube page later this week.

Approval: Amended 2021-22 Calendar: June 8 is Last Day of School

The Board of Education approved the amended 2021-22 school year calendar. The amended calendar accounted for the two emergency days that District 58 used this winter and updated the last day of school to Wednesday, June 8. The last day of school will be a half day for students. Eighth grade promotion will take place Tuesday, June 7. Middle school principals will send details to eighth grade families. 

Featured School: Fairmount School Flag Salute and Presentation

The Fairmount School Student Council led the Board and audience in the Pledge of Allegiance and reported on the service projects they’ve led this school year. PTA President Dominic Zucchero shared how the PTA fundraises to support Fairmount programs and needs. Principal Lisa Niforatos presented a video that highlighted the five different Fairmount School committees that support District 58’s strategic goals and positive psychology initiative. 

Superintendent’s Report

Dr. Russell provided several updates, including:

  • Thank You: Dr. Russell thanked the Fairmount administration, PTA and Student Council for their Board presentation.
  • IAR: District 58 is in the middle of its Illinois Assessment of Readiness testing window; the student participation rate is more than 99%, and there have been no widespread technology issues related to testing. “We greatly appreciate the partnerships of our families in recognizing this assessment as an important opportunity for our students to demonstrate their abilities,” Dr. Russell said.
  • Field Trips: After a COVID-19 hiatus, all students in grades 1-6 will experience a field trip this spring! Students in grades 1-3 will experience Lyman Woods’s “Wonder Woods” field trip, and students in grades 4-6 will study ecosystems at the Morton Arboretum.
  • Pierce Downer’s Heritage Alliance Donation: On behalf of Pierce Downer’s Heritage Alliance, Ken Lerner presented a $1,500 donation to District 58 to support this spring’s Lyman Woods field trips. Dr. Russell thanked Mr. Lerner and the PDHA for their continued support.
  • Safe2Help: Last week, District 58 launched the Safe2Help program. Safe2Help is a safe and confidential resource for students to report potential mental health and safety concerns.
  • Roadrunners Donation: Dr. Russell thanked the Downers Grove Roadrunners Soccer Club for donating $12,500 to support improvements to District 58’s Development Learning Program, a highly individualized special education program for students with known or suspected intellectual disabilities. 
  • Registration and Personnel: Dr. Russell thanked families for completing their students’ 2022-23 registrations in a timely manner. Early registration helps District 58 finalize staffing plans at each school. District 58 has begun to rehire staff members who were affected by last month’s reduction-in-force, and interviews for newly-created positions for 2022-23 have begun. District 58 is in the midst of interviewing new principals for Henry Puffer and Kingsley schools and hopes to hire these individuals at either the April 25 or May 9 Board meeting. 

Business Report & Five-Year Financial Plan Preview

Assistant Superintendent for Business Todd Drafall reported that District 58’s expenditures are slightly under budget so far this fiscal year. He also gave a report on the District’s proposed 2023-27 Financial Plan, which the Board will be asked to formally adopt during the April 25 Financial Workshop. This is the second consecutive year that District 58 presented a formal five-year financial plan to the Board.

In recent years, District 58 made several strategic changes to its budgeting approach to strengthen the District’s financial position. One of these changes was creating a continuous five-year financial plan (updated annually). Other recent financial improvements included creating a 35% fund balance policy, prioritizing large/capital project planning, partnering with community members and financial experts on the Financial Advisory Committee, and actively seeking grants.

Among other items, the proposed 2023-27 financial plan includes:

  • Annual transfer of $1 million in operating funds to the capital fund
  • The addition of up to 3.0 FTE staff members over three years for a Dual Language Program
  • Elementary iPad replacement for summer 2022
  • The potential removal of OKEEP fees and the transition to a free, full day kindergarten program beginning in the 2023-24 school year (this would require Board of Education approval and is dependent on the passage of a referendum for capital projects)
  • Capital funding for playground projects, largely funded by State grants and community donations, as well as some District funds.
  • Summer 2022 capital work for school improvements using $3 million in Longfellow Center sale proceeds.

Discussion: Two-Way Dual Language Program

During the Feb. 28 Curriculum Workshop, the District’s administration recommended District 58 pursue a two-way Dual Language Program starting with kindergarten in the 2022-23 school year. The Board requested additional information regarding the potential program’s sustainability, student selection procedures and fees. 

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Justin Sisul reported that since the February Curriculum Workshop, the Dual Language teaching team and the Bilingual Parent Advisory Committee each met twice and provided input regarding the Board’s questions and this potential program’s structure.

Mr. Sisul shared that a two-way Dual Language Program would require two-to-three additional staff members for the full duration of the program, a staffing increase that the District’s budget can sustain. Creating a two-way program requires balancing the number of native Spanish-speaking English Learner students with a number of monolingual English-speaking students. In 2022-23, the program would be housed at El Sierra School, and it would be limited to just one kindergarten class section. With that in mind, Dual Language Program student selection would follow a three-step prioritization process:

  1. Native Spanish Speakers: District 58 would first invite Spanish-speaking, English learner kindergarten students to participate.
  2. El Sierra Students: District 58 would secondly invite English-speaking monolingual El Sierra kindergarteners to participate. Since there are very limited monolingual spaces available, students at the program’s home school would be prioritized second.
  3. Districtwide Lottery: Any remaining monolingual spaces would be offered through a districtwide lottery.

The Dual Language Program would be a full-day kindergarten program, and would have a similar fee structure to the District’s other specialized programs. English learner students invited to the Dual Language Program would not pay a fee, as the program constitutes the services they are entitled to receive through their English learner status. Monolingual English-speaking students who opt in to the program would pay the same fee as OKEEP, as kindergarteners would receive the same amount of instruction time as kindergarteners enrolled in OKEEP.

Board members discussed the proposed program, asked additional questions, and later voted unanimously to approve the initiation of a two-way dual language program for incoming kindergarten students in the 2022-23 school year. Additional information will be shared with incoming kindergarten families later this spring.

Committee Reports 

President Darren Hughes reported on the April 8 Financial Advisory Committee meeting. The committee reviewed the proposed financial plan, District 58’s in-district special programming, and several of the recommendations for action presented at this April 2022 Board meeting, including the Rexnord property tax abatement and the Pierce Downer playground donation.

During the Meeting, the Board Also:

(Please view the Board meeting agenda to view supporting documents for the following topics.)

  • Approved minutes from the March 14 Regular Meeting.
  • Approved all items posted in the regular consent agenda.
  • Approved a resolution authorizing the agreed property tax abatement for the Rexnord facility for the 2021 tax year. 
  • Affirmed current COVID-19 mitigations that are currently in place and affirmed the superintendent’s recommendation to return to pre-pandemic lunch protocols, in alignment with a layered approach for mitigation removal, per the CDC. The Board also authorized the superintendent to make further COVID-19 mitigation measure adjustments as necessary based on local conditions and to rescind the Board’s Feb. 10 COVID-19 resolution, to the extent inconsistent with this motion.
  • Approved the purchase of Savvas’s myWorld Interactive Illinois grade K-5 social studies curriculum resource for $329,024.48.
  • Accepted a $99,000 anonymous donation for Pierce Downer School playground improvements.
  • Awarded a bid to Hacienda Landscaping for Pierce Downer playground improvements (phase 1) work for $99,000.
  • Awarded a bid for miscellaneous painting at District 58 schools to Allied Painting Services, Inc., for $19,400.

Upcoming Events

  • Monday, April 25 at 7 p.m.: Board of Education Financial Workshop at O’Neill
  • Monday, May 9 at 7 p.m.: Board of Education Regular 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.