Board Briefs: May 2022

board briefs may 2022

The District 58 Board of Education held a Regular Meeting on Monday, May 9, 2022 at Downers Grove Village Hall. View the agenda. The meeting video will be posted on the District 58 YouTube page later this week.

Featured School: Pierce Downer School Flag Salute and Presentation

The Pierce Downer School Student Council led the Board and audience in the Pledge of Allegiance, and they reported on the service projects, fundraisers and spirit days that they’ve led this school year. Principal Leland Wagner presented examples of how the school is embracing positivity and school pride to build a stronger community. PTA Co-Presidents Melissa Poirier and Melissa Odenbach shared some of the PTA’s recent fundraisers and activities. Kelsey Wendell and Mackenzie Gapastione represented the Play! at Pierce community group and shared how this group is helping to fundraise for a new playground at the school. View their presentation.

Spotlight: 2021-22 School Environment Survey

Community Relations Coordinator Megan Hewitt shared results from the 2021-22 School Environment Survey, which a record 1,902 parents and guardians took this school year. District 58 annually administers this survey at the same time that the State’s 5Essentials Survey is open. This year’s survey window was Feb. 15-March 11. The survey opened a day after District 58 transitioned from masks-required to masks-recommended. A few days later, District 58 used an emergency day/snow day. Families had strong and varying opinions on the timely topics of mask requirements, COVID protocols and snow days, and these perspectives were clearly seen on the survey.  

Despite the timing of the survey, District 58 still earned high scores, and all but two quantitative questions were within three percentage points of last year. Mrs. Hewitt reviewed other 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 and guardians 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 topics, behavior, curriculum, communication and facilities 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 inform district and school improvement efforts, as well as to guide the goal setting process. Through their school improvement plans, individual schools will highlight improvements they are making based on survey feedback.

Mrs. Hewitt also previewed results from the District’s two communication surveys, which both fulfill objectives related to Strategic Goal 2: Connecting the Community. A full communication survey presentation will be shared with the District Leadership Team next week. 

Superintendent’s Report

Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell provided several updates, including:

  • Thank You: Dr. Russell thanked the Pierce Downer students, staff and families for their Board presentation.
  • Spring Benchmarking: Over the next three weeks, District 58 students will complete the spring MAP and aimsWeb assessments.
  • Illinois Report Cards: The final 2020-21 Illinois Report Cards for District 58 and all 13 schools have been publicly released and are available at While there are some data discrepancies, the majority-- including the academic achievement data-- appears to be accurate.
  • Finance: District 58 earned the State’s highest financial recognition rating on the 2022 School District Financial Profile. This is the 20th straight year District 58 has achieved this rating, and it is a strong example of how District 58 is a great steward of tax dollars.
  • Personnel: The Board agenda links a spreadsheet that projects elementary class sections based on current enrollment and historical trends. This data is tentative, and final section numbers will be determined when the 2022-23 school year gets closer and more registrations are received.
  • Technology: District 58 purchased new iPads for elementary students to use in the 2022-23 school year. Most of this order will be reimbursed through the federal government’s Emergency Connectivity Fund. The iPads recently arrived at the new District Service Center on 63rd Street. The order comprises 25 large pallets, which efficiently were received through the center’s roll-up door. In past years, this type of order would have been delivered to Longfellow. Since a pallet could not fit through Longfellow’s doors, staff would manually unload, haul and stack hundreds of boxes of valuable equipment all throughout the building, a time consuming and inefficient system. The District Service Center offers a much enhanced delivery process.
  • Special Services: Extended School Year: Nearly 80 students with disabilities will participate in Extended School Year this summer in District 58! This program focuses on skill work integrated with fun and socialization. 
  • Education Foundation: The Education Foundation hosted the annual Distinguished Service Award ceremony last week by recognizing 53 nominees and naming District Technology Technician Todd Cherney and Whittier Fifth Grade Teacher Cheryl Lyons the 2022 Distinguished Service Award winners. This Wednesday, the Education Foundation will present the Select 58 Award to 58 eighth graders for their community service and involvement. Finally, the Foundation is co-sponsoring a fundraiser for Ukrainian humanitarian aid this Saturday in downtown Downers Grove. Learn more here.
  • Facilities: District 58 is working with its architect and engineering consultants to prepare for this summer’s construction projects. All major product and material submittals have been submitted, reviewed and returned to contractors, and pre-construction meetings are scheduled at the end of the month.

Business Report 

Assistant Superintendent for Business Todd Drafall reported that District 58 has reached its low-cash point of the year. District 58 relies on property taxes to make payroll, and in past years, the District’s cashflow runs very low in May. Thanks to the District’s new fund balance policy and careful financial planning, District 58 is fully prepared to pay all bills and make payroll this month.

Mr. Drafall also reported that the District is overall on budget this fiscal year; he noted that District 58 did incur higher-than-expected expenses related to emergency facility repairs this past winter.

Discussion: Key Performance Indicators

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Justin Sisul provided the Board an update to his February Curriculum Workshop presentation on key performance indicators. District 58 continues to partner with ECRA, an education strategic planning firm, to more strategically use data to achieve student success. Through this partnership, District 58 teachers and administrators will soon be able to use a statistical framework that tracks the current and predicted progress of individual students and groups of students. 

By using statistics and data to predict likely student outcomes, the District will be able to better understand if students are meeting their goals.  It will also help the District measure the effect of specific student programs and interventions on students’ proficiency and growth, and help the District better allocate resources. More broadly, the District will apply this process to individual schools’ improvement processes to determine if each school’s improvement efforts were successful. 

One way the District will measure its success is through its key performance indicators, or KPIs. The District developed four-year KPIs in 2018, which expired in spring 2022. District 58 is working with ECRA to develop new KPIs. The first two draft KPIs are Academic Proficiency and Academic Growth. Both KPIs will be measured through specific metrics, benchmarks and annual targets.

At the Board level, going forward, District 58 will continue to present the “moment in time” MAP and aimsWeb assessment data, as well as IAR data, it has traditionally shared with the Board. In addition, the District will begin providing more dynamic growth updates, and growth and proficiency projections.

View the presentation.

During the Meeting, the Board Also:

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

  • Approved minutes from the April 11 Regular Meeting.
  • Approved all items posted in the regular consent agenda, including the approval of tenure for 15 staff members.
  • Approved a fundraising plan by the Indian Trail community for improving the playground areas at their school.
  • Approved the purchase of 36 Cisco switches, the associated Cisco accessories and licenses, a SonicWall security appliance, and the associated high availability security appliance for $164,000 from Sentinel.
  • Approved the purchase of 3,760 perpetual Jamf School licenses from Jamf for $65,800.
  • Approved a three-year contract for Seesaw for Schools for $60,750.

Upcoming Events

  • Tuesday, May 10 at 3:30 p.m.: Parent Teacher Advisory Committee Meeting via Google Meet
  • Monday, May 16 at 3:45 p.m.: District Leadership Team Meeting at O’Neill
  • Wednesday, May 25 at 7 a.m.: Policy Committee Meeting at Herrick
  • Friday, June 10 at 7 a.m.: Financial Advisory Committee at O’Neill
  • Monday, June 13 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.