Board Briefs: June 2022

June 2022 board briefs

The District 58 Board of Education held a Regular Meeting on Monday, June 13, 2022 at Downers Grove Village Hall. View the agenda to access all presentation and document links. The meeting video will be posted on the District 58 YouTube page later this week.

Discussion: Potential Referendum

In winter 2022, District 58 launched a public engagement initiative to inform residents about its facility planning and needs. The initiative also sought the community’s feedback regarding whether they would likely support the potential referendum that would be required to fund this work.

The District mailed informational flyers, hosted meetings and tours, produced a video series, and shared updates regarding its facilities through different communication channels. Following this effort, the District worked with Paul Hanley and Jim Hobart to survey residents on their perceptions and knowledge of District 58’s facilities. Both a mail survey and a scientific hybrid phone survey were conducted.

Mr. Hanley is the managing director of Beyond Your Base. He worked with District 58 to send a mail survey to all registered voters. A total of 2,477 surveys (or 12%) were returned to Beyond Your Base for analysis. The mail survey yielded strong results, with 60% of respondents reporting that they would “definitely yes” or “probably yes” support the potential referendum, 34% reporting that they would “definitely not” or “probably not” support it, and the remainder being unsure. Survey-takers considered facility maintenance improvements (i.e. plumbing, electrical, etc.) the highest priority projects. Arguments in favor of a referendum that resonated most with survey participants related to student and staff safety, extending the useful life of facilities, the age of the schools, and the amount of time since the last successful referendum. Arguments against a possible referendum that resonated most were regarding tax increase concerns and increasing cost of living.

Mr. Hanley reported that his team has completed many similar surveys in Illinois (including District 99). Historically, mail surveys skew negative, and Illinois referendums have always received an equal or greater percentage of support than what is reported in the mail surveys his firm has conducted. While this is potentially good news, he said that District 58 will need to continue to inform the community on its facility needs.

Mr. Hobart, vice president of Public Opinion Strategies, led a scientific hybrid phone survey with registered voters. His survey garnered similar responses to the mail survey, with 54% reporting that they would “definitely yes” or “probably yes” support the potential referendum and 32% reporting they would “definitely not” or “probably not” support it. An additional 5% were “undecided/leaning yes,” 2% were “undecided/leaning no” and 7% were uncertain. Questions regarding project prioritization and arguments in favor of/against the potential referendum yielded similar responses to the mail survey.

Mr. Hobart said that while the potential referendum currently has majority support, it will still take an aggressive campaign to pass, and the key turnout group in a potential campaign will be younger voters, especially those with children under 5.

View the presentation for a detailed analysis of the survey results. 

Highland Assistant Principal/District Curriculum Coordinator Appointment

The Board appointed Sandy Cristobal to the Highland School assistant principal and District curriculum coordinator role. Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell reported that through three rounds of interviews, Ms. Cristobal impressed the team with her student-centered approach, her broad experiences (which align extremely well with the role she will hold in District 58), her positivity, enthusiasm and warm, caring demeanor. 

Ms. Cristobal comes to District 58 from Westmont Community Unit District 201, where she has served as the assistant principal of Manning and Miller elementary schools and as the grade K-12 bilingual director since 2019. Previously, she served several years as an elementary ESL and bilingual teacher in Morton Grove School District 70 and South Berwyn School District 100. Ms. Cristobal earned her master of arts degree in Educational Leadership from North Park University, her ESL/bilingual endorsement from Aurora University, and her bachelor of arts in Secondary Education from North Central College.

Learn more about Ms. Cristobal.

Approval: DGESP Contract and Handbook Approvals 

The Board approved a new four-year collective bargaining agreement with the Downers Grove Educational Support Personnel (DGESP) association during the Board’s regular meeting on Monday, June 13. The DGESP ratified the contract on June 7, 2022. The DGESP includes District 58’s school secretaries and instructional assistants, as well as some central office support staff.

The new DGESP contract offers: 

  • More competitive starting salaries, increasing from $14.50 to $16.00 per hour in year 1
  • An increased contribution by the Board of Education toward instructional assistant health insurance premiums, as well as a secretarial health insurance cost shift with an increased contribution by secretaries that maintains their level of benefits.
  • A $1,200 stipend for instructional assistants who work in specialized programs, such as preschool, DLP, RISE and BEST 
  • Employee retirement benefit retention, while also protecting the District from additional costs associated with Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) penalties.

Learn more here.

In addition, the Board approved all other items in the Personnel Report, including the administrators’ handbook, technology staff handbook, non-union educational support staff handbook, and the salaries of administrators, non-union technology staff, non-union educational support staff and registered nurses.

Spotlight: Spring Data Review 

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Justin Sisul led a presentation on District 58’s spring 2022 Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) and Aimsweb assessment data.

Students in grades K-8 take the MAP assessment three times per year. Spring MAP assessment results show that District-level growth is in the expected range for both Math and Reading, indicating that, overall, growth has recovered to pre-pandemic levels. Every grade level’s median achievement ranged within the below percentiles, when compared to the more than 7,800 schools nationwide that take the MAP test.

  • 76th-94th percentile: District 58 grade level achievement ranges in Reading
  • 76th-97th percentile: District 58 grade level achievement ranges in Math

Aimsweb is an assessment administered in fall, winter and spring that measures early literacy and numeracy among primary students. District 58 reported lower-than-usual achievement on the fall 2021 Aimsweb assessment and increased interventions to support students whose test results placed them at moderate or high risk. The winter and spring 2022 Aimsweb test results showed large improvements in both early literacy and early numeracy, indicating these interventions are working. For example, in fall 2021, 42% of first graders were identified as “high risk” in early literacy and in need of additional support. In spring 2022, only 17% of first graders were considered “high risk” in this category. 

View the presentation.

Spotlight: Key Performance Indicators 1-3

This school year, District 58 partnered with ECRA, an education strategic planning firm, to update its key performance indicators, or KPIs. Broadly, KPIs are data points that measure progress toward a goal. Mr. Sisul briefly reviewed the first two draft KPIs, Academic Proficiency and Academic Growth, as these KPIs have been discussed at past meetings. Later in the meeting, the Board voted unanimously to approve these two KPIs. Starting next school year, both KPIs will be applied to the District’s data review.

Mr. Sisul was joined by Assistant Superintendent for Special Services Jessica Stewart to introduce draft KPI 3: Social-Emotional Learning.

District 58 teaches social-emotional learning (SEL) instruction at all grade levels using the Second Step curriculum resource. The instruction aligns with the Illinois State Board of Education’s Social-Emotional Learning Standards. While District 58 teaches these skills, it currently lacks an assessment to measure the effectiveness of this instruction. District 58 formed a Social-Emotional Learning Audit Committee in 2018 to investigate SEL assessment options, and District leadership has presented committee updates to the Board periodically. Through the committee’s work, District 58 recommends the implementation of the Panorama SEL assessment and creation of benchmarks and metrics related to SEL in support of this KPI. Mrs. Stewart highlighted the strengths of this assessment and the ways it will help strengthen District 58’s SEL instruction. This presentation served as an introduction to draft KPI 3: Social-Emotional Learning, and the Board will have a more in-depth discussion in July.

View the presentation (scroll to the “Measuring KPI #3: Social-Emotional Learning” slide).

Superintendent’s Report

Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell provided several updates, including:

  • Thank You: Dr. Russell thanked District 58 students, staff and families for their partnership this school year. “We were able to have a very successful year thanks to everyone working together on behalf of our students. I am extremely proud of how our District has navigated very challenging waters this past year,” Dr. Russell said.
  • Personnel: District 58 is busy hiring staff to fill vacant positions for the 2022-23 school year. District 58 has been working to keep class sizes low, and most class sizes are lower and below their targets.
  • Technology: The Technology Office is preparing old iPads for sale, deploying new iPads, ending the year in PowerSchool, and preparing for the next, and completing a variety of infrastructure and hardware projects including the removal of older printers, routine projector maintenance, and Chromebook repairs.
  • Special Services: Today is the first day of Summer School Session I at El Sierra and Extended School Year at Indian Trail. We are looking forward to supporting continued learning opportunities for our students in the weeks to come.
  • Facilities: District 58 will tackle several facility projects this summer using proceeds of its recent Longfellow Center sale, including:
    • Masonry remediation at Henry Puffer, Fairmount, El Sierra, Highland and Kingsley
    • Asbestos abatement and flooring replacement at Henry Puffer
    • Paving improvements at Henry Puffer and Hillcrest
    • Fire alarm replacement at Henry Puffer and Highland
    • Exterior door replacements at Fairmount

Business Report 

Assistant Superintendent for Business Todd Drafall gave an overview on the finance-related bids to be voted on later in the meeting.

Committee Reports:

Vice President Gregory Harris reported on the May 25 and June 6 Policy Committee meetings. The committee reviewed several recommended PRESS Plus policy updates. PRESS Plus is a service that helps Illinois school districts keep their Board policies up-to-date. The committee also discussed the benefits and drawbacks to allowing students access to cell phones during the school day, as it relates to current Board Policy 7:190: Student Behavior, and recommended adding language to this policy that permits students to have cell phones at school, but sets clear expectations for student cell phone use. Finally, the Policy Committee recommended the deletion of 4:182: Face Coverings During a Pandemic, as requiring mask usage is no longer enforceable in Illinois. The Board approved first readings of all the policies reviewed and will vote to approve them next month.

President Darren Hughes reported on the June 10 Financial Advisory Committee meeting. The committee discussed the treasurer’s surety bond, insurance bids, insurance claims, the transition from using printers to copiers and the associated cost savings, and the need to look at RFQs for construction management later this summer.

Member Kirat Doshi reported on the May 16 District Leadership Team meeting. This committee discussed draft key performance indicators.

Vice President Harris reported on the June 2 Health and Wellness Committee meeting, which reviewed employee wellness survey results, and noted a surplus in the medical reserve fund, which is typical for this time of year. The committee anticipates the need to raise employee medical insurance premiums for next calendar year.

During the Meeting, the Board Also:

  • Approved minutes from the April 25 Special Meeting/Financial Workshop, May 9 Regular Meeting and June 2 Special Meeting
  • Appointed Todd Drafall as the District 58 school treasurer 
  • Approved the surety bond of treasurer
  • Approved the 2022-23 Board of Education meeting calendar 
  • Awarded the bid for specific stop-loss insurance coverage to Voya for $1,653,738.40 for the 2022-23 fiscal year
  • Approved the purchases of the following insurance coverages for a total cost of $476,595:
    • School Package Policy—Property & Liability: Liberty Mutual 
    • Business Automobile: Liberty Mutual
    • Umbrella: Liberty Mutual
    • Fiduciary Liability: Chubb
    • Workers’ Compensation: ENCOVA 
    • Cyber Liability: Corvus
  • Approved the copier maintenance and lease contract with Proven IT for $17,794.02 per month for five years
  • Approved a food service contract with Aramark with reimbursable lunch priced at $3.1256 and milk priced at $0.4019 for the 2022-23 school year
  • Approved the purchase of 30 Macbook Airs and 30 iPads for staff for $32,190
  • Approved the purchase of 500 Lenovo 300e Chromebooks with included Google device licenses for middle school students for a total cost of $177,320 from CDW-G
  • Designated two American Disinfectant sprayers, 3,500 sixth generation iPads and 300 HP laserjet printers as surplus equipment 
  • Received one public comment regarding math acceleration communication.

Upcoming Events

  • Monday, July 11 at 7 p.m.: Regular Board of Education Meeting at Belle Aire

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.