Board Briefs: August 2022

board briefs: august 2022

The District 58 Board of Education held a Regular Meeting on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022 at Downers Grove Village Hall. View the agenda. The meeting video will be posted on the District 58 YouTube page within the week.

Approval of Facility Proposal

The Board approved a resolution to place a proposal on the Nov. 8, 2022 ballot to issue $179 million in bonds to improve facilities. The proposal includes school building maintenance projects; health, safety and security upgrades, including adding air-conditioning/improved ventilation and more secure entrances; and expansion of the two middle schools (Herrick and O’Neill) to accommodate sixth-grade students. 

Learn more about District 58’s facility planning.

View a short video series on District 58’s facility planning.

Spotlight: Back-to-School Update

Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell presented an overview of District 58’s back-to-school plan. District 58 will open the 2022-23 school year in a typical, pre-pandemic fashion.

  • The District will follow a typical school day schedule, and activities such as extracurriculars, middle school sports and field trips will take place.
  • There is no mandate regarding universal masking and COVID vaccines.
  • If students or staff members test positive for COVID-19, they will be required to adhere to the isolation requirements mandated by the Illinois Department of Public Health and DuPage County Health Department. 
  • Remote learning will be available to anyone under mandatory isolation. 
  • District 58 will provide take-home COVID-19 tests and personal protective equipment for those in need. The weekly COVID-19 screening program will no longer be offered.
  • While the COVID-19 dashboard will no longer be updated, District 58 will continue to track COVID-19 cases internally, just as it does for other illnesses.
  • District 58 looks forward to starting the school year in a similar manner to how last school year ended. The District has come a long way, and there is much to celebrate!

View the Back-to-School Update presentation.
View District 58’s Fall 2022 Instructional Plan.

Superintendent’s Report

Dr. Russell provided several updates, including:

  • Curriculum and Instruction: District 58 has received about 85% of next school year’s curriculum materials and expects the rest to arrive by the end of next week, which is on schedule and earlier than past years’ deliveries.
  • Personnel: District 58 will welcome 37 new staff members during New Teacher Week, which begins Aug. 15. Like all school districts across the country, District 58 is still hiring several positions, mainly instructional assistants, custodians and substitutes. District 58 enrollment is consistent with spring projections. Principals and secretaries are working with families to complete the registration process, update class lists and prepare classrooms for the first day of school.
  • Technology: The Technology Department has completed several critical projects this summer, including preparing all student and staff devices, updating the District’s phone system software, and partnering with schools to complete student schedules. Principals will email families their school’s unique class list release time on Aug. 15. Class lists/teacher assignments will be posted on PowerSchool.
  • Public Relations: The Education Foundation will host its Sneak Preview seventh grade orientation event and New Teacher Luncheon next week. District 58 appreciates the Foundation’s partnership and support.
  • Facilities: Several summer construction projects are wrapping up, and overall, the projects have been successful despite some delays caused by supply chain issues, labor shortages and strikes. Some projects experiencing delays -- such as masonry and fire alarm replacement -- will be pushed to summer 2023 as this work cannot be completed on school days or during breaks. District 58 is excited to share that construction on the new Downers Grove Civic Center will begin this week. This new shared facility will house the Village of Downers Grove, Downers Grove Police Department and District 58. Sharing an office space with other public entities will benefit taxpayers.
  • Other: Dr. Russell reported that he is excited to begin a new school year. “While there are certainly challenges in front of us due to staff shortages, increased costs due to inflation, construction delays, COVID-19 and aging facilities, we will continue to meet these challenges head on,” Dr. Russell said. “I know that our District will continue to lead thanks to our supportive Board, great students, a staff that is second to none, wonderful families and an invested community. It’s going to be a great year and we can’t wait to start!”

Business Report 

Assistant Superintendent for Business Todd Drafall reported that the tentative 2022-23 budget will be on display (at the District 58 Office and on the District website) for the next 30 days. Before the September Board meeting, the Board will hold a budget hearing and is expected to vote to approve the budget. The tentative budget is balanced and follows District 58’s Five-Year Financial Plan.

Discussion: Options for Potential Construction Projects

Mr. Drafall and Dr. Russell led a presentation on next steps and considerations for facility work. 

Last winter, District 58 projected that the $179 million facility proposal would increase District 58’s tax rate by 0.23. Given the uniqueness of the current bond market, District 58 recently recalculated the property tax impact and updated its projection to 0.25. The new projection would increase District 58’s property tax rate from $1.98 to $2.23 (0.25). 

District 58 currently has the lowest property tax rate when compared to all DuPage County large elementary school districts. Even with a tax increase of 0.25, District 58 would still have the lowest tax rate when compared to peer districts.

Here is the updated property tax impact chart:

Home Value Tax Impact (0.23 increase) Tax Impact (0.25 increase)
$250,000 $191 $211
$300,000 $229 $253
$500,000 $382 $422
$750,000 $574 $634

District 58 remains committed to recommending its original $179 million facility proposal to the Board of Education. Although the District budgeted conservatively, the economy has experienced higher-than-usual inflation, which could impact work the District will be able to achieve with $179 millon.

Dr. Russell said that if the referendum passes, District 58 would prioritize the following projects:

  • Secure entrances for all schools
  • Updated HVAC systems, including adding air conditioning and improving air quality and ventilation in all educational spaces
  • Building additions to the middle schools to accommodate the addition of sixth graders. Not only would this benefit sixth graders, but it would also address overcrowding in the neighborhood elementary schools.

After funding these top priorities, District 58 would prioritize its maintenance projects (i.e. roofing, plumbing, etc.) and complete as many as possible. 

District 58’s Financial Advisory Committee met Aug. 5 and discussed facility next steps and recommended District 58 secure a construction management firm. While District 58 does not want to initiate too much facility work before taxpayers weigh in at the polls, the District does need to begin the process of hiring a construction manager to ensure the projects can start and end on time, should the referendum be passed. The committee discussed the benefits and drawbacks of the different types of construction management firms and recommended District 58 hire a construction management at-risk firm. District 58 will consider several options and present a list of the top three firms to the Board at the September meeting.

View the presentation.

During the Meeting, the Board Also:

  • Received two public comments: one regarding District 58’s facility proposal from a community member and one regarding District 58’s math acceleration opportunities from a parent.
  • Approved minutes from the July 11 regular Board Meeting.
  • Approved all items posted in the consent agenda, including new substitute and lunchroom supervisor pay rates. The new pay rates are:
    • Lunchroom supervisor: $15/hour
    • Clerical substitute: $15/hour
    • Instructional assistant substitute: $98/day
    • Teacher substitute: $150/day
    • Custodian substitute: $15/hour
  • Approved the District 58 Consolidated Plan for the 2022-23 school year. 
  • Designated serious safety hazards for the 2022-23 school year. This allows students who reside within these designated areas to be eligible for fee-based bus transportation services, despite living within the 1.5 mile limit.
  • Awarded the snow removal bid for all schools to Langton Group of Woodstock, Illinois.

Upcoming Events

  • Monday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m.: Regular Board Meeting at O'Neill Middle School

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.