Board Briefs: December 2022

The District 58 Board of Education held a Regular Meeting on Monday, Dec. 12, 2022 at Downers Grove Village Hall. View the agenda to see all meeting documents and presentations. The meeting video will be posted on the District 58 YouTube page within the week.

Public Hearing: Truth-in-Taxation Tax Levy

District 58 held a Truth-in-Taxation Tax Levy public hearing and received no public comments. Later in the meeting, the Board voted unanimously to adopt the 2022 Certificate of Levy in the amount of $66.315 million, which is a 6.608% increase from 2021.

The tax levy is how school districts annually request the funding they receive from property taxes. Due to a tax cap law, District 58 may only request a funding increase equal to the consumer price index (CPI) or 5% (whichever is lower), plus the taxes associated with any new construction. Since the CPI is 7%, District 58 can receive up to 5%, plus new construction taxes. District 58 estimates that this total will be below the 6.6% increase in the levy. However, at this time the final values are not yet known and will not be known until late spring.  

School Report: El Sierra School

El Sierra School Student Council representatives led the Board and audience in the Pledge of Allegiance (in English and Spanish) and shared some of their spirit day activities and community service projects. PTA Co-Presidents Brienne Harris and Nina Miller highlighted the PTA’s recent achievements, which include holding a successful fun run, increasing in-person activities, purchasing new retractable basketball hoops, and funding all Fun Lunch costs, among others. Principal Jason Lynde celebrated some of the school’s unique programs, including the new Two-Way Dual Language Program, as well as Recess Rodeo, Recess Leaders and Watch DOGS. He also reviewed school academic data, noting that climate survey participation, chronic absenteeism numbers and academic growth are all areas that they are seeking to improve. El Sierra also used their academic data to establish two school improvement goals regarding foundational skills & vocabulary and informational texts. 

Spotlight: Capital Planning & Post Referendum: What’s Next

District 58 central administrators were joined by District 58’s architect, Wight & Company, and construction management firm, Bulley & Andrews, to provide the Board an update on capital planning. 

Assistant Superintendent for Business Todd Drafall noted that District 58 sold its first set of referendum bonds on Nov. 30, and the proceeds will be used to fund $140 million in District capital projects over the next three years. The District anticipates completing a second bond sale for the remaining referendum funds in the future. Peter Kuhn, vice president of Bulley & Andrews, shared a draft capital planning schedule. In 2023, District 58 plans to complete preliminary survey work, visioning sessions, budget alignment and design. Construction on referendum projects is planned to begin in spring/summer 2024, with a targeted substantial completion by fall 2026. 

While referendum projects will be in the design phase next year, non-referendum construction will still be taking place in District 58 during summer 2023. The District will use a combination of State grant funds, community/PTA group donations and District funds to rebuild and/or enhance eight school playgrounds. In addition, District 58 plans to complete Henry Puffer asbestos abatement work (pending state maintenance grant approval), as well as the fire alarm and masonry projects that were delayed last summer due to supply chain shortages.

Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell noted that there will be opportunities for the community to weigh in before referendum designs are finalized. The District will hold staff and community visioning sessions in late January, with additional feedback opportunities throughout the process.

Superintendent’s Report

Dr. Russell provided several updates, including:

  • 2023-24 Calendar: Dr. Russell provided a preview of the draft 2023-24 calendar. To maximize the summer 2024 construction window, the draft calendar eliminates some single days off, while maintaining typical break periods. The last day of student attendance is projected to be Friday, May 24, 2024. The Board will be asked to approve the final calendar later this winter.
  • Full-Day Kindergarten: District 58 is exploring implementing full-day kindergarten in District 58. District 58 is examining the budget and will be meeting with kindergarten teachers and building administrators to review instructional planning and logistical considerations related to full-day kindergarten. The District hopes to provide an update in February 2023 with a possible recommendation in March 2023.
  • Copier Performance: District 58 implemented a new copier system this school year in an effort to improve efficiency while reducing waste and cost. The implementation has come with some challenges that the District is working through with its vendor and hopes to resolve soon.
  • Extended School Year: District 58 hopes to publish its summer 2023 Extended School Year program schedule in January to assist families with their summer scheduling. Extended School Year is a summer program for students with special needs who are identified through their IEP.
  • Charitable Donations: District 58 is fortunate to partner with many generous organizations and individuals who have collectively provided District students/families in need with coats and other winterwear; holiday gifts; holiday meals; and grocery/gas gift cards. These partners include, but are not limited to: St. Joseph Catholic Church and Knights of Columbus, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Community Christian Church of Downers Grove, Downers Grove Roadrunners Soccer Club, Downers Grove Junior Woman’s Club, Helping Hands, the EM5 Foundation, Sharing Connections, Stitches to Share, Downers Grove Moose Lodge, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Blessings in a Backpack, and individual school Student Councils and PTAs.
  • Harlem Wizards: The Education Foundation will welcome the Harlem Wizards to Downers Grove on Sunday, January 15 at 6 p.m. at Downers Grove South for a community fundraiser event. The Wizards will play a basketball game against the Downers Grovetrotters, a basketball team comprising District 58 teachers and staff. To learn more and buy tickets, please visit
  • Facilities: As colder weather sets in, District 58 often sees an increase in facility challenges, as some equipment is more prone to failure in cold weather. Over the last two weeks, there were significant water-related issues at Fairmount, O’Neill, Lester and Herrick. Dr. Russell thanked the maintenance staff, custodians, and Buildings and Grounds Department leaders Kevin Barto and Geoff Neustadt for their hard work resolving these issues. “This work often takes place in the evenings and weekends after hours,” said Dr. Russell. “Without their hard work, we would have had to cancel school for at least one and possibly two of the impacted buildings.”
  • Winter Break: Dr. Russell wished the Board and community a happy winter break and noted that the District Office will remain open during break, with closures on Dec. 23, 26, 30 and Jan. 2. While the holidays are joyful for many, they can be challenging for others. If you need assistance, please contact a school social worker or Megan Hewitt in the District Office.

Business Report 

Assistant Superintendent for Business Todd Drafall reported that the budget is in a good position, but will need to be amended at the end of the fiscal year to reflect referendum proceeds and capital expenditures connected with the capital planning. Mr. Drafall noted that a new law (effective in 2023) requires a fund balance discussion when a school board approves a budget or holds a tax levy. The District already includes fund balance information in its regular monthly year-to-date reports, which also include a comparison to prior year and to current budget. 

District 58’s independent audit firm, Miller Cooper & Co., Ltd., formally presented District 58’s audit report. Later in the meeting, the Board formally accepted the 2021-22 audit report. 

Committee Reports

  • Member Emily Hanus reported on the Dec. 7 Legislative Committee meeting. The committee discussed the format for the upcoming Legislative Forum, which will take place on Friday, Feb. 3.
  • President Darren Hughes reported on the Dec. 9 Financial Advisory Committee meeting. The committee’s discussion focused on the year-to-date report and the referendum bond sale.
  • Member Kirat Doshi reported on the Nov. 21 District Leadership Team meeting. The team provided a progress update on the District’s three strategic goals: Focusing on Learning, Connecting the Community, and Securing the Future, and discussed a timeline for developing the next Strategic Plan.
  • Vice President Gregory Harris reported on the Dec. 8 Health and Wellness Committee meeting. While the medical reserve fund is expected to have a small surplus, it will likely be smaller than previously forecast due to healthcare market conditions and rising costs. On a positive note, the District’s HSA plan increased its membership by 67% for the 2022-23 calendar year.

During the Meeting, the Board Also:

  • Approved minutes from the Nov. 14 Regular Meeting and Nov. 21 Curriculum Workshop.
  • Approved all items in the consent agenda.
  • Approved a three-year contract with Navigate 360 for ALICE training.
  • Approved a three-year contract with Raptor to provide the Raptor Visitor Management System.
  • Approved donation agreements with the Kingsley, Pierce Downer, Indian Trail and Belle Aire PTAs to each be used to help rebuild their respective playgrounds.
  • Approved playground equipment for Lester, Kingsley, Belle Aire and Indian Trail with BCI Burke and for Pierce Downer with Landscape Structures.
  • Approved a middle school topographical survey proposal with DLZ Surveyors.
  • To view documents related to the above actions, please view the meeting agenda.

Upcoming Events

  • Wednesday, Jan. 4 at 3:45 p.m.: Legislative Committee Meeting at O’Neill
  • Friday, Jan. 6 at 7 a.m.: Financial Advisory Committee Meeting at O’Neill
  • Monday, Jan. 9 at 7 p.m.: Regular Board Meeting at O’Neill

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.