Board Briefs: February 2023

The District 58 Board of Education held a Regular Meeting on Monday, Feb. 13, 2023 at Downers Grove Village Hall. View the agenda to access meeting presentations and documents. The meeting video will be posted on the District 58 YouTube page within the week.

School Report: Henry Puffer School

Henry Puffer School Student Council representatives led the Board and audience in the Pledge of Allegiance and shared how they lead school/charity fundraisers and promote a positive school environment. PTA Co-Presidents Nicole Brown and Michelle Morgan highlighted the PTA’s annual Lung Run, Holiday Family Breakfast and Spring Fundraiser, which all raise money to support the Henry Puffer community. Principal Mark Leipart shared a few school points of pride, including their sense of community, recent renovations, Watch DOGS program and robust clubs and activities. Mr. Leipart and his staff have also deeply reviewed the school’s academic data and used this data to strategically design their annual school improvement goals. While Henry Puffer is achieving expected growth in both Reading and Math, his staff identified Reading as an area of focus. Specifically, the school has worked on nurturing a love of literacy this year. When comparing spring 2022 test results to winter 2023, Henry Puffer’s Reading growth results have seen a 6 percentage point improvement. 

Spotlight: Winter Data Snapshot

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Justin Sisul gave an overview of the District’s winter 2023 Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) and aimsweb assessment data. 

All grade K-8 students took the winter MAP Reading and Math assessment in January 2023. When reviewing MAP data, District 58 looks at both student achievement and growth data. Achievement shows how a student performs on the MAP test at a single point in time. Academic growth is measured by comparing the student’s current score to their projected score, which is derived from analyzing their prior year’s performance. Aimsweb is an assessment that measures early literacy and numeracy among primary students. District 58 uses aimsweb data to identify students’ current literacy and numeracy level and to determine individual interventions to help each student succeed. The test is administered to students until they meet its exit criteria.

Sisul reported the following highlights regarding winter 2023 assessment results:

  • District 58’s MAP achievement continues to be high. When compared to winter 2022, the winter 2023 data shows improvements across almost all grade levels.
  • District 58 grade levels placed between the 84th-97th percentile in Reading and the 80th-98th percentile in Math, when compared to the more than 7,800 schools nationally that take the MAP test.
  • Overall winter MAP results show that district-level growth is in the expected range for both Math and Reading. 
  • Grade level growth results show that Math growth is higher than expected for grades 1 and 3 and lower than expected for grades 7 and 8. Reading growth is higher than expected for grades 1 and 3 and within the expected growth range for all other levels. 
  • School growth results show that all schools are making expected growth in Reading, and Belle Aire and Hillcrest schools are making slightly higher than expected growth in Math, and Herrick and O’Neill middle schools are making slightly lower than expected growth in Math (all other schools are making expected growth).
  • Subgroup growth results show that all subgroups are making expected growth in Reading, and all but one are making expected growth in Math, with Black students making lower than expected growth.
  • Aimsweb scores were higher in winter 2023 than in winter 2022.

Mr. Sisul shared that building teams are analyzing this data to identify opportunities for improvement, using the new ECRA data platform. Several school board members commended District 58 on its enhanced strategic use of academic data to guide instructional improvements this year and encouraged the District to continue its deep data analysis to make informed decisions to target improvements at all levels. 

Superintendent’s Report

Dr. Russell provided several updates, including:

  • Thank You: Dr. Russell thanked Henry Puffer for their presentation. He also thanked the more than 100 staff members and more than 100 community members who participated in last month’s facility visioning sessions.
  • Personnel: After a thorough interview process, District 58 selected a candidate for the O’Neill principal position and will ask the Board to formalize the appointment (highlighted later in the Board Briefs). In addition, the District is in the midst of interviews for the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction position and hopes to make a recommendation at the Feb. 27 Board workshop or the March 13 Board meeting.
  • Upcoming Curriculum Workshop: District 58 will hold a Curriculum Workshop at O’Neill on Feb. 27. The workshop will follow a pre-COVID format, in which the Board, administrative team and audience members will rotate through several classrooms and learn from District 58 teachers about the following subjects: social studies/inquiry, dual language, elementary music, middle school advisory and the writing pilot.
  • Auditor Updates: This month’s Business Report includes a management letter from the District’s auditor regarding four improvements/adjustments needed. None of these items were listed as material weaknesses. This week, the auditor will meet with the Business Office to review several items, including account setup for District 58’s upcoming capital work.
  • Private Wide Area Network: Thanks to state and federal grant funding, District 58 has been able to build a private fiber wide area network to connect all schools to the District’s network hub at Kingsley School, at no cost to the District. This network will replace the District’s current AT&T network. District 58 anticipates that this transition will save District 58 $22,000 this fiscal year. In future years, this transition should save District 58 over $75,000 annually.
  • Grove Children’s Preschool: The district’s gold-rated Grove Children's Preschool is hosting an open house this week at Henry Puffer School.  Prospective parents and guardians may tour the preschool, meet the staff, hear an overview of the program and ask questions.  Additionally, preschool tuition applications for the 2023-24 school year will open on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 8 a.m. 
  • Playgrounds: Tonight’s Board meeting construction consent agenda contains approval for playground work at two locations. There will be additional playground work listed on next month’s agenda as well. District 58 looks forward to completing several playground projects this summer and thanks families, students and the community for their support.
  • Education Foundation: The Education Foundation thanks everyone who attended last month’s sold-out Harlem Wizards basketball fundraiser, which helped generate funds that support the Foundation’s programs. Relatedly, the Foundation launched its Select 58 Award application this week. Select 58 honors eighth graders for service to their school and community. Later this month, the Foundation will open applications for its annual Distinguished Service Award, which honors exceptional staff.

Business Report 

Assistant Superintendent for Business Todd Drafall reported that the budget is in a good position and provided a brief preview of the finance-related recommendations for action later in the agenda.

Committee Reports

Member Melissa Ellis reported on the Jan. 25 Legislative Committee meeting and the Feb. 3 Legislative Breakfast. The committee finalized questions and the format for the Legislative Breakfast during the Jan. 25 meeting. The Feb. 3 Legislative Breakfast was very well attended, and provided an opportunity for legislators and community members to have meaningful conversations regarding education. 

Discussion: Full-Day Kindergarten

Mr. Sisul, Mr. Drafall and Dr. Russell led a discussion on full-day kindergarten. District 58 currently offers a traditional, free half-day (morning) kindergarten program and an optional, tuition-based half-day (afternoon) enrichment program. In the past, District 58 was not in a financial position to fund a universal free full-day kindergarten program. However, Mr. Drafall pointed out that a variety of new and increased revenue streams in District 58, such as the dissolution of the downtown tax increment financing district, or TIF, will be able to cover the additional costs that a full-day kindergarten program would require. Dr. Russell noted that the District very carefully reviewed its finances to ensure that a full-day program could be consistently funded into the future without any negative financial impact on the district.

Mr. Sisul shared that the District has met with administrators and kindergarten teachers to discuss how full-day kindergarten implementation might work in District 58. This work has yielded excitement and confidence that the program could be implemented with fidelity. Per state law, school districts must always offer a half-day kindergarten option. If the Board approves full-day kindergarten, District 58 will seek out interest in a half-day program, and the level of interest will determine how the District will structure half-day programming.

The Board expressed their appreciation for this work and their support of a full-day kindergarten program. During the upcoming Feb. 27 Curriculum Workshop, the Board will be asked to formally approve a District 58 full-day kindergarten program, beginning in the 2023-24 school year.

During the Meeting, the Board Also:

  • Approved minutes from the Jan. 9 Regular Meeting.
  • Approved all items in the regular consent agenda, including the approval of Lauryn Humphris as the next principal of O’Neill Middle School, effective July 1.
  • Approved policy updates from PRESS Issue 110, as recommended by the Policy Committee.
  • Approved the 2023-24 fee schedule.
  • Approved a copier lease amendment with Proven IT.
  • Approved amendments to the architect contract with Wight & Company
  • Adopted a resolution transferring $10 million from the working cash fund to the education fund. This money will be paid back to the working cash fund after the District receives its early levy year 2022 taxes. 
  • Approved a middle school traffic study proposal with KLOA.
  • Approved the purchase of Landscape Structures play equipment for Fairmount School.
  • Approved the bid for Pierce Downer and Lester playground equipment installation and related work to Innovation Landscapes, Inc.
  • To view documents related to the above actions, please view the meeting agenda.

Upcoming Events

  • Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 3:45 p.m.: Legislative Committee Meeting at O’Neill
  • Monday, Feb. 27 at 3:45 p.m.: District Leadership Team Meeting at O’Neill
  • Monday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m.: Special Meeting/Curriculum Workshop at O’Neill
  • Friday, March 10 at 7 p.m.: Financial Advisory Committee Meeting at O’Neill
  • Monday, March 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.