News from March 18, 2019 Board of Education meeting

News from March 18, 2019 Board of Education meeting

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Continuing its tradition of meeting on-site at every school each year, the March 28, 2019 regular meeting was conducted at Carpenter School. Carpenter Principal Brett Balduf and Assistant Principal Emilie Creehan shared highlights of the social emotional learning program at the school, which includes a monthly theme -- such as "March Madness Manners" -- aligned to life rules and the Second Step curriculum.

Board members and Superintendent Laurie Heinz then recognized and congratulated grades 4-5 students who had participated in the annual Battle of the Books organized in partnership with the Park Ridge Library. This year, Carpenter's team emerged as champions in the friendly, spirited and fun competition. (PHOTO - Some of Carpenter's team gathered with coach Kathleen Loftus, the school's Library Information Specialist, to display their first-place award.)

Board selects Dr. Eric Olson as next Superintendent

The Board unanimously appointed Eric Olson, Ed.D. as its next Superintendent of Schools. Dr. Olson will officially join District 64 on July 1. He is replacing Dr. Laurie Heinz, who is leaving the District at the end of the school year to become Superintendent of Palatine CCSD15. Dr. Olson is currently in his fifth year as Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning at Arlington Heights School District 25 in Arlington Heights, where he guides curriculum, instruction and assessment for 5,500 students and more than 800 staff members at nine buildings. According to Board President Anthony Borrelli, the Board was particularly impressed with Dr. Olson’s “long, rich and experienced background in the education field” and his “philosophical focus that all decisions are based on what is best for the children.”

District 64 will be scheduling an opportunity for staff, families and community members to welcome Dr. Olson during his transition to District 64 later this school year. Read more about Dr. Olson's appointment here.

Other meeting highlights include:

  • Washington enrollment projections and space options reviewed - The Board reviewed enrollment forecasts and potential pressure points at Washington that might arise in maintaining the District's class size guidelines should increased student registrations actually occur in one or more grades. Four construction options were discussed to immediately provide flexibility for Washington to accommodate more classroom sections in the near term. The Board reached consensus on having the District's architects focus on conversion of the auditorium into classrooms, which could be accomplished by mid-October. As part of its discussion on what classrooms and other space may be needed at Washington in future years, the Board requested an inventory of every school's gyms, auditorium, flexible spaces and multipurpose rooms. The Board is expected to decide whether to seek bids for the Washington auditorium conversion at the April 9 special meeting.
  • No change in student annual fees for 2019-20 - The Board agreed to maintain the required student fees at their same level for the 11th year. Small increases were approved for participation in middle school interscholastic sports and cross country.
  • E-rate discounts will reduce tech costs - D64 will qualify for a 40% discount through the federal E-Rate program that will be applied to 36-month renewals of the District's internet service provider for both primary and secondary broadband connections, as well as equipment and maintenance service contracts for the District's network firewalls. An E-Rate project to relocate data infrastructure at Carpenter as part of the planned summer 2019 construction also was approved.
  • Special Education progress reported for February-March - The Board reviewed the steps undertaken last month in the four key areas of staffing, professional development, consistency across the District, and creating a message of inclusion. Among the items noted in the comprehensive report was the continuing work on planning for student participation at the Special Olympics in May and for Extended School Year programming for summer 2019. It was also reported that resource materials from a March 5 workshop presented by Alice Belgrade on strategies for toilet training children are available on the Special Education Parent Resources webpage.
  • Compensation package for new Superintendent approved - The Board approved a competitive salary and benefits program for a new superintendent in the north suburban region for Dr. Eric Olson (see story above).

Additional staffing to support students and programs approved

For the 2019-20 school year, the Board approved the addition of a registered nurse at Jefferson School in place of a Health Assistant and an additional instructional teacher at Franklin. These positions were added to a group of staff initially proposed last month, and which were also approved on March 18, including: special education resource teachers for Field and Roosevelt; an intervention coach to support Wilson program training; two speech language pathologists; and expanding an existing assistive technology specialist to a full-time position. The District also received approval to add 2.5 differentiation coaches for English Language Arts to provide job-embedded coaching to grades K-5 teachers as the District adopts the workshop model. The ELA coaching posts would be for two years, and would be partially offset by removing outside consultants in this area from the budget. 

Looking at enrollment forecasts, the Board authorized the addition of as many as 3.5 classroom teachers and .5 in associated staff for "special" classes (art, music, physical education, and Spanish), which may be required across the District if projections are realized. Although authorization has been given, actual hiring of these enrollment-drive positions does not occur until students are fully registered and class counts have been reverified.