News from July 15, 2019 Board of Education meeting

News from July 15, 2019 Board of Education meeting

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The Board welcomed D64's new Superintendent, Dr. Eric Olson, to his first official meeting. As Dr. Olson begins his leadership of D64, the Board and Dr. Olson formulated plans to develop his annual goals and a performance evaluation rubric. The discussion will continue at the August Board meeting.

Other highlights of the meeting include:

  • Bids will be sought for Washington School classroom addition project - Based on a recommendation from the Washington Space Utilization Committee, which met on June 18 and July 8 to review options, the Board approved the preparation of bid documents for a two-story addition at Washington. The plan will add four, full-size classrooms with two of the classrooms outfitted to be split into two smaller classrooms, if needed. Student restrooms on both floors also will be added, and a staff restroom will be added on the second floor along with two storage areas and a janitor's closet. On the first floor, the janitor's closet and staff restroom will be relocated to the new addition, allowing the reconfiguration of these areas into two spaces for students to receive services, such as speech. The Board must take a final step of approving bids, once received, before the work would go forward. The current estimated cost of the project is $4.2 million; the addition is intended to be available for the 2020-21 school year.
  • $8 million in summer facility work nears midpoint - The Board received an update on outfitting of the stage area in Field School's Multi Purpose Room addition, and also reviewed progress on the status of about $8 million in work across the District this summer, including major projects at Carpenter and Franklin in addition to Field.
  • Experienced middle school educator selected as new Associate Principal for Emerson Middle School - Stephen Majewski was welcomed as Associate Principal of Emerson effective August 1. He replaces Samantha Alaimo, who was appointed earlier this spring to become Emerson’s new principal. Together with Assistant Principal Tim Benka, the administrative trio will provide oversight for about 880 students and 100 staff members at D64’s largest school. Mr. Majewski’s career as a teacher has focused exclusively on middle level students, most recently at CUSD 300’s Algonquin Middle School in Algonquin. Read more about his appointment here. Among the other employees approved in the personnel report were Peter Gill as Public Information Coordinator and Kristyn Bair as a Special Education Coordinator focused on the middle schools.
  • Tentative budget adopted for 2019-20 - The Board adopted a tentative budget for the new fiscal year, which may be viewed on the Financial Data - Current webpageThe Board previously reviewed the tentative budget in detail at the June 10 and 20 meetings. For 2019-20, D64 Operating Fund revenues are expected to exceed estimated expenditures by more than $1.7 million, when capital projects are excluded. The budget will continue to be refined and revised through the summer as the 2018-19 fiscal year is closed out, and new information becomes available such as hiring driven by actual enrollment when the new school year opens in August. In other financial action, the Board conducted a public hearing before approving a permanent transfer of $2 million from the Transportation Fund to the Education Fund.
  • Public hearing on 2019-20 budget set for August 19 - A public hearing on the 2019-20 budget will be held at 6:45 p.m. before the regular meeting on Monday, August 19 (see meeting details below). The budget in its final form will be officially adopted on September 23, 2019. The budget may be viewed on the D64 website.
  • Board's Policy Committee will review Operating Principles and public comment procedures - The Board requested that its Policy Committee consolidate suggestions from Board members for potential revisions to its Operating Principles, which are being reviewed as a follow up to a May 6 Starting Right workshop conducted by the Illinois Association of School Boards. In addition, the committee will be reviewing suggested updates to procedures for public comment as identified in Policy 2:230 Public Participation at BOE Meetings.
  • Other action - A series of policies were updated as part of the ongoing refresh of the policy manual to reflect changes in legal requirements or updated practices. The Board also ratified award of the contract to level the auditorium floor at Washington School, which it had authorized at the previous meeting. The Board tabled a proposed one-year renewal for rental of space at Jefferson School to private daycare provider Child Care with Confidence.

Multi-year renewal of special education is well underway; high quality progress on audit findings with stakeholder involvement as a guiding principle

As the first year of a multi-year renewal of the department wraps up, Director of Student Services Lea Anne Frost offered a year-end overview of 2018-19 activities for the Board. The overview builds on the monthly reports and presentations at regular Board meetings and a mid-year update, which provide details in four key areas: Staffing, Professional Development, Consistency, and Message of Inclusion. The complete year-end presentation and report are available here.

Dr. Frost reported that at year-end:

  • The District’s multi-year renewal is well underway.
  • Progress has been done at a high quality level on addressing the key findings from internal and external audits in spring 2018.
  • Each achievement has intentionally included various stakeholder groups to ensure that changes are well-thought out and implemented with training and support provided to staff.
  • D64's Student Services Department offers many strengths, offering the solid foundation so essential for a successful learning experience for our students.

Four highlights stand as the most critical of this year’s accomplishments:

  • Development of a curriculum map with the special education teachers for launch in the 2019-20 school year. The map ensures that appropriate and rigorous curriculum and materials will be provided to D64 students with special needs. The curriculum map lays the foundation for ordering materials, training staff, and providing the necessary support to ensure proper implementation of the curriculum with fidelity. Staff will receive additional support through the Intervention Coach, which was a position approved by the Board for the upcoming 2019-20 school year.
  • Development of a new Section 504 manual for families. A new version of D64's 504 manual was created to be shared publicly for the first time to clearly identify the processes and procedures related to the District’s 504 plan. It is hoped this manual will be helpful to families whose students may qualify for 504 services by offering an easy to understand summary of what may be expected. In addition, a more detailed internal guidance manual was prepared with the Assistant Principals, who are charged with the responsibility of implementing the process to support students at their schools. This guidance manual will be utilized District-wide to ensure consistency in identifying and providing the appropriate and needed services to students.
  • Extensive Board-authorized investments (both 2018-19 and upcoming 2019-20) to add more staff with specific expertise to further support our staff and students. To support staff in addressing the individual needs of students, the Board approved the addition of a new Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) for the 2018-19 school year among a package of new positions approved. In addition, the Board has approved for the upcoming 2019-20 school year additional staffing, including a full-time Intervention Coach and an increase from part-time to full-time for an Assistive Technology Specialist position to address the growing needs of the District. (The extensive investment in staffing over the two-year period is detailed in Audit Finding #9 within the report.)
  • The successful collaboration of Parents and Teachers Talking Together (PT3). Building on initial groundwork completed in spring 2018, PT3 began the 2018-19 school year with relationship-building activities to ensure group members could collaborate in addressing priority areas of interest. Later in the year, PT3 successfully addressed these priorities, as sub-groups produced a mission statement, parent survey, and professional development needs assessment by year-end. PT3 will continue its work into the 2019-20 school year, and will also further collaborate with the newly formed All Abilities PTO/A sub-committee.

The Board rescheduled a discussion of the future activities of the Board's Special Education Committee to the August 19 meeting.