Previous versions can be found on the Board Audio/ Highlights/Minutes page for 2011 and 2010
...from the September 22, 2015 Board of Education Meeting
PUBLIC BUDGET HEARING
Overview of FY16 Budget
Chris Whelton, Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations, gave a Final Budget Summary for FY15-16, which includes $151.7 million in revenue and $151.2 million in expenditures.
As more accurate information was received, some slight changes were made from the tentative budget. The biggest changes under the revenue side were:
- Moved impact fees from Education Fund to Operations and Maintenance Fund. Increased amount for impact fees, based on new construction taking place on old Berteau campus.
- Revised estimate from Illinois State Board of Education
- General State Aid - from $2.9 to 3.1 million
- Increased -TIF 1 Surplus Distribution – amount not paid in FY2015
On the expenditures side, changes from the tentative budget included:
- Revised Budget for Salaries with more accurate information
- Revised Budget for Benefits with more accurate information
- Revised amounts for purchased services: translation of student handbook, consulting services and travel
- Revised supply budget for grants
- Added amount for Dues
- Corrected amount for lease payment
The revenues summary is as follows:
- District 205 is very reliant on local revenue sources (90.44%). And the largest revenue source by far is property taxes at 84.23%.
- Property taxes are limited to CPI increases, and CPI has averaged 2.30% over the last 10 years and 1.70% over the last five.
- In this budget, we have the second installment (September 2015) of the 2014 tax extension (which was based on CPI of 1.5%) and the first installment (June 2016) of the 2015 tax extension (which will be based on CPI of 0.8%).
- The State of Illinois caught up on delinquent payments for mandated categoricals in FY2014. Therefore, District 205 received June payment in June, 2014.
- In FY 2015, District 205 budgeted for and received three quarterly payments (last quarter was not received by June 30th).
- The 2015-16 budget includes three quarterly mandated categorical payments – last quarter from 2015 and first two quarters of FY2016. This assumes that the State will finish the year two quarters behind.
As a service organization, District 205 labor costs are very intensive - 77.63% of expenses are for staff salaries and benefits. The District saw an overall decrease of 14.10 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) employees for 2015-16, but an increase of 7.90 FTE in certified staff, along with 1.0 FTE certified intern and 1.0 FTE school secretarial staff.
District 205’s fund balance will end the year above predictions and the percentage dictated by policy. However, lingering concerns about the effects of the School Funding Reform Act and the continuing possibility of a pension cost shift from the General Assembly could both result in severe budget reductions in the not-too-distant future.
Click here to access the 2015-16 Final Budget presentation. Five year projections will be presented to the Board in November and updated in January 2016.
Chris Blum noted that the capital projects fund balance is based on the District receiving $1.4M from the City in TIF surplus distribution. “So that’s a big potential negative variance to the budget, should that money not come in. This would greatly affect next summer’s maintenance projects,” he said.
“Just as a point of clarification, the money we’re talking about - the $1.4 million includes $100,000 that was projected to be paid in January of 2015, which has not been paid, and the $1.3 million to be paid in 2016 - is a result of the 2004 Intergovernmental Agreement with the City regarding TIF 1 (Tax Increment Finance) surplus releases,” said Jim Collins.
“In talking with the City, this will most likely not happen in January of 2016, but rather in March, once the EAV is known,” said John McDonough. “This is a contractual obligation and I would expect them to do this as quickly as possible.”
There were no public comments and Board President Jim Collins closed the public budget hearing.
SUPERINTENDENT’S AGENDA - CONSENT
The Board voted unanimously to approve the following consent agenda items:
- Personnel Report
- Financial Reports
- Recognition of Public Schools for 2015-2016
- Disposal of District Equipment - pole vault pit to be given to West Chicago D94
- Purchase Chromebooks and Carts for Elementary Schools
The Mobile Learning Initiative (MLI) supports the District’s objective to increase student engagement and develop students’ Future Ready skills (the 4Cs) of creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication. In 2015-2016 the next step in the MLI plan is to evaluate new device technology in K-5 to determine which device(s) will replace the K-5 laptops that are scheduled to be “retired” in the summer of 2016.
Chromebooks are the obvious choice for grades 4 and 5, given that Google Apps for Education is already used in grades 4 and 5 and students will use Chromebooks in middle school. However, Chromebooks need to be evaluated in K-3 to determine the earliest grade level at which to introduce them and to determine an appropriate mix of Chromebooks and/or tablet devices at the primary grades. (Regarding tablet technology, at this time we plan to use existing Apple iPads in 2015-2016, with the possibility of evaluating other tablet technology during the school year).
The Technology Department proposes to purchase one cart of 26 Chromebooks for each elementary school. This provides enough Chromebooks for the largest grade 4 or 5 section in every school. The carts will be available for reservation and use in the school libraries under the direction of the classroom teacher and/or the Library Media Specialist. Chromebooks can also be transported for use in other areas of the school as needed.
The 2015-2016 Technology budget for K-5 Future Ready Technology is $80,000. The proposed carts and Chromebooks (with Chrome management licenses) will cost approximately $60,000. This leaves room for possible adjustments in quantity or specs; the cost should not exceed $63,000. The Chromebooks will be used in K-5 for at least four years.
SUPERINTENDENT’S AGENDA - ACTION ITEMS
The Board voted unanimously to approve the following action agenda items:
- Driveway Use and License Agreement - adjacent to Sandburg MS and Bethel UCC
- Resolution Authorizing an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between the City of Elmhurst and the Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 for the Construction, Operation and Maintenance of Stormwater and Other Improvements at Madison Early Childhood Center
- Resolution Adopting the Budget for Fiscal Year 2015-2016 (details previously discussed)
- District Management Council Proposal for Middle School Study
- BWP & Associates contract to conduct the York High School principal search - $11,900
Dr. Moyer explained that the Bethel Church driveway agreement would be extended for five years and that some maintenance would take place within that time frame.
The Superintendent thanked Shannon Ebner and John McDonough for serving as District 205 representatives to the City’s Stormwater Communications Committee. “After many exhaustive conversations, the Board is ready to approve the Intergovernmental Agreement with the City for the Madison site,” he said.
“We’ve had a number of public sessions on this, with attorneys present to help guide and narrow the issues. I tried to read the mission statement at each meeting to focus the community on what our role should be. I always followed up by pointing out that these families affected by flooding are our families too, many have kids in our schools, and we want to help them and be part of the solution. Tonight we are prepared to approve the agreement and thereby permit the City to get started on constructing its stormwater facilities on District 205 property at our Madison Early Childhood Center,” said Mr. McDonough.
“We are the trustees of our students’ school property, which we carefully manage to meet the needs of ALL District 205 kids. These sites must continue to be used for their intended primary purpose, and that is education. We believe this agreement meets that condition,” he said. “The City will not pay compensation beyond the limited cost of constructing an accessible playground for Madison students. The District will determine when, if and to what extent the District needs the property to be returned to its primary educational purpose. The City will insure that any unsafe condition on school district property is addressed immediately and completely. Let the City get their shovels in the ground, do what was promised to our residents and taxpayers and turn our attention back to where it belongs - on education,” he concluded.
Shannon Ebner noted that “since the school district owns the property, we did not hamper this Board or any future Board to be able to make choices about the use of that land. So we can be good partners and share the land while still maintaining an agreement that gives us maximum flexibility.”
Mr. Blum said “I’ve heard from folks on both sides. In light of this, the context for my decision making process is that we have been entrusted by the community with the education of our kids; this is our mission. It is our obligation to insure the safety of the kids, to avoid incremental costs that would take money from the classroom, to maintain the usability of the facilities for our children and programs, to maintain ownership of the property and the flexibility to reclaim the land for legitimate District needs, and to indemnify the District from any liability. As we move forward, we welcome feedback from the community on these issues.
“In contrast, it is not our job to evaluate the City’s broader plan, its costs or how much they’re going to raise our property taxes to pay for it. I would encourage anyone who has concerns about these aspects to contact their alderman and/or the Mayor. District 205 has significant facilities needs and the community and the City should please take this into account when considering what property tax payers can afford to fund,” he stated.
“I’m glad we are finally taking a vote on this. We haven’t always agreed on the best approach to this, but I think we can all agree that this is not why we ran for school board. Everyone takes their job very seriously as stewards of tax dollars to try and provide the best education possible for children,” noted Emily Bastedo.
On the topic of the District Management Council (DMC) proposal, Dr. Moyer explained that the District recently joined the DMC as a participating member. A central mission of the organization is the concept of Academic Return on Investment. In other words, how can schools, in an era of dwindling resources and competition for public spending, increase achievement and obtain operational efficiencies?
“There’s been agreement between and among a variety of levels of this organization that we need to take a look at our middle school operations in terms of staffing patterns, curricular offerings, interventions and enrichment, minutes of instruction and consistency among our three sites in terms of programming. It’s my understanding that this is not a new conversation, but has risen to the fore lately for a variety of reasons,” said Dr. Moyer. “We want to analyze our improvement initiatives and take a look at our resource allocations.
“This organization has consulted with school districts of all types around the country and has successfully demonstrated an ability to deliver on its core mission, which is to improve achievement and instruction and realize efficiencies by getting creative through intelligent analysis.
“This outside lens would be an appropriate way to get the best results possible. The intent is that DMC would also partner with us, our faculty and the people on an internal committee to help make the implementation of those plans successful, so that we actually see the results we hope for and all of this comes to fruition,” he noted.
The three-year contract comes at a cost of $75,000 per year. The five areas to be studied include:
- Codify the school’s priorities and theory of action for serving students
- Review each school’s program offering, use of time and schedules
- Review supports and services for struggling and gifted students
- Review the cost-effectiveness of staffing patterns and practices and
- Create and help implement a phased-over-plan for continuous improvement.
DMC is a national organization with offices in Boston, MA. CEO John Kim is the co-chair and core faculty member of Harvard University’s Public Education Leadership Project (PELP), a joint project between the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Harvard Business School. President Nathan Levinson, former school superintendent, school board member, and corporate CEO, is the author of the books Spending Money Wisely; Smarter Budget, Smarter Schools; Stretching the School Dollar; and Something Must Change: Rethinking Special Education.
According to Dr. Moyer, the DMC is not an ideological think tank. It uses the expertise of a variety of people from such backgrounds as education, public policy and economics, who are focused on the shared value of strong public schools.
“It’s been nine years since I was the parent of a middle school student and I know some of these things were being discussed that long ago,” said Karen Stuefen. “So I look forward to a very positive and productive collaboration within the District with all of the employee groups, not only receiving the recommendations with openness, but working all the way through implementation and seeing the results. I’m really looking forward to having this process put in place, especially in parallel with the Community Engagement process so that we can continue to get that community input. I like the fact that they have proven best practices they can bring to us. I thank you for doing the research and bringing this to us so we can finally get started.”
Margaret Harrell voiced her support, pointed out that “What we’re doing is bringing together an external objective viewpoint, internal staff looking at this process and we also have the opportunity for community engagement. So for me, when we’re putting together a process, we have a perfectly balanced opportunity with the three key segments being represented and sharing information to move forward for a perfect platform.”
Mr. Collins confessed that whenever he hears the word “consultant” he cringes. “But you have to grip the reality that there are only seven unit districts in Illinois that spend less per pupil on administrative costs than we do. We just don’t have the staff to take on a project like this. This is a group that brings a unique perspective with unique capabilities and a proven track record of success.”
Regarding the York High School principal search, Dr. Moyer reported that the goal is to post the position immediately. A timeframe has been established that would allow for approval of the candidate at the December 15 Board meeting, barring any unforeseen circumstances. It was recommended that, for a large suburban high school such as York, the search be conducted sooner rather than later to take advantage of the best pool of candidates.
“The BWP & Associates proposal includes significant involvement from all aspects of the community, from focus group input on the front end to involvement on interviewing committees on the back end, so I believe it’s a thoughtful plan,” he said.
Dr. Harrell noted that current Principal Diana Smith notified the District 2.5 years ago of her intention to retire at the conclusion of this 2015-16 school year.
Mr. Collins followed up by saying “At that time we left the communications in Ms. Smith’s hands. I think she let her staff and parents know of her intention, so this should not come as a surprise. We recently issued a press release telling the community. We are hiring a search firm because this is a very special position in our district. We want to insure that we not only post the position and see who applies, but we want hire a firm to go out and recruit the best possible candidates. We’re not spending very much money to do it, and I think we’ll get a huge return on our investment.”
Freedom of Information Act Requests
Dr. Moyer reported that five Freedom of Information Act requests were received.
- One requesting emails and documents regarding a specific topic, which was denied.
- One requesting information regarding student discipline, which was partially granted, partially denied.
- One requesting information regarding non-certified support staff, which was granted.
- One requesting information regarding staff, which was granted.
- One requesting information about adopted math and science textbooks in the District, which was granted.
Mr. Collins reported that the District was planning to refinance more bonds on September 23. “Because we waited until this week, our refinancing costs should be lower. This is the next to final leg in the journey. We will have saved our taxpayers about $15M in interest over the course of the past few years. Again, this money comes directly off of the tax bills and does not return to the District,” he said.
When the Board reorganized in April of 2015, it agreed that Mr. Collins would continue to serve as president for six months to help transition the new superintendent. Since that time is now up, Mr. Collins plans to resign his position as president at the next Board meeting. Vice President Ebner will serve as the next president. There will then be an election held for the position of vice president.
Mrs. Bastedo thanked Mr. Collins for his 3.5 years of service as Board President.
Dr. Harrell stated that the District 205 Foundation has asked, if possible, that a Board member attend three select meetings. There is one scheduled for October 28, which she will attend, and two other meetings throughout the year. This is a way of increasing communication and collaboration between the Foundation and the Board.
UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS
October 6 – Parent-Teacher Conferences – York High School – 4:00 to 8:30 PM
October 7 – Parent-Teacher Conferences – All Three Middle Schools – 4:00 to 8:30 PM
October 8 – Focus 205 Community Engagement Session 2 – 7 to 9 PM – York High School Commons
October 9 – Parent-Teacher Conferences – Middle Schools – 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM (No school for middle school students only)
October 12 – Columbus Day Holiday, No School
October 13 – Parent-Teacher Conferences – York High School – 1 to 8 PM (No school for York students only)
October 13 – Board of Education Meeting – 7:30 PM – District 205 Center
October 19 – Learning and Teaching Committee Meeting – 7:00 PM – District 205 Center
October 20 – Finance & Operations Committee Meeting – 7:00 PM – District 205 Center
October 27 – Board of Education Meeting – 7:30 PM – District 205 Center