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2015 Highlights

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Previous versions can be found on the Board Audio/ Highlights/Minutes page for 2011 and 2010

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...from the November 10, 2015 Board of Education Meeting



AVCA Honors York Boys Volleyball All-American Academic Team

For the fifth year in a row, York Community High School’s Boys Volleyball Team was honored as an All-American Academic team by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA). The AVCA honors teams with at least a 3.3 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale and the York team, which maintained a 3.43 cumulative GPA during the 2014-2015 school year, is one of only 29 boys teams in the nation to receive the award and only one of seven in Illinois.

The Board extended congratulations to coaches Ken Dowdy and Seth Hanson, Captains John Kopach, Robert Krissinger and Jacob Wendelland team members Daniel Bolivar, Rio Diaz, Gordon Johnson, Andrew Lewand, Zachary Mathiasen, Casey McNamara, Kevin Peronto, Jake Privett, John Schierl and Andrew Weber for their outstanding performance during the 2015 season.


ILMEA District 1 Selects 28 District 205 Middle School Participants

The Illinois Music Education Association (ILMEA) is a not-for-profit professional association representing every level of music education in every discipline. The mission of the Illinois Music Education Association is to promote lifelong music learning and to provide leadership for music education. ILMEA sponsors and organizes performance festival experiences for the student musicians of Illinois. It also provides professional growth opportunities for the music educators of Illinois. ILMEA promotes and supports music as a vital component in the complete education of every child in school.

This year, 28 Bryan, Churchville and Sandburg middle school students, who auditioned for and were selected into the ILMEA District 1 Junior Festival, recently spent the day in an honor ensemble comprised of music students from the southwest Chicago-Joliet region. Students had the opportunity to work with a distinguished conductor/clinician in the morning and perform a concert in the afternoon on Saturday, November 7, at Lockport Township High School and/or will participate in the District 1 Junior Jazz Festival on Saturday, November 14, at Downers Grove North High School. Ricardo Vazquez is the District 4-8 Instrumental Music Coordinator.


ISBE Names Jackson’s Mrs. Lasz ‘Those Who Excel’ Award Winner

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) annually recognizes and honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to public and nonpublic elementary and secondary education by recognizing them as Those Who Excel award recipients. For the fifth consecutive year, District 205 was represented in the Those Who Excel program. Jackson Elementary School fifth grade Sandra Laszkiewicz (known as Mrs. Lasz) received an Award of Recognition in the classroom teacher category at the 41st annual banquet, held in Bloomington-Normal last month. She was nominated by Jackson Principal Ryan Anderson and Librarian Peg Lewis.


Board Appreciation Day Recognition

Superintendent Dr. David Moyer read the following recognition:

November 15, 2015, is designated as School Board Members Day in Illinois. Elmhurst District 205 joins other districts across the state to thank these community volunteers for their commitment and contributions to our public schools. Nearly 6,000 people serve as elected school board members in Illinois.

Our school board members serve without monetary compensation to make public education and District 205 the best it can be for every child. During these fiscal times, they develop policies and make tough decisions on complex educational and social issues that affect the entire community and the lives of individual students.

They bear responsibility and oversight for an overall annual budget of $150 million; 8,350 students from Early Childhood through 12th grade; nearly 1,000 employees; and 15 buildings that sit on 125 acres.

Preparing today’s students to be productive citizens and the leaders in a global economy is a tremendous task. As elected officials, school board members are the voice of their communities, serving first and foremost in the best interest of our schoolchildren.

Often we take for granted the service that these education advocates provide. Taking time out to say “thank you” is the least we can do, as they provide vision and leadership for student achievement, academic programs, district funding and school facilities. Their service ensures that decisions about Elmhurst public schools are made locally by those most familiar with the needs of our community.

School board members deserve recognition and gratitude for their unfailing commitment to the continuing success of our students now and in the future. Many thanks to Board President Shannon Ebner, Vice President Jim Collins, Secretary Karen Stuefen and members Chris Blum, John McDonough, Emily Bastedo and Dr. Margaret Harrell.

Student Achievement Objectives

Dr. Moyer updated the Board on his focus to continue building leadership capacity in the District. At the November principals’ meeting, the group continued its study of Cultures Built to Last: Systemic PLCs at Work by Richard DuFour and Michael Fullan. A follow-up activity was led by Dr. Kathleen Kosteck, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services, based on the DuFour, Eaker and Many book Learning By Doing: A Handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work, that focused on prioritizing instructional time. Work at the EC-5 and 6-12 grade level meetings continues to focus on Jan Chappius’ book Seven Strategies of Assessment for Learning.

Dr. Jim Woell, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, then reported on PERA. “The idea behind PERA, the Performance Evaluation Reform Act, is that this is an effort to evaluate effectively, fairly and with interator reliability (consistently across all schools). The Joint Review Committee met formally on November 3. Its task is to develop the metrics for establishing student growth, as this will be used to measure teacher effectiveness. While there may be a law behind this, it’s really about best practice,” he said.

“This approach allows us to look at student growth at all levels. This is the growth that we have accomplished as a collective group, and reflects more than just an end product (like ACT),” said Karen Stuefen.

Director of Research and Assessment Charles Sprandel pointed out that one of the big components of Professional Learning Community (PLC) work is that teachers must look at data to improve instruction.

“One problem is that we currently have data stored if four or five different systems. Trying to stitch the pieces together for teams of teachers to work on leaves less time to problem solve as a team. The data warehouse pulls all of that data into one place. The intent is to further the work of our PLCs by allowing teachers to talk about performance and growth, where their students are and where we need to go next.” Although the warehouse is still being built, Sprandel reported that recently, principals, assistant principals and psychologists were trained in its use. They will help shape the end-user experience and identify which of the 600 stock reports are most helpful to District 205.

“It’s important to celebrate milestones,” said Dr. Harrell. “This is one; what’s our next one?”

Mr. Sprandel answered that “Identifying what teachers most need to see and creating the measure we see as most important, as well as training teachers and getting them into the system – these are the next big steps.”

In order to track many of D205’s current District Performance Indicators, Mr. Sprandel is required to pull and crunch a plethora of numbers. “This is not something the lay person can do. The warehouse will make all of that data much more accessible to those in the trenches,” he said.


School Report Card Overview

Mr. Sprandel reported that each year the Illinois State Board of Education releases district and school report cards at the end of October. School districts are required to present these report cards to their Board of Education and post them online. This year, the process is complicated by the fact that school and district results from last spring’s PARCC (Partnership in Assessing Readiness for College and Careers) assessment have not yet been delivered. The current estimated time of arrival is late December/early January of 2016.

The State released the report card related information that does exist on October 30. District 205 will create links to this information on our website and update the Board and the website when the complete report cards are available. Click here to view for more information presented by the D205 Learning and Teaching Department, including the new measures being reported by ISBE.

One of the things being reported is the percentage of 8th graders that have passed algebra by 8th grade. Just over 52 percent of our students have successfully completed Algebra 1 before entering high school. Some of this is self-reported by the various districts, so I’m not sure how reliable the State data is. I think we have to take our relative position with a grain of salt. What is a good number? That’s probably a good conversation to have,” said Mr. Sprandel.

Dr. Margaret Harrell asked why the State chose to track 8th grade algebra and whether or not it is considered an indicator of student success. Mr. Sprandel explained that it’s a gateway course to higher math classes. “If you’ve taken algebra by 8th grade, you will most likely be all the way through algebra II before you take a standardized college entrance exam.”

John McDonough asked, “How should we, as school board members, integrate this into our process of understanding how our district is doing?” Mr. Sprandel answered that “We’ll come back again when new information becomes in from the State. Honestly, we have to do our own correlation of measures, because this is completely in a state of flux right now. There isn’t going to be a longitudinal base we can build on for at least two or three more years. We need to develop reliable measures internally over time, since we don’t know when or if the external pieces will be there.”

“We need to keep our eye on improving internally,” Dr. Harrell concurred.

The PARCC test is going to look different in 2016, than it did in 2015. There’s going to be just one testing window, which for District 205, will be in April. “We still don’t know if we will be able to use these results to guide instruction – timeliness is a factor in setting goals for the following year,” noted Mr. Sprandel.

“As you point out, these are some of the new measures. The actual website has a ton more measures listed. I don’t think this was designed for school boards, but rather for the public to compare communities. The website is very interactive,” said Mrs. Bastedo.

Preliminary Tax Levy Presentation

Christopher Whelton, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations, presented the Estimated 2015 Tax Levy report. Public notice will be given through the newspaper (Elmhurst Suburban Life) on December 4; the hearing and adoption will take place on December 15.

“For the sake of transparency, we will comply with those dictates, even though we will not be asking for a levy in excess of 105%, which prompts those requirements,” he said. 

The final EAV comes from the county in late March. The tax cap limits the District 205 levy extension to 5% or the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), whichever is less. Last year’s CPI was 0.8%, which is applied in calculating the estimated tax levy for 2015.

“Two unknown factors at the time of the estimated levy are EAV for 2015 (impacts the tax rates) and the amount of new construction. At this time, District 205 is estimating new construction EAV at $35 million. Based on this, we are predicting a 2.55 percent increase on the capped operating tax extension,” noted Mr. Whelton.

“EAV (Equalized Assessed Value) is estimated at a 5.76% increase over the previous year. The CPI (Consumer Price Index) for this levy is 0.8%. Our levy for 2015 represents a 4.21% overall increase above the 2014 extension,” said Mr. Whelton. “However, based on the current estimates for new construction, in reality, the 2015 extension is estimated overall to be a 3.20% increase. Excluding new construction, most taxpayers with only existing property will see an increase closer to 1.63%.” This translates to a $90 increase on a $300,000 home.

The tax levy is a request,” he emphasized. “It is a placeholder until the County calculates the final EAV, rates, new construction and the 2015 tax extension. The operating extension is limited by the tax cap to an increase of CPI, which has averaged 1.70% over the past five years. The two factors that fall outside of that cap (known at the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law or PTELL) are debt service and new construction. Regardless of the levy amount, the District will only receive what is allowed under the property tax extension limitation.”

Mr. Whelton noted that over the past five years, the actual extension amount has averaged 1.3% lower than the amount levied.

“There have been some really good actions taken by this Board to reduce the debt service portion of the tax bill (through the refinancing of bonds, saving the taxpayers $12.6 million over the last three years). The bond trajectory was determined when the last referendum was passed in 2006. We’ve left it on the same trajectory, but this refinancing decision will help to pay off the bonds sooner. The interest savings will result in a reduction of the overall debt,” noted Mr. Whelton.

“What if we created some talking points for Board members to explain the process when they are asked questions about the levy?” asked Dr. Moyer. Board members indicated that would be helpful.

Finance and Operations Committee Report

Chris Blum, Finance and Operations Committee chair, and Frank Schuh, District 205 Facilities Director, reviewed proposed Summer 2016 projects (totaling $1.25M), as well as long-term projects (Ten Year Facilities Life Safety/Capital Projects). Mr. Blum pointed out that this amount is reliant on TIF funds, because “there are no monies in our capital account. These are things the District has to do this summer.”

Mr. Collins pointed out that “Deferred maintenance can be just as sketchy as going to tax anticipation warrants. This is the bare minimum [that needs to be done], nothing fancy. We can’t skip a summer of maintenance.”

“Just so everyone understands, this would eat up our fund balance right away,” noted Mrs. Stuefen, referring to the ongoing maintenance needs, which peak at over $6.5 M in 2019.

Dr. Harrell asked if the District might actively explore grants. Mr. Schuh noted that “We do take our full allocation of grants (lighting would be one example) every year. We did file for a safety grant for some improvements for secure entrances, which was denied. When construction grants have been available, we’ve taken advantage of those too, but none are at the level of funding $1.5M per year. They are not always top of the list for us either.” Dr. Harrell said she was glad to hear that.

“We’re trying to look at the long-term vision and put it in the context of a larger conversation. I think the Focus 205 process will provide us with important information about how we want to go about attacking this, but it’s just going to take a little longer. We are certainly thinking about this internally,” said Dr. Moyer.

Mr. Schuh also presented building capacity figures. The chart shows the projected enrollment over the next five years and the schools that begin to approach maximum capacity. “We’ve exceeded the York capacity already and will blow past that in the next few years. This could make scheduling uncomfortable, but the building itself should be able to accommodate that level of use,” he said.

The other concern is Field Elementary. “We need to keep a close eye on Field in the next couple of years and talk about where and how those students will be housed. Field just isn’t as flexible as York. It will be very uncomfortable if it hits 524.” Mr. Schuh presented projections that result if two classrooms being used at Field are moved to another building, most likely Emerson. In addition to Field, Jefferson, Jackson, Hawthorne, Field, Edison and Sandburg house special needs classrooms.

Bryan Middle School is also hitting numbers it has never seen before, but it’s a big building. “There over 800 lockers right now. Bryan will be more crowded and scheduling will be affected, but we can absorb the needs; it won’t be a crisis,” said Mr. Schuh.

Dr. Harrell highlighted that Hawthorne is nowhere near capacity, nor is Fischer. She wanted to point out that while some schools are maxing out, others are not anywhere near that level.


The Board voted 7-0 to approve the following action agenda item:

  • Resolution Regarding the Estimated Amounts Necessary to be Levied for the Year 2015


Dr. Moyer noted that the questions about facilities are timely in that this is exactly what we will be looking at in our upcoming Focus 205 community engagement session on facilities on December 2.

Dr. Harrell reminded everyone that the third Focus 205 session is Thursday, November 12, which will be a meeting on school finances -Utilization of Resources for Maximum Student Success, presented by Chris Whelton and Dr. Dave Moyer. Visit for more information.


Jim Collins talked about the City of Elmhurst’s recent Joint Review Board meeting. “We have a TIF ending in 2016. The City Council did approve the distribution scheduled for this year, roughly about $100,000. For the first time, future year projections for TIF 1 were not presented,” he said.

Mr. Whelton commented that he hoped the City would consider an earlier timeline next year. Dr. Moyer said City officials are aware that this release is funding our summer maintenance projects.

Mr. Collins pointed out that the City changed its fiscal year, this year, which was definitely a factor. “We may have to get used to the fact that we’ll have to use fund balance for current projects. It’s a working capital question,” he said.


The Board unanimously approved to dis-enroll student A, as the family does not reside in District 205.


Nov. 16 – Learning & Teaching Committee Meeting – 7 PM – District 205 Center

Nov. 19 – York Orchestras Holiday Concert (free) – 7:30 PM – Baker Auditorium
Nov. 23 – Parent-Teacher Conferences for Elementary Students – 4:30 to 8 PM
Nov. 24 – Parent-Teacher Conferences for Elementary Students – 12 to 8 PM – No school for elementary students only
Nov. 24 – Board of Education Meeting – 7:30 PM – District 205 Center
Nov. 25, 26, 27 – Thanksgiving Holidays, No School
Dec. 2 – Focus 205 Community Engagement Session 4 – School Facilities in the 21st Century – 7 PM – York Commons –
Dec. 8 – Finance and Operations Committee Meeting – 7 PM – District 205 Center
Dec. 15 – Board of Education Meeting – 7:30 PM – District 205 Center


NOTE: Video footage of all Board of Education regular meetings are posted on 205TV within 48 hours. Audio is posted within 24 hours at (please click on appropriate meeting date).