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2016 Highlights

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Board Highlights

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...from the October 26, 2016 Board of Education Meeting

RECOGNITIONS/PRESENTATIONS

Those Who Excel

Two from District 205 honored with ISBE Those Who Excel Award

Kara Caforio, a Focus 205 co-chair, and Stephen Fijor, a P.E. teacher at Jackson, were both honored by the Illinois State Board of Education on October 22 at the annual Those Who Excel banquet, held in Bloomington-Normal. Kara will receive an Award of Merit in the category of Community Volunteer and Stephen will receive an Award of Recognition in the Early Educator category. Kara was nominated by Superintendent Dr. Dave Moyer. Stephen was nominated by Jackson Principal Dr. Ryan Anderson.

According to Dr. Moyer, “Kara has been a true leader through her involvement in the PTA and has been integral in our Focus 205 process. She has been a terrific supporter of the District for a long time and is truly deserving of this recognition.”

According to Dr. Anderson, “For students who are fortunate to have Mr. Fijor as their physical education teacher, they are truly receiving a complete education in the various elements of PE.  Students learn the vocabulary, concepts, mental skills, physical skills, game strategies, teamwork, sportsmanship, and physical fitness values.  All of these help to create well-rounded, healthy children for school and for life.”

Board President Shannon Ebner thanked both Kara and Stephen for their service and for representing District 205 in the Those Who Excel recognition program. A total of 250 honorees received recognition at the banquet on three levels – Recognition, Merit, and Excellence – and across multiple categories, including classroom teacher, school administrator, and student support personnel. Not all nominees are honored.

Health and Dental Insurance Presentation

Assistant Superintendent for Finance Chris Whelton presented the insurance renewal summary for 2017 and reported that District 205 can expect an overall 6.0% increase in their 2017 health budget, or an annual increase of $1.01M, based on claim trends and fixed costs.

“We are projecting a 7.2% increase or $893,000 in gross costs for our PPO plans, which includes PPO1 and HDHP (High Deductible Health Plan). For the HMO, we are projecting a 3.3% increase or $127,000 in gross costs,” said Mr. Whelton. The dental plan is flat.

Board Vice President Jim Collins asked Mr. Whelton to explain when the Cadillac Tax kicks in.

“The Cadillac Tax will be implemented in 2020 and is based on premiums. The threshold is $2,292 per month ($27,500/year) for family coverage and $850/month for single coverage ($10,200/year). The current plan cost for single coverage in the PPO plan is $874.73/month (or 102% of the Cadillac Tax threshold). The family coverage is currently at 94.75% of threshold.

“The high deductible plan won’t hit the Cadillac Tax threshold until 2022, assuming projections of 8% premium increases; the HMOI plan won’t hit it until 2023 and the Blue Advantage HMO plan won’t hit it until 2025. The biggest concern right now is the District’s PPO1 plan, which will have a tax implication of $855,000 in 2020,” said Mr. Whelton.

“Clearly, we need to keep that premium under $850/month,” said Mr. Collins. “I can’t imagine our taxpayers paying the Cadillac Tax. That’s either got to be shared by our employees or we need to structure the plan so that we don’t hit that federally mandated threshold.”

“That was why we spent a lot of time in September talking to our employees about the various plan design options. Employees in the PPO1 Plan were recently provided with three premium/coverage options for 2017. The overwhelming voting results were to keep the plan the same in terms of deductible and take on a 7.2% premium increase beginning January 1,” reported Mr. Whelton.

”The insurance committee will continue to talk about this throughout the year. Benefits represent about 13-14% of our expenditures, so this is definitely a concern for financial sustainability,” he concluded.

Preliminary Tax Levy Presentation

Mr. Whelton also presented on the Estimated Tax Levy for 2016. A levy is the formal request by a school district for a certain amount of revenue to be generated by the property tax. This formal request must be sent to the County Clerk prior to the last Tuesday in December.

This year’s request is for a 3.35% total increase in the levy, with a capped operating levy increase of 3.50%. Public notice of the extension request will be given through the newspaper (Elmhurst Suburban Life) on December 1; the hearing and adoption will take place on December 13.

Due to the tax cap, the District is limited to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for its increase of Operating taxes, regardless of the valuation of property in the District. CPI for the 2016 Levy is 0.7%. Over the past five years, EAV has averaged 1.54%.

“Two unknown factors at the time of the levy are EAV (which impacts the tax rates) and new construction EAV, which is the most critical assumption because it is exempt from the tax cap. At this time, District 205 is estimating new construction EAV at $40 million. We are asking for an additional $25 million to provide for the possibility of under-estimating new construction. Remember that no matter what amount the District levies, the counties will only extend the increase allowable under the tax cap. The levy is just a request.

“Based on this, we are predicting a 2.42 percent increase of the capped operating tax extension. A house with only existing property and no new construction can expect on average an overall increase of 1.05 percent,” said Mr. Whelton. He also noted that over the past five years, the actual extension amount has averaged 1.1% lower than the amount levied.

 

Enrollment Projections

 

And finally, Mr. Whelton reported on the Enrollment Analysis and Internal Enrollment Projections.

  • Overall Enrollment increased by 110 students to 8,436, a 1.32% increase
  • Madison enrollment increased by 20 students to 288, a 7.46% increase
  • K-5 enrollment increased by 22 students to 3,444, a 0.6% increase
  • 6-8 enrollment decreased by 23 students to 1,970, a 1.15% decrease
  • York enrollment increased by 91 students to 2,734, a 3.44% increase

Internal enrollment projections are developed annually in October using the cohort survival method. We did, however, used the outside demographer’s projections for Kindergarten (with the exception of Field and Jackson) and projected Madison as being flat. Any projection will be less accurate the further out into the future it extends. A larger size population will be more accurate than the smaller size, so York has a better chance of being accurate than Edison, for example.

“We are looking three years out and trying to plan accordingly for Jackson; there’s some concern for space there. I don’t want to cause any alarm. We are fine for classrooms there,” said Mr. Whelton. “The forecasted increase for next year is only 19 students.”

 

Margaret Harrell said she was trying to understand the Jackson enrollment figures in light of the Focus 205 report by Wight Monday night that Jackson hit the target for students per square footage. Shannon Ebner replied that the explanation given on October 24 was that when factoring in large spaces such as the library, cafeteria, multipurpose and gym that can skew the overall square footage measurement. Jackson hit the target for campus context and facility configuration, but not for learning spaces.

 

“In the past Jackson has been a three section school, but now both first and second grades are four sections and there’s every reason to believe that next year it will be the same because the kindergarten numbers are large. There are already classrooms that have been converted from other uses. It’s not that there’s no room, it’s just that they’ve really had to change the way they are teaching,” said Emily Bastedo.

 

“I was at Churchville on Monday night and there was some concern that there weren’t these extra spaces, there isn’t an auditorium there or multi-use spaces for Fischer or Emerson. I don’t know how you fit all of the pieces in the puzzle, but we need to have a conversation about what square foot per student looks like, what enrollment looks like – put all those pieces together. Those were some of the conversations that were occurring at the focus group meeting.”

 

Mr. Whelton continued his report by explaining that cohort survival is based on past groups of classes moving from grade to grade. “We don’t have lower classes for Madison and Kindergarten, so projections in the higher grades are generally more accurate than the lower grades. The enrollment growth at Madison over the past five years is significant at about 43%, from 201 in 2011-12 to 268 in 2015-16.

 

Following four years of decreasing enrollment, K-5 experienced a small increase in enrollment. K-5 has very stable enrollment over the eight buildings. As I stated, lower grades are less reliable and the kindergarten enrollment needs to be monitored. Back in 2012-13, I was concerned about the growth at Fischer and Emerson. Both north side buildings have experienced steady decreases with Emerson down by 100 students since then. Field is projected to increase, but that enrollment growth has not started taking place yet. Hawthorne has decreased by about 100 students in the last five years. Jackson has experienced three large kindergarten classes in a row (69, 67, and 73) compared to projections in low 50’s. Jackson is projected to exceed 500 students in 2019-20.

 

District 205 has larger classes (a bubble) in grades 7, 8, 9 and 11. This resulted in a peak enrollment in the middle schools in 2015-16. Both Churchville and Sandburg are projected to start decreasing over the next five years. Enrollment at Bryan is projected to continue to grow with slight increases. Bryan is projected to be the largest of the three middle schools starting next year. This bubble is projected to result in enrollment growth at York over the next three years with a peak in 2019-20 at 2,900 students.

 

Finance Committee Update

 

The Finance Committee met on October 18; minutes from that meeting are posted here. Topics of discussion included:

  • September 2016 Monthly Financial Report
  • Long Term Capital Maintenance
  • Summer 2017 Projects
  • Purchasing Options for Electricity
  • Updates

Chris Blum reported that the State of Illinois has fallen one more payment behind and asked Mr. Whelton to elaborate.

“As of today, District 205 has not received the June or September quarterly categorical payments, each of which is about $1.2 million. Still, the budget is currently on track,” said Mr. Whelton.

The roof of York High School’s academic building is scheduled for replacement as part of the summer maintenance list for 2017, which will cost $1.2 million. “We will have to move money into the capital funds, since the City has chosen not to fulfill its promise of releasing $1.3 million in surplus funds from TIF 1 to cover last summer’s maintenance projects, as we were lead to believe they would,” said Mr. Blum.

 

SUPERINTENDENT’S AGENDA - CONSENT

The Board voted unanimously to approve the following consent agenda items:

  • Personnel Report
  • Financial Reports
  • JMP Consulting, Ltd. Proposal for Executive Coaching Services

SUPERINTENDENT’S AGENDA – ACTION ITEMS

The Board voted unanimously to approve the following action agenda items, one at a time:

  • Organizational Goals
  • Administrative Reorganization Proposal
  • Resolution Regarding the Estimated Amounts Necessary to be Levied for the Year 2016
  • Medical and Dental Insurance Contract
  • English Language Arts Instructional Materials – have been on display for 30 days
  • Donation (Churchville) – PTA has agreed to donate a digital sign inside the building to welcome and direct visitors and for posting daily information, not to exceed $4,700

Margaret Harrell thanked the PTA for their generous donation. Karen Stuefen commented that she thought the idea of using this digital sign to showcase student work was fabulous.

Dr. Moyer recommended that the Board approve the previously discussed organizational goals. John McDonough complimented the work that was done and thanked the Performance Management Committee for their leadership.

He explained the administrative reorganization as a cost neutral proposition, explaining that Cathy Baker is retiring and the needs at the building have changed with the addition of instructional coaches.

“We would like to add an additional assistant superintendent, rather than replace a coordinator. With one assistant superintendent for Learning and Teaching, there is so much responsibility for one position across the District. We’re trying to create the ability to better support our principals. We also want to look at building career pathways for our students, which would involve internships, community partnerships, potential articulated agreements with various agencies outside of the District - whether that’s business or education - and pursue STEM-related grants. We would preserve a unit district concept, but would reorganize some of the existing responsibilities to include some grade level assignments. We don’t want to silo the two positions or create a perception of separation in our operations,” he said. “We listed in the proposal relatively thorough rationale.

Mrs. Ebner reiterated that this is a cost neutral proposal and does not represent additional administrative staff.

“We we are asking the Board’s approval because we are creating a new position; we plan to post the position right away,” said Dr. Moyer. “Our goal is to support the buildings as best we can. With what we’re trying to do with STEM programming, with the reorganization at the middle school, with what we’re trying to do with curricular implementations that require high-quality professional development and high-quality school improvement plans, this would be a way to help support the coherence of the system by providing help to the principals to make sure we’re serving the teachers as effectively as we can.”

Dr. Moyer invited Mary Baum, Assistant Superintendent for Learning and Teaching, to comment. “This will allow our coordinators to work directly with our teacher teams as they do curriculum development. While our instructional coaches work with teachers, we at the assistant superintendent level will have the opportunity to coach and mentor principals, as well as bring some consistency across all of our systems,” she said.

SUPERINTENDENT’S COMMUNICATION

 

Principal Professional Development Update

October 20, the EC-12 principals continued their study of the Hargraeves and Fullan book Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School. Dr. Ryan Anderson, Jason Crockett, Peter Cunningham, Ryan Doherty, Linda Fehrenbacher, and Jeff Gail facilitated work on Chapter 2, “Competing Views of Teaching.” During the learning activities, facilitators modeled Kagan Cooperative Structures that principals can utilize in their buildings at their staff meetings for teachers, which can then ultimately translate to the classroom.

Cathy Baker and Dave Beedy then led a Future Ready Learning activity based on the rigor rubric from the Rigor and Relevance Framework, which is included in your Board packet. Mr. Beedy and Erin DeLuga will give a presentation on STEM to the Board of Education at its November 15 meeting. And in December Ms. Baker and Mr. Beedy will share some of the work the principals have been doing on Future Ready Learning at their monthly meetings.

At the grade level principal meetings, principals reviewed the KPI data that will be presented to the Board in November, discussed inter-rater reliability for teacher evaluations, and examined initial data from the September instructional rounds. The focus of the rounds was learning targets. This data has been, or will be, shared with teachers. In addition, EC-5 principals strategized for professional development and communication for proper implementation of the new ELA resources beginning second trimester.

 

Dr. Moyer then read the following statement regarding the District 205’s position on students who are transgender:

 

Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205, like many districts around the country, is dealing with concerns related to accommodating the needs of students who are transgender and the privacy interests of all students.

 

The District is, and will be, making its decisions based on existing District Policy 7:10: Equal Educational Opportunities, state and federal law and emerging court decisions. Particularly given the current unsettled state of the law, the District expects to deal with these issues on a case-by-case, building-by-building basis, primarily as guided by Board Policy 7:10 on Equal Educational Opportunities and the privacy interests of all involved.

 

The District will these issues into consideration in its planning process for future facility projects and budget cycles. Potential changes will be designed to achieve cost efficiency, enhanced supervision, safety and privacy for all students and consistency with the master facility plan now under development for the entire District.

 

Freedom of Information Act Requests

 

Six Freedom of Information Act requests were received:

  • One regarding purchase orders, which was granted.
  • One regarding epi-pens, which was granted.
  • One regarding copier contracts, which was granted.
  • One regarding payroll information, which was granted.
  • Two regarding job-related issues, which was granted.

BOARD COMMUNICATIONS

 

Board President Shannon Ebner read the following statement regarding the City’s latest offer on the Bryan Middle School gravel lot:

 

In an October 20, 2016, letter from the Elmhurst City Manager, the City proposed to purchase a 1.6-acre portion of the Bryan Middle School site for $1.1 million to be developed into a stormwater detention facility. After careful consideration, the Board of Education has reached a consensus that the City’s October 20 proposal is inadequate. Under that proposal, the District would have had no place to which to transfer its current storage and maintenance operations on the Bryan parcel, very little to pay for the acquisition and improvement of another site for its current Bryan operations and no compensation for its loss of the long-term future use of the Bryan parcel for school expansion. It is the District’s understanding that the City has another project opportunity on a comparably-sized parcel for which the City has contracted with the Messiah Lutheran Church immediately south of the Bryan site.

 

The District and the City have been negotiating an agreement under which the District would have received:

  1. about an acre of land from the City adjacent to its public works facility on Riverside Drive in exchange for the Bryan site;
  2. partial improvement of the Riverside Drive site for District maintenance; and
  3. cash to make up the difference in value between the Bryan and Riverside sites and the loss of future use of the Bryan parcel for expansion of school facilities.

However, the City’s October 20 proposal was only to purchase the Bryan parcel at its appraised value of $1.1 million.

The District remains open to considering agreements on a case-by-case basis for City use of School District land for stormwater management projects. The District’s consideration of such projects will be influenced by:

  1. The results of its current long-range facility planning process. The District must balance and give precedence to achievement of its core educational mission over stormwater management issues.
  2. The Madison School stormwater management project. The Madison School stormwater management IGA has been completed and construction has begun. Its operation will be closely followed by the District.
  3. Whether the City makes timely payments under the Downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreement between the City and District. While not connected directly to stormwater management projects, the District regards the City’s willingness to abide by its intergovernmental agreements in general terms as a factor in assessing the likelihood of compliance with stormwater management agreements. It is the District’s understanding that the City has delayed release of approximately $1.3 million in TIF funds to the District due to the City’s dissatisfaction with the District’s position on the sale of the Bryan parcel.
  4. Resolution of the City’s York High School stormwater fee claim. The City has periodically asserted that the District “owes” the City $1.2 million for alternative stormwater projects arising from the reconstruction of York High School completed in 2004. The District strongly disputes that it owes the City anything in regard to the York project. This will need to be resolved before any negotiations over future stormwater management projects. The District will not accept the City’s vague use of this claimed fee as a bargaining chip in connection with future stormwater management projects. The issue should be resolved or dropped by the City now.

The Board reiterates its willingness to consider continued cooperation to help resolve the City of Elmhurst’s storm water management problems, but only consistent with its obligations to fulfillment of its core educational mission and to its taxpayers who live both in and outside of the City.

“Thanks Shannon, for representing the view of the Board,” said John McDonough. “I'm supplementing the Board's consensus with my own views. First, I would especially like to respond to allegations of delay by the Board. It is as unfair as it is inaccurate. The school district is not delaying and has had its strong offer on the City’s desk since June 20th - that's four months. Delay didn't happen because of anything the school district did. What happened is the City did not like the price.

“Second, it's a naive view that educational land is in some way available for stormwater purposes without any countervailing costs whatsoever. The public does own the property for educational purposes - for the children. There are true opportunity costs to our community diverting the use of that land most assuredly on a permanent basis away from the education of our children. The District's request for compensation was designed to reflect those lost costs.

“This community will suffer if it subordinates all its interests to those of stormwater especially where it is to the detriment of our kids’ education. Home values will decline as much if not more through the decline of educational resources as they will from a failure to manage storm water resources.

“We can walk and chew gum - that means pursue two important goals at the same time: have the City fix the storm water while the school board preserves the educational system, including its physical resources available for the education of our kids. We need to resolve stormwater issues, but not single-mindedly. We must preserve the most excellent schools in this community. They are what’s driving our property value,” he concluded.

“From the beginning we have been willing to work with the City, but we’re not going to put ourselves in a worse position. It doesn’t mean we’re not willing to continue the conversation, but these terms were unreasonable,” said Emily Bastedo.

 

UPCOMING MEETINGS AND IMPORTANT EVENTS

 

November 15 – Board of Education Meeting – 7:30 PM – District 205 Center

November 21 & 22 – Elementary Parent-Teacher Conferences (no school for elementary students on November 22)

November 23-25 – Thanksgiving Holidays (no school for all students)

November 29 – Special Board of Education Closed Meeting – 7:00 PM – District 205 Center

December 13 – Board of Education Meeting – 7:30 PM – District 205 Center

 

NOTE: Video footage of all Board of Education regular meetings is usually posted on 205TV within 48 hours. Audio is usually posted within 24 hours at www.elmhurst205.org/Audio (please click on appropriate meeting date). Specifics related to each meeting, including Board votes, may be accessed via BoardDocs at www.boarddocs.com/il/elmhurst/Board.nsf/Public.

 

NOTE: Video footage of all Board of Education regular meetings are posted on 205TV within 48 hours. Audio is posted within 24 hours at http://www.elmhurst205.org/Audio (please click on appropriate meeting date).