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Board Highlights

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

REORGANIZATION OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION


As part of this reorganizational meeting, the old Board was adjourned and the meeting of the new Board of Education was called to order. The election of the new Board officers was then held. Shannon Ebner was nominated for President; Jim Collins was nominated as Vice President; and Karen Stuefen was nominated as Secretary. Since there were no challengers, these nominations stood and the officers were declared elected.

 

A regular meeting schedule was established and the reaffirmation of all existing contracts and policies was confirmed.

 

BOARD COMMITTEE APPOINTMENTS
 

Board Committee appointments were made as follows:
 

Board Improvement Committee – Ebner, Collins and Stuefen
Learning and Teaching Committee – Collins, Bastedo and Harrell
Finance and Operations Committee – Blum, McDonough and Stuefen
Performance Management Committee – Stuefen, Blum and Collins
Policy Committee – McDonough, Bastedo and Harrell
LEND Representative - Stuefen
IASB Delegate - Harrell
Lizzadro Museum Representative – Stuefen
SASED Governing Board - McDonough
City/Park/School Representatives – Bastedo and McDonough

 

SUPERINTENDENT’S AGENDA - CONSENT

With all members present, the Board voted 7-0 to approve the following consent agenda items:

  • Personnel Report
  • Financial Reports
  • 2016-2017 Facility Usage Fees – .8% increase (equivalent to the Consumer Price Index)
  • 2016-2017 High School Student Fees – same as presented at the 4/12/16 meeting
  • 2016-2017 EC-8 Student Fees - same as presented at the 4/12/16 meeting
  • 2016-2017 Lunch and Breakfast Fees – see below
  • Amended (Final) 2015-2016 Calendar
  • Foreign Exchange Student "A" - from Germany (Rotary Youth Long-Term Exchange)
  • Foreign Exchange Student "B" - from Germany (Youth for Understanding USA Program)
  • Foreign Exchange Student "C" - from France (ASSE International Student Exchange)
  • Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Membership Renewal
  • Auditor Contract
  • School Nurse Contract for 2016-2017 - addition of a full-time nurse at the Transition Center
  • Appointment of School Treasurer - Adrian Gaerlan
  • Educational Alignment Study – see below
  • Bid #16-04 - Weatherproofing and Restoration – Jefferson
  • Bid #16-05 - Roofing for Bryan and Jefferson
  • Bid #16-06 - Asphalt Paving for Sandburg, York and the Administration Center
  • Bid #16-07 - Bleachers for York High School
  • Resurfacing of York's Indoor Track Through NJPA Nationally Bid Track Contract
  • Gifts Designated for York Distinguished Alumni Program (YDAP) from the Foundation
  • Study Skills Instructional Program Stipends - $21,500 from the District 205 Foundation to pay stipends for teachers of this after school program designed improve K-8 academic achievement

 

The Educational Alignment Study was removed from the agenda for discussion. This is a part of the Focus 205 community engagement program which includes an educational alignment study in Phase 2. “Once the educational priorities became clear, following the conclusion of Phase 1, we sought a proposal to support the scope of the project,” noted Dr. Moyer.

The purpose of this work is to analyze the alignment of the District’s current school facilities with its educational priorities.  To further this aim, the District would like to participate in a “model classroom” pilot, in which a teacher at the K-2, 3-5, and 6-8 grade levels will utilize space, furniture and other amenities characteristic of “future ready” classrooms to help the District develop a prototype for future planning purposes.

Wight and Company, the District’s architects, submitted a proposal for $19,600 for the educational alignment study and $12,750 for the Evaluation of Model Classroom Prototypes. The District has submitted a proposal to the District 205 Foundation for Educational Excellence to offset the cost of equipping and furnishing these three classrooms. Teachers have been selected and are excited at the possibility that this will become a reality, pending funding by the Foundation.

Cecilia Dunn, third grade teacher at Lincoln, Fischer Principal Jane Bailey, Fischer kindergarten teacher Dawin Wu Strelow and Bryan Principal Jacquie Discipio shared their excitement about the Future Ready Model Classroom workshop they participated in on April 20, which was led by Wight and Company.

Mrs. Bailey talked about the constraints of a traditional, inflexible classroom when teaching future-ready skills, such as collaboration. “It’s not the flexibility we hope for when we use technology. When we worked with Wight, they had pictures of all kinds of classrooms – creative, exciting and even strange – which helped us conceptualize the spaces we have and consider things we haven’t even thought of, such as soft seating. Businesses are saying ‘We want highly collaborative workers for the future.’ We’re working on doing that, but in very rigid fashion.”

Following this workshop, Mrs. Dunn was so excited that she moved all of the furniture around in her classroom, based on some of the ideas she had learned, experimenting with “Using the furniture we have to incorporate new learning opportunities.” Some things worked well and others didn’t, given the existing furniture and space constraints.

“The pictures we saw of the possibilities amazed me. I was jealous,” noted Mrs. Strelow. “Furniture on wheels that you could move to rearrange space; places for students to work in different ways; there were a lot of fun technology ideas that I had never seen before. Since I teach at-risk kids that don’t have some of the opportunities other students have, they would really benefit from this.”

Principal Discipio said “We discovered how the learning environment can impact instruction. We had good conversations about giving students more choice and control. Teachers were really excited to be able to brainstorm and have input into this process.”

Dr. Moyer observed that “It’s transformational when you see it come alive!”

 

Increase in Breakfast, Lunch and Milk Fees

The need for an increase in lunch fees stems from an increased amount of fruits and vegetables being used at the high school (which is seeing the largest increases), as well as the loss of revenue from the national School Breakfast Program. In addition, there is an expectation of even higher food costs for the 2016-2017 school year.

The District Food Service Department will continue to provide meals in accordance with the USDA mandated daily requirements; will serve only whole grains; and will follow the "Smart Snack" regulations. 

The recommended increases are as follows:

 

Lunch Fees

Elementary increase from $2.95 to $3.00

Middle school increase from $2.95 to $3.00

High School increase from $3.40 to $3.75

 

Breakfast Fees

Elementary increase from $1.85 to $1.90

Middle School increase from $1.85 to $1.90

High School increase from $2.60 to $2.75

 

Milk Fees

All school levels will increase from $.45 to $.50 per carton


SUPERINTENDENT’S AGENDA - ACTION ITEMS

 

With all members present, the Board voted 7-0 to approve the following items:

Karen Stuefen was named as representative, with Dr. Dave Moyer as the alternate

  • Donations (York) - $3,000 donation to the Boys Lacrosse Program by Virginia Owens and a $2,000 donation to the York Badminton Program by Tamara Lee Conrardy
  • Donation (Field) – Field PTA has purchased a “wobble chair” for each classroom - $1,500

 

Margaret Harrell thanked the York parents for their donations on behalf of these athletes.

Dr. Moyer explained that wobble chairs help build movement into classrooms. There is some brain research to indicate this is helpful for some students to better concentrate and focus. John McDonough thanked the Field School PTA for committing to their schools and stepping up with this donation.

 

District 205 Foundation Funds Thiems Grants and More

Executive Director Lisa Fanelli reported that the District 205 Foundation funded $58,490 in grant requests this year. Every K-12 school will benefit from at least one grant. The dollar amounts and percentages of grants recommended for funding in each of the following areas are:

 

Future Ready Classroom and Technology
(funded with a Donor Designated Gift)

$10,000

17%

STEM

$  7,362

13%

English/Literacy

$  7,506

13%

Multi-Disciplinary

$  3,500

 6%

Music

$  9,775

17%

Social, Emotional, Physical Education

$  8,415

14%

Student Services and Alternative Student Seating Options

$11,932

20%

 

These monies, in addition to the Study Skills stipends and a donation to YDAP, total over $80,000.

Emily Bastedo said “The Foundation is laser focused on the mission of the District. They are such an asset to our District. Every year that I’m on the Board I become more appreciative of their work.”

Mr. McDonough noted that “It’s great to live in a community that supports its schools in such an innovative way.”

 

Deployment of Computers, Cases and Chromebooks

 

Director of Technology David Smith presented the table below, which summarizes plans for the deployment of computers, cases and Chromebook carts in the summer of 2016.

 

Item

Qty

Approx. Cost

Comment

Laptops for district staff

90

$85,000

Refresh old laptops

Chromebooks and cases

720

$190,000

York freshmen and incoming transfers

Chromebooks

650

$150,000

Grade 5 (1:1)

Chromebook carts

28

$40,000

Grade 5 (1:1)

Chromebooks (used)

290

$60,000

Grade 4 (2:1). Senior buy-back Chromebooks should provide enough devices for the grade 4 deployment.

 

 

A variety of Chromebook and laptop manufacturers and models were evaluated for technical specifications, design, support/repair process, other districts’ experiences, and cost. Dell Chromebooks and laptops are deemed to be the best solution for District 205 in terms of overall durability, features, support, other district feedback, and cost. Additionally, Dell Chromebooks for York students provide consistency in terms of parts inventory and Technology Support Internship (TSI) repair procedures. The device quantities and specifications are reasonably firm, but may be adjusted prior to the final order. The total purchase price for all new computers, cases, and carts will not exceed $465,000.

 

Used Chromebooks purchased from York seniors will be deployed in middle school or elementary school carts. A survey of seniors indicates that the expected number of Chromebooks purchased from seniors will be sufficient to supply the expansion of 2:1 into grade 4. New 30-slot AVER Chromebook carts will be purchased for grade 5. Laptop carts currently in use in grade 5 will be re-deployed to grade 4 next year for Chromebooks. This approach leverages the investment in “buy-back” Chromebooks and existing cart inventory to avoid purchasing a corresponding number of new Chromebooks and carts.

 

When financially feasible, it is preferable to purchase recurring technology instead of leasing, which incurs interest and legal expense. The FY17 technology budget can accommodate the purchase cost of $465,000 for new computers, cases and carts, plus $60,000 for used Chromebooks purchased from York seniors. “I think it’s going to help quite a bit,” said Mr. Smith.

 

APPROVAL OF CLOSED SESSION ITEM

The Board approved a motion to accept the restructuring of the Learning and Teaching Department, as well as the hiring of a new assistant principal to be shared between Lincoln and Hawthorne, the District’s two largest elementary schools.

“We want to move capacity to the building level, due to the many demands being placed on our principals, especially of these larger buildings. We want them to focus more on the instructional practices and less on the managerial tasks. Mrs. Chester is going to help us reorganize over the next two years. There are multiple reasons why we believe this would be helpful,” said Dr. Moyer.

 

SUPERINTENDENT’S COMMUNICATION

Freedom of Information Act Request

The District has recently received seven FOIA requests:

  • Two requesting information regarding student teachers, which were granted.
  • Three requesting specific student data, one of which was granted and two of which were denied.
  • One requesting employee information, which was granted.
  • One requesting courses offered at York, which was granted.

 

Transition Center Update

Dr. Moyer reviewed the 2016-17 Transition Center Planning memo sent to the Board of Education last week. Dr. Kosteck noted that current numbers indicate there will be 31 students beginning at the Transition Center in the fall, an increase of two from last year. One student will exit first semester (due to aging out of the program) with four more exiting within the first few weeks of second semester. Two more students will exit prior to the end of the school year.

It was noted that the building lease is up at the conclusion of the 2016-17 school year. “There are a lot of advantages to that current location, which has worked well for our programming. The busiest time of day is the beginning of the school day. The decision of whether to do some reconfiguration of the space or look for other space will be made after talking with staff and parents,” said Dr. Kosteck.

A meeting of all transition center parents will be scheduled in late spring/early summer. “We would like for the parents to meet the new York High School principal, Erin DeLuga, as well as the new assistant to the principal, Michelle DeLaRosa, who will be overseeing the program next year.”

A full-time nurse will be added for students who will be entering the program with more intensive needs. A 0.2 FTE (Full Time Equivalent) social worker time is expected to be added. An additional vehicle with a wheelchair lift has been ordered. There will also be additional technology added.

“As IEP (Individual Education Plan) meetings are held, we assess needs and try to keep caseloads consistent. We do track when students move in and build in flexibility to add staff when necessary,” Dr. Kosteck said.

 

York Bookstore RFP

Chris Whelton, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations, reported that due to the recent retirement of the long-time York Bookstore Manager and the need to update the system for processing transactions, a Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued in April for bookstore management services. Two vendors responded and will be interviewed this week.

“The textbook industry is changing, so bookstore operations are changing too,” he noted. “This is an opportunity for bring in some experience and knowledge in the procurement of digital resources, hopefully moving in the direction of more online transactions.”

A recommendation will be brought to the Board at its May 10 meeting.

“I excited about the ability to get to an online store model where they bring the technology, the equipment and the solution, and we don’t have to buy anything. They also bring the expertise provided in procurement of digital texts, working with the educators, helping them understand what’s out there and how best to get it. These are two interesting aspects of having a relationship with a vendor,” said Chris Blum.

 

BOARD COMMUNICATIONS

Dr. Harrell talked about the Middle School Parent Survey and wanting to make sure that everyone understood that all feedback was welcome. “Everyone can interpret things differently, I recognize that… thank you for working to quickly address this concern.”

Dr. Moyer explained that there will be other opportunities for parent input as well. Plans call for the development of a webpage that reports the work of the Middle School Task Force, along with listing information about other District committees.

Mr. McDonough noted that he has been thinking about how there have been a lot of discussions and regular meetings about stormwater. “There’s been an urgency and a corresponding response by the other governing bodies, but I think some of the other discussions that would be beneficial have been somewhat lagging. We used to have quarterly City/Park/Schools meetings, which have been supplanted with stormwater discussions. I think we need to reestablish meetings with our sister agencies in reinstituting a broader scope and agenda.”

Jim Collins agreed, stating that “We should embrace each others’ missions, support one another and deliver the highest possible value to all the taxpayers of the City for the money they pay those three governmental bodies.”

Mrs. Stuefen and Dr. Harrell also agreed, the interests of all of Elmhurst should be supported as one body and that there is a need to balance short-term needs with a long-term vision. The Board asked Dr. Moyer to speak with City Manager Jim Grabowski about this.

 

UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS

 

May 10 – Board of Education Meeting – 7:30 PM – District 205 Center
May 15 – York Community High School Class of 2016 Commencement – 1:00 PM – Fieldhouse
May 17 – Finance and Operations Committee Meeting – 7:30 PM – District 205 Center
May 24 – 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 http://www.elmhurst205.org/Audio (please click on appropriate meeting date).