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2014 Highlights

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Board Highlights

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

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...from the September 9, 2014 Board of Education Meeting



Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) National Winners

York Community High School Family and Consumer Science students recently participated in STAR events (Students Taking Action with Recognition) at the 70th annual Family, Career and Community Leaders of America’s 2014 National Leadership Conference in San Antonio, Texas from July 6 through 10. Approximately 4,200 students advanced from the local, regional, and state level of STAR events to the national contest.

The following York Community High School students earned medals in the national competition, both in the Occupational catetory:

  • Gabriella DiGregorio (Class of 2015) received a gold medal and ranked third over-all in the nation in the Fashion Design competition, inventing clothing that morphs from short to long using electronic wiring; and
  • Caily Schwartz and Deisy Cano (Class of 2015) received national gold medals in the Team Interior Design competition.

Wendy Albert serves as the Technology and Applied Arts Division Chair for York High School. Sarah Marik is a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher and advisor to the York FCCLA chapter.


Superintendent Dave Pruneau announced that the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Illinois Department of Human Services recently recognized the Madison Early Childhood Education Center’s Preschool for All program with a Gold Circle of Quality. This recognition is based on the program’s ExceleRate Illinois score, the State’s new quality rating and improvement system for early learning and development programs that serve children from birth to age 5.

The Gold Circle of Quality recognizes programs which have demonstrated quality on all fifteen standards, as validated by an independent assessor. Gold Circle programs meet or exceed specific quality benchmarks on learning environment, instructional quality, and all program administrative standards; group size and staff/child ratios; staff qualifications; and professional development. For more information, see the
related news item on the District 205 homepage.



PTA Council Topics
Board President Jim Collins said that the PTA asked for topics to be discussed at Council meetings throughout the 2014-15 school year.

One such topic might be storm water, for example. Chris Blum said that once there is an intergovernmental agreement in place and concept to react to, then it would make sense to ask the PTA for input.

Mr. Collins summarized Board discussion on the topic, which PTAs will consider this month, as follows: What are the key issues that concern you about the temporary storage of storm water on school property; are you aware of the ongoing discussion; and how do you want to receive future updates?

John McDonough also suggested that we ask the PTAs to weigh in on the significant impact of assessments to be given to students this year.

Emily Bastedo suggested the Board ask the PTA what topics they would be interested in discussing at the annual Community Forum.

Bond Market and Options Update

Elizabeth Hennessy, of William Blair & Company, LLC, presented a report on Financing Options to the Board.  “Just when you thought interest rates couldn’t go any lower, they did,” she said. Ms. Hennessy discussed various options for saving money by refunding District 205’s existing debt.

She presented a summary of refunding options involving the outstanding Series 2005B, 2006A and Series 2007 Bonds and the proposed timing of the issuance of refunding bonds. The Series 2005B bonds may be refunded as soon as October on a bank qualified basis resulting in savings of approximately $750,000 to the District 205 taxpayers.

Restructuring Options

Ms. Hennessy noted that the goal of restructuring is to change the “shape” of the debt service structure, allowing the District to capture savings for its taxpayers in either the long or short run.  Three restructuring options were presented:

  • Option I shows a restructuring which accelerates the debt service structure within the current payments to the extent possible to reduce debt service by the equivalent of one year’s debt service.
  • Option II shows an “in place” refunding which lowers debt service by approximately $865,000 a year or .046 cents on the tax rate
  • Option III is the restructuring of the debt to limit annual increases to 2.5% until it reaches the $11.25M level of debt. This structure extends the debt by two full years, however, there are still savings given the current interest rates.

Chairman Chris Blum’s recommendation would be to pay off the debt sooner, to make room for the possibility of issuing more bonds later on. “It’s not a secret that we don’t have the money in our capital fund to rebuild 100-year old Lincoln, or make repairs to Churchville and other buildings.”

Following discussion about which option and which term structure the Board favored, members decided to refinance as much as it can, as early as it can, choosing Option 1 as its preferred debt structure. This decision will help guide the development of a parameters resolution in order to be ready for a bank qualified refinance as early as October.


Board Improvement Committee of the Whole

The Board Improvement Committee of the Whole met on August 27, 2014. Minutes may be accessed by
clicking here. Topics discussed included:

  • Board Norms Related to Working with the Administrative Team
  • Organizational Performance Framework
  • Staff Recognition Initiative

There will be a follow-up meeting, since it ended early due to members wanting to attend Curriculum Night at York High School.

Shannon Ebner brought up the discussion of how to structure communication to staff regarding the feedback the Board received from last year’s “brown bag” lunches, as well as the employee feedback to the Board via the Harris Interactive Poll.

Karen Stuefen noted that during this year’s "brown bag" lunches with teachers, the Board gathered feedback and will report findings and progress to staff, as well as continuing to gather input, with the goal of increasing employee satisfaction.

Finance & Operations Committee

The Finance and Operations Committee met on August 20, 2014. Minutes may be accessed by clicking here. Topics discussed included:

  • Update on Bond Market and Options
  • July Monthly Financial Report
  • School Nurse Agreement with Elmhurst Memorial Hospital

Chairman Chris Blum added that there was also discussion of when PMA updates would be given to the Board, as well as a future update from the demographer.


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

  • Approval of School Nurse Agreement with Elmhurst Memorial Hospital

Mr. Pruneau noted that there are two increases represented in this contract: a .5 certified school nurse, who is required to oversee plans for students with accommodations, and a .5 substitute flex nurse assistant. This individual is scheduled throughout the year to assist with covering the increase in required nursing services at off-site field trips, as well as substituting for absences of full time nurse assistants. The biggest increase was instituted by Edward-Elmhurst Hospital, representing a $70,000 administrative charge that was previously not included. According to the Hospital, this is still not a profitable contract for them.


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

  • Approval of Donation to York High School - The Elmhurst Rotary expressed an interest in gifting a $1,000 donation to the J. Kyle Braid Leadership Program.
  • Approval of Donation to York High School - Elmhurst Airborne Organization expressed an interest in gifting a new set of freshmen girls basketball uniforms in an amount not to exceed $2,500. This donation will suit 24 individual players in the program. There is a strong need for these uniforms.

Mr. Collins thanked each of these organizations for their generous support of York students.


There was none.


Mr. McDonough again returned to the topic of storm water, asking that there be more detailed Board conversation, so that he and Mrs. Ebner could be assured they were representing the will of the Board, as members of the City/Park/School Committee.

Mr. Pruneau voiced that he did not feel the Board should be involved in City design, nor spend education dollars on engineers. He suggested that the Board apply its three or four key points to the existing designs presented by the City and note where those are at odds. He suggested getting the terms down first, then sending it back to the City for a response. Mr. McDonough will draft a “term sheet” to be shared with all Board of Education members. Storm water discussion will continue at the next Board meeting.

September 16 – Finance & Operations Committee – 6:30 PM – District 205 Center

September 17 – Policy Committee – 7:00 PM – District 205 Center
September 18 – Performance Management Committee – 7:00 PM – District 205 Center
September 19 – York Community High School Homecoming against Willowbrook
September 23 – 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).