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2016 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 May 24, 2016 Board of Education Meeting

 

REPORTS AND PRESENTATIONS

 

Illinois Economic Challenge

York High School qualified three teams to the Illinois Economics Challenge state competition on April 6th, where the top ten in the state were invited to compete for the state title. The York team of John Fetscher, Jason Kentra, Frank Luse and Flanagan Waldherr earned first place in the state finals and advanced to the National Semi-Finals round of competition. Held as an online proctored test on April 26, this team competed against other State Finalists across the country, with York finishing 19th in the nation. A second York team, consisting of Jack Anderson, Brennan McGovern, Brandan Parr and Peter Salek, finished third in the state finals.

The York Econ Team coaches are Jessica Weldon, Division Chair, Research and Social Sciences, and Tamra Carl, Advanced Placement Micro, Advanced Placement Macroeconomics and American Government teacher.

 

Euro Challenge Midwest Regional Competition

The Euro Challenge is a program of the Delegation of the European Union to the United States that supports this innovative academic competition to encourage American students to learn more about the European Union and its single currency. On March 21, the Euro Challenge Midwest Regional Competition took place at the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank, hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Indiana University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, comprised of teams representing Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky with students teams either in ninth or tenth grade.

The York High School team chose the challenge of giving a 15-minute presentation on Germany’s high unemployment rate, and using fiscal policy to stimulate economic growth, in front of a panel of judges from the Federal Reserve of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Center of Economic Education. The York team, consisting of high school sophomores Matthew Anderson, Matthew Dardick, Jason Kentra, Meghan Quinn and Luke Rozmus, emerged in first place in the Midwest Regional Challenge and qualified for the Semifinal Round of the National Challenge at the New York Federal Reserve Bank, competing against ten regions across the country, with a total of 25 teams competing.

The York Euro Challenge Team coaches are Jessica Weldon and Tamra Carl.

 

Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics State Math Contest

The 2016 Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ICTM) State Math Contest Finals was held May 7, at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus, when York Community High School senior team members Jack Anderson, Eric Comings, Ioan Draganov, Lucas Gough, Brennan McGovern, Brandon Parr, and Luke Videckis succeeded in leading the team to a third –place finish in the contest over a field of 35 teams in Division 4AA, the most competitive division at the contest, with a team score that bettered more than a dozen perennial powerhouse teams across the Chicago area.

York math team coaches are Serena Briggs, Linda Lahti and Nancy Mordini.

Churchville Logo Presentation

The Churchville Student Leadership Team presented a report to the Board on the middle school’s rebranding process, regarding why students feel the Charger logo should be updated. Churchville Student Council members surveyed the student body to find out “What it means to be a Charger.” The results were: respectful, determined, diverse and unique.

Reflecting on this, the students concluded that the school needs a logo which represents this. They took their ideas to Principal Gina Pogue Reeder, who suggested they build a case for why this should be done. Over the past school year, under the guidance of advisors Barbara Ahlgrim and Anthony Petersen, the students have researched rebranding pros and cons; analyzed data from the survey; took ideas and shared characteristics with a professional graphic designer and Churchville computer literacy teacher Debra Segiet. They then presented two new possible logo designs to Principal Reeder and also shared them through a second survey of students and staff.

More than 500 responses were received from the second survey, with over 80% of those surveyed responding. The students also asked the Board for feedback. Board members advised that any change process should be done over time, so that existing materials might be used up before being replaced. Members also stated how impressed they were with the work of these seven students on this project.

According to Principal Reeder, “Because the history of the Churchville community has always been student centered, we will be giving this back to the students in the fall with a challenge to create the next logo. We thank Student Council for working with a graphic designer to give us the inspiration for change. Now we want and need to ensure that the new logo has our students at the center by giving them the voice to create it.”

Educational Alignment Findings Report

District 205 architects Wight & Company presented their Educational Alignment Update on all twelve EC-8 schools. They pointed out that connections between learning, teaching and facilities are embedded throughout the District’s Student Achievement Action Plans and the Focus 205 findings.

The educational alignment guide is a metric tool used to evaluate a school against current day (and future) expectations regarding its usefulness and applicability in today’s (and future) educational methods. Using a five-point scale, it ranks such things as classroom size and shape, lighting levels, accommodation of multiple learning styles and other factors that can affect the quality of the student experience and learning opportunities.

Wight looked at 56 characteristics within and without each building, rating each using the following categories:

  • Campus context – attributes of the site that support student success and safety and provide inspiring qualities for learning.
  • Facility configuration - attributes of the facility that support current programs and alignment with 21st Century best practices.
  • Learning Spaces – attributes of the individual learning spaces that support varied instructional settings and provide supportive learning environments.

The world is changing; students are changing; and the learning environment should support future-ready students. According to Wight, future-ready schools must be “agile” and accommodate small group collaboration, learning commons, hubs for social learning, tech-infused spaces, STEM and maker spaces, as well as addressing safety and security considerations, health and comfort, fitness/wellness and outdoor learning.

Common observations made by Wight in District 205’s K-5 buildings include:

  • Opportunities for repurposing former computer labs
  • Provide supporting environment for 1:1 technology
  • Library Realignment
    • Support different types of activities and needs
    • Provide student collaboration spaces
    • Provide flexible, moveable furniture

Common observations made in District 205’s K-8 buildings include:

  • Core Learning Environment
    • Current furniture does not allow for movement or varied learning styles
    • Repetitive use of color, floor and wall materials reinforces the regularized plan layout
    • Heating and ventilation fluctuations and deficiencies
  • Enhanced Learning Opportunities
    • Prominence of visual arts and display of student work
    • Intentional incorporations of outside spaces for educational activities
    • Insertion of small group collaboration spaces
    • Consideration for STEM - Maker Spaces in support of Next Generation Science Standards
    • Realign location and organization of kindergarten rooms

Common observations and specific concerns for 6-8 buildings include:

  • Traditional libraries with heavy, immobile furniture and little available collaborative space
    • Updated libraries could become the new Information Commons for each school.
  • Technology Integration
    • Opportunities for repurposing former computer labs
    • Need to provide supporting environment for 1:1 technology
  • Science Instruction
    • Bring flexible collaborative learning styles to rooms that currently have large, fixed, elevated teacher demonstration stations that are often not used and negatively impact student space.
  • Technology Arts
    • Opportunity to reconsider how space supports curriculum needs; these programs take up significant square footage that could be used for Maker Spaces

It was noted that D205 middle schools are all “unique animals” yet ultimately scored pretty close to each other in overall educational alignment. Another positive is that with the introduction of Chromebooks (through the Mobile Learning Implementation) and the move toward more online resources, school librarians have culled back book collections to recapture space, which is ripe for embracing the 4Cs (collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity).

At the middle school level, classroom sizes are adequate, but storage is an issue. Finding new classrooms within the existing footprints might be a goal.

“The goal is to better use the spaces you already have, which would include such ideas as conversion of Technology Arts rooms to Maker Spaces and reanalysis of how facilities should match today’s teaching and learning,” said Craig Siepka, Design Principal for Wight, who also stated that Bryan Middle School is a pretty remarkable building, other than the configuration of the office, which is removed from the front entrance.

“We found great consistency among the schools,” he noted. “If there was a problem or challenge, we found it replicated time and time again. The same was true with the positives, such as the use of technology. This is something you don’t often see.”

Libraries are being reconfigured as their function changes; they need to be active, dynamic, energized spaces. Mr. Siepka noted that D205 libraries tend to be a little more traditional and will need to change as technology continues to expand. “This is an area to consider and think about how these spaces might provide a broader, more flexible function. Spaces need to be a little more hardworking – they need to serve more than one function.” The same holds true for the Technology Learning Centers.

Mr. Siepka suggested that an inexpensive way to enrich the environment of the schools is with paint and color. He made note of the so-called “Elmhurst cream” color he saw throughout the buildings.

Something to be celebrated is D205’s use of outdoor spaces to expand the learning environment beyond the four walls of the traditional classroom. He gave praise to Emerson Elementary for its impressive outdoor classroom. “Special kudos to Conrad Fischer for displaying student work throughout the building – one of the silent gauges we look for,” he said.

Madison Early Childhood Education Center must be looked at individually, because it’s a different kind of environment. “There are some challenges you have to recognize. It’s a 1950s elementary school, not a facility built for early childhood education.” Mr. Siepka suggested maximizing the use of hallways at Madison for an expanded educational experience instead of using them for storage. “Typically, early childhood design is from the waist down, whereas this school is geared toward older kids – including the height of the windows, chalkboards and HVAC blowers that serve a zone from the waist up (where the younger kids aren’t operating).”

Another metric used is square footage per student; 125-155/student is the norm. Results for District 205 are all over the board. The architects reported that “elbow room” is needed at Fischer and Lincoln elementary schools, which scored significantly under the target range. The reason Madison ECEC scored so high is because of its gymnasium, which throws off the classroom square foot average for that building. Hawthorne was the only elementary school to fall within the target for all categories.

Wight’s Interior Architecture Leader, Wendy Watts, herself a District 205 parent, talked briefly about the Future Ready Model Classroom project, which is taking place at Fischer, Lincoln and Bryan next school year. One of the drivers behind this three-classroom pilot is the study of the impact of flexible furniture on the learning environment – how that might enliven and refresh the space in a way that is not happening right now.

Funded by the District 205 Foundation, which has gifted $50,000 to the project, the plan is to gather feedback from participating teachers and students to develop a recommendation toward a District standard that is focused on furniture, finishes and technology, as part of the Facility Master Plan. The model classrooms will test and inform that process.

“The intent is to try and find the fit of all those components inside each of these spaces at each of the grade levels so that when and if the District desires to implement some of these changes on a larger scale, you are doing so with a great deal of foresight and intelligence, so you know what works and what doesn’t,” explained Mr. Siepka.

“The Foundation received grant requests for flexible furniture this year,” added Dr. Moyer. “We do want to learn from this and expand out, establishing a prototype for future purchases.”

John McDonough asked about how the model classroom project fits into the grand scheme, how it will be expanded upon following the pilot. “You wouldn’t reconfigure learning spaces until you decide that you’re finished with significant campus context or facility configuration changes – right?”

Mr. Paulsen answered “With 450 classrooms throughout the District, when we get into developing the individual building master plans, we’ll be looking at all three of those components in tandem. They all are variables and challenges that we have to resolve in making a recommendation for the future. Feedback from the model classrooms can help develop a prototype for how furniture, finishes and technology can support the entire process. It’s really one component of the overall master plan.”

Dr. Moyer added, “If we had more money available to us, we would have experimented with several more classrooms across the District, so that we could have tested multiple prototypes and various arrangements of physical space, but that just wasn’t possible. There will be grade-level meetings and building visits, formal and informal, but really we’re going to predominately use the feedback from students in the classrooms that are affected to try and learn from that. We can also be a little more targeted with grant requests and donations.”

Karen Stuefen asked if there are current capacity issues based on school layouts. “Is there a possibility of repurposing space, of scaling things or transitioning over time in a phased approach? I’m trying to get an idea of big, versus small, versus stepping stones.”

Ms. Watts reiterated the idea of finding space within the existing footprints. Mr. Siepka repeated his statement about multi-functional spaces and also talked about the configuration of kindergarten rooms.

“In a number of the facilities, kindergarten classrooms have been moved to a part of the building that was really not constructed or designed for the kinds of things that happen at that grade level. Looking at where kindergarten classrooms fall within a facility is going to be really critical driver as we take a look at what’s going on district-wide.”

According to Brad Paulsen, Wight’s Senior Vice President for Strategy & Development and PK-12 Education Practice Leader, “The value of having a long-range Facility Master Plan is to help you lay out how it can be implemented over time. One way to do this is to think about a large program. Another way to think about it would be to phase in key issues over time. That’s the value of having this plan. That’s why you look at an individual school level, then at a district-wide level, and try to figure out how those things marry together, considering logic, community priorities, funding, etc. Yes, scale-ability is going to be an important consideration. That’s why it’s a district-wide plan made up of individual pieces. You get to decide what has the biggest impact on the most students.”

Jim Collins asked, “If I wanted to see school districts on the forefront of what you’re proposing here, what are the top five to see?”

Mr. Siepka answered that top design can be found in Blue Valley Schools, in the Kansas City metropolitan area, and locally in Naperville District 203, Des Plaines District 62 and, currently under construction, Sunset Ridge School in District 29, a 4-8 grade building in Northfield that feeds into New Trier. “By in large, we are partnering with school districts one space at a time, one facility at a time, dotted all over the Chicago area. We would be very pleased to share more pictures or even arrange for a tour for you.”

Mr. Collins also asked about the correlation between these factors and student achievement.

 “There’s a lot of research that there is a direct impact on student learning. But it’s not just about test scores or how student perform at a given period in time, but it’s also about creating spaces and environments to nurture students’ future-ready skills,” said Mr. Paulsen.

Mr. Siepka added that “It’s also about the people who use the spaces, the initiatives that you have in place and the quality of the total educational experience.”

Chris Blum asked how much of what is identified in the report would involve reconfiguration and remodeling and how much is just flat-out, wholesale construction?

“The answer is that we don’t yet know,” said Mr. Siepka. “This was just the beginning step in looking more comprehensively at your schools. Maybe there’s nothing that needs to be done (in a given school), maybe some refreshing of finishes, maybe there are additions – those are things that happen in the next step. We’re just trying to rate those spaces at this point.”

Both Ms. Watts and Mr. Siepka both stated that bulk of the work Wight does (over 70%) is renovation.

“Maybe there are some things we need to do right now and then there are paths we can follow as we go forward. Can we have a big impact with a certain set of factors and then branch from there?” asked Mr. Blum.

“That’s the power of the Facility Master Plan; that’s what it’s all about – to look at things in chunks or phases and bundle things to change or refresh your spaces over the long term,” said Mr. Siepka. “You hit the definition right on the head.”

Margaret Harrell asked about how reconfiguring the classroom might lead to greater student engagement, based on elements in the model classroom. “What is our bang for the buck?”

“We started off with a workshop about a month and a half ago, talking with teachers about effective learning methods, about things they want to do in their space and what things they’re not able to do in their space because of limitations. We then prioritized those issues, so those plans were developed with a pretty robust level of information which was gathered by grade level - K-2, 3-5 and middle school,” Ms. Watts explained.

“There is a list of questions we want to ask – some qualitative and some quantitative information – and will even track the number of minutes spent in those identified modes of learning that teachers wish they could do more of. We plan to gather data before and after with both students and teachers.”

Anecdotal evidence gathered by Wight indicates that certain things make an immediate impact on the level of student engagement – like finishes on the walls, for example. Marker paint gets all students out of their seats and working, rather than watching just one or two students solving a math problem. Another is movable furniture that can help with flexible grouping and collaborative work.

Next steps: A building-by-building report will be assembled in the next couple of weeks. A timeline is being developed, which is integrated with the Focus 205 process, including a meeting with the Facilitating Team this month to plan Community Engagement Session (CES) opportunities for the fall. The date of Monday, September 19, has tentatively been set as the date for a large-scale meeting, CES #5, at York Community High School.

Action on Closed Session Item

The Board approved the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the District and the Elmhurst Teachers’ Council concerning Student Late Arrival days. Dr. Harrell asked for a review of the MOA.

Dr. Moyer replied that this agreement allows for more collaboration time, especially at the high school. “This had to come through an MOA process because of what had already been negotiated,” he explained. “It represents a return to the previous model at York and also allows for additional time for our EC-8 faculty. Start times did get pushed back, due to our staggered busing requirements, but we are regaining instructional time in other areas,” he noted.

Mr. Collins applauds going back to weekly Student Late Arrivals at the high school and has heard many York students singing its praises. He asked what has been done to help two-income families with childcare needs.

“We are working to provide supervision at the schools on those days, so that families can drop off students at the same time they did during this year’s Student Late Arrival times. Our buildings are really crying out for more time to implement their School Improvement Plans,” said Dr. Moyer.

Mr. Collins asked that the administration look into: the feasibility of kids being dropped off at school at the normal start time; the feasibility of an early dismissal at the elementary level; and a later start to the high school day every day.

“With all of the new laws, all of the new requirements there is no doubt of the benefits for enhanced learning and preserving our teachers’ time in their classroom,” he said.

Board President Shannon Ebner asked that the District do a better job at communicating the value of the professional learning that is taking place on these days.


SUPERINTENDENT’S AGENDA – CONSENT ITEMS

With one member absent, the Board approved the following items in a vote of 6-0:

  • Revised 2016-2017 School Calendar (see explanation below)
  • Purchase of Report Card Creator and Custom Alerts Power School Plugins
  • Policy Reference Education Subscription Service (PRESS) Policy Manual Updates - Section 2: Board of Education (First Reading)
  • PRESS Policy Manual Updates - Section 4: Operational Services (First Reading)
  • PRESS Policy Manual Updates - Section 5: Personnel (First Reading)
  • PRESS Policy Manual Updates - Section 6: Instruction (First Reading)
  • PRESS Policy Manual Updates - Section 7: Students (First Reading)
  • PRESS Policy Manual Updates - Section 8: School-Community Relations (First Reading)
  • New Policy #7:290 - Suicide and Depression Awareness and Prevention (First Reading)

When the 2016-2017 calendar was approved at the February 23 Board meeting, parent teacher conference dates were not ready to be presented. At its May 23 meeting, the Board approved the revised calendar, incorporating the parent teacher conferences. In doing so, an additional day needed to be added to the end of the year on both the high school calendar and the elementary/ middle school calendar to account for the student non-attendance day added to accommodate parent-teacher conferences.

A copy of the revised calendar is posted at www.elmhurst205.org/events_calendar. It includes parent-teacher conference dates and times; student late arrival dates; and quarter/trimesters/ semesters.

 

SUPERINTENDENT’S AGENDA – ACTION ITEMS

With one member absent, the Board approved the following items one at a time in votes of 6-0:

  • Resolution Ascertaining Prevailing Wages
  • Resolution to Transfer Money from the Education and Operations and Maintenance Funds to the Debt Service Fund
  • Purchase of Data Center Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) to replace the current UPS that is being retired​ - $35,000
  • Wintrust Capital Lease Agreement for Konica Minolta Copier/Printers worth $280,000 in purchase price, and OneTouchPoint Services Agreement to manage the York Copy Center for four years for $236,460.
  • Donation to Bryan Middle School – PTA to purchase front entrance digital sign ($1,500)
  • Donation to Jefferson – Dad’s Club to donate 10 Chromebooks and charging cart ($3,600)
  • Donation to Field – PTA to improve and update guided reading room ($6,500)
  • Donation to Hawthorne – PTA to donate funds for two built-in book cabinets ($8,550)

Mrs. Stuefen thanked both the Bryan and Field PTAs; Mr. McDonough thanked the Jefferson Dad’s Club and Hawthorne PTA for their generous donations.

 

SUPERINTENDENT’S COMMUNICATION

Dr. Moyer reported that District 205 received two FOIA requests:

  • One regarding student data, which was granted.
  • One regarding specific work projects in the District, which was granted.

Dr. Moyer thanked the Foundation for its support of the Future Ready Model Classroom project at a total of $50,000 for three classrooms – one at Fischer (Dawin Strelow/kindergarten), one at Lincoln (Cecilia Dunn/third grade) and one at Bryan Middle School (Erin Fox/English and Social Studies).

UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS

June 9 – Learning and Teaching Committee Meeting – 6:15 PM – District 205 Center
June 13 – Special Board of Education Meeting – Time TBD – District 205 Center
June 14 – Board of Education Meeting – 7:30 PM – District 205 Center
June 23 – Special Board of Education Meeting – Time TBD – District 205 Center
July 19 – 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).