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2015 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 March 10, 2015 Board of Education Meeting


Shining Star Awards

Superintendent Dave Pruneau recognized the following 14 employees with a Shining Star Award for making a positive impact on the students and staff of District 205:

Brian Berg, Bill Riddle and Rebecca Marianetti, from the District Music and Performing Arts Departments; Heather Bolur, 7th grade math teacher and department chair at Bryan Middle School; Eileen Carroll, administrative assistant for District 205 food services and transportation; Karen Clark, food service manager at Sandburg Middle School; Ellen Dunn, guidance counselor at Bryan; Regina Hughes, 8th grade English and social studies teacher at Sandburg; Heather Knight and Ricardo Vazquez, band directors at Sandburg; Stacie Savittieri, orchestra director at Sandburg; Catie Magierski, librarian at Sandburg; Dawn Morris, language arts teacher at Sandburg; and Brittany Stearns, 8th grade English teacher at Sandburg.

Each of the awardees was nominated by two colleagues for making a positive impact on the students and staff of District 205.


REACH Program Update

Deborah Lee, REACH and Professional Growth Coordinator, presented a status report to the Board. She presented preliminary recommendations for studying and implementing possible changes to the REACH gifted and talented program as follows:

  • Engage stakeholders
  • Consider programming updates
  • Define the continuum of services
  • Refine assessment & identification
  • Systematize data collection
  • Update communication pieces
  • Organize and deliver professional learning for staff

Mrs. Lee talked about standard deviations from the national mean on ability measures (OLSAT) and reported that 10% of Elmhurst’s population is scoring in the second deviation or higher, which is significant. The current identification matrix uses only achievement measure. Some students score well on an ability test, but not on an achievement test. The definitions are:

  • Ability: A measure of thinking and reasoning skills, and is correlated to processing speed. Ability assessments include OLSAT and CogAT.
  • Achievement: A measure of what content students have learned, mostly in specific content areas. Achievement assessments include the MAP and ISAT.

Enrichment versus acceleration. Enrichment is defined by the National Association of Gifted

Children (NAGC) as activities that add to or go beyond the existing curriculum. They may occur in the classroom or in a separate setting, such as a pull-out program. Acceleration is a strategy of progressing through education at rates faster or ages younger than the norm. This can occur through grade skipping or subject acceleration.

Mrs. Lee said that she has heard strong support for differentiation of students in Elmhurst District 205. She also noted that here is a new TALENT Act (S.363)which was recently reintroduced at the federal level. More information is available on the REACH webpage.

“There is a very strong program already in place,” she said, “but there is always room for improvement and refinement. We could look at pathways for students who are not being afforded some of these opportunities. And there is an education piece regarding what the services are available, what the rationale [for gifted programming] is and what the particular needs might be.”

Programming changes would have to be carefully considered, so as not to disrupt students who are currently in the program. “We may want to look at a school-wide enrichment model, which works with the top 25% and beyond. The other end of the spectrum is a magnet-like program. There will be some parameters within which we will need to work,” said Mrs. Lee. “The State of Illinois currently does not mandate, nor provide funding for, gifted programming, which is a double-edged sword. Currently, there is room for us to shape our program as we wish.”

The NAGC standards provide guidelines. It suggests that the gifted programs serve the top 5-10%. Elmhurst District 205 has upwards of 25% of its students in REACH. Mrs. Lee suggested there needs to be a closer look at the identification measures currently used.

Margaret Harrell asked “What does the community want, what type of resources will that take and are we willing to support those choices?”

Karen Stuefen talked about Elmhurst being a high-performing district and the importance of communicating what that is, versus a true gifted program.

Shannon Ebner noted that there is fluctuation within the elementary schools, which then affects REACH numbers at the middle school level. “I would like to see more consistency within the elementary buildings. That’s something we discussed in our Learning and Teaching Committee meeting,” she said.

“Conceptually, this is an area of education that needs a high degree of individualized services - do these kids need IEPs (Individualized Education Program) or something equivalent?” asked John McDonough. High performing and low performing students do exhibit some similarities in the modification of services they require.

“I could argue that, given the resources, it would be great to have an individual learning plan for every student,” said Dave Pruneau “We’re high achieving, but we’re also high ability. How much added value are we providing for those kids? What are we doing to encourage them to be the best they can be? That is our challenge here in Elmhurst.”

“We want to help every kid at every level,” said Chris Blum. “What percentage of our high school students are involved in honors classes - something like 35%? How do we leverage this program in order to lift every student? Our obligation is to create pathways between the ‘tracks.’ How do we take the great things that are happening in this program and cross pollinate, so to speak?”

Discretionary Staffing Recap

Superintendent Dave Pruneau reviewed the discretionary staffing positions that were added for the 2014-15 school year, which were based on rankings of importance provided by various stakeholder groups within the District.

“We’ve been careful not to add staff without Board approval, so I want to revisit that topic tonight,” said Mr. Pruneau. “There has been a suggestion to add 1.2 FTE - .6 for the technology internship program and .6 for additional instructional technology coaching. We have reduced staffing at the high school by three Full Time Equivalents (FTEs), so we’ve already corrected for the overstaffing at York that occurred last year. We’ve backed out five FTE at the elementary level, due to enrollment reductions. That’s an overall reduction of eight FTE. We are, however, adding five FTE at the middle school due to increases in student population at that level.”

The Board has discussed the Technology Services Internship several times. Following is the course description: Tech Services Helpdesk prepares students for real world jobs in the field of information technology. Students will provide first-line technical support resolving general device problems. Students will be trained to support students and teachers to ensure that all calls and problems are dealt with quickly and effectively. Troubleshooting hardware, basic network concepts, supporting new technologies and repairing devices will be taught in a hands-on class atmosphere. Students will gain an understanding of how a help desk functions and the role of customer service in today’s world of technology. When not engaged in a tech help role, students will be working on a self-directed pathway of their choice. These pathways will be used to help prepare students for career readiness and certifications, for example Web Design, Programming, CompTIA A+, MOS (Microsoft Office Specialist) and Google Apps Certification. This is a full year course offered to students in grades 9-12 and may be repeated. Note: Students do not receive monetary compensation for this internship.

Mr. Blum commented that “There is an ROI (Return On Investment) involved here, because you have kids coming out with A+ and Network+ certifications. It’s important to get the staff in place before we have added the devices. There’s an investment period, but then it pays for itself. I think this is a foundational program we can add out of the tech budget.”

Mrs. Ebner agreed, saying “If we roll out the 1:1 Mobile Learning Initiative (MLI) at the high school, we need to start pushing technology further down in to middle and elementary levels. This is really a technology project versus discretionary spending.”

Mr. McDonough commented “I understand that we need to be disciplined, but there are some really exciting things happening here and this did come up high on the list, as identified by our stakeholders last year. I think this course could be life changing.” There are 27 York students who have signed up to take it.

“The bigger issue is: how do we move the Mobile Learning Initiative forward? Let’s remember to look at the comprehensive plan,” said Mrs. Stuefen.

“Instructional Technology coaching did rank #2 on the list; we can’t afford #1 (math interventionists),” noted Jim Collins. “For us to move forward, we need to keep this momentum going. I think this is a high enough priority. The tech internship program has all kinds of benefits, including enriching STEM skills for students. I would support the funding of the entire thing, since the instructional technology coaches have been such a phenomenal addition by all accounts.”

The Board reached a consensus that the cost for the .6 FTE to teach the internship class should come out of the Technology Department budget, which would necessitate putting some other tech initiatives on hold or pulling back on the number of new devices being purchased at this time. The additional .6 FTE Instructional Technology coach will be discussed further in April during the MLI/Tech Plan presentation.


Finance and Operations Committee

The Finance and Operations Committee met on February 25, 2015. Minutes may be accessed by clicking here. Topics discussed included:

  • January Monthly Financial Report - on plan and on budget, although currently tracking in deficit
  • Technology Budget Planning
  • Student Fees for 2015-16
  • Insurance Broker Contract
  • Updates - Building Capacity Study and Summer Capital Maintenance Projects

Chairman Chris Blum noted that technology budget planning includes: a continuation of the march toward 1:1 devices, retiring old computer labs, and movement toward digital educational materials. Year one includes a 1:1 program for grades 9-12 and expansion of middle school carts. Under this scenario, high school parents would be required to cover the cost of a Chromebook and case over four years. This will be reviewed by the Learning and Teaching Committee before coming to the full Board.

Student fees will be brought to the Board for review later this month, with a final decision scheduled for the April 21 meeting. The current thought is that fees will remain flat, with the exception of a few new textbook adoptions.

Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations, Chris Whelton, recommended that Corporate Benefit Consultants, Inc., the current insurance broker, receive a new 3-year contract. The full Board will make the final renewal decision.

Regarding the Building Capacity Study, D205 demographer Cropper GIS Consulting helped provide methodology in figuring student capacity based on actual classroom space versus square footage. Different scenarios for possible boundary changes between schools or a shift from neighborhood schools to grade level centers will be generated and reviewed during the community engagement process.

District 205 Facilities Director Frank Schuh reported some changes to the Summer Capital Maintenance projects that will not affect the bottom line.

Learning and Teaching Committee

The Learning and Teaching Committee met on March 4, 2015. Minutes may be accessed by clicking here. Topics discussed included:

  • Review of High School Instructional Materials
  • Proposed adoption of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Collections 6-8 middle series
  • Mobile Learning Initiative
  • REACH Program

Chairman Shannon Ebner reviewed the four classes that will be offered through Indiana University’s Advanced College Project or ACP and taught by District 205 teachers - Composition 101, Literature 101, Speech 101 and Personal Finance Honors.

These courses provide dual credit with both York High School and Indiana University (transferable as determined by the receiving college). Mr. Collins warned that college textbooks come at college prices.


With Mrs. Bastedo absent, the Board voted 6-0 to approve the first two consent agenda items:

  • Personnel Report
  • Display of New Instructional Materials for the High School and Middle Schools

The third item was pulled for separate discussion and consideration:

  • RFP 15-02; Purchase of Video Surveillance Server and Camera Equipment

Following a detailed explanation of the RFP process, led by Director of Technology David Smith, the Board voted 6-0 to approve this item.


With Mrs. Bastedo absent, the Board voted 6-0 to approve the following action agenda item:

  • New Instructional Materials to Support Erin’s Law

Dr. Michelle Fitzgerald, Assistant Superintendent for Learning and Teaching, had explained at a previous Board meeting that the book My Body is Special and Belongs to Me! is being used to deliver the curriculum in kindergarten. First through fifth graders received a presentation from Imagination Theatre; sixth through eighth grade students received a higher-level presentation from Imagination Theatre; and high school students received this instruction via assemblies. “These sessions are interactive and involve role playing,” she said.

Curriculum materials have been on display for 30 days. Parents were provided with the ability opt their children out of the presentation(s).


Employment of Employees - Memorandum of Understanding

When teachers sign a letter of intent to retire, that is usually irrevocable within the four year window. The teacher in question lost her spouse and has asked that the Board extend her contract by one additional year. The Board unanimously approved this exception.


Mr. Pruneau gave an update on PARCC testing. The only problem encountered during the first week was intermittent internet outages with AT&T. Testing continued last week; this week, high school freshmen will be tested. “I want to thank David Smith and his team, as well as Charles Sprandel, Director of Research, Assessment and Quality Analysis, for their endless hours of preparation in order to make this run smoothly,” he said.

On March 20, the Young Hearts for Life program will bring ECG screenings, free of cost to every York student whose parents give consent - thanks to a partnership with Edward-Elmhurst Hospital. About 1-3% will result in an irregular screening which will lead to a follow-up with a heart doctor. “You hear now and then about young people dying from undetected heart problems. This is a very important program, and we thank Edward-Elmhurst Healthcare for their generosity in bringing it to our students,” said Mr. Pruneau.

Mrs. Stuefen reported that the PTA Legislative Forum, held on February 23, is currently airing on COMCAST Channel 6 and AT&T U-Verse Channel 99 on Sundays at 7:30 PM and Fridays at 4 PM. It may also be found atwww.ElmhurstTV.com. Board of Education meetings are also available for viewing at this site, under the District 205 tab.


March 17 – Finance and Operations Committee Meeting – 6:30 PM – District 205 Center
March 24 – Board of Education Meeting – 7:30 PM
 – District 205 Center
April 7 – York High School Brass Chamber Concerts – 7:30 PM – York Commons
April 8 – York High School Woodwind Chamber Concerts – 7:30 PM – York Commons
April 8 – Special Closed Session Board of Education Meeting – 6:00 PM – District 205 Center*
April 13 – Special Closed Session Board of Education Meeting – 6:00 PM – District 205 Center*
April 14 – Board of Education Meeting – 7:30 PM – District 205 Center
April 16 – Performance Management Committee Meeting – 7:00 PM – District 205 Center
April 16-18 – York High School Spring Play – Big Fish – 7:30 PM – Baker Auditorium
‚ÄčApril 18 – Special Closed Session Board of Education Meeting – 8:00 AM – District 205 Center*
April 19 – York High School Spring Play – Big Fish – 2:00 PM
 – Baker Auditorium

*These special meetings are related to the Board’s search for a new superintendent.

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).