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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 May 12, 2015 Board of Education Meeting


In early April, Chris Blum was re-elected to the Board of Education for a four-year term. Because he was absent at the April 28 meeting, when the Board reorganized, he was administered the Oath of Office by Board Vice President Shannon Ebner, who chaired this meeting in Jim Collins’ absence.


Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA)

Division Chair Wendy Albert introduced the students who earned medals at the state FCCLA State Leadership Conference, which was held in Springfield, April 16 – 18. The following York Community High School students earned top positions in the competition categories as follows:

Apparel Construction Casual, Gold – Stephanie Monaco; Silver – Anna Benzin, Ava Heemsoth and Madison Miller; Apparel Construction Semi-Formal/Formalwear, Silver – Colette Obermaier; Apparel Construction Tailored/Lined Garments, Gold – Kate Leonard; Children’s Literature Presentation, Gold – Team One: Nora Barrett and Stephanie Reinke, Team Four: Rayanne Shockey and Elizabeth Shockey; Children’s Literature Presentation, Silver – Team Three: Caitlyn Rambo and Aubry Turner; Culinary Arts, Bronze – Aislynn Dolan and Bailey Waldherr; Fashion Apparel Display, Gold – Team Two: Allison Peterson and Abbey Templeman; Food Production Salads, Gold – Rachel Atristain; Interior Design – Occupational, Bronze – Team One: Deisy Cano and Caily Schwartz; Interior Design – Senior, Bronze – Carolyn Casagrande and Kasey Gelsomino; Pastry Arts: Cake Decorating – Occupational, Gold – Samantha Flesch;Pastry Arts: Cake Decorating – Senior, Gold – Kaitlyn Fischer; and Pastry Arts: Cake Decorating – Junior, Silver – Ally Geary and Kevin Homan.

In addition, the Interior Design team of Deisy Cano and Caily Schwartz have qualified to advance to the national competition in Washington, D.C. this July.

York Family and Consumer Sciences Department teachers include: Wendy Albert (Division Chair for Technology and Applied Arts), Sabrina Benjamin, Lindsey Goldsmith, Sarah Marik, Rachael Marten and Ashley McDonough.

Junior Achievement Titan Competition

Junior Achievement Titan Competition is a nationally recognized business simulation for high school students in business education which challenges students to apply their knowledge of business as they compete online in the highly-competitive industry of the fictional Holo-Generator, designed to support the skills and competencies identified by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

The JA Titan program encourages excellence on the part of individual students by providing an opportunity for them to run a virtual manufacturing company and master five key business decisions - price of product, production levels, marketing expenses, research and development costs, and capital investment level - to earn the largest amount in retained earnings.

On April 17, at the State event, the following York students swept the competition: First Place Team – Kevin Kastholm, Grant Spaeth and Alexander Sepanski; and Second Place Team – Katherine Diamond, Shany Kaduthodil, Madison Brown and Sheila Evans. Business teacher Jim Borel explained that the second place team of girls had actually led the competition all year and was nudged out by the team of boys at the finish line. He was exceedingly proud of both teams.

Rich Rosenberg, a local business owner, was on hand for the proclamation and was thanked by Mr. Borel for his ten years of volunteer service to the business classes of York High School and particularly for his support of the JA Titan program. The York Business Department is comprised of Jim Borel (Chair), John Billerman and Brian Sheridan.

SkillsUSA State Champions

The SkillsUSA state competition is acknowledged as a prestigious student recognition program in Industrial Arts Education, which provides quality educational experiences for students in leadership, teamwork, citizenship and character development, in addition to promoting community service. This program encourages excellence on the part of individual students and encourages schools to establish industry standards for job-skill training in the classroom.

The following York High School students earned medals in the competition categories on April 23-25, 2015 in Springfield, Illinois, as noted:Technical Drafting CAD – Stephanie Cui, first place and Benjamin Norgle, third place; Power Equipment Technology – Steven Knopf, third place; Screen Printing Technology – Michael Mirretti, third place; Principles of Engineering/ Technology, Leah Young, first place and Paige McIntyre, third place.

First-place winners Stephanie Cui and Leah Young will now advance to national SkillsUSA competition, to be held this June in Louisville, Kentucky. SkillsUSA is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

York Industrial Technology Department teachers are Ken Ross (Department Leader), Dan Calenberg, Ron Robak and Joe Stolz. Mr. Ross noted how much the program has grown over the past 20 years.

“In 1995, we had four students who were members of SkillsUSA; this year we had 72. As the membership has grown we’ve gone from bringing three students downstate to 33 students qualifying for the competition. So we’re really, really proud of our students,” he said.


Summary from the National School Foundation Association Conference

Lisa Fanelli, Executive Director of the District 205 Foundation for Educational Excellence, gave a report detailing her attendance at the 10th National School Foundation Association Conference, held in Chicago from April 22-24. The three areas she identified as hot topic themes were: funding and effectiveness; college and career readiness; and innovation and technology.

There were four keynote speakers, including Matt Gandel, former advisor to Education Secretary Arnie Duncan, and Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner. Breakout sessions focused on topics such as school foundation best practices, working with district leaders, donor relations and fundraising, alumni relations, grant funding opportunities and driving innovation.

Corporate Benefit Consultants, Inc. Insurance Renewal Presentation

Rhonda Sanders and Jan Kleinle, from Corporate Benefit Consultants, Inc., part of HUB International, explained to the Board that the Insurance Committee knew this would not be an easy renewal. This past year, within the PPO group there were eight claims over $160,000, seven between $100,000 and $160,000, and twelve between $50,000 and $100,000. There were 27 claims of more than $50,000, which was 40% of the total paid out. “Those are things you cannot anticipate and are difficult to manage for a self-insured plan,” said Ms. Sanders. To view the report, click here.

“A double digit increase in the PPO plan is something that has not been seen in this district for a long time,” Ms. Sanders reported.

The Insurance Committee’s job was to come up with these three choices and communicate the impact of each. There were three options presented to District employees during presentations by Corporate Benefit Consultants at each of the school.  One option was to accept the increase of18.84% recommended by Blue Cross Blue Shield.  The other two options included increases in deductibles and out of pocket maximums and a reduction in coinsurance percentage.

A staff survey was sent out to all staff in April. About 70% of those who took the survey voted to accept the 18.84% increase in premiums in order to keep the same plan, which carries a $400 deductible.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield HMO plans will increase by 0.78%. The Health Savings Account (HSA) plan and the self-funded dental plan renewal will see no rate increase.

This decision and provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) will have an impact in the not-too-distant future when the so-called Cadillac Tax of 2018 comes into play. This is essentially a 40% excise tax employers with high premium health plans will have to pay as of January 1, 2018.

The D205 PPO plan will hit the ACA threshold in 2017 and estimated taxes the District will have to pay for 2018 would be $596,462 (this assumes an actuarial increase of 7% per year). The big issue is the PPO plan, because of its benefit plan design and claims experience. The goal of the Insurance Committee is educate District employees about the impact of that tax, which can be charged back by the District to its insured employees.

Ms. Sanders noted that the District has introduced a high deductible health plan with a Health Savings Account, although few took advantage of that plan this past year. “It is an educational process, because the $2,600 deductible is scary. For many non-certified employees, the insurance benefits are a major reason they are working these jobs.”

Corporate Benefit Consultants also suggests that another way to reduce claims is to develop a wellness program which is results-driven, so that employees have skin in the game. The goal is to create a culture of health and wellness and develop a long-term strategic plan.

Chromebook Acquisition at York High School

Director of Technology David Smith gave an initial overview of the Mobile Learning Implementation (MLI) at the April 14 Board of Education meeting. The May 12 presentation, York MLI Chromebook Plan, comprised a detailed summary of the administration’s MLI recommendations for the high school beginning in 2015-16.

Families of all York students will purchase a Dell Chromebook 11 for $300 (which includes an education discount) in year one of the implementation, beginning this August. Included in this package price is the Chromebook, protective case, Google management license, processing/administration/support fees and sales tax. Even though District 205 is a non-profit, because it will be purchasing a product tax-free and reselling it in competition with other businesses the State of Illinois requires that the District collect sales tax. The combination of state and local taxes adds up to 8%.

“We’re looking to help our families in any way we can,” said Mr. Smith. York families who qualify for financial assistance (textbook and fee assistance) will be supplied with a loaner Chromebook for each student. An estimated 6% of families may need this assistance. There will also be a payment plan offered (five payments, September through January) for anyone who needs that option. The District is exploring other ways to help families who may struggle to pay the cost, even with the payment plan option. Additionally, for juniors and seniors, there will be a buy-back plan offered, with the amount reimbursed dependent upon the age and condition of the Chromebook. A senior next year selling back a Chromebook, case and cord in good condition after one year of use would receive 75% or the original cost or $191, for example. 

Families are responsible for the cost of repair and replacement. Repairs are performed by students in the Technology Services Internship class for the cost of parts plus sales tax only; no labor or mark-up is applied to the repair. Thus, repairs by District 205 are affordable compared to a repair performed by any third-party repair shop. The replacement cost for a Chromebook is $239 plus tax. Families may purchase insurance against damage, theft or loss from a third-party provider.

“We talked about the complications related to families buying and bringing their own devices. For our purposes, it simply will not work. There are strict requirements for online controls related to some online assessments, for example, and we thought it was important to provide a consistent and equitable environment for all students and teachers when implementing this across an entire high school of 2,600 students.”

Mr. Smith has met with PTA Council, the York Academic Boosters, the York Advisory Team, the District Leadership Team and the D205 Foundation to explain the rollout and gather feedback.

“We are preparing communications to be sent to parents, as well as planning to hold parent information sessions. There is an MLI parent information webpage that is linked from the District’s technology page: www.elmhurst205.org/technology. The MLI parent site will be updated on a regular basis and the link will be shared with parents through various communication channels.

A common question that has been asked is, “Can we hand the Chromebook down to another sibling or sell it to a friend?” Freshmen need to purchase a new Chromebook for their four years in high school. A new Chromebook and its management license are guaranteed to be supported by Google for four full school years, whereas a used Chromebook is not guaranteed to carry a freshman through four years. Starting as a freshman with a used Chromebook means a second Chromebook would need to be purchased before graduation, resulting in more cost to the family than purchasing a new Chromebook from the start. Google publishes the end dates for each Chromebook model in an end-of-life site. The device will function after the end-of-life date, but the device is not useful for District 205 purposes after this date.

Chromebooks can be "disenrolled" from the District’s management system upon graduation. The District will have the ability to shut down a device if it is stolen, lost or hasn’t been fully paid for once the student leaves York.

John McDonough expressed concern for the families who do not have Wi-Fi at home. The District has Wi-Fi in all of its buildings and plans to put together a “hot spot” map to identify areas around town (such as the Elmhurst Public Library and retailers who offer the service).

Mr. Smith also noted that Comcast does offer internet service through its Internet Essentials program, which provides home Internet service for $9.95 per month (plus applicable taxes), with no activation or equipment rental charges. A household is eligible to participate in Internet Essentials if it is located where Comcast offers the service; has at least one child receiving free or reduced school lunches through the National School Lunch Program; has not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days; and does not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment. (Call 855-8-INTERNET for more information or to apply.)

Karen Stuefen asked about parent communication and referenced the staff survey that resulted in over 95% of York teachers reporting that they were ready and willing to move forward with the Mobile Learning Implementation next school year. The Board and administration have been taking steps to prepare for this by adding 4.4 Instructional Technology Coaches (ITC) this past school year, increasing ITCs to 5.0 next year, and planning professional learning opportunities this summer and next fall. (Click here to see video clips of ITCs speaking to the Board on the April 14, 2015, about how digital learning expands the classroom.)

Instructional Technology Coordinator Cathy Baker is organizing and will take the lead on providing teachers with professional learning that will be available this summer. There will be a variety of classes offered: digital workflow, Google Apps for Learning, how to provide feedback and assess students in a digital environment. York Assistant Principal Chris Covino, along with the high school and middle school ITCs, were also involved in organizing this professional learning.

2015-16 High School Student Fees

Dr. Michelle Fitzgerald, Assistant Superintendent for Learning and Teaching, presented the York student fees for 2015-16. In addition to the Chromebooks discussed above, the only increase was $1 for seniors’ cap and gown purchase and $15 for an AP Biology class fee.


With two members absent, the Board voted 5-0 to approve the following consent agenda items:

  • FY16 Lunch and Breakfast Fees
  • 2015-2016 High School Fees
  • Health and Dental Insurance Renewal
  • School Nurse Contract 2015-2016
  • High School Chromebook, Case and Professional Services Purchase
  • Middle School Chromebook Cart and Case Purchase
  • Cisco Network Equipment Purchase

The School Nurse Contract item was removed for brief discussion and then approved.


The Board supported the administrative recommendation that students C and D, who were found to not be living within District 205 boundaries, be disenrolled on May 18 and 28 respectively and that tuition be charged from the beginning of the 2014-15 school year in the amount of $24,417.12.

In a 5-0 vote, the Board also adopted the proposed resolution regarding a homeless dispute. It was decided that the children involved should be allowed to complete the school year, even though it is not required by law. The resolution stated that the children should not have been enrolled in Elmhurst public schools, even though they are homeless, because they have never been residents of the District 205 attendance area.


Mr. McDonough said he had just received the stormwater intergovernmental agreement back from the District's attorney and it will be sent to the City shortly.


May 17 – York Community High School Commencement Exercises – 1 PM – Newton Fieldhouse
May 19 – Finance and Operations Committee Meeting – 6:30 PM – District 205 Center
May 19 – Sandburg Middle School Spring Orchestra Concert – 7:00 PM – Sandburg Auditorium
May 20 – Bryan Middle School Spring Orchestra Concert – 7:00 PM – Bryan Auditorium
May 21 – Churchville Middle School Spring Orchestra Concert – 7:00 PM – Churchville Gymnasium
May 26 – 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 http://www.elmhurst205.org/Audio (please click on appropriate meeting date).

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).