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2016 Highlights

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...from the December 13, 2016 Board of Education Meeting


PUBLIC HEARING

 

Adoption of 2016 Certificate of Levy


Public notice of this hearing was given through a legal ad in the newspaper (Elmhurst Suburban Life) on December 1. Christopher Whelton, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations, gave the Final Tax Levy Presentation. District 205 will file the levy with DuPage County on Friday, December 19, 2016.

 

According to Mr. Whelton, this year’s request is for a 3.35% total increase in the levy, with a capped operating levy increase of 3.50%. Due to the tax cap, the District is limited to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for its increase of Operating taxes, regardless of the valuation of property in the District. CPI for the 2016 Levy is 0.7%. Over the past five years, EAV has averaged 1.54%.

 

“Two unknown factors at the time of the levy are EAV (which impacts the tax rates) and new construction EAV, which is the most critical assumption because it is exempt from the tax cap. At this time, District 205 is estimating new construction EAV at $25.7 million (based on figures from Addison and York Township assessors), down from the $40 million estimate presented at the October 26 Board of Education meeting. We are asking for an additional $25 million to provide for the possibility of under-estimating new construction,” said Mr. Whelton.

 

“Based on this, we are predicting a 1.81 percent increase of the capped operating tax extension. A house with only existing property and no new construction can expect on average an overall increase of 1.05 percent or $53 on a $300,000 house,” said Mr. Whelton. He also noted that over the past five years, the actual extension amount has averaged 1.1% lower than the amount levied. “Remember that the levy is just a request. No matter what amount the District levies, the counties will only extend the increase allowable under the tax cap.”

 

REPORTS AND PRESENTATIONS

 

American Choral Directors Assoc. National Middle School Honor Choir Selectees

 

Two Sandburg Middle School eighth grade choir students, Mary Latz and Ashley Harmon, auditioned and were selected from over 4,300 students to represent Elmhurst School District 205 in the prestigious 300-member National Middle School Honor Choir in Minneapolis, Minnesota in March of 2017. The audition requirements were to prepare and record Ave Verum Corpus by W.A. Mozart, to be judged against other middle school students across the country, then be evaluated by a panel of professional choral conductors against a rubric emphasizing mastery in vocal tone, breath support, diction, rhythm and musicality appropriate for middle school singing.

 

According to choral directors John Gaunt and Kim Lambert-Haak, this is the sixth time students from Sandburg have been selected to represent Illinois at the National Level and the first time two students were selected at the same time.

 

Illinois Music Educators Association District One Junior Festival Selectees

 

Thirty-two District 205 middle school musicians were selected to perform in the ILMEA Junior Festival, held on November 5, 2016, at Lincoln-Way Central High School in New Lenox.

 

Congratulations to the following students:

 

Bryan Middle School Band – Anne Griffin (Tuba); Rose Menichini (Tenor Sax); Kyle Prigg (Trumpet);  Grace Wilton (Clarinet); Chorus – Charles Kungl (Tenor Voice); Cecilia Lampa (Alto Voice); Caitlin Maguire (Soprano Voice); Olivia Scumaci  (Soprano Voice); Emma Taylor (Soprano Voice); Orchestra – April Fatheree (Viola); Jaime Gleason (Viola); Citlaly Herculano (Viola);  Seth Kays (Bass); Erika Lenhardt (Violin); Quinn Olson (Cello);  Tessa Olson (Viola);  Helen Pygon (Violin);  William Ransford (Bass); and from

 

Churchville Middle School Band – Abbygail Graf (Clarinet); Choir – Andrew Koczur (Alto Voice); Jazz Band – Thomas Ryan (Trumpet); Henry Wegener (Trombone); Orchestra – Matthew Jones (Violin); Savannah Nichols (Violin); Adrian Zhuang (Violin); and from

 

Sandburg Middle School Band – Henry Deverman (Percussion); Reese Pavlik (Tuba); Grace  Stumpf  (Trombone); Chorus – Julie Roberts (Soprano Voice); Orchestra – Zoe Daniel (Cello); Johanna Johnsen  (Violin); Charlotte Reedy  (Violin).

 

Ricardo Vazquez serves as the District 205 Grade 4-8 Instrumental Music Coordinator. Middle school music teachers are: from Bryan Middle School – Brian Berg, Felicia Brenner, Ellen Gary, Timothy Mitchell and Jessica Tatevosian; from Churchville Middle School – Cindy Krause, Evangelia Pagones and Lindsay Sickinger; and from Sandburg Middle School – Nissa Anderson, John Gaunt, Heather Knight and Kim Lambert-Haak.

 

Future Ready Learning

 

Instructional Technology Coordinator Cathy Baker and STEM Coordinator Dave Beedy provided a brief update on Future Ready Learning in District 205. They gave examples of how the four Cs of 21st century learning (communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity) are becoming interwoven into Elmhurst classrooms. In addition, they highlighted makerspaces at Fischer and Edison, where students are creating and experiencing hands-on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum that is both rigorous and engaging.

 

The value of makerspaces include that they:

  • Support the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

  • Support 21st Century learning skills

  • Support disciplinary literacy

  • Helps build GRIT – the power of passion and perseverance

  • Encourages collaboration

  • Develops problem-solving skills

 

Mr. Beedy noted that “We’re trying to prepare students for a world they will inhabit between 2030 and 2080-90. Some 65% of them will work in jobs that have not yet been created. How in the world can we do that? The way we are going to do that is by thinking about the Rigor/Relevance Framework, which we’ve been talking about. We are trying to get kids to think at the highest levels and combine content areas, working in multiple areas at the same time, because that’s what the real world looks like. It’s full of complicated problems that aren’t siloed into English or math.”

 

Ms. Baker said it’s all about authentic learning. “The four Cs is what business is looking for; this is what it takes to be an entrepreneur. We want out students to have the opportunity to be very creative. Classes that currently exemplify this are: York’s LaBrigade restaurant, the Tech Services internship program, graphic design classes, computer lit, teacher prep programs, etc. These provide student with both predictable and unpredictable problems to solve. These are good examples of quadrant D.”

 

Presentations were then made on the Fischer School Toy Makerspace and the Edison School Studio, also a makerspace. Fischer Library Media Specialist Donna Dewar introduced Nolan Stephens and Kaleb Rosemeyer, who talked about the robot they built and showed the toy to Board members. To view the Fischer video played at the Board meeting, click here.

 

Edison Library Media Center Director Mary Greska, along with Technology Media Specialist Jean McGinnis, introduced students Henry Nelson and Tatum Olson, who participated in the fourth grade Oil Spill Challenge. To view pictures and details about recent Edison Studio events, including the fifth grade Marble Run Challenge and the Kindergarten Bridge Building activity, click here.

 

Focus 205 Update

 

Focus 205 co-chair Kara Caforio presented the following update to the Board of Education on the October 24 focus group meetings held at District 205’s three middle schools:

 

As a reminder, the goal of the Focus 205 community engagement process is to modernize education and improve student academic outcomes in a way that aligns with our community values. We will achieve this through the creation of a master plan that supports future ready learning and serves the educational needs of District 205 for many years to come.

 

Our Focus 205 logo reminds us that there are three stages to this process: connection, reflection, direction.

 

CONNECTION: Over the last year, we have offered five town hall-style meetings in order to connect with our District 205 community, attended by over 400 individuals. In addition to that, there was opportunity for input through the October focus groups we just discussed. And most recently, via the use of an innovative e-tool – the interactive Thoughtexchange survey. This fall 1,600 parents and community members shared over 118,000 thoughts and weighed in on a variety of topics during a very successful two-step process (findings report to follow next month). That’s over 2,000 people who have in some way, shape or form, participated in this process.

 

REFLECTION: Through these efforts, we have heard and reflected on the educational priorities of our community, in a workshop setting, always with the opportunity for additional suggestions and comments. We’ve seen an interest all-day Kindergarten; support for STEM and other future-ready curriculum; concern over aging facilities and a desire to optimize learning environments; strong support for maintaining neighborhood schools; and the call for a master plan to include these priorities.

 

DIRECTION: So what happens next? We now begin setting a course for the future. This is where we establish a plan to meet both current and future educational needs. In the last community engagement session, held October 3, there was a cry for specifics. In the next community engagement session (CES #6), set for February 1, three or four proposed scenarios will be presented that address the most pressing needs.

 

On Monday, October 24, Focus 205 hosted evening focus group meetings at all three District 205 middle schools – Bryan, Churchville and Sandburg. Many thanks to our principals for inviting and encouraging parents from their schools to attend. Also, thanks to our District administrative team for serving as facilitators and note takers that evening. Bryan hosted 34 participants, Churchville hosted 33 and Sandburg hosted 51, for a total of 118 people, not including District 205 staff.

 

The document related to this agenda item, which is posted on BoardDocs, is a summary of the three site groups. This report, as well as the verbatim comments from each group in each middle school, are also posted at www.focus205.org.

 

Ms. Caforio ended the presentation by encouraging people to attend the Wednesday, February 1, Focus 205 community engagement session, set for 7-9 PM in the York High School Commons. This session is entitled Vision for the Future; multiple scenarios to meet current and future needs will be presented.

 

Board President Shannon Ebner thanked Ms. Caforio for her summary of the focus group input.

 

Margaret Harrell commented that the process is about establishing some kind of balance between providing a framework for people to make choices versus leading them down any particular direction. She made an appeal for community members to either attend the meeting on the evening of February 1 or share their thoughts via focus205@elmhurst205.org.

 

“People’s voices are very important. We need ideas, thoughts and opinions. If you have a perspective, make sure that’s heard. If we don’t hear from people, we have to assume they are okay with what’s going on and are in silent agreement,” she stated. “So that’s the challenge.”

 

Early Childhood Program Presentation

 

Madison Early Childhood Education Center Principal Susan Kondrat gave a presentation on the recent award the MECEC earned from the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development. Madison achieved an Award of Excellence for Linguistically and Culturally Appropriate Practices as part of ExceleRate Illinois.

 

Deputy Director Kathrine M. Stohr of the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development recently wrote that "The Awards of Excellence are the highest level of our state’s quality rating and improvement system and recognize research-based best practice in specific content areas. This award demonstrates Madison’s successful implementation of high-quality instruction for preschool age children."

Madison’s Award of Excellence for Linguistically and Culturally Appropriate Practices will remain in effect for up to three years, provided that the program retains its overall designation in the Gold Circle of Quality during this time. This year, there are 122 English Language Learners at Madison, representing 42% of the student population and speaking 15 different languages.

 

Madison’s timeline for improvement of English Language Learner (ELL) practices is as follows:

  • 2011-2012 - 5 Madison Staff members take ELL endorsement classes

  • 2012-2013 – ELL instructor works with that group on effective ELL instructional strategies specific for early childhood students.

  • 2013-2015 - All Madison staff members have received ELL endorsement or are finishing coursework for endorsement.

  • ELL instructor works with staff monthly during late arrival, institute days, and provides classroom coaching that focuses on systemic improvement of instruction for ELL early childhood students.

  • 2015-2016 - The AOE Committee completes a program assessment, presents to staff regarding action plan items that need to be addressed, work is completed for action plan.  The committee completes and submits portfolio.  

  • 2016 and Beyond - Continue to reflect, research and further improve our practices

 

"The staff has worked very hard to achieve this level of recognition for these practices, and I am very proud of their efforts," said Principal Kondrat, noting that Madison is only one of five early childhood programs to be so honored.

 

Madison staff member Katie Delaney, accompanied by Teresa Soria, Bridget McDonald, Anna Robbins and Lindsey Sloan, talked about some of the activities that involve parents, encouraging them to partner in their student’s learning by increasing opportunities to support learning in the child’s home language. Madison has a parent liaison and building secretary who are bilingual.

 

Mrs. Stuefen asked if all Madison students are receiving this programming, and Chris Blum commented on how beneficial this must be for the 58% of students in attendance who are not ELL students.

 

“These are good strategies for all learners. We try to place clusters of students who speak the same language together, which helps the parents connect as well,” said Ms. Kondrat.

 

“Thank you for helping so many families truly achieve the American dream. And we welcome those families to our community,” said Jim Collins.

 

“This program really shows a responsiveness to the complexity of education in a multi-cultural, multi-linguistic environment. I think some people don’t realize that this Elmhurst; we have it here. You guys are responding in an amazing way,” said John McDonough.

 

Middle School Task Force
 

Assistant Superintendent of Learning and Teaching Mary Baum, along with Middle School Task Force (MSTF) co-chair Michelle Bowles, presented an update to the Board of Education, providing an overview of the Fall 2015 meetings, a description of what intervention and enrichment looks like at the middle schools – including best practice and what is possible, as well as interventions or supports that are currently in place, broken out by each middle school.

 

“The focus has shifted from talking about what we value and what our beliefs are about middle school to getting into structures and implementation and what that could look like,” said Ms. Baum.

 

“We definitely believe that we need dedicated time for intervention and enrichment in the middle school day. For students in need of enrichment, this could look like a deeper exploration of grade-level content, passion projects or genius hour – or even service learning. It’s about students pursuing their interests and passions.

 

“For students who are in need of intervention, it’s really important that we capture the elements of intervention elements that are supported by research. The first of these is the idea of “core plus more” – extra time that allows content-strong experts to work with students, providing additional intensity and just-in-time support for whatever our students need. Best practice tells us that 30 minutes daily is necessary in order to make a strong impact on students and that the intervention should be tied to grade-level standards, rather than on foundational skills, in order to close, not widen, the gap.”

 

According to Principal Jacquie Discipio, the Bryan Time Pilot “provides flexible time for students to get what they need for 30 minutes twice a week” and has been well received by students, staff and parents. “We’ve really been focusing on math and reading. We have math lab and Math Academy supports, both run by math teachers, as well as 8th grade peer tutoring and also offer reading strategies. This time allows students to finish homework, finish projects, and work in a small group setting,” she said.

 

Principal Gina Pogue-Reeder reported that Churchville is piloting a supported social studies – working on literacy skills through the social studies content. “This has been effective for students who need multiple interventions. The challenge was time. York National Honor Society students are working with students on math after school.”

 

Sandburg is continuing with extended seminar two days a week. “Our big intervention this year is Math 180, which is a core plus class,” said Principal Linda Fehrenbacher. “Grouping is flexible; taught by content teachers; and enhanced by outside support. We also have our Student Study Academy – using the Rush Neurological Functioning Program – which is supported by funding from the District 205 Foundation through its Study Skills Academy,” she said.

 

MSTF members Emily Barnes (Sandburg), Peter Richey (Churchville) and Rico Vazquez (Sandburg) spoke about planned site visits to the following middle school programs:

 

  • Westview Hills Middle School, School District 60 in Willowbrook

  • Wredling Middle School, St. Charles District 303

  • Prairie Middle School, Barrington District 220

  • Madison Junior High School, Naperville District 203

  • Springman Middle School, Glenview District 34

  • Addams Junior High School, Schaumburg District 54

Next steps for the Middle School Task Force are as follows:

  • Discuss feedback from site visit teams at December MSTF meeting

  • DMC develops more detailed scheduling options

  • MSTF processes scheduling options

  • Elicit parent feedback on potential changes to MS programming

  • Present recommendations to the Board

SUPERINTENDENT’S AGENDA - CONSENT

The Board voted 7-0 to approve the following consent agenda items:

  • Personnel Report

  • Financial Reports

  • Open Designated Closed Session Minutes and Keep all Other Closed Session Minutes Closed

  • Authorize Destruction of Verbatim Recordings of Closed Session Minutes

  • Purchase of Student Chromebooks and Staff Laptops


SUPERINTENDENT’S AGENDA - ACTION ITEMS

 

The Board voted 7-0 to approve the following consent agenda items, each by separate vote:

  • Resolution for 2016 Certificate of Levy

  • Donation (Lincoln Elementary School) – class set of Chromebooks and charging cart ($8,000), plus books for the guided reading library ($5,000) – donated by the PTA

  • Donation (Field Elementary School) – PBIS incentive relay course ( $1,800)and 25 sensory boxes in all classrooms ($1,200) – donated by the PTA

  • Donation (Bryan Middle School) – two bike racks for 7th graders (1,300)  donated by the PTA

 

Board members Karen Stuefen and Emily Bastedo thanked the PTA/parent donors of these items to the three schools.

 

ACTION ON CLOSED SESSION ITEM

 

Superintendent Dr. Dave Moyer announced that Dr. Mark Cohen has been chosen as the new Assistant Superintendent of Innovation and Growth for District 205. He will begin his duties July 1, 2017.

 

Dr. Cohen comes to Elmhurst from Lincoln-Way High School District 210, where he has served for over 17 years as a science teacher, science department chair, dean of students, assistant principal and principal. He holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Illinois State University, a master’s in educational administration from Governor’s State University and a doctorate in administration and supervision from Loyola University, Chicago.

 

Vice President Jim Collins welcomed Dr. Cohen on behalf of the Board, stating that he thought this was a great addition to the District 205 team and expected that Dr. Cohen’s contributions will be immeasurable.

 

Current District 205 Assistant Superintendent for Learning and Teaching, Mary Baum, will become the Assistant Superintendent for Learning and Leadership Development in July.

 

SUPERINTENDENT’S COMMUNICATION

 

Conrad Fischer Elementary School Model Classroom Video

 

Dr. Moyer showed a two-minute clip of the kindergarten model classroom at Conrad Fischer School, created by Communications Coordinator Kathy Schroeder with help from teacher Dawin Strelow. The model classroom project is made possible by funding from the District 205 Foundation.

 

Kagan Update

 

Dr. Moyer also shared slides that illustrate three Kagan Cooperative Learning strategies: mix-pair-share, stray away and rally robin.

 

BOARD COMMUNICATIONS

 

Mr. McDonough gave an update on the City of Elmhurst’s Joint Review Board (JRB) meeting, held December 12, regarding TIFs 1-4. “There’s something for everyone in the TIF 1 language. It does use the strong word ‘guarantee’ on the double-make-whole agreement is an even-handed thing that was done in exchange for the District’s consent back in 2004, which is a requirement by the legislature” he said.

 

Mr. McDonough presented an historical context and understanding at the JRB meeting, providing a different point of view from what he felt was “a purely textual view” that some were taking. Both sides stressed the need to discuss and consult with each other. There was commitment that those consultations will move forward through meetings of the two staffs, with guidance from school board members and the City Council.

 

Mr. Collins, who has attended JRB meetings for about six years beginning in 2009, talked about the projections of future releases from TIF 1 that he said stopped about two years ago. “It became clear to me that the City, at least at this point, has no intention of releasing that money. The school district passed a referendum exactly a decade ago this year that funded about $56 million in construction projects. Those projects were well managed and came in under budget. The money that was saved, between what was borrowed and what was spent, funded our capital expenditure budget for maintenance and improvements to school district properties up until about a year or two ago, when we ran out of money. So that budget has zero in it.

 

“The Finance Committee and the Board planned to use those TIF releases for the next decade to fund those capital improvement projects. I highly recommend that the Finance Committee start discussing a referendum to finance our construction projects, because I think it’s going to take quite a bit to get that money out of the City,” he said.

 

Having chaired the Finance Committee for a couple of years, Mr. Blum noted that he and Mr. Whelton have actually talked with Tom Trosien from the City’s Finance Department about the school district’s five year plan of using TIF releases to fund capital plans.

 

“Up until two years ago, this was acknowledged. As a matter of fact I think last year there was a release - the first one - that funded part of our capital plan. I have said for years that if we don’t have this money, we’re going to have issued. So if the City would rather use this money to build a new train station than to improve its schools, as you heard the community ask us for tonight, that’s their prerogative, but then it’s our duty to ask the taxpayer for our own revenue stream. I’m sorry, but that’s where it’s going,” he said.

 

“I disagree that it’s their prerogative; this has been a long-time community expectation,” said Mr. McDonough. The total release after the break-even point was the arrangement Mayor Marcucci personally described when he appeared before the school board in 2004. I was there that night; I took notes. I’ve been keeping track of this thing. The intent was to totally release.

 

“That approach was articulated in the IGA which says the City “guarantees” that the releases shall at least equal the real estate tax receipts the School District would have received if the TIF had not been extended. That approach is repeated in the implementation agreement, which the City signed in 2007. And that was the City’s stated reason for passing the additional releases of property in 2006, 2007 and 2012 which moved the City’s break-even point back in time so that the District’s make whole did not start before it should have. This was repeated numerous times in the projections and correspondence shared with the School Board, the City Council and the community at large.

 

“That’s a commitment to the community and should not be changed so casually. That’s why it’s important to meet and talk, to try and advise people. This is a big change, it’s a unilateral change. As good trustees, we need to look at the legal approach as well.

 

“Whatever type of continued dialogue we have is fine, but I have met with the City administrator multiple times over the past several months talking about the TIF release. The complication of the position of tying that to stormwater needs…I’ve tried to advise the Board over the last several months that this is the position the City is taking. I’m comfortable that you’ve been made aware that we were coming to this point. I guess I would concur that, based on the conversations we’ve had, I have no reason to believe that they are going to release the money.”

 

Mr. McDonough noted, ”That would be a clear variation from the language of the agreement. The language does not allow in any reading, by any stretch of the imagination, to not have the release because of stormwater needs. There’s no argument that could be made for that."

 

Ms. Bastedo said “I just want to comment that, yes, I do think you did try to warn us about this, and I honestly don’t think I believed it. I did not think that the City would choose not to give us these payments that they are obligated to, that we have built into our budget, because they didn’t like the way we are proceeding with stormwater. But that appears to be where we are, that the City is choosing not to give us this money that we need for schools.”

 

Mr. Blum stated that he thinks this is a political question, not a legal one. “No one has the desire to see two governmental entities suing one another, as strong as the case may be. Unfortunately, the City doesn’t have to ask the community how to spend the money, but we do. If the taxpayer has an issue with that, they should call their City councilman. There needs to be political pressure exerted on the City to live up to their promises. Otherwise, I think we need to put a referendum on the ballot.”

 

Mrs. Ebner concluded the discussion by saying “We need to work on this issue before we can work on any other stormwater agreement. We really can’t move forward with another project until we somehow settle the current issue with the TIF release.”

 

UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS

 

December 21 – Winter Break begins at the end of the School Day

January 9 – School Resumes

January 10 – Board of Education Meeting – 7:30 PM – District 205 Center

January 16 – Martin Luther King Holiday – No School

January 17 – Institute Day – No School for Students

January 17 – Policy Committee Meeting – 6:00 PM – District 205 Center

January 24 – 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 www.elmhurst205.org/Audio (please click on appropriate meeting date). Specifics related to each meeting, including Board votes, may be accessed via BoardDocs at www.boarddocs.com/il/elmhurst/Board.nsf/Public.

 

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).