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...from the January 13, 2015 Board of Education Meeting


STAFF RECOGNITION

Shining Star Awards

Superintendent Dave Pruneau recognized the following District 205 employees with a Shining Star Award:

Nancy Bensfield and Jen Leban
Mrs. Bensfield - Math teacher and crochet club advisor at Sandburg
Mrs. Leban - Art teacher and crochet club advisor at Sandburg

Nominated by Linda Fehrenbacher and Jeff Gail

Nancy and Jen have had students in their crochet club design and create coffee cup sleeves.  They are being sold at Elijah’s for $5.00.  All proceeds support UCCA.  There are 40+ students in the club.  This is one of at least two community service projects this club is doing this year.  Jen has done this fundraiser two years in a row.  Last year she created mini “espresso” mugs and funds raised were donated to UCCA. 

Frank Dahlman - 8th Grade English teacher at Sandburg
Nominated by Sally Cruger and Linda Fehrenbacher

There is a visually impaired student in Frank’s class.  The student is legally blind with a degenerative eye disorder.  The student is learning to use a cane for guidance and braille to communicate in reading and writing.  The student is self-conscious about using braille.  Frank has been learning braille so that he can encourage the student to use it openly.  This student is now more open and willing to share his new form of communication as his self-confidence has been greatly boosted.

Sue Hand - Educational Assistant at Fischer
Nominated by Marie Gall and Jane Bailey

Sue works tirelessly at Fischer from early morning before school care through the school day and then into the evening for after school care.  Sue works each day assisting teachers and students patiently, helping in any way necessary.  For years Sue has been a helpful resource to staff and parents.  Her kind, friendly and thoughtful manner is a warm and welcoming presence at work. 

Susan O’Leary - REACH teacher at Jackson School
Nominated by Paula Berger and Sandy Laszkiewicz

On her own time, Susan accesses new resources and develops math or language arts activities to create the best program for her REACH students.  She meets regularly with teachers to create projects that support her students.  She motivates her REACH students to use higher level thinking and how to become positive contributors to society.

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

SUPERINTENDENT’S COMMUNICATION

Enrollment Projections and Non-Discretionary Staffing

Mr. Pruneau noted that over the last two years, the Board of Education has asked the administration to provide an early view of staffing for the following year. This assists with budget projections/planning and helps the District meet the March deadline for notification if a Reduction In Force (RIF) is necessary. It also helps recruit some specialized candidates early, in order to “hire the best.”

He said that psychologists, for example, would be positions the District might post and aggressively pursue in January. For certain other highly-sought FTE requiring special licensure, it would also be advantageous to post early.

“We are currently looking for a maintenance staffing level of non-discretionary positions for the 2015-16 school year. We base this on ‘roll up’ numbers and also look at cohorts to come up with the recommendations presented tonight,” said Mr. Pruneau.

The administrative recommendation is for the addition of 6.5 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) positions, based on enrollment shifts and increased student need. This number neither increases nor decreases class size.

“We believe we will need 5.0 less FTE at the elementary level for 2015-16, due to a drop in enrollment. At the middle school level, it is almost the opposite: we project that we will need a 5.5 FTE increase to maintain current class sizes,” Mr. Pruneau explained.

“At York High School, student growth is flat, but we had a smaller freshman class than was projected for fall of 2014, plus we have a smaller freshman class coming in next year. Therefore the recommendation is for 3.0 less FTE at York.”

The recommended increase of 1.0 FTE elementary resource special education teacher could take place yet this school year.

“The other recommendation is for an increase of 4.0 school psychologists. The caseloads are very large, on top of which we split our psychologists between school buildings, so we have lost some good people to other districts as a result,” he noted. A case load of 700 students, which this would accomplish, is at the upper limit recommended by the Illinois School Psychologists’ Association.

The English Language Learner (ELL) population continues to increase. In order to stay in compliance with State regulations, 3 FTE elementary ELL and 1 FTE middle school teachers will need to be added.

No increase in educational assistants is being recommended at this time.

“The next step is to sit down with our principals and talk about specific building scenarios; what we’re presenting tonight is a more global, district-wide view. If we have a reduction in staff at one building, we will work to place those individuals elsewhere in the District. Through attrition and retirement, we hope to retain those jobs,” reported Mr. Pruneau.

The most difficult projection is at the kindergarten level, noted Chris Whelton. District 205 is using the demographer’s figures to make those enrollment projections.

“It’s early in the process, so we’re trying to be as conservative as possible at this point, while still providing for contingency staffing if necessary. We have 15 retirements thus far - that is a known quantity. If we do find ourselves in a position to make a Reduction In Force, we can do that in a very strategic way and not a blanket RIF,” said Jim Woell, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources.

“It doesn’t have to be exact; it just has to be directionally correct. One or two here or there isn’t going to matter. The PMA projections assumed 10.07 new FTE and this is 6.5 FTE, so this is in line with our budget,” said Chris Blum.

Review of Bond Refund

Since 2012, the Board of Education has been following a strategy of opportunistically refinancing eligible bond issues to lock in the current historically low interest rates and repay its debt early.  This strategy refunds bonds in a way that keeps the annual debt service payments the same to the taxpayers in the near term, but allows the bonds to be paid off sooner than originally anticipated resulting in additional interest savings.

This strategy of paying off debt as soon as possible without increasing the payments to the taxpayers is unique and shows the fiscal conservatism of the District 205 Board. “Our strategy is similar to refinancing your mortgage and using the savings to pay off your house early,” explained Finance Committee Chairman Chris Blum.

Consultants William Blair & Company advised that January and June are months when municipal bond investors have cash to invest. This month that particular market was especially lucrative.

“Therefore, we prepared ourselves by passing the parameters resolution in December and were ready to go the first of the year. Blair marketed our double AA-plus credit rating, was able to customize the coupons and create a competitive market. We were literally able to save our taxpayers an additional $400,000 overnight,” said Mr. Blum.

Our plan to be one of the first deals to market this month paid off for us,” said Assistant Superintendent for Finance, Chris Whelton. “William Blair & Company did a great job premarketing our transaction. We had competing interest from several large institutional investors, as well as from individuals. Blair was able to customize the coupons of our new bonds to specifically meet the needs of these investors. This competing interest, combined with the customized coupons, allowed Blair to name our price and achieve a lower financing cost for us. We saved our taxpayers a total of $6.7 million dollars in this refinancing alone.” This money is not returned to D205, but instead benefits its taxpayers.

The District refinanced 2005B and 2006A bonds in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, yielding total savings to taxpayers of over $9.2 million over the life of the bonds. The District plans to continue its refunding strategy over the next two years to refund the remaining Series 2006A and Series 2007B bonds for savings given appropriate market conditions.

“If interest rates were to stay at or near current levels, District 205 taxpayers could realize additional savings of as much as $4-$5 million,” explained Board of Education President Jim Collins.

BOARD COMMITTEE REPORT

The Board Improvement Committee met on December 18 for the purpose of discussing community engagement initiatives and reviewing the four proposals District 205 received in response to its recent Request for Qualifications/Quote (RFQ).

“Because we have a very lean staff in District 205, we decided we needed some professional assistance in doing this,” said Mr. Collins. “Based on a rubric developed to mirror the RFQ, Unicom-ARC rated the highest. They were the clear winner of that evaluation.”

SUPERINTENDENT’S AGENDA - CONSENT

  • Approval of RFQ 15-03 - Public Engagement/Education and Community

The Board voted unanimously to approve hiring Unicom-ARC to conduct community engagement in District 205 at a price not to exceed $50,000.

BOARD COMMUNICATIONS

Karen Stuefen updated the Board on the PTA Council’s Legislative Forum, The Cost of a Free Public Education Under the New Reality, set for Monday, February 23, from 7-9 PM at Bryan Middle School. The lineup includes two State representatives, two State senators, the Legislative Education Network of DuPage (LEND) Executive Director Peg Agnos, D205 PTA Council legislative representative Carol Snyder and Jan Dorner, of the League of Women Voters.

UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS

January 26 – Policy Committee Meeting – 7:00 PM – District 205 Center

January 27 – Board of Education Meeting – 7:30 PM – District 205 Center

January 30 – Teacher Institute Day - No School for Students

February 2 – Learning & Teaching Committee – 7:00 PM – District 205 Center

February 3 – York Jazz Ensemble Concert – 7:30 PM – York Commons

February 5-8 – York Winter Drama Festival: Dog Fight – Thursday through Saturday, 7:30 PM and Sunday, February 8, 2 PM – York’s Baker Auditorium

February 10 – District 205 Middle School Orchestra Festival – 7:30 PM – Bryan Middle School

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

February 12 – York Winter Choral Concert – 7:30 PM – York’s Baker Auditorium

February 13-24 – District 205 Faculty Art Exhibition – Elmhurst Art Museum

February 16 – Presidents' Day Holiday – No School

February 19 – York Winter Orchestra Concert –7:30 PM - York’s Baker Auditorium

February 23 – PTA Council Legislative Forum – 7:00 PM – Bryan MS Auditorium

February 24 – District 205 Middle School Choral Festival – 7:30 PM – York’s Campbell Gym

February 26 – York Winter Band Concert – 7:30 PM – York’s Baker Auditorium

February 27 – Institute Day – No School for Students

February 27-28 – Sandburg Drama – Cinderella Junior, by Rogers and Hammerstein Friday at 7:00 PM and Saturday at 10:00 AM and 3:30 PM – Sandburg Middle School Auditorium

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).