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Brief from the School Board meeting on July 13, 2017

Discussion – District 54 Elementary Facilities Analysis:
District 54 conducted a review of the projected facility space needs at each of our elementary schools through the 2021-22 school year using enrollment projections provided by the Kasarda Study completed in the fall of 2016. The study predicted an increase of more than 330 students in the next five years.

Classroom space is an issue, particularly at Link, Churchill and Dirksen. Two options exist to resolve issues at these schools – redistricting or completing building additions. Drafts of modified floor plans were provided with the board memo. The district will also closely monitor enrollment growth at Blackwell, Collins, Dooley, Fox and Hale.

The district must also address enrollment growth in self-contained special education programs and develop a plan that provides stable, quality learning environments for all students. One option would be to renovate the former Twinbrook School and open it as a school to house classes for District 54 students with intellectual disabilities and low functioning students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Other options include opening another open enrollment school at Twinbrook, building an 8- or 14-classroom addition at Dirksen to host both general and special education classes and using existing classroom space across the district.

A Committee of the Whole meeting is recommended to be held on August 10 to enable the Board to fully consider and discuss short- and long-term facility needs, and to direct the administration on the steps to take to resolve space issues impacting the schools.  With this direction, the administration would prepare a detailed facilities action plan as a discussion topic for the Sept. 7, 2017 board meeting.

Public Comment: No one asked to speak.

Consent Agenda: The School Board approved the following items on the Consent Agenda.

  • Minutes of the regular School Board meeting on June 15, 2017
  • Resignations, retirement and employment of personnel
  • Checks dated June 9 and 23, 2017
  • The Treasurer’s Report on Cash and Investment for May 2017
  • The monthly update of revenues and expenditures for June 2017
  • The purchase of art supplies for the 2017-18 school year
  • The destruction of the verbatim records of the closed-session board meeting on Dec. 17, 2015 for which approved minutes already exist

Superintendent’s Report:
Superintendent Andy DuRoss introduced Darcy Kriha, attorney for the board of education, to present an update on school laws, including training required of school board members, board members serving as mandated reporters under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act, potential new laws on the interrogation of students and other legal matters.

Cabinet Report – Staffing Plan Update:
Assistant Superintendent Pete Hannigan provided an update on the staffing plan approved by the School Board on March 16. The district will add four kindergarten positions, four general education positions and two fine arts positions due to enrollment increases. In addition, due to the increase in the number of students receiving special education services, the district will add six special education resource staff members and one position at the Early Learning Center.

Cabinet Report – Extended School Year (ESY) 2017:
Assistant Superintendent Cassie Williams reported on the Extended School Year program, which is designed for students with disabilities to maintain their growth over the summer. A team of staff determines whether a student meets specific criteria to qualify for ESY based on academic, behavioral, social, communication and other skills. This summer 382 students attended ESY.

Cabinet Report – English Learner Assessment Center Update and Review of Practice:
Assistant Superintendent Danette Meyer reported that 2,634 District 54 students (22 percent) are classified as English Language Learners. This number has increased annually due to the growing diversity in District 54. When a student registers to attend school in District 54, his parents must complete a Home Language Survey required by the state that asks if a language other than English is spoken in the home. In District 54, 56 percent of students have another language spoken in the home.

If the parent indicates that the student received English Learner services at a previous school, District 54 can check the Illinois Student Information System to determine a child’s proficiency. Some students may not need to be assessed. Incoming kindergarten students and others who have not previously taken nationally normed test scores will take the state-mandated language screening assessment (WIDA). The assessment teacher explains the assessment and the results to parents, and shares information about the supports provided at District 54 schools. District 54 has screened 801 students from January 1 through June 5, 2017, and 449 qualified for English Learner services.

Legislative Networking Report: Board Secretary Bob Kaplan reported that the Illinois General Assembly passed a budget by overriding the governor’s veto. Both houses also passed the education funding plan, but this bill has not been delivered to the governor yet.

District 54 Education Foundation: Board Secretary Bob Kaplan reported that the golf outing raised more than $40,000.

New Business:

  • The Board had the first reading of the following deleted and revised board policies:  Student Social Events (Class Parties) – 6:440 (deleted), Parent Notification of Student Absences – 7:70(a) (revised) and Truancy – 7:70(b) (revised).

Announcements:

  • Board members announced that Barb Hengels is celebrating 20 years of service as a board member and thanked her for the impact she has had on thousands of District 54 students. Her family attended the meeting to celebrate with her.

Adjournment: The Board adjourned at 8:51 p.m. to closed session for employment/appointment matters, legal matters and business matters.