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Brief from the Board Meeting on September 20

Recognition: The Board of Education recognized athletes, volunteers and partners for their participation in the Special Olympics Program. The athletes represent 22 District 54 schools.

Discussion – Sixth Day Enrollment:
Human Resources Assistant Superintendent Pete Hannigan presented the Sixth-Day Enrollment Report. This annual report explains the enrollment trends in District 54 and their impact on staffing decisions. This year, August 27 marked the sixth day of enrollment, a date District 54 uses because we assume that by this day students new to the district will have completed the registration process and students leaving the district will have informed us of their move. For kindergarten and early childhood students, the sixth day was Sept. 4. Our sixth-day enrollment was 15,282 students in early childhood through eighth grade. This marks an increase of 263 students over last year. The average class size was 22.3 students.

As District 54 monitors student enrollment, we look at what changes are necessary to best support students. For example, this year we added classrooms at Dirksen and Churchill. Click here to view more detailed enrollment numbers.

Public Comment: No one asked to speak.

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

  • Minutes of the regular and closed-session meetings on Sept. 6, 2018
  • Leaves of absence, retirement and employment of personnel
  • Checks dated Sept. 14, 2018
  • Monthly reports on cash and investments for July 2018
  • Monthly report of revenues and expenditures for August 2018
  • The administrator and teacher salary and benefits report
  • A contract with R&G Consultants for Medicaid billing services
  • A contract for security film at 30 district locations to Alan and Associates
  • The release of the minutes of 11 closed-session meetings
  • The destruction of the verbatim records of the closed-session school board meetings on Feb. 16 and March 2, 2017 for which approved minutes already exist

Superintendent’s Report:
Superintendent Andy DuRoss spoke about how District 54 employees are embracing the concept of peak moments, as outlined in the book The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath. He shared a video with images from all 28 schools highlighting peak moments from the first day of school, institute days for staff in August, new teacher week, back to school night and so much more.

Cabinet Report – Summer Learning:
Associate Superintendent Nick Myers shared information on how District 54 has addressed summer learning loss. Historically, District 54 has offered summer school and jump start programs for targeted student populations. However, an analysis of student academic achievement data indicated that these programs did not yield a statistically significant impact. Student attendance and transiency contributed to these results. Instead, the funds were reallocated to hire staff to work with students in need during the school year. This has had a positive impact on academic gains.

In addition, District 54 currently offers multiple summer programs. In 2018, 620 students participated in Camp Creative, 1,345 students participated in STEM Camp, 382 students participated in Culture Camp, 84 students participated in Target Language Camp and 350 students participated in Band and Orchestra Camp. In addition, 345 students participated in the District 54 Special Education Summer School for students whose Individualized Education Plans qualify them for these services. Last summer 345 students participated in this program. These programs have all been well attended and well received by our students and families.

Cabinet Report – Junior High Social Emotional Learning:
Since our inception, District 54 has been committed to the social and emotional well-being of our students, as well as their academic success. We know that as children enter their pre-teen and teen years, the challenges they face often grow. Therefore, one of the areas we are addressing this year is the support provided to junior high aged students.

Every four to six weeks our junior high schools and Lincoln Prairie will have an assembly based on a theme that complements our social-emotional learning curriculum. District 54 is training Student Ambassadors from these schools to lead and champion this work. We know that empowering our students to create the change we want to see in our schools is our best lever to minimize bullying, enhance our school climate and improve social-emotional outcomes for all students. The themes are as follows.

  • September: Be Your Best Self
  • October: Bullying Prevention Month
  • November/December: Kindness
  • January/February: Digital Citizenship
  • March: Happiness Month
  • April/May: Community Service Month

Cabinet Report – Autism Resource Center:
The mission of the District 54 Autism Resource Center is to provide access to resources, consultation and training for caregivers and educators supporting students receiving special education services in our district. The fulfillment of that mission began with an amazing donation from Amazon of $2,500 in cash and $7,500 in materials.

School District 54 currently serves 1,698 students with Individual Education Programs (IEP). Of those students, 373 have an eligibility of Autism and 53 have an eligibility of Intellectual Disability. Parents and staff who utilize the center are able to check out books related to supporting these students, to check out educational and recreational games to use with the children and to make visual supports to help with routines and behavior. The Autism Resource Center is one more way District 54 is investing in the growth of the whole child and working to close the achievement gap for all students.

District Citizens’ Advisory Committee Report: Board Secretary Bob Kaplan reported that DCAC heard a presentation on the District 54 Strategic Plan.

Foundation Report: Board Secretary Bob Kaplan thanked everyone who supported the Foundation’s fundraiser yesterday at Lou Malnati’s.

PTA Council: The PTA is hosting its annual general meeting at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 11. The evening includes a presentation on How to Raise Resilient Children.

New Business: 


  • Board members invited people to attend the District 54 Run to Read on Sunday, Sept. 23.
  • The Board thanked Keller staff and students for collecting more than 1,000 food items in their charity walk this week.
  • Today marked the first day of the Innovate 54 training, and the board expressed excitement for the work of this committee.

Adjournment: The Board adjourned at 8:57 p.m.