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Brief from the Board Meeting on Dec. 12, 2019

Discussion – 25 Years of Dual Language and Immersion Education:

District 54 is celebrating a significant milestone this year: 25 years of providing dual language programs and fostering bilingualism, biliteracy and cultural competency among students, staff and the community. The Spanish Dual Language Program began with one kindergarten class at MacArthur School in 1994. Since then, District 54 has expanded the Spanish program to three additional elementary schools, has added a Japanese Dual Language Program, began a Chinese Immersion Program at Campanelli and has expanded these programs to the junior high schools.

Across the district, more than 1,600 students in kindergarten through eighth grade are engaging in academic conversations in Spanish, Japanese and Chinese across all curricular areas and building relationships that broaden their cultural understanding. Many graduates are choosing career paths that utilize their skills in both languages, and former students are returning to the district to teach in the program and enroll their own children in a dual language or immersion school. In November, District 54 received the Exemplary Elementary Foreign Language Program Award from the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages. Click here to read more about the history, development and long-term impact of District 54’s dual language programs.

Discussion – Early Learning Center Update:

For more than 40 years, thousands of students who were at-risk of not being successful in school have been supported by the District 54 early childhood program and started kindergarten prepared for success. In 2014, District 54 opened the Early Learning Center, which currently serves more than 900 at-risk and special education students and their families. In the last year, the Early Learning Center has made changes to enhance the experience for students. A curriculum was adopted that is tied to the Illinois Early Learning Developmental Standards, encompasses social-emotional learning, and includes high quality texts that celebrate diversity. Adjustments were also made to the screening for the Preschool for All program, a state-funded program designed to meet the neediest children.

The District 54 Early Learning Center has received multiple awards of excellence, including the Outstanding Practices in Inclusion Award and the Gold Circle of Quality from ExceleRate Illinois for meeting the highest quality standards in three areas: learning environment and teaching quality, administrative standards, and training and education. Click here to learn more about District 54’s dedicated approach to early childhood education.

Public Comment: No one asked to comment.

Freedom of Information Act Requests: Four requests were received and responded to since the last report to the Board regarding contracts and leases related to copiers and printers, as well as managed or outsourced print, IT and document management systems; purchasing records; information about custodial positions and terminations; and the District 54 budget year start date.

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

  • The minutes of the regular and closed-session Board of Education meetings on Nov. 14, 2019
  • Resignations, leaves, retirement and employment of personnel
  • Checks dated Nov. 22 and Dec. 6, 2019
  • The treasurer’s reports on cash and investments for October 2019
  • The monthly update of revenues and expenditures for November 2019
  • The continuation with Blue Cross Blue Shield as the excess loss carrier for the district health care plans
  • The purchase of custodial cleaning products and paper products
  • The purchase of art supplies
  • The purchase of classroom and art paper supplies
  • A resolution authorizing attorneys Franczek P.C. to intervene in appeals proceedings for assessment year 2019 before the Illinois Property Tax Appeals Board
  • A resolution authorizing attorneys Hodges, Loizzi, Eisenhammer, Rodick and Kohn to intervene in appeals proceedings for assessment year 2019 before the Illinois Property Tax Appeals Board
  • A resolution authorizing attorneys Franczek P.C. to intervene in tax objection complaint proceedings for assessment year 2019, pending in the Circuit Court of Cook County
  • The Illinois State Board of Education School Improvement Plan for Addams Junior High School
  • The destruction of the verbatim records of the closed-session school board meetings held on May 17, 2018; May 31, 2018; and June 6, 2018

Superintendent’s Report:
Superintendent Andy DuRoss talked about leadership in District 54. It starts with the Cabinet helping all 65 administrators create the right conditions so students and staff can thrive. This year District 54 has focused on the impact of the 3 P’s – people, PLCs and positivity. Through this work, the district is ensuring that every child has a champion and is developing a leadership pipeline, developing the future leaders of District 54.

Dr. Erin Knoll shared a mid-year update on various instructional projects.

  • The Social Science Task Force has been meeting since October to select and develop a high quality curriculum to replace current resources that have been used for 12 years. A final proposal will be presented to the School Board in the spring for potential adoption for the 2020-21 school year.
  • The Report Card Committee is examining the current report card and making adjustments to provide a more comprehensive profile of each student, focused on both academic and social-emotional success. Recommendations will be shared with the District Citizens’ Advisory Committee for feedback and a proposal will be brought to the School Board in the spring.
  • The district issued iPads to all kindergarten through second grade students and Chromebooks to all third and fourth grade students this fall. These resources are part of a blended learning environment across the district.
  • Innovate 54 teams from each school continue to explore effective instructional strategies that foster deep student learning; and all staff attended grade level Innovation sessions this fall.
  • A new science Project Based Learning was designed and implemented across all grade levels. A second trimester Project Based Learning opportunity, called Championing Kindness, aligns to the social-emotional learning curriculum.
  • Student ambassadors has expanded this year into the elementary schools, creating student leaders at all buildings.
  • District 54 staff have been highly involved in professional learning, having taken more than 1,300 classes since the start of the school year. In addition to in-person classes, the district also offered learning opportunities online and via podcast.

Board President Report:
Board President Bob Kaplan reported that the holiday card from STR Partners this year featured the artwork of eight District 54 students.

District 54 Education Foundation:
The Foundation is currently selling tickets to the Windy City Bulls game on Jan. 10. Tickets to this fundraiser can be purchased through a link on the Foundation website.

New Business:

  • The Board approved the appointment of an additional community representative to serve on DCAC for the 2019-20 school year.
  • The Board approved revisions to Board Policy 2:120(b) – Board Conferences, Conventions and Workshops with Resolution Regarding Board Member and Employee Expenses.
  • The Board had the first reading of the following policies:
    • 2:120(a) – Board Member Orientation,
    • 2:140(a) – Communications To and From Board,
    • 2:220 – School Board Meeting Procedure and
    • 2:80 – Board Member Code of Conduct.
  • The Board awarded a three-year contract to Schools by Floodlight for the design and hosting of the District 54 and school websites.
  • The Board approved Nicholas & Associates to act as construction manager for a building addition at Collins School.
  • The Board approved the appointment of Christopher Schmid as principal of Frost Junior High for the 2019-20 school year.

Closed Session: The Board adjourned at 8:59 p.m. to closed session for employment/appointment matters.