Board Meeting Highlights - January 2016

Below are highlights from the District 39 Board of Education meeting on January 25, 2016.


Board Committee Reports

  • School Finance/Facility Development – Alice Schaff reported - Discussion included summer projects, which were all completed and together came in $174,000 under budget. Plans for learning commons were reviewed; construction documents are out and bids are expected by February 3rd. Also discussed the contract for regular education transportation with North Shore Transit that will expire in 2017 and debt service abatement, which will be $200,000 for the next three years totaling $600,000. Projects for next summer were introduced including an air handling system at WJHS and asbestos abatement at Harper. Technology infrastructure improvements should be complete this spring. A sustainability audit is underway. Next meeting is February 8th at 8:00 am.
  • Educational Foundation – Cindy Levine reported – Trivia night is February 6th and is sold out. Donations are still being accepted for the fall appeal. Math in the Real World events are March 10. Science Olympiad is underway and competition teams brought home 14 medals from the Marie Murphy Invitational. The Distinguished Citizen event is April 7th. The Foundation is looking for new board members. 


Legislative Update - Kimbery Alcantara 

Budget proposals are being discussed in Springfield that could impact education funding and D39. The Illinois State Board of Education recommends a transfer of special education funding to the General State Aid (GSA) formula. Still on the table is the potential for a property tax freeze. Options include a permanent freeze with collective bargaining relief, a two year freeze targeting school districts, or basing the tax cap on the level of fund balances. Reallocation of state funding is also still on the table. School districts are faced with a lot of uncertainties. For D39 and other suburban districts the movement of special education dollars into GSA is concerning as it would mean permanent loss of funding - $250,000 for D39. D39 builds all of these proposals into our projections, but there are a number of unknown factors, and the potential loss of revenue is always a concern.



Written Communication 

Announcements from the Superintendent

  • D39 will administer the State mandated science assessment to students to grades 5 and 8 in May. D39 curriculum had been aligned with the standards that comprise this assessment for several years. This is an on-line administration and we anticipate no concerns.
  • Last week, D39 implemented a new process to enroll kindergarten students for next school year. As of now we have 250 kindergarteners committed to attending District 39 next year. This is a great result as 312 were registered last August. This early enrollment helps parents plan the second half of their child's day and also helps the District with section planning. 
  • On the January Institute Day administrators, teachers, and paraprofessionals learned about learning outcomes, which is a new student growth model for D39. Teachers were given time to develop objectives and growth assessments. 

FOIA requests

Strategic Plan Updates

  • Dr. Thrasher – Student Services Strategic Implementation Plan - Last January was the very first Student Services Implementation Plan. This report updates the plan and includes goals for this school year.

2016-17 Schedule Planning

  • Dr. Glowacki and Mrs. Horowitz – Early Release - An early release schedule has been tried successfully in neighboring districts in different formats. D39 has begun reviewing research on this concept. The report included important considerations for the District and noted that feedback from the Board and the community will be sought. 
  • Dr. Glowacki and Mrs. Horowitz – Start/End School Day Options - Conversations at 5th-8th grade last year, as well as the CRC recommendations for a later start time for adolescents, were the impetus for considering changes to the start and end times of our elementary, middle, and junior high schools. Although many different options were considered, the top three proposals are presented in this report. 
  • Dr. Glowacki, Mrs. Horowitz, and Mrs. Jackson – Grade 5 Team Structure Pilot - The 5th grade teaming structure at HMS has been in existence since the school re-opened in 1995. The philosophy was to mirror the elementary homeroom structure to assist students in their transition to middle school. However, one aspect of middle school philosophy is using teachers as content area specialists, which requires changes to the traditional teaming structures. This report reviews the teaming configurations that are being piloted this year along with feedback gathered to date on the experiences. 
  • Dr. Glowacki and Mrs. Horowitz – Rethinking Master Schedule Priorities - Feedback from staff and administrators often focuses on the positive impact on blocks of uninterrupted instructional time. There are complexities and competing priorities that influence the schedule. The administration will be meeting with a scheduling consultant to address a variety of priorities and to consider potential changes to existing master schedules. 

Annual Business

  • Dr. Thrasher – January Special Education Child Count - Similar to our overall student population, there is a slight increase in the numbers of students with IEPs. This year, 461 students are receiving special education services (compared to 435 January 2015). The slight increase is related to enrollment increases as the overall percentage of students needing special education support remains below state average. 
  • Ms. Buscemi – Debt Service Abatement and Resolution - District 39 continues to identify ways to reduce the tax impact on homeowners. This resolution authorizes the Cook County Clerk to abate a portion of the debt service levy for the years 2015 through 2017 at an amount of $200,000 each year. The abatement will total $600,000 over three years.
  • Dr. Thrasher, Mrs. Horowitz, and Mrs. Flemming – Student Assessment Report Update - This report reviews the results of the spring 2015 PARCC assessment in math and English language arts. Students in Wilmette performed remarkably well on the first administration of these assessments, far exceeding performance of students around the state.  This is especially commendable, considering the novel testing format of PARCC, combined with the shift to assessment of critical thinking, problem solving, and writing.


Board Action

The Consent Agenda was approved including the following:

  • Personnel Report dated January 25, 2016 
  • 2017 Fiscal Year Budget Calendar and Resolution
  • Special Education Student Transportation Contract Extension
  • Debt Service Abatement and Resolution
  • Proposed 2016-2017 School Calendar
  • Take from the Table Revised Board of Education Policies 2:80; 2:100; and 2:120 
  • First Reading Revised Board of Education Policies 2:105 and 2:110 
  • Second and Final Reading Revised Board Of Education Policy 7:180
  • Third and Final Reading Revised Board of Education Policies 2:80; 2:100; and 2:120