February 2021

Board Meeting Highlights

February 22, 2021
Complete Meeting Packet

Board Reports

Facility Development Committee (FDC) - Mrs. Sternweiler -
Romona and McKenzie KEEP39 Project Updates:
Mrs. Sternweiler summarized the Facility Development Committee meeting held as part of the Committee of the Whole Meeting on February 8th. During the Committee discussion, Mr. East of Nicholas and Associates reported the pre-bid meeting had landmark attendance. He discussed bid due dates and expected very high interest.

Mr. Lewis of STR Architects explained the bid alternates for each school. McKenzie alternates include installing a kindergarten restroom, remodeling the entrance to the cafeteria and the entrance to room 101, installing an entrance to room 100, and replacing the ceiling in the cafeteria. Plans include repaving the parking lot after construction has been completed.

Bid alternates for Romona include relocating and replacing the garden storage building, landscaping the front of the school with bushes and plantings, and milling the top of the pavement due to construction access.

WJHS Second Floor A/C Project and Budget Update:
Mrs. Sternweiler summarized the Committee discussion by sharing that Mr. Bultemeier reported on the second floor AC project in December, which was then estimated at $1.76M. At the time of the Committee of the Whole meeting, the project was at 60% design issuance with an estimate of $3.49M. Mr. Bultemeier met with STR and Nicholas and Associates to evaluate estimates and identify potential areas for reducing costs. The 80% design documents were expected the following week and another cost estimate would be provided at that time. Every round of design provides more clarity and better estimates.

Ms. Moon said STR would prepare the air conditioning project and electrical life safety work as separate bid packages to break out cost estimates and allow the Board to vote separately on each project. It was noted that construction costs increase approximately 4% each year. Postponing the project would likely increase costs.

School Finance Committee (SFC) - Mr. Cesaretti reported that during the Committee of the Whole meeting on February 8th, the 2021-2022 Student Fees were discussed. Mr. Bultemeier provided a draft of student fees for the next school year noting no fee increases were proposed. Summer programming is currently being planned and those program fees have not yet been determined.

Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Update
Mr. Bultemeier provided a budget review of KEEP39 revenue and expenditures including staff salaries. He also provided a projections summary for FY22 with COVID-19 estimates at $2M and the projected CPI of 1.4%. He noted a baseline deficit of $931K for FY21 largely relating to increased costs associated with operating through the pandemic, however, transportation and salaries and benefits are expected to finish under budget and property tax revenue is on track indicating there may be a reduction to the deficit.

Relating to the WJHS air conditioning project projecting higher than budget estimates, Mr. Bultemeier offered suggestions for future potential postponement of projects to offset costs, if needed.

Strategy - Mr. Steen reported the administration continues to engage with the Community Review Committee (CRC) and the Consortium for Educational Change (CEC) to establish dates in March to begin the new long-range strategic plan effort of the district. The teams are working to establish dates in March to begin this work and the CRC is deeply involved with developing communications to increase community engagement. Ms. Lee stated the CRC continues their work on the stakeholder awareness process.

Metrics Team Update
During the Committee of the Whole Meeting and as part of the Strategy Committee discussion, Dr. Cremascoli stated the metrics team meets biweekly. The graphics and dashboard on the website are updated frequently. Community rates of COVID-19 have stabilized somewhat and the District continues to have favorable experiences. The previous week’s data reflected staff and student cases identified who successfully isolated without the need for classroom quarantines. The mitigation efforts to reduce the risk of in-school transmission continue to be effective and the District benefits from close adherence of families, staff, and students to the protocol for staying home when sick or potentially exposed.

Dr. Cremascoli also reported the district is eager to assist in coordinating employees access to vaccines as 1b eligible individuals. New Trier Northfield Campus was established as a vaccination site offering some limited appointments for staff. Staff have also been able to schedule appointments at vaccine clinics throughout the Cook County region. The cycle requires two doses with the goal of completing the cycle by spring break. Mitigation efforts will continue at the schools to ensure the health and safety of students, staff and families.

Dr. Cremascoli noted fourth quarter planning has begun and the administration is awaiting updated guidelines from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Liaison Reports

Community Review Committee (CRC) - Ms. Stone reported the CRC met virtually on February 2nd. They continued work on the stakeholder awareness phase of the strategic planning process. The subcommittees categorized stakeholder groups and created a key contact list and made recommendations for drafting a communication plan. They developed language for communications via email and other forms of delivery, as well as language tailored for specific stakeholder groups that fall under broad topics such as civic, non-profits, residents, and education.

Educational Foundation - Dr. Cremascoli reported the Foundation celebrated their successful Bingo Night. They continue to seek contributions for their Silver Linings Project and to request teacher submissions for Gripp Grants.

Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) - Ms. Sternweiler reported the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) continues to monitor available funds from federal and state governments to support COVID relief efforts and pandemic educational costs. Districts are awaiting word from the federal government regarding school district requirements for state mandated testing. State Superintendent Ayala summarized the state’s current position for state assessments and sent a letter urging the government to allow a waiver for spring 2021 assessments. If waivers are available, ISBE will apply for it. This waiver is supported by various professional educator organizations across the state but ISBE has not yet received a response. While a waiver may be possible, school districts are to prepare for the administration of assessments.

Legislative Update - Ms. Stone reported the House Education and Labor Committee marked up legislation that would provide $131B in additional emergency aid for K-12 schools. This was sent back to the House Budget committee to be included in a single legislative package at a later date. The Energy and Commerce Committee approved COVID-19 relief budget reconciliation legislation that will provide $7.6B to expand internet connectivity for students and teachers who do not have internet access. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted 17-5 to advance President Biden’s nominee Miguel Cardona as next U. S. Secretary of Education to the Senate. Governor Pritzker’s State of the State Budget Address took place. The proposed Pre-K through 12 education budget highlights include education funding going up $49M which is .5%; K-12 funding going up $553M, which is 10.8%. The budget would invest $16.6M toward teacher and student well-being supports, $6.5M toward teacher mentoring, $6M to social emotional learning and trauma response, $3M to principal mentoring, and $1.1M for student care department design to ensure collective and individual needs of students are met and districts are responsive to needs of families.

Information Items

Written Communication

Announcements from the Superintendent

Metrics Team Update - Dr. Cremascoli - The Metrics Team did not meet on Friday. That said, the Metrics Dashboard continues to be regularly updated, and this week’s full report has been published.

Metrics continue to move in a favorable direction overall. Community spread metrics, in particular, those related to COVID positivity rates throughout our community, have stabilized. New cases per 100k population remains higher than the guidelines for moderate to low, but are on a downward trend. Team experts have shared that this can be a metric of testing availability as much, if not more, than it is of actual COVID prevalence within the community.

Operationally, there was a reduction in COVID positive cases reported this past week among D39 students and staff. Additionally, there was a slight reduction in staff absences; however, we anticipate absences to continue to be relatively high through March. After spring break, absences are expected to stabilize somewhat as staff complete the vaccine cycle and become fully vaccinated.

Dr. Cremascoli also shared that students district-wide have recently completed their winter NWEA MAP assessments. This is the first year the district has provided parents with fall and winter reports. In previous years, only end-of-year spring reports were sent home. The administration and teacher teams are reviewing these data to identify successes as well as to inform ongoing improvement efforts, and looks forward to providing the Board with an in-depth review of the mid-year benchmark data at the March Committee of the Whole Meeting, once all district scores have been aggregated. It was also noted that the report format provided this winter is the same one provided to families in the fall this year; however, the family report has been changed this year by MAP and thus it does look a little different for families. The District has provided feedback to NWEA regarding these changes and are attempting to seek customization options to tailor these reports better to meet our families’ needs and desires.

Staff Vaccine Update - Dr. Cremascoli - A brief update on staff vaccines was provided. By the end of next week, all staff who expressed interested in receiving the vaccine are expected to have received their first dose. More than 90% of staff district-wide will have received their first vaccination and by spring break, more than 90% of district staff will have completed the full vaccine cycle. The District is reaching out to other members of D39 team, including substitute teachers and bus drivers, to ensure these important members also have access to the vaccine.

There are concerns some individuals experience COVID-like symptoms in the 48 hours following the vaccine. These symptoms may be significant enough that an individual is unable to work in the day or two following their second vaccine. Administration plans for additional substitutes onsite to help cover these anticipated but unknown absences through March. Parents should be aware that staff remain prepared to pivot a classroom to short-term remote learning if there is COVID exposure and/or if the classroom is unable to be staffed for in-person learning.

Approximately 190 staff will receive their second vaccine on Wednesday, March 3rd at the Township site. A variety of options were examined to accommodate the potential increase in absences that may follow on March 4 or 5. Five to seven potential additional staff absences are anticipated at each school. Administration reviewed some creative ideas to limit the potential impact of these additional absences. The idea that seems to have the least impact on instructional time and in-person learning while also maximizing available substitutes was to switch the remote synchronous day for this week at 5-8 grade level from Monday to Thursday. This allows the district to plan in advance for the greater than typical number of absences that may occur and better allocate available substitutes to the elementary schools where this option is not as readily available. So, at 5-8 grades, Monday would be in-person and Thursday would be a remote day.

SafeGuard Screening - Dr. Cremascoli - The Metrics Team Testing Subcommittee reviewed the district’s experience with screening thus far to offer guidance and recommendation for the program moving forward. The team considered the number of cases identified through SafeGuard Screening as well as those identified through other means. After careful review of cases, paired with consideration of decreasing community spread metrics and ongoing favorable experiences with regard to no evidence of within school transmission, the team recommended continuing SafeGuard Screening through the second week after spring break. Extending screenings will provide an additional layer of mitigation protection through the remaining weeks prior to spring break as well as the time before staff are fully vaccinated. It is not recommended that fully vaccinated individuals participate in screening. Spring is likely to bring further reduction in community spread of COVID-19 and thus fewer cases being detected overall. Therefore, weekly testing is recommended to proceed through April 12th. The Board expressed support for this plan.

The cost remains at $11 per test. It is expected overall screening costs through this timeframe will be approximately $65,000-$70,000. To date, approximately 50% of these costs have been covered through the generous contributions of parents. Thus, it is estimated the Board’s contribution to continue testing through April 12th to be approximately $35,000.

Planning for 2021-2022 - Dr. Cremascoli - Administration is planning for the 2021-2022 school year. While it is difficult to predict what the health and safety guidelines will require by fall, administration is planning for daily in-person instruction for all students enrolled accordingly. It is not yet sure what remote learning requirements or needs might be, but the district will explore options for this. Staffing plans being developed will reflect daily in-person instruction for all students registered accordingly. The daily schedule and procedures will need to be developed once health and safety guidelines are better understood for the fall; however, the district expects its layered mitigation approach will likely need to continue.

Regarding fourth quarter options, the CDC recently published updated guidance for in-person education and administration is evaluating the nuanced updates this guidance provides to planning and implementation of in-person instruction. Options are being explored for fourth quarter adjustments, particularly at the 5-8 campus, and a review of possible plans and adjustments will be presented at the March Board meeting. The Board discussed fourth quarter options and direction at length. Of note, the district has maintained strict adherence to ensuring that 6 feet or more of social distancing is available within classrooms. This has limited the opportunities for daily in-person instruction at the 5-8 campus. After much discussion and deliberation, the Board directed administration to evaluate opportunities for and the impact of daily in-person instruction at the 5-8 campus for 4th quarter, understanding that this would require reducing physical distancing to approximately 4-5 feet within some classrooms to accommodate the merging of A and B pods. The Board requests an update on these considerations at the March Committee of the Whole Meeting and a full review of planning options at the March Board Meeting.

2021-2022 Student Fees - Dr. Cremascoli - Student fees for the 2021-2022 school year were reviewed at the February 8th Committee of the Whole meeting. The recommendation is for instructional materials fees, lunch fees, and athletics fees to remain the same for the next school year.

Statement of Inclusion - Dr. Cremascoli - The District established a strategic goal in the fall of 2016, titled School Climate: Creating a Culture of Empathy as part of District 39 Strategic Plan. This goal was approved at the September 2016 Board of Education meeting and has continued to be an area of significant focus annually. The goal addressed reports of bullying, racial and religious tension, and inappropriate use of social media and has since been expanded and refined to include the strengthening a positive school culture and climate and fostering a sense of connectedness among all students and staff. Being proactive in the areas of empathy, diversity, and inclusiveness fosters a positive classroom culture, stronger community, meaningful engagement of students and staff, and higher levels of academic and social success for students.

During the 2016-2017 school year, a Statement of Inclusion was developed and adopted. The intent of the Statement of Inclusion is to enhance the communication of District beliefs. This articulation of inclusion is in support of the District’s mission to nurture, guide, and challenge students to become creative thinkers, collaborators, socially responsible, compassionate, and productive citizens of a global society. With ongoing focus in these areas and a deepened commitment to the promotion of inclusion, diversity, and a sense of belonging in myriad ways, reaffirmation of this statement provides confirmation of and an ongoing recognition to this important work.

Juneteenth Holiday - Dr. Cremascoli - Previously, the Board discussed honoring the Juneteenth Holiday through providing a paid day off of work on June 19th of each year, similar to how Independence Day is honored each year. When June 19th falls on a weekend, the holiday will be recognized on the closest work day. During most school years, this holiday will impact 12 month employees. Dr. Steen provided an articulate summary of the significance of this important holiday within our nation’s history. The Board expressed its full support for this holiday.

Village of Wilmette Sesquicentennial - Dr. Cremascoli - The Village of Wilmette was incorporated as a municipality in 1872. In 2022 the Village will observe its 150th birthday. Last fall, the Village Board decided that this milestone should be celebrated in a similar manner as prior significant anniversaries. To that end, the Village Board created a 12‐member Sesquicentennial Planning Committee. The committee held its first meeting in December and discussed a number of ideas but recognized that the community at large – not the committee – should set the direction for the celebration. Thus, the Village has invited District 39 and the community at large to submit ideas to the committee. The easiest way is to send an email to [email protected], or contact any member of the committee directly, or attend and participate in the committee’s meetings, either in person at the Village Hall (when in‐person meetings resume) or remotely through the Microsoft Teams program. The next meeting will be held remotely on April 13 at 6:00 p.m. District 39 has identified three representatives to support and contribute to the Village’s planning.

Freedom of Information (FOIA)

Strategic Plan Updates

2020-2021 Strategic Plan Updates: Continuing Initiatives - Ms. Katie Lee -
On September 21, 2020, the Board of Education approved the implementation of the 2020-2021 District 39 Strategic Plan. This executive summary report will focus on mid-year updates under Continuing Initiative section:

  • Designing a Kindergarten Enrichment Program
  • Student Growth through Differentiation & Personalization
  • Creating Flexible Learning Environments

Future Strategic Planning Dates and Next Steps - Ms. Katie Lee -
In mid-January 2021, District 39 reconnected with Consortium for Educational Change (CEC) to relaunch the strategic planning process. The Strategic Planning Process components and confirmed corresponding dates signals the commitment to begin this work. District level administrators will begin meeting and preparing the necessary documents in March with guidance from CEC’s consultant. One of the next steps include forming the Strategic Planning Team which will have representation from stakeholder groups.

Annual Business
Summer Construction Bids - Dr Cremascoli - Bids have been opened for the Romona & McKenzie summer construction projects, which will provide for the classroom additions necessary to host KEEP 39 within these buildings as well as to address the other critical space needs identified within each building. Bids came in very favorably and reflected a reduction in total project costs of approximately $1.1 million. Acceptance of these bids is recommended later on this evening’s agenda along with the identified alternates. These projects will begin this spring and conclude by the end of summer for use in the 2021-2022 school year.

A project budget update at the 80% design level for the WJHS A/C project was provided. Budget estimates decreased by approximately $325,000 from the 60% design phase. The financial impact of this new information was incorporated into the Operating Funds 5 year projection summary and presented to the Board.

2021-2022 Draft School Calendar - Dr. Cremascoli - The proposed draft calendar was presented for review. As in the past, the calendar aligns with Township holiday schedules. The calendar will be presented for approval at the March Board Meeting.

Board Policy Review
First Reading of Board of Education Policy 7:345 - Dr. Cremascoli - The Student Online Personal Protection Act (SOPPA) is a state law that governs how educational technology companies, schools, and Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) use and protect covered information of students and specifically requires boards to adopt a policy for designating which district employees are authorized to enter into agreements with operators. The amendments to SOPPA were intended to strengthen protections for online student data, in part by centralizing the vetting and contracting process within schools, and to give parents ready access to information about how their children’s data is being used at school.

BOARD ACTION

The Consent Agenda was approved including the following:
Personnel Report dated February 22, 2021
2021-2022 Student Fees
First Reading Board of Education Policy 7:345
Reaffirm District 39 Statement of Inclusion

The Board Approved Bids for Additions and Renovations at McKenzie Elementary School and Romona Elementary School

The next Board of Education Meeting will be held on Monday, March 22, 2021 at 7:00 PM at the Mikaelian Education Center.

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