Board Meeting Highlights

January 24, 2022

Complete Meeting Packet


Student Recognition
Liz Zawa, Digital Media/IGS Teacher at Highcrest Middle School was proud to share Sixth grader Ezra Frazier's final IGS project, a short film entitled "If It Was You", which won the award for "Best Art Film" at the GEG Chicagoland Film Festival. Ezra’s film was chosen from hundreds of submissions from students ranging from kindergarten to grade 12. She will be honored and accept her award at an official screening of the winning films in February.

Moment of Silence
President Poehling requested a moment of silence in memory of Kate Hilbrant, Comprehensive Needs Paraprofessional at McKenzie, who recently passed away. Kate is remembered as an incredible member of McKenzie and District teams. Ms. Hilbrant created a deep impact on the lives of both students and staff with whom she worked. Kate is dearly remembered and missed by many.

Board Reports

Facility Development Committee (FDC) - Mr. Panzica
During the Committee of the Whole Meeting on January 10th, the following was discussed.

Thornwood Park Stormwater Project: Presentation by Village of Wilmette
Village of Wilmette Project Engineer Brigitte Berger presented the stormwater project plan. Ms. Berger reported Phase 1 at Community Playfields and Highcrest was completed in 2020 and Phase 2 at Hibbard Park was completed in 2021. She provided details for Phase 3 of the Stormwater Project at Thornwood Park, which begins in March and runs through the end of November. Thornwood Park will be the major construction being conducted in summer months from June through August. Building the vault at Thornwood Park will require heavy truck traffic for excavation and installation of the vault.

Ms. Berger provided several detailed maps identifying truck traffic, entrances/exits, parking availability and street closures. She noted there would be flaggers at each entrance and exit along with fencing, lighting, and security cameras for safety.

Summer 2022 Projects Update
Mr. Papanicholas of Nicholas and Associates reported the McKenzie mandatory pre-bid meeting was successful and had great participation. The project was broken into three bid packages and had a minimum of 4-5 bids per package. The last budget assessment was at 85% construction design phase in December with the project estimated just above $2.2M. The bid opening is scheduled for January 19.

Nicholas and Associates along with STR Architects are working with ComEd to add the new service for the additional air conditioners at McKenzie. Additional supporting costs for that service will be included via an addendum for the bid documents.

Romona window replacement project was at 75% construction document budget assessment distributed on December 15 with an estimated project cost of $2,142,500. Added scopes for casework in classrooms will be included in the 95% assessment document. The project went out to bid on January 20 with the bid opening scheduled for February 10.

Mr. Bultemeier noted in finalizing Romona design documents with Mr. Papanicholas, and since the Romona bid meeting for the window replacement project is just a few days before the Committee of the Whole meeting, the administration will seek Board approval for the Romona window replacement project at the February 14th Committee of the Whole meeting.

Mr. Bultemeier added that Harper has significant asbestos work that will be addressed during spring break but due to limitations in ensuring a safe, contained area to remove asbestos and be ready to reopen the following week, the asbestos removal will continue again in June. This asbestos work is large enough to bid out in February and seek Board approval at February Board meeting. Smaller abatement work is planned for McKenzie over the summer. The District is also testing for any asbestos needs at Romona as well.

School Finance Committee (SFC) - Mr. Cesaretti
During the Committee of the Whole Meeting on January 10, the following was discussed.

Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Calendar and Resolution
Mr. Bultemeier presented the Fiscal Year 2023 budget calendar and resolution for Board approval. Each year the Board is required to establish its fiscal year and appoint a person to prepare a tentative budget. The budget calendar is developed to ensure all the publications, hearings, and formal adoption of the budget are in accordance with State statute, and the budget calendar meets all state requirements.

Debt Certificates February Issuance
Mr. Bultemeier presented the Operating Summary, timeline and 40 pages of draft resolution documents received from legal counsel. The resolution authorizes not to exceed $6.85M of debt certificates and will be presented for approval at the January 24th Board meeting. The target is to obtain $6.5M in new money with caveats to pay back within a decade. Annual principal interest is about $998K included .5% cushion in interest rate. The Board approved the resolution parameters with the sale occurring on February 2 to lock in interest. An update will be provided at the February Committee of the Whole Meeting.

Senate Bill 508
Senate Bill 508 passed effective for 2021 tax levy. The bill mandates the county add prior year refunds on top of Board approved tax levy each year. District 39 refunds from November 1, 2020 - October 31,2021 are calculated at $1,090,776. Cook County Treasurer issued their calculated amount at $771,451, with a difference of $319,325. Mr. Bultemeier met in December with attorneys and New Trier area business officials who all received six figure differences from the Cook County Treasurer's office. Attorneys are seeking clarification for these discrepancies.

Mr. Bultemeier stated options for Board members are to remain status quo and take no action and the $771K would be added to levy. The Board can also abate part or all of the money, however, that resolution has to be filed by April 1, 2022.

Supplemental Debt Service Levy
Mr. Bultemeier stated the administration is asking the Board to approve a resolution to capture the Supplemental Debt Service Levy for 2021. He noted this is a way to pay back bonds issued. The debt service extension base for tax year 2020 was $1,569,013, the amount for bonds issued in spring of 2020. Mr. Bultemeier explained as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) becomes known the extension base grows in small amounts each year and can be used to pay off principal and interest in each tax year. The total amount that could be captured through 2024 is $220K-$225K. If the Board opted not to pass the resolution, the District would have to cover the principal and interest in existing amounts from debt service fund.

Teacher Retirement System (TRS) Supplemental Saving Plan
Mr. Bultemeier stated TRS is offering a supplemental 457 retirement savings plan to all members. The law covering the creation of this plan requires all school districts to participate, however, participation requires Board approval. The creation and attempted implementation of this supplemental savings plan has been done with little consideration of the impact it has on school districts. District 39 uses TSA Consulting to manage current supplemental retirement offerings, of which there are 20 different options offered to employees. Attorneys are working with TRS to resolve issues with their plan. Attorneys recommended the Board approve the program and have the superintendent and business official join the program at a later date.

Teacher Retirement System (TRS) Annual Rates of Return
A summary of recent actual rates of return earned by TRS compared with the actual assumptions indicate their funded ratio dropped in late 2000s. The current rate of return is 7% for the last five-six years and prior to that it was 7.5%.

Strategy - Mrs. Schneider-Fabes
During the Committee of the Whole Meeting on January 10, the following was discussed.

Situational Review of COVID-19 and Its Impact on Mitigation and Contingency Planning
The administration anticipated adjustments to mitigation strategies in January due to its close monitoring of community spread metrics throughout the later part of 2021 and access to vaccines. However, based on surge, adjusting mitigation strategies is not recommended at this time. The administration is grateful to continue in-person instruction with current protocols in place and continue to follow the best practices as recommended by Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH). Mitigation strategies include distancing students 6’ apart during unmasked lunch times; continue with outdoor recess as much as possible, although recently the weather has been too cold to eat or play outside; consistent masking in all school environments for all individuals regardless of vaccination status; increased ventilation; and adherence to Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and CCDPH guidelines for quarantine and isolation of close contacts. The District offers SHIELD testing for students and staff three times each week Testing is also offered through township partnerships at Marie Murphy and Glencoe Central School. Vaccination booster clinics are being offered in the area on February 12.

District Strategic Advisory Team Subcommittee Goal 1: Student Achievement and Growth Discussion and Feedback
Mr. Panzica noted he is on subcommittee Goal 1: Student Achievement and Growth. The subcommittee is discussing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and some potential ideas for KPIs, with homework being one of the options. He opened the issue of what is expected or recommended regarding homework time to present feedback to his subcommittee on behalf of the Board and administration.

Members felt as a Board their role is not to determine homework time. Dr. Cremascoli noted the rule of thumb is 10 minutes per grade and while the District has a policy regarding the philosophy of homework there is no specific policy directing homework time. Some members felt this decision should be part of the process of the DSAT subcommittee work and others felt it is a decision for the superintendent and administration.

Liaison Reports

Community Review Committee (CRC) - Bonnie Kim - Met January, 11, 2022
The CRC topic of focus is Social Emotional Learning (SEL). The committee continued to work in their subcommittees on their topic “Building Responsive Social-Emotional Learning through Strengthening Parent-Teacher Communication and Increasing Parent Understanding of and Engagement in SEL Instruction.” The CRC issued a survey to parents to gather feedback on this topic.

Educational Foundation - Mr. Panzica reported the Foundation is working to revamp and update their website. Virtual Bingo night is scheduled for February 26 and Paddle Classic has been rescheduled for March 12.

Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) - Mrs. Kim
IASB launched a new program IASB Advocacy Fridays, which is a webinar hosted the last Friday of each month. IASB governmental relations staff and guest speakers will provide special briefings and information on advocacy to help school board members represent schools locally in Springfield and Washington D.C.

District Strategic Advisory Team (DSAT) - Mr. Panzica/Ms. Stone
Mr. Panzica reported on the Goal 1 Academic Performance group who continues to discuss potential ideas for Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Wilmette Village Intergovernmental Cooperation Working Group - Mrs. Kim/Mr. Cesaretti
Mrs. Kim noted there were no updates. The next meeting will be held on March 1.

Legislative Update - Mrs. Kim
There are bills circulating in committees addressing teachers staffing shortages. Updates will be provided as bills progress. The Governor vetoed HB2778, the School Employee Benefit and Wage Protection Bill, which would require districts to provide unlimited COVID administrative days to any school employee to be used for all COVID-related absences such as quarantining and testing. The Governor’s office reached a compromise with the Illinois Education Association, the Illinois Federation of Teachers and other stakeholders about how to handle sick leave related to COVID measures and wage security which will be presented in a new bill.

Information Items

Written Communication

Announcements from the Superintendent
COVID-19 Protocol Update and Review
The District continues to closely monitor case counts, community rates and transmission, and updates to the COVID-19 school guidance issued by IDPH and ISBE. At the start of this month, all metrics increased dramatically. Thankfully, a favorable, though slight, downward trend appears to have begun. Within the schools, mitigation strategies have remained in place, and some adjustments were made to increase distancing, especially during lunch time and during other higher risk activities. Adjustments were made to athletics programming and competition schedules, and athletes are engaging in weekly SHIELD testing which has allowed them to continue to practice and resume some competitions. Administration continues to closely monitor and follow the school guidance from the IDPH, ISBE, and the CCDPH. The IDPH adopted the recommendations of the CDC for shortened isolation/quarantine lengths, and subsequently incorporated these into their guidance for schools on school exclusions. Administration has incorporated this new guidance. Additional adjustments to guidance are expected in coming weeks.

Registration for the 2022-23 School Year
Registration for the coming school year for new and returning students, including new kindergarten students and those interested in KEEP 39 begins on January 25. Communications will be sent to families and questions can be directed to school offices.

Registration for KEEP39
Registration for KEEP39 also opens on January 25. KEEP39 is available to all kindergarten students in each of the elementary schools. Everyone who registers by March 1 will be guaranteed a spot in the program for the upcoming school year. Those who register after March 1 will be placed on a waiting list, and will be enrolled based on space availability.

Fifth Grade Transition Supports
Administration is implementing strategies to better support successful transitions from 4th-5th and 6th-7th grades for students and parents. Fifth grade transition activities will be implemented in the coming month. On February 1, the transition from 4th to 5th grade will begin with a kickoff webinar outlining the transition process and highlighting World Language selection as the first step in the process. Following the kickoff, additional short topic-specific webinars will be scheduled to help 4th grade families better understand aspects of Highcrest, such as the structure of Houses and teams, as well as the various creative arts classes. These transition supports were based on information gathered from a survey sent earlier this year to current 5th grade students and families.

Atlantic Research Partners Follow-Up
District administration received the presentation of the Atlantic Research findings at the Board’s special meeting held on January 13. District staff received the same presentation and the Administrative Council will review major themes and next steps. Much of this work has already begun through various teams and committees throughout the District. First steps include clarifying the major findings and which groups will be responsible for tackling or promoting that work. For example, the current MTSS Committee that has been working throughout this year will continue its work on a variety of the themes identified, and will use the recommendations and findings from ARP to inform their work. The Student Services Department will be establishing a Student Services Steering committee to help prioritize the work and guide the next steps. The Student Services Department will be working on the Special Education Continuum of Services as well as refining the Department Handbook to better reflect and address some of the identified themes. Professional development planning will incorporate the areas identified for need, and will focus in the fall on the work accomplished by the MTSS and Special Education Department Teams. Administration will continue ongoing improvement processes aligned with the Strategic Plan. The Board will be updated on progress through Strategic Planning updates and action step planning.

Mid-Year Strategic Plan Update Planned for February Board Meeting
A presentation of the mid-year Strategic Plan update will be provided at the February 28th Board meeting, which will provide a progress update related to the identified action steps for the 2021-22 school year.

Romona Bid Approval Reminder
The bid for the Romona window replacement project is just a few days before the February 14th Committee of the Whole meeting. Given the lengthy lead times in securing many construction related materials, including windows, the Board will be asked to approve bids at that committee meeting. Typically, bid approvals occur at Board meetings. The earlier Board approval will allow the winning bidders an additional two weeks in lead time.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
The District received FOIA requests from: Jairo Gomez of Chicagoland Laborer's District Council Management Cooperation Committee requested copies of bid results (as read) from the bid opening on November 23, 2021 for the Harper Elementary Summer 2022 work: Jeff Axelrod requested reports of positive COVID-19 cases for students/staff between December 26, 2021 and January 1 with an amended period of December 19 - December 25: Ross Weidner and Jonathan Fagg of ABC7 Chicago requested documentation of remote learning equipment reported as missing, damaged, broken, stolen or otherwise unavailable for use.

Annual Business - Mr. Bultemeier

  1. Issuance of Debt Certificates
    The Board has the opportunity to approve the issuance of up to $6.85 million in new money from debt certificates. The resolutions included in the Board’s packet have been prepared by bond counsel. The resolution provides authority for the issuance, with the sale date expected to be on February 2 with closing the transaction on February 22.
  2. Supplemental Debt Service Levy
    The Debt Service Levy allows the District to levy for bond payment obligations. When the 2020 bonds were issued the District’s debt service extension base wasn’t large enough to cover the total principal and interest payments in tax years 2021 to 2024. That extension base has now grown large enough to allow the District to capture the full amount needed to pay off the principal and interest in each of those tax years. Approving the supplemental debt service levy resolution will direct Cook County to collect the full amount.
  3. McKenzie Bid Results for 2022 Air Conditioning Renovations
    Bids for the McKenzie project were opened on January 19th with multiple bids received in each trade package. The District saw favorable bid results just under the total budget estimate. The recommendation for approval includes the base bid, plus alternates 1, 2, and 3. The project includes adding air conditioning to all remaining classrooms, replacing a big majority of the classroom unit vents, partial roof replacement, electrical work, and a small amount in the event ComEd’s electrical equipment upgrades spill over into D39 expenses.
  4. Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Calendar & Resolution
    Annually the Board is required to approve a resolution establishing the upcoming fiscal year and direct the preparation of the fiscal year budget and calendar.
  5. Teachers Retirement System Supplemental Savings Plan
    District 39 is mandated by legislation to join the TRS supplemental savings plan. Legal counsel has reviewed the plan documents and identified some issues that should be resolved before advising District 39 to participate. Participation is mandatory, however the District was able to delay joining as long as possible as recommended by legal counsel. The resolution authorizes Dr. Cremascoli and Corey Bultemeier to sign the participation agreement at a later date, just before the deadline approaches. The deadline has yet to be determined.

Board Policy Review - Dr. Cremascoli

  1. First Reading of Board of Education Policies 2:200 Board of Education Meetings; 2:220 Board of Education Meeting Procedure; 2:240 Board of Education Policy Development; 2:250 Access to District Public Records; 2:265 Title IX Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedure; 3:40 Superintendent; 3:50 Administrative Personnel Other Than the Superintendent; 3:60 Administrative Responsibility of the Building Principal; 4:10 Fiscal and Business Management; 4:16 Identity Protection; 4:60 Purchases and Contracts; 4:80 Accounting and Audits; 4:130 Free and Reduced-Price Food Services; 4:140 Waiver of Student Fees; 4:150 Facility Management and Building Programs; 4:160 Environmental Quality of Buildings and Grounds; 4:170 Safety; and 4:175 Convicted Child Sex Offender; Screening; Notifications
    There are many policy updates for policies in sections 2, 3 and 4. Many of these were revised by PRESS this fall, and as a result, the administration has reviewed and revised these policies. Policies have been reviewed by the Board’s attorney, as not all of what PRESS recommends is recommended by legal counsel.
  2. Future Review of Board Policy 8:30 Visitors to and Conduct on School Proeprty and Community Use of Buildings
    The special education evaluation from ARP recommended that the Board adopt a policy detailing expectations for parent communication to school staff. Policy 8:30 is in place and begins to address this need; however, at the February Committee of the Whole meeting, administration will discuss the existing policy and revisions the Board may wish to consider in light of the ARP recommendation.


The Consent Agenda was approved including the following:




The next regularly scheduled Board of Education Meeting will be held on Monday, February 28, 2022 at 7 pm at the Mikaelian Education Center.