Oak Park Elementary School District 97 Board of Education met April 24.
Oak Park Elementary School District 97 Board of Education met April 24.
Here is the minutes provided by the Board:
President Spurlock called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.
Present: Spatz, Spurlock, O’Connor, Liebl, Breymaier, Broy and Datta
Also Present: Superintendent Dr. Carol Kelley, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Dr. Alicia Evans, Assistant Superintendent for HR Laurie Campbell, Chief Academic and Accountability Officer Dr. Amy Warke, Senior Director of Special Services Eboney Lofton, Senior Director of Administrative Services Dr. Felicia Starks Turner, Senior Director of Equity Dr. Carrie Kamm, and Board Secretary Sheryl Marinier.
Spatz moved, seconded by Breymaier, that the Board of Education move into Executive Session at 6:00 p.m. to discuss (Collective Negotiations 5 ILCS 120/2(C)(2))
Ayes: Spatz, Breymaier, O’Connor, Liebl, Spurlock, Datta, and Broy
Datta moved, seconded by Spatz, that the Board of Education move into Open Session at 6:57 p.m. All members of the Board were in agreement. The meeting reconvened at 7:05 p.m.
Hannah Boudreau, a Chicago resident and Brooks Social Worker for District 97, expressed support for the hiring of additional Social Worker and Psychologist positions. In addition to these staffings, she noted that the social workers are in support of adding Student Support Specialists, Assistant Principals and special education professionals to meet the needs of the diverse learners.
Boudreau noted that during the past weekend she attended a conference where a survivor of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School spoke of the courage her teacher showed, as she “wrapped her arms around the students and hovered like an eagle as they heard shots ring out throughout the school”. When asked how schools could better help students, this brave young woman’s answer was simple. “give us people who can help with mental health services”. She went on to speak directly to the need for social workers and psychologists to be available to help students who are struggling.
She shared that nationally people have seen a dramatic increase in anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges in our youth. Sadly, Oak Park is not immune from these current national trends. Our School Nurses, Social Workers and Psychologists have been struggling with workload challenges and this additional support is a great first step as we move forward as a community to build strong, resilient young learners.
Rebecca Scahill, a District 97 Social Worker thanked the Board for considering extra school Psychologists.
Carrie Doyle, a Social Worker at Julian Middle School, noted that she has been serving youth for 16 years. She explained that the work load is currently so demanding that she only has time to triage and act on the most needing issues. She shared that she services 122 additional students.
Nate Murawski, a District 97 employee at Julian Middle School reported that he is seeing more and more students, more general education and more with IEPs. He is working more as a crisis worker. He shared that the crisis work is bogging the Social Workers down. He reported that last year he had seven different cases where kids were hospitalized, and this year he has seen 22. He shared that when these students are released from the hospital, they get absorbed into his case load. He shared copies of the school newspaper with the Board.
Jennifer Olson, an Oak Park resident, shared that she read a letter to Dr. Kelley on March 16, 2018 regarding her concern about class sizes at Mann School. She shared that Mann had four second grade sections. She indicated that the loss of the fourth section should not have happened and would be reinstated. Olson shared that the community is now finding out that it will not be reinstated. She read a fact sheet that indicated that the referendum bullets promised that class sizes would be maintained and be smaller than the state average of 21.7. Olson shared that the average class size at Mann is currently 23.3. She expressed concern that the classrooms are not large enough to support that many students, and some children are sent into the hallways with little adult supervision. Olson indicated that the community is aware of the effort of teachers and principals, we still need to let you know that it has not been without consequence.
Shobha Mahadev, an Oak Park resident expressed concern about the class sizes at Mann School. She asked the Board to restore the fourth grade teaching position at Mann. She shared that her son has 27 students in his class, which is up from 19 last year. Mahadev shared that her family moved to Oak Park because the district has class sizes that reflected the need to support education. She voted for the referendum because of that promise. Mahadev shared that she met with Dr. Kelley who acknowledged the error. Mahadev requested a response by April 4, 2018 and is still awaiting a response. She told the Board that increasing class sizes or decreasing bus services is a risk and a violation to the trust of the community. Currently, her son is struggling and feels lost. She hired a tutor for him to make up for the gaps in his learning. She expressed concern that some families may not have that luxury. Mahadev suggested that classroom aides are not the equivalent to a smaller class size.
Elyse Forkosh Cutler, an Oak Park resident expressed concern about the class sizes at Mann School. She noted a 60 percent increase from 17 students to 27. She explained that she was surprised with the increase because the referendum fact sheet promised to keep the classes small. Cutler shared a fact sheet that included the Illinois State Board data. She noted that the fact sheet indicates that District 97 exceeds the state average by 22 percent and she questioned why. Cutler shared that administration talked to parents about the decision to not hire an additional third grade teacher last September. She shared that administration indicated that they would not be able to find a high quality third grade teacher after Labor Day. She asked the Board to consider hiring back the teachers they lost last year.
Ted Staszak, an Oak Park resident, shared that he grew up in Oak Park and his family is very active in the community. He noted that he has a positive relationship with the Mann School principal, but suggested that the lines of communication must be open and honest. He expressed concern about the third grade class size increase and noted that when his child was in first grade, the class size was 24. In second grade, she did great and improved from the 69 percentile to the 93 percentile. Staszak reported that his daughter has now reverted back to the 73 percentile. He reported that the teacher review shared during conferences was generalized and he expressed concern that the larger class size is affecting his daughter’s performance. He reminded the Board that class size correlates to success rates. He suggested that the class size concern is an overall district issue and should be addressed district-wide. He reminded the Board that the increase in class sizes is a contradiction to the referendum promises.
David Gullo, an Oak Park resident, shared that he has not seen a 60 percent increase in class sizes, but supported the comments about the teacher’s communication during conferences being generalized. He suggested that the strength of the system is the teachers, and principals are doing what is needed for the system. He encouraged the Board to keep the faith and make sure that the schools are adequately staffed.
Marshall Brown. an Oak Park resident expressed concern about the recent discussions regarding transportation. He suggested that safety, traffic and equity were not addressed, the Website update did not address the concerns of the community, and questioned if the Board was actually listening to the community’s concerns. He suggested that if the Board’s actions represent business as usual, that this behavior should change. Brown shared that he found the video that was shared with the community to be insulting. He reminded the Board that the parents and community have organized and he hopes that the Board will learn from this misstep.
Adienne Mackey, an Oak Park resident expressed concern about the fifth grade class size at Whittier School. She shared that the reported class sizes do not include students with IEPs. She shared that her first grader with an IEP is in a co- teaching classroom and is doing great. Her fourth grader is not doing well; she is pulled out most of the day and may be regressing. She suggested that if the school loses a fifth grade classroom, she will be in the classroom even less next year. She told the Board that there is a stigma for being pulled out of class and she expressed concern that Whittier may not be the proper school fit for her daughter.
Rebecca Kaegi, an Oak Park resident and former Julian teacher, shared that she has taught in classrooms of different sizes. She is wondering about the planned cuts at Whittier School. She noted that there is currently a vacancy at Whittier that has not been posted, and suggested that it indicates to her that the district will not need that teacher. She suggested that the class sizes shared for Whittier do not include the special education students. She suggested that the current figure of 52 students is pushing the maximum class sizes and asked the district to be proactive and plan for the likely event that a third classroom will be needed. Kaegi expressed support for small class sizes, and suggested that the budget should reflect the district’s values. Kaegi acknowledged that there are more central office staff members than in the past, and suggested that cuts should be made as far away from the children as possible. She noted that she is not seeing recommendations for administrative or technology cuts, only buses and teachers. She questioned if the budget reflects the values of the community.
Amanda Zeloto, an Oak Park resident read a letter from 40 Whittier fourth grade parents regarding the number of fourth grade sections. She asked the Board to reconsider cutting a third grade class. She suggested that the decision to eliminate one section contradicts what the community voted for, that 26 or more in a classroom would go against the goal of supporting each and every student.
David Wells, an Oak Park resident and a single parent of a Whittier School fourth grader, expressed support for the other speakers comments. He shared that class size matters, and suggested that the difference between 24 students and 27 students in a classroom makes a difference between focusing on the class and surviving the class. He reminded the Board that people choose to live in Oak Park even though the taxes are high. He is willing to do that because of smaller class sizes, and because he knows and trusts the system.
Phil Buoscio, an Oak Park resident and realtor who recently moved to the community, shared that he decided to move from the city because the school that his daughter attended had class sizes of 33 students. He is committed to the public school system. He was surprised when he moved to Oak Park and found as many students in a classroom. He suggested that the reputation of the district is at stake. He shared that clients often ask about the schools and his opinion is important. He suggested that the district focus on keeping the class sizes small, even if that means another tax increase. Buoscio shared that he taught college in the past and saw firsthand the difference a smaller class size makes. He noted that Oak Park is an amazing school system and indicated that he does not want to see slippage.
Brett Williams, an Oak Park resident commented on the national trend that he is noticing. He noted that health care is increasing and so is the cost of higher education, and he questioned why. Williams noted the explosive growth in the district’s administrative personnel, and defined them as the people who are not doers, but overseers. He expressed concern regarding the fact that the district payed a consulting agency to consider the cost of transportation. Williams recommended a percentage cap on administrative costs in line with teacher costs. He suggested that administrative costs cannot devour the budget, and noted that there are several administrators who make more than his pediatrician.
Jason Sherman, an Oak Park parent, expressed hope that the Board will have second thoughts about the stewardship of these children’s lives and the district’s budget. He suggested that when promises are made by the Board and community has faith in those promises. Sherman suggested that people move to Oak Park because of the schools, and they want to preserve the class sizes. He suggested that the cuts need to be made away from the children. Sherman told the Board members that their reputations will be in peril. He questioned how closely they are examining expenses and questioned if they are aware of how the budget is being spent. Sherman shared that he is appalled that the Board has not responded to recent public comments. He suggested that the Board respond by presenting a plan to cut administrative costs by 13 percent, 17 percent, or 25 percent, and show what it will look like.
Additional Staffing Request-
Dr. Kelley came to the table with Amy Warke, Laurie Campbell, Alicia Evans and Eboney Lofton. Dr. Kelley shared the district vision. She told the Board that administration values success and wants each child to achieve the four aspirational goals. She shared that equity is a challenge to the district, and suggested that in order to advance equity in the district, we must be very intentional in our approach and must have a clear vision.
Campbell reported that the previous model (for at least the last 10 years) for allocation of supplemental instructional staff was that every building would get one. She shared the Illinois evidence-based funding model for student success video.
Campbell recommended that the district replace the Student Support Specialists with Assistant Principals at Irving and Holmes, and add a Student Support Specialist at Hatch. Additionally, she recommended adding four Social Workers, two psychologists, four Special Education teachers, and three Multi-Tiered System of Support Interventionists.
Warke explained that the increase in Assistant Principals would support the elementary school operations and evaluation process, and is intended to address;
• Instructional Leadership Focus
• Evaluation Support
• Supported by Evidence Based Funding Model
• All buildings would be supported by an Assistant Principal or Student Support Specialist
The change would allow Principals to focus on learning walks and the evaluation process.
Lofton acknowledged the Social Workers and Psycologists team for attending the meeting this evening. She noted that the additional four Social Workers and one School Psychologist are intended to address;
• Increasing enrollment trends
• Increased complexity of student need (regardless of disability status)
• Seamless implementation of Tier three behavioral interventions
• Support of MTSS implementation
Lofton explained that MTSS is a full system of support. Most students receive Tier one support, which includes small group instruction and formative data about students. Tier two happens in the classroom in a more homogeneous grouping. It focuses on specific skills. Tier three is about five percent of the students. It is a 1:1 process (sometimes 3:1) and occurs four or five days a week for 30 minutes.
Lofton expressed interest in expanding the co-teaching program and requested four additional Special Education teachers for Whittier and Irving. She noted that co-teaching is in close alignment with the district’s vision to provide a positive learning environment that is equitable, inclusive and focused on the whole child. In addition, co-teaching provides;
• Meaningful access to the general education curriculum
• Additional instructional support
• Opportunities to learn from peers
• Additional opportunities for social interactions
• Respect and understanding for all students
• Additional MTSS support at larger elementary schools
• Tier three at Lincoln, Longfellow and Holmes
• Tier three intervention support to students in reading and math
Additionally, Co-teaching would;
• Eliminates the stigma often associated with special education
• Places value on diversity
• Allows for school staff to have the training, support and resources to nurture, encourage and respond to the needs of all students
• Ensures that every child feels safe and possesses a sense of belonging
Lofton explained that providing additional MTSS support at larger elementary schools would;
• Provide Tier three intervention support to students in reading and/or math
• Works with students in small groups or 1:1
• Addresses staffing inequities that exist between our smaller and larger schools (Holmes, Longfellow, Lincoln)
Lofton requested one additional MTSS interventionist at Lincoln, Longfellow and Holmes.
Evans explained that the total cost of this request would be $1,060,280. She reported that the total funds to support this request have been identified by reallocating IDEA funds and other district resources, and using local dollars.
Dr. Kelley reported that administration is requesting 13 individual positions. She noted that there are many positions that administration would love to include, but chose to focus on student behaviors and social emotional efforts.
She acknowledged that deficit spending should not be an option in the education fund, and assured the Board that there is a process that is followed when considering additional staffing and new initiatives.
Board comments included noting the importance of teacher growth and improvement of their skills. It was noted that a lot of administrative positions were cut during the recession, and it is important to support those who allow us to do better management and improvement of teachers. Interest was expressed in hearing about the full request for staffing for next year.
One Board member expressed the importance for the community to understand that this recommendation is lower than the state recommended amount. None of these request positions are going into central office. Most are direct student interaction positions. Hatch was at 250 students when a Student Support Specialist was removed. It is now at 350 students and close to the student population of Beye. Concern was expressed that some of the state reports are not comparing apples to apples. Board members expressed support for the request as presented, especially around the social emotional efforts. It was suggested that we cannot have a functioning school system where teachers can be the best they can be if we do not have the administrative support for them. It was recommended that the district share (internally and externally) what we are seeing and how it will change over time, noting that data is critical. A recommendation was made to include more descriptors on where the funds are coming from in the public document.
Dr. Kelley shared that the more we learn about the brain, we know that children need to feel safe and calm to be ready to learn. The social emotional part of us is really important. She expressed the need to find Social Workers who are vested in the district’s vision.
Dr. Kelley shared that she is doing listening tours around the district. She shares nine priorities for the upcoming school year and asks for input. She shared that Felicia Starks Turner is doing listening tours with the students, and in the fall, we will be starting a Student Advocacy Group.
This item will return to the Board for action on May 8, 2018.
3.1 Approval Of The Consent Agenda
Spatz moved, seconded by Liebl, that the Board of Education, District 97, approve the consent agenda as presented.
3.1.1 Approval of Bill List
3.1.2 Approval of Personnel
3.1.3 Adoption of Policies
2:260 (Uniform Grievance Procedure)
520 (Workplace Harassment Prohibited)
520 (Workplace Harassment Prohibited) – Exhibit
3.1.4 Disposal of Property
Ayes: Spatz, Liebl, Breymaier, Datta, O’Connor, Spurlock, and Broy
3.2.1 Reject All Transporation Bids
Broy moved, seconded by Breymaier, that the Board of Education, District 97, rejects all of the regular and special transportations bids that were opened on April 9, 2018.
It was noted that a 3.5 percent increase (which is still double CPI) is much better than the 20 percent increase indicated by the bids. It was explained that the Board had to follow best practice and complete the bidding process before it could make the decision that the 3.5 percent increase would be the best option for the district at this time.
Ayes: Broy, Breymaier, Spatz, O’Connor, Liebl, Spurlock, and Datta
3.2.2 Approve The Transportation Extenion With Lakeview Bus Service
Liebl moved, seconded by Spatz, that the Board of Education, District 97, accepts the two-year contract extension with Lakeview for regular and special education transportation at an increase of 3.5 percent each year.
Ayes: Liebl, Spatz, Datta, O’Connor, Breymaier, Broy, and Spurlock
3.2.3 Approval Of Public Works Extension
Spatz moved, seconded by Broy, that the Board of Education, District 97, approves the 90-day public works extension effective April 1, 2018.
President Spurlock and member Spatz will be meeting with administration tomorrow to discuss options. It was noted that this agreement has already been extended once for 90 days, but there is no limit to the number of extensions the district can request.
Ayes: Spatz, Broy, Liebl, Breymaier, O’Connor, Spurlock, and Datta
3.2.4 Approval Of Holmes Av Bid
Liebl moved, seconded by Spatz, that the Board of Education, District 97, authorizes and approves the bid for audio visual equipment and installation for the Holmes addition and renovation project that was presented on April 10, 2018 in the amount of $47,593.
Ayes: Liebl, Spatz, Broy, O’Connor, Breymaier, Spurlock, and Datta
3.2.5 Reorganization Of The Board
Spatz moved, seconded by Breymaier, that the Board of Education, District 97, elect Holly Spurlock as President from April 24, 2018 until April 24, 2019.
Member Spatz explained the State law regarding election of officers, and noted that the Board usually reorganizes once a year. He shared that there has been no discussion regarding the process in recent years and suggested that the Board may want to consider including this item as a topic for the fall self-evaluation. He noted that the last three Board elections were heavily contested. Because of that, the Board should be more conscious of officers during election years. Several members of the Board supported his recommendation. Concern was expressed about the need for continuity on the community assignments.
President Spurlock expressed appreciation for the Board willingness to learn this year. She assured the Board that if she is not on the Board following the spring elections, she will do everything it takes to ensure a smooth transition.
Ayes: Spatz, Breymaier, Broy, Liebl, O’Connor, Spurlock, and Datta
Spatz moved, seconded by Spurlock, that the Board of Education, District 97, elect Jim O’Connor as Vice President from April 24, 2018 until April 24, 2019.
Ayes: Spatz, Spurlock, Broy, Liebl, Breymaier, O’Connor, and Datta
Breymaier moved, seconded by Datta, that the Board of Education, District 97, elect Sheryl Marinier as Secretary from April 24, 2018 until April 24, 2019.
Ayes: Breymaier, Datta, Broy, Liebl, O’Connor, and Spurlock
Standing Board Committee Liaison Report Follow Up (As Needed –Fac, Forc, Cce And Claim)
Committee For Legislator And Monitoring (Claim)-
It was reported that CLAIM has a new chairperson who is looking into the state transportation reimbursement calculations. An equity presentation will be shared on May 10, 2018. Ralph Martire will be sharing an update with the CLAIM committee on May 30, 2018.
Facilities Advisory Committee-
The last FAC meeting was held on April 3, 2018.
Finance Oversight And Review Committee (FORC)-
The FORC committee met last Tuesday and discussed the transparency policy. They will make changes to the draft to reflect the Board’s recommendations. The revised draft will be presented to the Board for review on May 8, 2018 and the Board will have the opportunity to move forward at that time or send it back to the committee.
FORC is in need of an annual calendar. They talked about the importance of a financial calendar and being prepared in advance for items that will require Board approval.
Intergovernmental Liaison Report Follow Up (As needed – IGOV, COG, PTO COUNCIL, CEC, OPEF, Commuity Council, Tri-Board On Equity, Policy And Self-Evaluation)
Tri-Board On Equity-
The Tri-Board on Equity met yesterday. The committee expressed interest in addressing the Board for about 10 minutes during the June 12, 2018 Board meeting to share their plans for next year. Member Liebl reported that she has been attending the District 90 Equity meetings. It was suggested that the Board share their equity questions with the Tri-board.
IGOV will hold their next assembly on May 19, 2018, from 8:30 am – noon at the Library. The topic for this event will be focused on collaboration across the taxing bodies. Each table will be topically oriented. They will explore how the individual group’s visions align with each other, with a goal of allowing community members the ability to share at the tables and receive feedback.
It was reported that the Village task force members attended the last IGOV meeting and will also attend the assembly. A brief discussion took place regarding District 200’s representation at IGOV. It was noted that they are not coterminous.
Illinois Association Of School Boards (IASB)-
Member Spatz shared that he is a member of the IASB West-Cook Executive Committee, and that District 97 hosted their meeting at the district office last week.
He reminded the Board of the process to submit resolutions for consideration and noted a deadline of June 20, 2018 for submissions. He suggested that if anyone has any state law change recommendations to let him know and he will help with the process. He explained that the district has submitted recommendations in the past and shared examples.
It was reported that IASB respectfully declined the district’s proposal for a presentation on EDI during the upcoming joint conference.
Member Broy shared a document that contained a summary of the Board member’s thoughts regarding the recent transportation discussions. She noted that most of the comments were about the process, and suggested that the document will be a good document to use moving forward. She suggested that the transportation discussion is not over and encouraged the members to be a learning Board and consider what they could do better. Interest was expressed in continuing this discussion during an upcoming retreat.
The adoption of a decision making tool was suggested. Interest was expressed in knowing how the Board would determine when the tool would be useful. The Board was reminded that when using a tool, additional time would need to be allocated to allow for the process to unfold. The importance of communication was stressed, noting that in this instance, the Board was not clear. The need for a process to determine which decisions get vetted was expressed. It was noted that for some items the Board will need to clearly articulate the need and make sure that enough time is given for the decision making process.
The Board was informed that a work team charge for transportation has been written. The district now has two years to make an educated decision. It was suggested that time is needed to think about the process and develop a list of questions. Board members were asked to send any comments on the charge to Member Spatz. It was agreed that two Board members would take the initial steps in this process. This item will be revisited on June 12, 2018. Members Spatz and Breymaier volunteered to take on this challenge.
Equity Policy Update-
It was reported that a Webpage has gone live to promote this work. Five to six PTOs have scheduled a presentation. The main event is scheduled for May 3, 2018 at Julian Middle School. This event will be a forum for action and deliberations.
Three types of events have been scheduled for this purpose; 10 minutes on meeting agendas, the big event (May 3, 2018) and coffee hours. It was reported that the process is moving slower than anticipated, but progressing. The community was encouraged to share input by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. It was agreed that an Equity Policy Update should be added to every other meeting agenda as a standing item.
It was reported that the qualitative data rubric for the Superintendent’s evaluation has been shared with the Board and they were asked to send their comments to President Spurlock by May 6, 2018. It was noted that the metrics are year-long and some have not been submitted yet.
It was noted that the OPTA contract dictates that if a class size increases to 25 an aide would be added, and when it hits 27 students, the class would be split. The referendum does reference the state averages. The Board was asked to think about how the district defines “state average”, suggesting that in order to meet the needs of the students, the district needs to figure it out.
An update on the progress after the referendum was suggested. A one-page update or Board agenda item was suggested for this purpose. The Board supported the idea. It was suggested that it should address the class sizes and staffing levels. Member Spatz volunteered to start the process.
Member Broy recommended a policy stating that the district does not suspend Kindergarteners. The Board was told that many school districts are saying “no” to the suspension of Kindergarteners. It was suggested that some of the new hires might be asked to solve this. Members Liebl and Breymaier support this recommendation.
Member Spatz shared that he has been asked to testify to the IASB West Cook committee about the teacher shortages and difficulty finding candidates.
Dr. Kelley thanked the Board for their support regarding the hiring of a Safety and Security person. She noted that in her 100 day report, and with the recent events in Florida, administration has been receiving a lot of questions about what the district will be doing in regards to the safety of the children and staff.
The draft agenda for the May 8, 2018 Board was reviewed and revisions were recommended.
Spatz moved, seconded by Breymaier, that the Board of Education move into Executive Session at 10:28 p.m. to discuss (Collective Negotiations 5 ILCS 120/2(C)(2))
Ayes: Spatz, Breymaier, Spurlock, Broy, Liebl, O’Connor, and Datta
Breymaier moved, seconded by Datta, that the Board of Education move into Open Session at 10:47 p.m. All members of the Board were in agreement.
There being no further business to conduct, President Spurlock declared the meeting adjourned at 10:47 p.m.