Here’s what’s happening at District 205…

By Chris Fox

For The Elmhurst Independent

The Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 Board held a meeting on May 23 at the District 205 Center, 162 S. York St. All seven board members attended the meeting.

Public forum brings discussion of class sizes

The public comments portion included remarks from six parents who expressed concern about the possibility of increased class sizes at district elementary schools, including Lincoln and Jackson schools. At the end of the public comments segment, Board President Shannon Ebner stated the district’s class sizes are lower than a lot of other school districts. She said the district’s second-grade classes have an average of 21.3 students, while third-grade classes have an average of 22.4 students. She said there are a total of 161 sections of kindergarten through fifth-grade in the district. Ebner said about three of those 161 sections are approaching the district’s class-size target. Ebner stated the board and district make every effort to have low class sizes. She said the district would get more respond to parents’ concerns and get more information out regarding the matter.

One more ‘late arrival’ day scheduled, despite strain on families

The board voted unanimously to approve the addition of one late arrival day in October, February and April in the district’s elementary and middle schools. The addition will result in two late arrival days in each of those three months. According to District Superintendent Dr. David Moyer, the late arrival days provide time for teachers to work on student growth assessments. Moyer said the best professional development for teachers is done within the school day.

Board member John McDonough said he wanted to stress the board takes pause before approving the additional late arrival days. Board member Jim Collins said he has frequently heard late arrival days are a burden on families. He asked district staff if something cold be done to accommodate those families.

Wight & Co. to provide feasibility analysis for $50,000

The board voted unanimously to enter into an agreement with Wight & Company for feasibility analysis to explore several potential facilities projects in the district. Wight & Company will conduct the analysis at a fee not to exceed $50,000. If the district selects Wight & Company to provide architecture services for the projects, the firm will credit back 50 percent of the compensation of this agreement.

The district has an established relationship with Wight & Company, which has provided services for renovations at York High School (completed in 2004) and Hawthorne Elementary School (completed in 2008).

A May 4 letter from Wight & Company representatives to Dr. Moyer listed what the firm understood to be seven core objectives in the district’s facility master plans. The district plans to seek community engagement about the objectives in leading up to a potential referendum question on the ballot in early 2018. That question would ask voters to approve the borrowing of bonds to pay for the facility improvements.

The core objectives listed in Wight & Company’s letter to Dr. Moyer included: developing an updated look at replacement options for Lincoln School, developing a refined scope for renovations at Field School, exploring alternate concepts for potential expansion at Edison School and refining the desired scope for improvements to York High School’s auditorium.

Whelton provides update on choosing construction manager

Later in the meeting, assistant superintendent for finance and operations Christopher Whelton provided the board with an update on the district’s progress to select a construction manager for the potential facilities projects. At the May 9 meeting, the board advised the district to move forward with its current construction manager—James McHugh Construction Co. The board also stated the district needed to demonstrate it obtained competitive pricing for construction management services. Whelton said at the May 23 meeting that the district felt conducting a Request for Proposal (RFP) would provide transparency and alleviate any questions about the pricing component.

Whelton said district staff had a mandatory pre-submission meeting with potential construction management firms on May 18. Representatives from 14 companies attended the meeting. Whelton said the district will receive proposals during the week of May 29. The district will narrow down its selections and proceed to conduct one-hour interviews on June 8. District staff will bring a recommendation to the board at its next meeting on June 20.

Salary increase of 1% approved for non-union employees

The board voted unanimously during the May 23 meeting to approve a 1-percent salary increase for the district’s non-union employees for the 2017-18 school year. Those employees include the superintendent, administrators, district office support staff, all non-union support staff and all food service employees. All non-union employees reportedly have a floor of a 1-percent salary increase in each school year. There are a few exceptions to the employees who will receive the 1-percent increase; those include four employees who will receive longevity increases of $3,000.

New asst. principal approved

The board unanimously approved the hiring of Christina Podraza as assistant principal of Hawthorne and Lincoln Elementary Schools. Dr. Podraza’s hiring has an official start date of Aug. 7, and an annual base salary of about $91,500. Podraza comes to the district from Naperville District 203.

 

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