Here’s what’s going on at District 205

By Chris Fox

For The Elmhurst Independent

The Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 Board held a regular meeting on Feb. 25 at the District 205 Center, 162 S. York St. Board member Christopher Kocinski was absent from the meeting.

Farewell as Smith retires

The board recognized David Smith, who will soon retire from his position as the district’s executive director of technology. Board member Karen Stuefen spoke during the recognition. She noted that Smith has been with the district for over 12 years, and that he has established a strong technology foundation by helping to bring devices into the classroom and integrate technology into daily instruction.

Resident criticizes ‘frustrating’ grading system

One resident spoke during the public participation segment of the meeting. The resident, who has three children in district schools, said the district’s standard-based grading is frustrating, and has caused confusion with parents and teachers. She stated that the grading system does not allow parents and guardians to support their children.

Contract approved for online social studies resources

The board voted unanimously to approve the superintendent’s consent agenda, which included the ratification of an agreement with Newsela for a six-year contract of nearly $200,000 for online social studies resources. Newsela provides online content for students. According to the district, all of Newsela’s content is aligned to state social studies standards.

Exchange student from Germany to attend York next year

The consent agenda also included a request to host an exchange student from Germany, who will attend York High School during the 2020-21 school year. 

Special education transportation contract extended

The consent agenda included an approval of a one-year extension of the district’s special education transportation contract with Cottage Hill Operating Company for the 2020-21 school year. The contract was set to expire on June 30, 2020. The extension through the 2020-21 school year provides a 1.9 percent increase.

Churchville gym floor approved

The consent agenda also featured the awarding of a procurement and installation of a replacement wood gym floor at Churchville Middle School to Consolidated Flooring of Chicago for nearly $105,000. The installation of a new gym floor at Churchville is part of the district’s Summer 2020 Capital Plan.

Curriculum presentations given

The Feb. 25 meeting also included presentations offering updates about the district’s implementation of its social studies curriculum and its science curriculum. Michelle Thompson, the district’s director of literacy, spoke about the social studies curriculum. David Beedy, the district’s director of STEM education, spoke about the implementation of the science curriculum.

Thompson stated that the district is planning to fully implement its new social studies curriculum in the 2021-22 school year. The new science curriculum will be implemented in kindergarten through eighth grade during the 2020-21 school year. According to information provided by the district, United States history through the Civil War will be provided in sixth grade. Board member Jim Collins stated that the district’s students need to fully know and understand U.S. history, especially the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. He said the district’s students would be better served by re-visiting those subjects in high school. The district’s updated social studies curriculum offers U.S. History from the Civil War through 2000 during 11th grade.

Finance committee update

Providing an update of the district finance committee’s Feb. 3 meeting, Collins stated that the district recently issued $60 million in bonds related to the passage of the November 2018 referendum, in which voters approved borrowing up to $168.5 million to pay for replacement and renovation of the district’s facilities. Collins said that the district could consider moving up the timing of issuing another $40 million in referendum-related bonds to take advantage of current low interest rates. Moving up the timing, he said, would increase residents’ taxes a little sooner than anticipated, but it could potentially save taxpayers money over the next 25 years, he said.

The board will hold its next regular meeting on March 17.


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