FRANKFORT, IL — The regular Frankfort School District 157-C Board of Education meeting of February 19, 2020, was called to order by Board President Edith Lutz at 7:00 p.m. The roll call was taken, and a quorum was present. The Board recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
The Board approved the Open and Closed Session minutes of the Regular Board of Education Meeting of January 15, 2020.
No one signed up to speak during Public Forum.
During Administrative Reports, building principals recapped Kindness Week, February 10-14, in the District. Grand Prairie Elementary School Principal Kirsten Frankovich said the Kindness Squad made signs and cheered students on as they entered school on Monday. Students and staff participated in an annual food drive for the Frankfort Township Food Pantry, and in all classrooms, students participated in kindness-related activities. For example, one class wrote down random acts of kindness they could do for others. Chelsea Intermediate School Principal Doug Wernet said the week kicked off with a Tiger Talk presentation from the school’s administrators and him regarding inclusivity and acceptance. Students participated in a toothpaste challenge, in which a toothpaste tube represented how difficult it can be to take words back once they are spoken. Students participated in lessons around kindness in their classrooms, and the school hosted a Mix It Up at Lunch day, during which students were encouraged to sit with new friends during lunch. Chelsea students also participated in the annual Jump Rope for Heart Challenge and ended the week by celebrating Valentine’s Day. Hickory Creek Middle School Principal Jason Crockett said the PozSquad delivered morning announcements each day regarding kindness, and the Student Council helped deliver food items collected by Grand Prairie students for their food drive. Students created cards for veterans and patients in hospitals, and Crockett delivered a presentation to students regarding the importance of words and actions, and developing empathy for others. Teachers facilitated lessons around this topic following the presentation.
Superintendent Dr. Maura Zinni added that it is remarkable to see how much food is collected during each school’s food drive for the Frankfort Township Food Pantry. During the delivery of Grand Prairie’s collections, Lincoln-Way East students helped unload vehicles, resulting in a connection of kindness from kindergarten all the way through high school. The District plans to make Kindness Week an annual celebration.
Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds Rodney Davis said it has been a busy month for his team, with snow and ice. He thanked his team members for their dedication to everyone’s safety. At Hickory Creek, his team replaced hot water storage tanks on a Saturday due to a slow leak.
Director of Human Resources Shayna Cole said her team is beginning conversations regarding staffing for the next school year, preparing for leaves and returns. She said mid-year salary adjustments for support staff went into effect February 1, and the adjustments were met with positive feedback.
Director of Special Services Jen Bajda said her team recently had a preschool screening for at-risk students, and the next screening will be in April. She anticipates all spots will be filled by the end of the school year.
Director of Curriculum and Instruction Janet McClarence said 55 percent of current eighth-grade students placed into Algebra I Honors, and more than 30 percent placed into English Honors and World History Honors at Lincoln-Way East next year, based on their PSAT scores. She said due to the high scores and students’ needs, Lincoln-Way East is increasing the rigor of its courses. Previously, all freshmen had to take a seminar class. Now, if they place high enough for English and World History, they are exempt from the class. “Our teachers have truly prepared our students well, and we’re getting great feedback from Lincoln-Way,” McClarence said.
Director of Technology Jacob Nelson said his team is preparing for new kindergarten student registration from 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 3, at Grand Prairie.
Board Member Gina Briese provided the Board with an update for the District Insurance Committee. She said the Committee had a good meeting and asked good questions about District insurance, with no new decisions made.
Board Secretary Edie Adamski provided the Board with minutes of the December 17 Governing Board and January 13 Advisory Board meetings of Lincoln-Way Area Special Education District 843. The Governing Board met January 28, and minutes have yet to be approved from that meeting. She said District 843 is having some trouble with people parking in the way of bus traffic near Pioneer Grove, and the superintendent has reached out to the Village for assistance.
Zinni read an update from Tayo Hill, president of the Education Foundation. The Foundation thanked the Board for its support of its upcoming Casino Night fundraiser, set for 6:30 p.m.-midnight March 6 at The Odyssey. The event will feature an auctioneer, a silent auction, raffle baskets, casino games, dinner, live music and more. The Foundation extended ticket sales through Friday, February 28, and it is still accepting donations of auction items and monetary contributions.
During the superintendent’s report, Zinni provided preliminary staffing projections for 2020-2021. She said she predicts the District will maintain 12 sections in grades 1-8. Kindergarten will start with 11 sections and increase to 12, if needed. The need for specialized staff remains stable. Special education, English learners and reading intervention needs could change. Zinni said English learners compose the fastest-growing population in the District. The District is looking to add another paraprofessional in physical education at Chelsea and may have minor reductions in other areas as student needs change.
Zinni also provided the Board with an update on social emotional learning in the District. The goals of the initiative are to support students, build culturally proficient adults and enhance relationships with community stakeholders. Zinni said the District has refined and improved how it delivers social emotional lessons to students, with consistent implementation in grades K-8. In addition to Second Step and Mawi Learning curricula, the District provides anti-bullying and anti-cyber-bulling lessons across all grade levels; a digital citizenship learning program for all grades; additional instruction on conflict resolution in physical education and health units in grades 6-8; and instruction on boundaries, healthy relationships and more, in compliance with Erin’s Law, across all grade levels. For staff, the District contracts with Deep Equity Consultants for training on cultural humility and culturally responsive teaching practices; provides anti-bias training; reviews curriculum to ensure materials represent the students consuming them; provides training on trauma-informed practices, including adverse childhood experiences; and provides wellness activities. Zinni said these trainings have forged new relationships between colleagues and brought staff members closer together. For parents and community members, the District continued its Tiger University series this year, with all four sessions focused on social emotional learning; provides a second language family network event for families to come together and learn about resources available to them; and presented the Kindness Project for the first time this year. Additionally, the Family School Partnership continues to offer its Around the World event. This year’s event is set for March 12 at Hickory Creek Middle School, and for the first time the event will kick off during the school day.
Director of Business and Operations Kate Ambrosini provided the Board with the January 2020 Treasurer’s Report and Graphs. The total fund balance decreased by $2,683,348. Monthly revenue receipts totaled $486,382, primarily due to an Illinois Digital Educators Alliance grant and evidence-based funding. Monthly expense disbursements totaled $3,169,095, primarily due to payroll and accounts payable.
There were three Freedom of Information Act requests from Nathan Mihelich, on behalf of the Illinois Retired Teachers Association, regarding retiring certified staff; Katie Kim, on behalf of NBC5 Chicago, regarding filtering software; and Bethany Simpson, on behalf of SmartProcure, regarding purchasing records.
In discussion, the Board reviewed the 2020-2021 school calendar. Zinni said the District recommended to begin the school year for students on August 19, the same day as Lincoln-Way High School District 210 and other feeder districts, and provide an additional school improvement day, prior to Thanksgiving break, for professional development. The recommended calendar aligns with District 210 for Spring Break and Winter Break. If the District did not need to use any emergency days, the last day of school would be May 27, 2021.
In discussion, the Board reviewed enhancements to technology for next school year. McClarence said the District is recommending making Chelsea entirely one-to-one by adding laptops in third- and fourth-grade classrooms, and adding SMART Boards in kindergarten and first-grade classrooms at Grand Prairie. She said these are enhancements that teachers have requested. Board Member Brian Skibinski asked about usage of SMART Boards and feedback from second-grade classrooms where the technology is already in use. Frankovich said teachers are regularly using the boards or are working toward greater usage, and the SMART Boards provide a way for teachers to enhance what is already happening in classrooms by engaging students and getting them out of their seats. Nelson said the SMART Boards have a lifespan of roughly eight years. Zinni added that the focus at Grand Prairie continues to be on foundational skills and strategies, and the District strives to have a healthy level of technology use for its students. In third and fourth grades, the additional laptops would be classroom sets, so students would not take these with them. Wernet said students’ Internet usage is heavily monitored, and most usage would be to access teacher-uploaded files and assignments.
In discussion, the Board reviewed curriculum adoption proposals regarding eighth-grade Spanish and STEM in grades 6-8. Hickory Creek, along with other feeder middle schools, use Lincoln-Way’s Spanish I curriculum to teach eighth-grade students, and Lincoln-Way recently elected to adopt a new Spanish I resource called Autentico. McClarence recommended District 157-C adopt this resource to stay consistent with Lincoln-Way, allowing students to test into Spanish II as freshmen. She said Lincoln-Way included Hickory Creek teachers in discussions about adopting the new resource, and the teachers are very excited about it. The total cost of materials for a six-year period is $30,546.30, with no other recurring costs.
Additionally, Hickory Creek is working to update the STEM experience for its students. It currently uses the Illinois Math and Science Academy FUSION Program with a focus on math and science, but students have expressed an interest in more hands-on activities in engineering and design. The school piloted a STEM Engineering and Design course for eighth-graders, using supplies funded by an Education Foundation grant. Following this pilot, 80 percent of students involved said they preferred the Engineering and Design course to the original FUSION Program, and all students said they would recommend the program to seventh-graders. The cost of opening this course to all Hickory Creek students would be $45,401.09 for 3D printers, robotics equipment, software, laptops, a computer charging cart and consumables, with approximately $2,000 in recurring annual costs. Additionally, the District may need to enhance the STEM rooms at Hickory Creek by adding a window between the rooms for visibility of all students. McClarence said students at Chelsea would continue to use the FUSION Program, as it is more hands-on at the lower grade levels, and it receives positive feedback from students.
In discussion, Nelson explained that the District chooses to re-certify compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act annually, in compliance with E-Rate. The District provides Internet filtering for all students in efforts to prevent inappropriate Internet access.
In discussion, Ambrosini presented a proposal to switch to a new electronic payment processing system. The District currently uses Rev-Trak for online payments, including registration and hot lunches. She said the District has received some negative feedback from parents on Rev-Trak, and it has limited reporting capabilities for the District. The District researched other options and identified My School Bucks as an alternative vendor. Ambrosini said My School Bucks would provide improved reporting for the District and Booster organizations and also offer a smartphone application for parents. It would charge 3.95 percent per transaction as opposed to Rev-Trak’s 3.99 percent per transaction with a 59-cent minimum. Ambrosini said she felt the switch would enhance the District’s business operations and would like to implement the switch July 1.
In discussion, Ambrosini said the District is seeking to upgrade its phone service contract. It currently uses AT&T’s phone service but is seeking to switch to Comcast’s phone service. It uses Comcast for Wide Area Network and Internet, currently. The District has had challenges with customer service from AT&T, and it could see a cost savings in switching to Comcast, Ambrosini said. Nelson added that Comcast excels at proactively monitoring its network rather than being reactive to issues.
In discussion, Ambrosini said the District would like to renew its contract with GSF for custodial services for three years. She said the District has built relationships with GSF staff, and the business provides great work. The new contract would cost $545,721.55 in 2020-2021; $568,805.39 in 2021-2022; and $610,238.29 in 2022-2023. Ambrosini said the driver of increases is the change in minimum wage, but the costs are a reasonable market value.
In discussion, Ambrosini provided a tentative budget update for fiscal year 2021. She projected a 2.5 percent increase in equalized assessed valuation, $12,000 in new construction, no abatement for the 2020 levy, 2 percent CPI, and revenue and expenditure percentages to remain consistent with past years.
The Board took action to approve the recommended 2020-2021 school year calendar.
The Board took action to approve the attendance of Edith Lutz and Brian Skibinski to the National School Boards Association 2020 Conference in April 2020 in Chicago.
The Board took action to approve an unpaid leave of absence request from Amy Steele for the 2020-2021 school year.
The Board took action to approve the employment of Noreen Jedlicka as a full-time Administrative Assistant for Human Resources and Payroll at the District Office with a start date of March 2, 2020, contingent upon the receipt and evaluation of employment documentation required by District 157-C and the Illinois State Board of Education.
The Board took action to approve the payment of bills for January 2020, as presented.
In the consent agenda, the Board took action to approve the 2020-2021 Personnel Manual; certified staff and educational support personnel seniority lists; E-Rate vendor and purchasing recommendations; a Children’s Internet Protection Act Certification; a new electronic payment system of My School Bucks; and a 36-month phone service contract with Comcast.
The Board adjourned the regular meeting at 8:54 p.m. and entered into Closed Session at 8:57 p.m. for the purposes of personnel matters, student matters, pending litigation and collective bargaining.
The Board adjourned Closed Session at 10:28 p.m. and adjourned the regular meeting at 10:29 p.m.
The next regular District 157-C Board of Education meeting will be held on March 18, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. at the District Office, 10482 W. Nebraska St. in Frankfort, Illinois.
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