Board Meeting Highlights
The following are highlights from the June 14, 2017 Board of Education Meeting.
Post-Referendum Survey Results
From May 4-19, the District opened a Post-Referendum Feedback Survey to provide important insight as we plan for the next steps in addressing our facility needs. The survey, created by District staff and with feedback from community members, was delivered online using free Google Forms software. More than 2,600 members of the community responded to the survey. There is a summary of the survey results, along with a presentation to the Board of Education available on our website. Highlights of the survey include:
- When asked about their perception of specific projects in the referendum, respondents indicated that 50% believe capital projects should remain in the facility plan and 51% believe secure entries should remain in the plan.
- Respondents cited some projects as being wants and not needs; not wanting a tax increase; and the overall bond sale being too high as reasons the community did not approve the referendum.
- The top sources for information on the referendum were District mailings, school or District websites and social media.
Board Facilities & Finance Committee updates
Following discussions and review of the Post-Referendum Survey results, the Board's Facilities Committee has reviewed and re-prioritized facility projects and has grouped them into the following categories:
- Group 1 - Capital Projects (paving, roofing, mechanical, plumbing, etc.) and Secure Entries
- Group 2 - Early Learning Center Options
- Group 3 - Middle School Projects (including science and libraries), Elementary Projects (libraries), Tech Lab at Wheaton North and Library Improvements at Wheaton Warrenville South.
The Facilities Committee has recommended that for right now, the Board focus their facility planning efforts around the most critical projects, Group 1 - Capital Projects and Secure Entries. The current estimated cost of Capital Projects and Secure Entries is approximately $88 million in work. That estimate includes $5 million in capital projects at Jefferson Early Childhood Center. Given the amount of capital improvement projects at Jefferson, the Facilities Committee is reviewing options for Group 2 - Early Learning Center Options that do not include construction of a new building.
Facility projects in Group 3 will be tabled for the time being, until the Board can address Capital Projects, Secure Entries and a solution to our early learning center.
Based on those recommendations and the 2018-19 Sherman-Dergis capital improvement allocation, the Board's Finance committee, along with District and School Administration, will begin developing a plan to allocate $8 million toward Group 1 (capital projects & secure entries) for the 2018-19 School Year. In January 2017, the Board adopted a policy to utilize the research-based Sherman-Dergis model to forecast capital renewal costs over the life of a building. The resolution made a commitment to provide a planned revenue allocation, that increases annually, for keeping up with future capital needs beginning next school year.
In order to achieve next year's Sherman-Dergis allocation, a minimum $2.4 million toward capital projects, the Board is proposing budget reductions that include deferrals of a new student information system, drivers education simulators and not filling a vacant administrator position - increasing the spend on capital projects to $3 million, which is above and beyond the $2.4 million commitment per the Sherman-Dergis policy. The Proposed 2017-18 Budget is expected to be posted at the July Board meeting for public review. It is expected that a proposed cost reduction plan for the 2018-19 School Year will be developed by early fall.
Increase in number of high school late arrival dates
Beginning next year, Wheaton North and Wheaton Warrenville South High Schools will have late arrival dates every Wednesday with school beginning at 7:55 a.m. For the past two years, the high schools have had 15 late arrival dates, about 2x per month.
The change is necessary to support the Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) model which has been utilized for the last five years. During PLC time, teachers meet in teams to review student performance data to create plans to meet the needs of the students far above the learning standard, students far below, and those students in between. The increase in late arrival dates will not create an additional loss of instructional time. PLCs will meet for less amount of time, but on a more frequent basis. Parents can expect additional follow-up information about transportation and building access from the high schools before the start of next school year.
Technology purchases approved, technology budget remains flat
The Board approved just over $1 million in technology contracts for devices and infrastructure as part of their ongoing commitment to investments in technology and managed to keep the technology budget flat from the prior year. The Board applauded efforts by staff to continually review key, high-ticket contracts for efficiencies. In several contracts, the District changed vendors in order to lower costs.
Part of the District's vision for the learning environment is that students can collaborate and create anytime, anywhere. In order to do that, students need to have access to technology when they need it, both in school and at home. In 2016, the Board of Education approved the purchase of 4,700 Chromebooks, adding a significant amount of devices into our schools. Older model laptops were refurbished and distributed to middle and high school students who needed them to take home. In District 200, we believe that there is a lot of great teaching and learning that doesn't constantly require a device - which is why our goal for technology is Universal Access. Students should have access to technology when they need it.
Agreement reached with District support staff
District 200 and the Classified Employees Association (CEA) have approved a four-year contract agreement for support staff covering the 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years. The CEA represents more than 400 classified employees in the nearly 13,000 student district.
CEA employees, which include teaching assistants, health aides, secretaries, custodians, and maintenance employees, are paid hourly and provide services critical to the efficient and safe operation of our buildings. In comparison to other benchmark districts, our current starting pay is below average in all CEA employee categories.
In the new agreement, salary increases are driven by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and adjustments were made for specific positions based on market analysis, putting our wages comparably more in-line with benchmark districts. Market comparables drive what the District determines to be fair and appropriate compensation in order to attract and retain high-quality staff members.
While each of the four years in the agreement contains a salary increase, the increases are tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or more commonly referred to as cost of living - a major factor that determines the District’s expected revenue each year. Each year’s salary increase will be a blend of the prior and current year CPIs but includes a floor 1.5% increase and ceiling 3% increase - ensuring that the District is living within its means and can continue to pay for high priority items like facility projects.
“This agreement represents the positive, cooperative relationship between the CEA and the District. It reflects a combined effort to recognize the valuable contributions our classified employees make to the success of our students,” said Dr. Jeff Schuler, Superintendent of Schools. “The agreement also reflects our current financial constraints and demonstrates the conscientious attention of the Board of Education and the CEA to maintain the economic stability of the District, especially as we dedicate additional resources to our significant facility needs.”
Penny Coyle, CEA President and Bargaining Team Spokesperson, is happy to have reached an agreement that, “we believe is fair to the employees we represent, the District and the community. I am proud that our members are willing to do their part to ensure the District’s financial health. This agreement shows once again that a mutually satisfactory agreement can only be reached through collaboration and good faith."