The Winnetka Public Schools, August 2023
Regular Board Meeting
Emily Rose, President, welcomed teachers, staff, students and families to the 23/24 school year. She acknowledged the work that occurred throughout the summer by the District’s staff, and encouraged the entire school community to reflect on the vision of the Winnetka Public Schools as the school year begins:
“The Winnetka Public Schools community empowers every student to flourish in an inclusive, innovative, experiential environment. We support and challenge all learners to actively engage in continual growth and achievement to make a meaningful difference in the world.”
Dr. Kelly Tess, Superintendent, shared highlights from the summer, such as the successful Adventures in Learning program and the 23/24 preparations made by the District staff (including managing construction and building improvements, developing Annual Goals, leading and pursuing professional learning and more).
The Board was presented with a summary of the construction and renovation work begun at Hubbard Woods and Greeley Schools this summer. Work at these two schools will be completed in Summer 2024. Key new features at both schools were highlighted. Dr. Tess noted administrative disappointment regarding Phase I timeline and construction management.
The Board was presented the Fiscal Year 2024 budget, including information regarding rising third-party and cooperative special education costs and the ways in which the district is proactively working to mitigate those in future years. The Board approved the Tentative Budget for Fiscal Year 2024. The Tentative Budget will be on display for 30 days prior to the approval of the Final Budget hearing on September 26, 2023.
The District’s bargaining representatives have reached agreement on a five-year contract with Service Employees International Union Local #73, the bargaining representative of the custodial and maintenance employment groups. The current agreement was set to expire on June 30, 2023. The recommendation for approval is included for a new contract from June 1, 2023-June 30, 2028.
The District successfully hosted 131 children at Crow Island for the Primary Program, and 378 children at Washburne School in the General Program this summer under the direction of Linda Stone and Alex Roy. The program was able to run on budget as financial information is included. The District will be evaluating its ability to safely host an in-person Adventures in Learning experience for Summer 2024 due to construction occurring in all buildings and on all campuses. Administration is working now to propose a plan to the Board for Summer 2024, allowing for ample notice to the community.
The Board received the August enrollment and staffing updates for the 2023/2024 school year. It is noted that enrollment is currently at 1707 students compared to 1687 students for 22-23 (1.2% increase). Recommendations for the addition of staff and re-allocation of staff are included with explanation to the staffing plan. The District will continue to monitor enrollment closely in order to match staffing with student needs.
An overview of the bond sale in July was shared with the Board. The District sent out an invitation to bid on the $18,110,000 in bonds in early July, with a bid opening on July 18, 2023. The District received two bids, with JP Morgan Chase Bank submitting the lowest bid with a True Interest Cost (TIC) of 3.690%. This will result in an estimated bond and interest tax payment impact on a $1,000,000 homeowner of $924, inclusive of the prior bond issuance.
The Board was updated on an issue with the fire sprinkler system at Hubbard Woods that impacts the new multipurpose room. The District’s Architect, Perkins & Will shared a memo regarding the details of this issue This is requiring a change order that is approximately 10% of our contingency. The Board approved this additional work.
The Board received an update on the work completed by the Owner’s Representative hired as an expert resource and support to the Board and Administration through the three phases of construction and renovation work at all five schools. This has proven to be a valuable investment, especially as the District prepares for Phase II of the work, impacting all campuses next summer.
The Board unanimously approved an inter-governmental agreement between The Winnetka Public Schools and Winnetka Park District, outlining the use of space and shared services over a five year period. This agreement is the result of years of dedicated thought and effort between both organizations, and a key model of partnership between Village entities.
The Board approved a lease renewal for Winnetka Public School Nursery, housed within The Skokie School. The District has an historic relationship with WPSN, and is proud to continue to host them through 2026 with this newly issued lease.
Policy 5:296,Retirement Incentive IMRF Employees: is being brought forward for a 2nd read and adoption..The change in this policy is aligned with the new language contained in the SEIU Contract 2023-2028. The Board’s policy subcommittee will reconvene in September to examine the policy language related to kindergarten registration and solicit feedback from the Board before bringing a final recommendation forward this fall.
The Consent Agenda and Following Action Items Were Approved:
SEIU Contract 2023-2028
FY24 Tentative Budget
WPSN Lease Renewal August 1, 2023 - July 31, 2026
IGA between the District 36 Board of Education and Winnetka Park District for Shared Services
The Board’s Facility Subcommittee met on August 1, 2023. Pepper Construction and Perkins & Will Architects in attendance to present to the Board, and reviewed the following:
Security Glazing: Perkins and Will provided an initial update on the potential for additional security-based window glazing at all five schools. This will continue to be discussed by the subcommittee as cost and impact are considered.
Skokie North Corridor: As part of door replacement and maintenance at Skokie school, some potential water leakage and degradation of masonry work was observed. While not a safety hazard, the Board instructed the team to open the walls in select classrooms to understand the extent of the problem and identify a remediation plan.
Summer Construction: The Board received an update on the summer construction project at Greeley and Hubbard Woods. While the schools will open on time the overall project timeline has been impacted by poor construction management, resulting in significant, unplanned time and attention needed from members of the Districts administrative team. The Board has asked for a full report on the issues related to construction management (the District’s hired construction manager is Pepper Construction) and a go-forward action plan to address ahead of phase II work next summer.
To view the entire Board Packet from the August 22, 2023 Meeting, click here.