The Winnetka Public Schools, August 2022
FY 2023 Tentative Budget
Brad Goldstein, Chief Financial Officer, provided the Tentative Fiscal Year 2023 budget.
The District is addressing the final year of the 3-Year Capital Improvement Plan through the utilization of fund balance in the amount of $6.7 million in FY23. This addresses urgent facilities needs such as domestic water issues, and Health/Life Safety projects. This year’s budget is projected to have an operating fund surplus of $2.6 million, with a planned overall budget deficit of $4.4 million related to the Capital Improvement Plan. The budget has a cost-per-pupil estimate of 2.8%, meeting the financial philosophy guidelines of 3.0%. A Final Budget update will be presented at the September 20, 2022, Board Meeting
Regular Board Meeting
Emily Rose, President, welcomed all in attendance to the first meeting of the 2022/2023. She recognized the new administrators and teachers who joined the team over the summer and thanked the Department of Buildings and Grounds for their diligence preparing our schools for Opening Day. Ms. Rose reiterated the Board’s commitment to implementing operational changes to improve safety and security and asked for the community to partner in these endeavors. Additionally, she thanked those involved in the years of work leading to the 2022 Downsized Capital Improvement Plan. Later in the evening, the School Board approved a resolution to move forward with placing the $59.4MM referendum to fund the plan on the November 8, 2022 ballot.
Kelly Tess, Superintendent, expressed gratitude to begin the school year as the new Superintendent of The Winnetka Public Schools. She recognized the passion and dedication that the Winnetka community has for providing its children with the very best in education, and encouraged teachers, families, Village leaders, and alumni to continue to model kindness, creativity, and connection to our students. Ms. Tess also welcomed new families and staff, particularly the Kindergarten families new to the District. Finally, she congratulated members of the Stewardship Committee for receiving a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities to update preservation work in the archives.
Kelly Tess, Superintendent, and Brad Goldstein, CFO, presented information regarding the District’s Capital Improvement Plan. Later in the evening, the School Board approved a resolution to move forward with placing the $59.4MM referendum on the November 8, 2022 ballot. If this referendum should pass, it would fund the following work at our schools:
Updated safety components, including secure entry vestibules
Upgraded HVAC systems to improve air quality, air flow, temperature control and energy efficiency
Accessibility for all students, staff and visitors that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Electrical wiring and panel upgrades to support technology and improve energy efficiency
Plumbing replacements to address fixtures that have reached the end of their useful life
The addition of a multipurpose room/cafeteria at Hubbard Woods
Removal of the temporary trailers at Crow Island and the subsequent addition of three permanent classrooms
Repurposing of the current gym to serve as a multipurpose room/cafeteria and the subsequent addition of a gym at Crow Island
Extension of the useful life of existing facilities and proactive reduction of costly emergency repairs
As is required by the state, the Board received an updated memo on the reopening of schools in the continued era of COVID-19. Due to endemic levels of positive cases, mitigations are greatly reduced, returning school protocols to routines similar to pre-pandemic times. Positive cases of COVID-19 will still be required to quarantine for 5 days from the onset of symptoms. Masking will not be enforced and there will be no identification of close contacts nor contact tracing. Parents will no longer receive weekly updates on case counts, which had been communicated at the June Board meeting.
The Board received an update on the status of Comprehensive Health Education in The Winnetka Public Schools. For context, the National Sexual Health Standards were updated in 2020 and subsequently adopted by Illinois in 2021. The Board chose not opt out or in to any curriculum changes with respect to comprehensive health and sexual health education. Instead, the Board decided to wait until resources were released by the state in order to have a complete review of what the state had adopted. The release of state recommended resources happened just a few weeks ago in July. Administration and staff have begun to review what was released in order to better understand the state’s proposed changes. The decision to take the time to review the standards and materials does not indicate the Board or Administration’s stance on the state’s alignment with National Sexual Health Standards. Even if the District decides not to proceed with the adoption, it is critical that there is an ability to clearly communicate to the community what that means, what will be taught in our schools and ultimately how and why that decision was made.
The District will not be teaching any new standards or curriculum this year. Parents are able to access all materials for all instruction in this area, and can opt out of having their child participate if they so choose. This has consistently been the practice in the District, and will continue to be. It is important to note that if any district in Illinois elects to teach comprehensive personal health and safety and comprehensive sexual health education as the state has adopted, it cannot adapt or change the state-adopted learning standards; hence the desire to fully review what has been released by the state.
The board received the August enrollment/staffing update for the 2022-2023 school year. It was noted that projected enrollment has been increasing through the Spring/Summer and sits at a projected level of 1687 students for 22-23 compared to 1611 students at this time in 21-22. The district will continue to monitor enrollment closely in order to match staffing with student needs.
The District is a member of the Consortium Liability Insurance Consortium (CLIC) which is a member-driven insurance pool that utilizes risk sharing and excess insurance to provide a comprehensive, cost-effective, school-specific Risk Management Program. CLIC approves legal counsel covered by the consortium and regularly updates the approved list of firms on an annual basis. The District employs a panel of legal firms, providing access to counsel in the areas such as special education, human resources, labor, investigations and litigation. Given the potential for savings in pursuing firms approved by our insurance consortium, the Board and Superintendent reviewed the updated list of approved firms and invited three firms to interview for the opportunity to be added to the panel of counsel available to the District. It was recommended that the Board approve the hire of Kriha Boucek LLC as an added firm to the panel of legal resources currently available to the District.
The District successfully hosted 383 students this summer at both Crow Island and Skokie Schools as part of our primary and general Adventures programming under the direction of Linda Stone and Alex Roy. The program was able to run on budget and provided new opportunities for parents to engage and be a part of the day during Open House. The district looks forward to gaining additional feedback in the future as we look to continuously build upon this program and look ahead to offering this again in 2023.
The Board received an update at the June meeting on the ways in which the District proactively prioritizes the safety of its staff and students through the Educational Master Facility Plan, protocols, behavioral practices and partnerships with Village Police and Fire Departments. This update was also provided on the heels of a recently completed safety and security audit conducted by Facilities Engineering Associates. This comprehensive audit included an assessment at all five buildings, providing recommendations for both facility and behavioral improvements in an effort to reduce vulnerabilities and ensure more safe and secure learning environments. The Downsized Capital Improvement plan which has led the Board’s commitment to a November referendum question on the ballot includes a number of critical facility improvements, including but not limited to secure vestibules additions or improvements, depending on the building. The safety and security audit includes suggestions for considerations when designing safe and secure entry vestibules. As a result, the District will be implementing numerous behavioral changes in daily operations to increase the safety and security of our schools.
Brad Goldstein, Chief Financial Officer, gave an update on the playground work being completed this year at Greeley. Hubbard Woods playground was scheduled for installation this summer, but has been postponed initially due to supply chain issues, and later connected to stormwater issues that need to be addressed.
The Board approved the pre-purchase of transformers through the Village of Winnetka. This is due to a lead time of 96 weeks on these items. This will allow for the District to address needed electrical upgrades at Hubbard Woods Elementary and Greeley Elementary, which are part of the Educational Master Facility Plan.
As required by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), districts are required to create a consolidated district plan annually. This plan allows a school District to answer one set of planning questions to meet requirements for all 12 of the federal formula grants that are available. Collecting and coordinating this information up front enables ISBE to streamline individual Fiscal Year 23 grant applications.
District 36 currently receives federal grant funds for Title I, (Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged); Title II, (Preparing, Training and Recruiting High-Quality Teachers, Principals and Other School Leaders); IDEA, Part B - Flow Through, (Special Education Funding); and IDEA, Part B - Preschool, (Special Education Funding).
At its June 14, 2022, meeting the Board was asked to conduct a 1st read on policies recommended for update by the Policy Subcommittee. This set of updates included only one substantial change, Policy 7:285 (Food Allergy Management Program), which was rewritten (and renamed) in response with Illinois School Code and Public Act 102-413, requiring every school board adopt an Anaphylaxis Prevention, Response, and Management Program Policy aligned with the model policy developed by the Ill. State Board of Education (ISBE) by August 17, 2022. Following a 2nd read at its meeting on August 16, 2022, the policy updates were approved during the Consent Agenda portion of the meeting.
The Consent Agenda and Following Action Items Were Approved:
FY2023 Tentative Budget
Resolution providing for and requiring the submission of the proposition of issuing $59,400,000 School Building Bonds to the voters of the District at the general election to be held on the 8th day of November, 2022.
Resolution Authorizing Engagement of Legal Counsel and Engagement Letter
Transformer Purchase - Bid Acceptance
Intra-District Transfer Request
To view the entire Board Packet from the August 16, 2022 Meeting, click here.
A student engaged in an activity at Adventures in Learning.
Safety and security improvements were made throughout the summer.
Playground work at Greeley School.