These are the LWVPFA observer reports of Park Forest-Chicago Heights School District 163.
Report of SD 163 Board & Finance Mtg, June 29, 2015 by Suzie Brown
Finance Committee--6:10 p.m.
Present were Tami Braxton, Allison McCray, Margaret McDannel, and Judy Hawthorne. Jaqueline Jordan, the new President of the Board, arrived at 7:46 p.m. Absent were Walter Mosby and Cheryl Franklin.
Because educational funding will be at the 92% level for the coming year, Dr. Carmine presented a staffing enhancement proposal that includes several summer employees--one secretary and four in curriculum. Those hired will either live in the district or were students here. Also proposed were another social worker and a .5 principal at Algonquin who will help with teacher evaluation. Teachers will have 200 minutes of planning time per week. Reading teachers will take the whole class instead of small goups to aid in the teacher planning time.
In addition, a teacher leader will be hired for science and art, and an English/Language Arts or math intervention person should be hired for each building. They will align the program to the new Common Core standards and will be sure our fundamentals are current.
Michelle Obama School will hire a dean and two classified teachers as half-time health assistants. A part-time person will be hired for social media.
The library budget is back as part of the proposed budget. An additional second-grade teacher may be needed. The STEAM lab needs a broadcast studio. Michelle Obama School had 620 students this past year, and Barack Obama School had 463.
A math enrichment teacher who emphasizes real world projects is needed, as well as a facilities manager who knows infrastructure and will assist with maintenance. Another PE teacher may be needed at Michelle Obama School.
In terms of food service, it was decided to discuss Open Kitchen vs Preferred with the whole board.
Regular Session--7:48 p.m.
Dr. Camine reported that there were 58 more students in attendance this year, which brought the district an additional $350,000. The district also received an additional $550,000 for the poor students in our district. She also reported that, once again, Michelle Obama and Barack Obama Schools had the highest attendance for May--98.58% for Michelle Obama and 99.27% for Barack Obama.
The activity fee will be $20, but those registering before August get $10.00 back.
The Board will meet on July 16 to work on a draft of the Board Policy Manual for the Illinois Association of School Boards. A motion carried to approve Cook of Illinois, the low bidders for both general education and special education transportation.
A homeless liaison, non-discrimination coordinator, and district harrassment officer were approved. Workers' compensation coverage was approved at $111,404 for the 2015-2016 school year.
Suzie Brown (This will be my last reporting of my observations at the School District 163 Boad meetings.)
Finance Committee + 6:00 p.m.
Present: Jacqueline Jordan, Allison McCray, Shirley McDonald, Margaret McDannel. Tami Braxton + 6:45 p.m., Cheryl Franklin + 6:55 p.m., Walter Mosby + 7:26 p.m.
Students from the Michelle Obama School of Technology and the Arts presented a preview of their spring show to be held May 21 at Bloom High School. The preview included ballet, singing, and dance and was very well done.
A prevailing wage act resolution for laborers, mechanics was discussed. David Ricker, Business Manager, was designated to prepare the 2015-2016 budget. A working cash fund transfer was approved to be used for any negative cash fund, if needed.
A list of hazardous routes will be sent to the Illinois Depatment of Transportation. Dr. Carmine asked that Orchard and Indianwood be added to the list.
Director of Instructional Technology Susan Klimczak presented the need for an upgraded telephone server, since we are using a loaner because of our server is outdated. Netrix is recommended. Winstream will provide our internet and voice over internet service, with firewall protection. In addition, new wireless equipment, configuration, and installation will be provided by Winstream at a cost of $203,000 plus $26,500 for installation over five years. Marcorps will provide network maintenance at a cost of $5,100 per year. A. T. & T. will provide analog phone service, and Verizon will provide cellular phone service as part of a state contract at $957.84 per month.
The board approved ads being purchased in the spring musical brochure.
A union representative and two district custodians spoke to the board about the high cost and deductibles of $6,000 - $10,000 for their health insurance by the outside company that employs them, without a union. Other issues were overtime and sometimes waiting three weeks to be paid.
Regular Session- 7:30 p.m.
The maintenance group spoke again during the Regular Session, citing violations of labor and wage laws by the outide company.
The oath of office as given to Walter Mosby, Cheryl Franklin, and Judy Hawthorne, recently elected school board members. Jacqueline Jordan was elected President, Allison McCray was elected Vice President, and Tami Braxton was elected Secretary of the Board. The time for the Regular Session of the Board was set as 7:00 p.m. on the last Monday of the month.
Shirley McDonald, retiring board member, was recognized with a plaque for her service. Dr. Carmine reported that Barack Obama School's attendance for March was 99%, and Michelle Obama's attendance was 98%. Blackhawk achieved 95.1% attendance. Algonquin's pre-school program received a gold rating by the state.
For the 2015-2016 school calendar, August 19 will be an Institute Day, and students start on August 20. Conference days are December 3 and 4, February 15 is Presidents' Day, March 15 is election day, and June 7 is the last day of school.
Finance Committee (6:00 p.m.)
Present: Shirley McDonald, Jacqueline Jordan, Allison Mc Cray, Tami Braxton, Margaret McDannel. Cheryl Franklin, Walter Mosby + 7:05 p.m.
Mohawk School presented an excellent program about reading and Alvin Ailey dance.
Center Point will get the 12-month contract for gas and electricity at 35.9 cents per therm, a savings. Cloverleaf will get the milk agreement renewal at no increase. The state has approved Preferred Foods for food service, but the district must get bids. The transportation renewal is out for bids.
In terms of stage 1 program reductions, one kindergarten position and one art position will be eliminated, and a science position will be added at $50,000. Retirements will cover the cost. Depending on state funding, an extra bus may be dropped. There are presently three art positions.
Policy Committee (7:11 -7:15 p.m.)
The district policy on bullying was presented to the Illinois Board of Education. Anna Marie Dowling is the complaint manager.
Regular Session (7:15 p.m.)
Supt.Carmine reported that Michelle Obama's attendance was 98%, as was Barack Obama's. Blackhawk had 95% attendance. She also stressed the importance of parent involvement in students' reading. Both Blackhawk and Mohawk Schools will have a Steamapalooza celebration. It was shown how Kindergartners worked to solve the problem of pencils rolling off their desks.
Margaret McDannel reported on a session on Indian American education she attended at the National School Board Conference. They were addressing the question of whether Native American history is represented in our schools. Walter Mosby reported on a session he attended on school security and noted that social media helps get information to the schools.
A report was given on a seven-week program on effective parenting. Seven parents attended, and several of them spoke about the program and how it affected their parenting.
An affirmative action plan was approved.
June 15 was declared the last day of school in 2015. August 21 will be an Institute Day, and August 24 will be the first day of the 2015-2016 school year. Christmas break will be December 23 -January 3, and the last day of school will be June 8, 2016.
Finance Committee (6:00 p.m.)
Present: Tami Braxton, Allison McCray, Shirley McDonald, Margaret McDannel. Jacqueline Jordan (7:00 p.m.), Cheryl Franklin (6:45). Walter Mosby was absent.
A video and student presentation from 21st Century on vocabulary development was shown called "Flat Stanley."
Because of the mild winter so far, construction of the addition to Michelle Obama School is predicted to be finished by next November. Portions of the addition are under roof and work is being done on interior walls.
An update on the 2015 budget showed that 48% of the revenue has been received, more than last year. District 163 has spent 38% of its budgeted expenditures.
Special school programs include a February 25 (1:00) Black History program at Blackhawk School is called "the Friendship Train" and Mohawk's February 27 Black History program is called "Moving Forward." Michelle Obama School will offer parent training in the evening.
Regular Session (7:02 p.m.)
Supt. Carmine reported that Michelle Obama School had the highest attendance percentage for the month--98.9%. Barack Obama had 94.36%, and Blackhawk had 91.47%.
A video from the Michelle Obama winter musical was shown.
The board voted to adopt a sexual harassment policy that includes a list of officers in the policy and their school addresses.
They May school board meeting date was changed to May 11, 2015. The fee for building usage at Michelle Obama was waived for the light company that works for the district. They teach high school and college students.
Present were: Margaret McDannel, Shirley McDonald, Walter Mosby, Allison McCray, Tami Braxton, and Allison McCray. Cheryl Franklin was absent.
Numerous holiday programs will be presented. The Barack Obama School will present the science of winter and have an engineering challenge in which students will make machines to be judged on January 8.
In terms of attendance for November, Michelle Obama School had 98.81%, Barack Obama School had 96.39%, Blackhawk had 98.67%, Mohawk had 92%, 21st Century had 95.21%, and Algonquin had 93.41% . It was noted that the schools that represent the former junior high have considerably higher attendance rates this year, presumably because students are highly motivated to attend the new school programs.
Teacher, Sherie Flabsite was presented with a $500 award from the Ackerman Insurance Group to be used for five microscopes for the science learning center classes.
The following pay scale was approved for substitute teachers: $100 per day for 1-4 days, $110 per day for 5-10 days, and $120 per day for a longer period.
Twenty-first Century has received a Community Learning Center Grant in the amount of $540,000, called XSTEAM, Gym for the Mind, for this year until 2019. The program will be held from 3:00 + 5:00 p.m. for students performing 2.5 years below grade level and who attend less than 85% of the time. Community partners also take part in the program.
Caletha White, Director of Instructional Services, reported that she has written two proposals for the February state conference: "PEP in Common Core Steps," and "Full Steam Ahead."
In response to parental concerns about bus transportation, Dr. Carmine said that buses are available for students who live more than 1.5 miles from school. The district receives 65% reimbursement, and buses cost $160 per bus per day. Dr. Carmine recommended that a morning bus be provided during January and February, at a cost of $17,500. She noted that students may have to walk 10 minutes to a bus stop.
Education Committee (6:16 p.m.)
Present were: Shirley McDonald, Allison McCray, Margaret McDannel, Walter Mosby (6:30 p.m.), Jacqueline Jordan (7:00 p.m.), Cheryl Franklin (7:10 p.m.)
Dr. Carmine applauded the Board for their conscientious work in behalf of the students of District 163, specifically naming Shirley McDonald, Allison McCray, and Walter Mosby.
A detailed plan for the Performing Arts Program at Michelle Obama School of Technology and the Arts was presented, which includes art, music, theater, dance, private lessons in art and music, and enrichment classes. All students are eligible for beginning band (now 92 enrolled), show choir (now 16 enrolled), and jazz combo (now 5 enrolled in seond year). In addition, a drama club and gospel choir, which will perform monthly for parents, are offered. A roaring 20s dinner dance will be held on Thursday. Support for the program comes from a $35,000 art grant, another grant for $25,000, a total of $9,000 from Governors State University, support from the Vander Cook College of Music, School District 227, and the SPAA Theater in Park Forest. Math and reading are taught through the arts, as well.
The reading program at Barack Obama School of Leadership and STEM will focus on five goals: showing deconstruction of the common core standards; monthly signposts that highlight close reading by students to learn what the author is conveying and life lessons presented; clear oral and written communicaion; creating intellectual communities; supporting use of academic vocabulary; and increasing individual reading time to more than one hour per day with class silent reading time. They work in the literacy lounge.
In the STEM program, science, technology, engineering, and math are integrated. Students work in teams at islands and have Apple computers, a glass board for notes, and cameras to help in their work on projects, which they do for four days. They then submit their work in a portfolio to the teacher. One day a week they do an individual leadership assessment.
The Special Education update included the information that 328 students or 20% of the students spend most of their time in special educaion classes. There were 18 summer school classes for 263 students. 95% completed the program and gains of up to four years were achieved in reading.
A report was given on the the STEAM programs at Primary Centers (Algonquin, Blackhawk, and Mohawk Schools).
Regular Session (8:30 p.m.)
Dr. Carmine reported that as of the end of September there are 2010 students enrolled in School District 163.
The Blue Cross/BlueShield insurance renewal was approved at a 9.5% increase for one year. The Ameritas insurance contract was renewed for two years with a 10% increase the first year. The contract with Prairie Daycare was approved for three years.
Allison McCray will be the delegate for the Illinois Association of School Boards Conference.
Discussion of a policy to make all schools peanut free was held. This would include banning peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. A student suffered a severe reaction to peanuts.
Present were: Margaret McDannel, Allison McCray, Tami Braxton, Shirley McDonald, Walter Mosby (6:48 p.m.), Cheryl Franklin (7:05 p.m.), Jacqueline Jordan (7:10 p.m.)
Finance Committee (6:15 p.m.)
During the public comments period, several maintenance workers for District 163 expressed concern that Alpha, the new maintenance company, has no union and also that some of them had not been paid for overtime from Phoenix, the previous company. Dr. Carmine said the district has been billed by Phoenix for overtime, and the workers should be paid.
One parent spoke about her concern that her daughter is assigned to Beacon Hill (now Barack Obama), which she feels is in a bad neighborhood. Another parent is concerned because she has two children assigned to different schools. A third parent, who works, is concerned about the number of days and half days off in the school calendar. Dr Carmine asked if the district could have day care for a half day.
Asphalt repairs fo parking lots will be held off for more bids. A report of possible day care providers was given. Prairie was recommended as offering a good before and after school program, being the cheapest, used also by District 162, and being approved by DCFS.
Michael Puckett was introduced as the new general music, band, and choir teacher. There will be tryouts for 50 instruments, with $10,000 in scholarship money to help meet the cost of the instruments.
The Village Recreation Department has a program to get kids off the streets after school from 3:00 + 6:30 p.m. They will offer a college tour next year.
Budget Hearing/Regular Session
Reviewing the 2014-15 budget, it was noted that there will be a deficit this school year because of the expansion of Forest Trail (now Michelle Obama), but the money is in the bank account. The district maintains a 3.7 month reserve. Thirty-seven percent of the budget is for salaries, and 32% for capital outlay. In terms of income, 51% is supposed to be from state aid, 34% from local aid, and 11.5% from federal aid. The budget for the current school year was approved.
Dr. Carmine reported that we have more than 2,000 students enrolled, which is higher than in recent years. Class size is 25 for the early grades. On November 20 parents and others may visit the schools during American Education Week.
Fifty-five children who completed their summer homework goals packet will have a field trip to Schererville, Indiana. Students who meet the Illinois state code of behavior and district standards will be able to participate in graduation ceremonies.