July, August, September 2010 Board Briefs

(Summary of July, August and September 2010 School Board meetings)

2010-2011 Budget Approved
Avoca School District 37’s 2010-2011 budget, totaling $14,319,669 with a reserve level of approximately 69%, was approved by the Board of Education at its September meeting.  The budget is now available to the public by accessing the District’s Web site at http://avoca37.org. 

Employment Matters
The Board approved the employment of the following personnel at the July, August and September Board meetings: Kathryn LePine as a 5th grade learning resource teacher; Julie Barello as an Avoca Community Preschool teacher; Shari Theer as an Avoca West Elementary School nurse; Leslie Potter as a part-time 3rd-5th grade intervention specialist; Angela Piechowiak as a 7th grade learning resource teacher; Zaneta Zak and Tammy Shih as Avoca Community Preschool teacher assistants; and Janet FitzGerald and Ines Ringler as Avoca West Elementary School lunchroom supervisors.  At the September Board meeting, the Board accepted the resignation of Mary Carpenter as the Avoca West Elementary School building secretary, effective September 17, received a notice of intent to retire from Marie Murphy School instrumental music teacher Mary Rudzinski, effective at the close of the 2014-15 school year, and approved 12-week leaves of absence for 1st grade teacher Emily Hargadon, effective January 15, 2011, and 7th grade math teacher Amanda Hoffmeister, effective November 12, 2010. 

Superintendent Search Update
At the September Board meeting, the search firm of B.W.P. and Associates reported that they expected to receive a total of 40 to 45 completed applications for the superintendent position by the deadline.  Applicants represented a strong balance of backgrounds and experiences.  Six applicants will be selected to be interviewed by the Board in November, and the finalist will be named in December.  Dr. Porto indicated he would create a transition plan with the prospective superintendent and present it at an upcoming meeting. 

New Teachers’ Contract Ratified
After several months of interest-based bargaining with the Avoca Education Association, the Board ratified a new five-year teachers’ contract at its September Committee of the Whole meeting.  The teachers also voted to ratify the contract shortly thereafter.  

School Calendar Revised
Since the new teachers’ contract called for an additional day of student attendance, the Board approved a revision of the 2010-2011 school calendar.  April 5, 2011, is now a student attendance day, and the Teacher Contract Day originally scheduled for April 5 was moved to the end of the calendar. 

2010-2011 Student Lunch Prices Set
At its July meeting, the Board approved an increase in the price of a student plate lunch.  The $3.20 cost represents a five-cent increase over the previous year. 

2010-2011 District Goals Set
Nine District goals and corresponding action plans were presented at the September Board meeting.  The goals include:  Goal 1 – Research the potential causes for Avoca students feeling less prepared in literature and writing in high school than other core subjects; Goal 2 – Create a new three-year, long-range technology plan; Goal 3 – Implement suggestion action for the formation of business partnerships; Goal 4 – Assign responsibility to oversee District communications and utilize the Community Outreach Committee’s essential components; Goal 5 – Maintain a section of The Vision dedicated to educational finance and utilize the Website to offer financial links and financial calendars; Goal 6 – Explore how cultures, geography and current events can be expanded in the social studies curriculum; Goal 7 – Create physical and virtual Diversity Centers in school ITCs (libraries); Goal 8 – Provide access to key school communications in multiple languages and utilize Cross-Cultural Interpretation services for parent conferences and other school-related activities; and Goal 9 – Pursue a commitment to staff awareness and training of cultural diversity through the Professional Development Committee. 

August Enrollment Summary
It was reported at the August Board meeting that the enrollment of 45 kindergarten students was the lowest number the District had experienced in recent years.  Not including the preschool, which actually had a waiting list, there was a net loss of 34 students, for a total enrollment of 645 students in grades K-8. 

Upcoming Board Meeting Dates
Regular Board meetings are open to the public and are held in the Community Room at Marie Murphy School during the school year.  The public is invited to share input during the two visitors’ comments portions of the meeting.  Regular Board meetings normally begin at 6:30 p.m. on the second to the last Thursday of the month.  Committee of the Whole meetings usually take place at 5:30 p.m. on the first Monday of the month in the Marie Murphy School Library.  To confirm the times and locations of these meetings, please contact the superintendent’s secretary at 847-251-3587.  All open session School Board and Committee of the Whole Board meetings are videotaped.  A DVD copy of a particular meeting may be requested by the public through the Marie Murphy School Library (847-251-3617).  Upcoming meeting dates include:

> 10/28, 5:30 p.m. – Board Finance Committee
> 10/28, 6:30 p.m. – Board of Education
> 11/1, 5:30 p.m. – Committee of the Whole
> 11/18, 5:30 p.m. – Board Finance Committee
> 11/18, 6:30 p.m. – Board of Education

May-June 2010 Board Briefs

(Report of May 3, 20, and June 7, 17, 2010, Board of Education Meetings)

Employment Matters
The Board approved the employment of the following personnel at the May and June Board meetings: Mary Christine Dion as a 6th-8th grade Spanish teacher; Thomas Erf and Kelly Cummings as 3rd grade classroom teachers; and Amy Levin as a 2nd grade classroom teacher.  The Board accepted resignations from 7th grade resource teacher Jillian Jeserig and Avoca West Elementary School inclusion assistant Tammy Shih, effective as of the close of the 2009-2010 school year.  The Board accepted a notice of intent to retire from the superintendent’s secretary, Madeleine McCloskey, effective as of December 31, 2011.   Leave of absence requests were granted to the following individuals:  Second grade teacher Jennifer Greenberg, for a 12-week leave commencing September 9, 2010; and Jennifer Stump for a one-year leave of absence for the 2010-2011 school year.

Social/Emotional Learning Program Report
During the May 3 Committee of the Whole Board meeting, a report on the K-8th grade social/emotional curriculum covered background on the program and accomplishments and recommendations for the first year of the three-year plan.  Consultant Diane Becker indicated that specific measures were taken this year to establish a program that focused on district readiness.  Goals for 2010-2011 will be aimed at maximizing the unique potential of each student, and third year goals will focus on implementation, review and adjustment of activities for continuous improvement and sustainability factors.  She emphasized that the program is not treated as an add-on to the curriculum, since it relates to everything the teachers already do in the classroom.

District Community Outreach Committee
The District Community Outreach Committee presented a final report and recommendations to the Board at the May 20 meeting.  The purpose of the committee was to research and implement activities that enhance the partnership between the District and the Avoca community. Actions in the following areas were recommended: Communication vehicles; volunteerism in the schools; service projects and service learning; school finance education; and business partnerships.

District Diversity Committee
At the May 20 Board meeting, the District Diversity Committee presented their final recommendations that will be implemented over a period of three years:  Create physical and virtual Diversity Centers in the schools; formalize a recurring diversity communication schedule; pursue staff awareness and training of cultural diversity; explore opportunities for local to global sister school relationships; incorporate the Global Education Checklist for students and staff; review current recruitment strategies; explore how cultures, geography and current events can be expanded upon in all subject areas and fine arts; utilize Cross Cultural Interpretation Services and interpretation services of staff, parents and student relatives; provide access to key school communications in multiple languages; encourage clubs/sports coaches to facilitate involvement of culturally diverse students; and form a foreign language review committee.

New Extracurricular Fee
At the May 3 Committee of the Whole meeting, the District Extracurricular Study Committee presented specific recommendations on ways to expand and improve extracurricular offerings at both schools in a budget-neutral manner.  The Board was given several fee options that would be used to cover the additional $15,000 to $18,000 cost connected with these new offerings.  The Board discussed the matter again on May 20 and agreed on a flat extracurricular fee of $25 for each student for grades 1 through 8 starting this year.   The Board officially voted to adopt the new student fee at its June 17 meeting.

2010 MAP Test Report
A detailed PowerPoint presentation comparing the Spring 2009 and Spring 2010 Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test results was given at the June 17 Board meeting.  MAP tests were administered in grades 2nd-8th in the subjects of reading and math.  The overall analysis of the test results covered 14 different aspects of the testing, including:  Teachers continued doing an excellent job working with the lowest performing students; the 2010 RIT average exceeded results from 2009 in 10 of 14 tests; students scored 1.5 and 3.5 years above grade level in reading and math; considering this year’s implementation of a different math program, growth goals exceeded in three of five grade levels; all grades exceeded expected growth goals in reading; ELL (English Language Learner) students made strong progress in reading at all grade levels; and gifted students exceeded growth goals in all but one test.  Superintendent Dr. Porto indicated that an action plan or SMART goal will be developed to help IEP students to exceed their yearly growth goal expectations.

Upcoming Board Meeting Dates
Regular Board meetings are open to the public and are held in the Community Room at Marie Murphy School during the school year.  The public is invited to share input during the two visitors’ comments portions of the meeting.  Regular Board meetings normally begin at 6:30 p.m. on the second to the last Thursday of the month.  Committee of the Whole meetings usually take place at 5:30 p.m. on the first Monday of the month in the Marie Murphy School Library.  To confirm the times and locations of these meetings, please contact the superintendent’s secretary at 847-251-3587.  All School Board and Committee of the Whole meetings are videotaped, and the tapes may be checked out by the public through the Marie Murphy School Library (847-251-3617).  Upcoming meeting dates include:

> 8/19, 4:30 p.m. – Board Finance Committee
> 8/19, 5:30 p.m. – Board of Education
> 9/23, 5:30 p.m. – Board Finance Committee
> 9/23, 6:15 p.m. – Budget Public Hearing
> 9/23, 6:30 p.m. – Board of Education

March-April 2010 Board Briefs

(Summary of March 1, 18, and April 22, 2010, Avoca School Board meetings)

Board Selects Superintendent Search Firm
During the first few months of the year, members of the Avoca Board interviewed three superintendent search firms.  School-Exec Connect was interviewed on February 18, and B.W.P. & Associates and Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates were interviewed at the March 1 Committee of the Whole Board meeting.  At the March 18 meeting, the Board formally selected B.W.P & Associates to conduct the superintendent search for the District.  A letter of understanding with B.W.P. was approved and signed at the April Board meeting.  It was anticipated that Superintendent Dr. Joseph Porto’s replacement will be named in December following an extensive, nationwide search.

Employment Matters
At the March meeting, the Board approved the employment of long-term substitute teacher Kirsten Crispen to replace 4th grade teacher Jennifer Kiedaisch, who was scheduled for a leave of absence starting in April through the end of the current school year.  The Board accepted resignations from District technology coordinator/Marie Murphy School technology facilitator Christopher Brown and 5th grade learning resource specialist Carrie Fox, effective at the close of the current school year.  Mr. Brown has accepted a position as assistant principal of Maple Middle School in Northbrook.  The Board also accepted a retirement notice from Avoca West Elementary School custodian/bus driver Roberto Caprera, effective at the close of the 2010-2011 school year and also approved a one-year leave of absence request from 2nd grade teacher Leslie Boyle for the 2010-2011 school year.  At the April Board meeting, the Board accepted a resignation from 3rd grade teacher Sophia Kondos, effective at the close of the current school year and also approved an additional one-year leave of absence for Avoca West Elementary School reading specialist Ellie Kaiser.  The Board also approved the appointment of Gail Soriano to the positions being vacated by Christopher Brown at Marie Murphy School.

2010-2011 School Fees Established
The Board voted to keep the school fees at the current levels for the next school year.  The 2010-2011 bus fees will be as follows: Two-way service – $500 (1st child), $400 (2nd child), $350 (3rd child), a $1,400 cap, and a $50 discount per family if paid on time.  One-way a.m. or p.m. service only – $275 (1st child), $225 (2nd child),  $200  (3rd child),  $200 (4th child),  $175  (each additional child), $1,400 cap, and a $50 discount per family if paid on time.  The 2010-2011 books and materials fees per child, including a yearbook, are as follows:  Kindergarten ($143 includes headphones), grades 1-4 ($135), grades 5-8 ($150), and a $25 discount per child if paid on time.  The 2010-2011 technology fees are as follows according to the number of students per family:  1 student ($135), 2 students ($160), 3 students ($185), 4 or more students ($210), and an early bird discount of $10 per family is applied to payments made on time.

Bus Leasing Plan Approved
At the April meeting, the Board approved a recommendation for a five-year, municipal bus leasing plan.  The recommendation included trading in five buses, bringing the aging fleet down from 11 to 10.  Business Manager Beth Dever reported that the current fleet required an average of $3,000 per year in repairs and maintenance for each bus.  She explained that the leasing plan would provide more dependable buses to transport the students.  The District approved a contract with Midwest Transit Equipment Company to lease four buses, including two 66-passenger buses and two 53-passenger buses.

Upcoming Board Meeting Dates
Regular Board meetings are open to the public and are held in the Community Room at Marie Murphy School during the school year.  The public is invited to share input during the two visitors’ comments portions of the meeting.  Regular Board meetings normally begin at 6:30 p.m. on the second to the last Thursday of the month.  Committee of the Whole meetings usually take place at 5:30 p.m. on the first Monday of the month in the Marie Murphy School Library.  To confirm the times and locations of these meetings, please contact the superintendent’s secretary at 847-251-3587.  All School Board and Committee of the Whole meetings are videotaped, and the tapes may be checked out by the public through the Marie Murphy School Library (847-251-3617).  Upcoming meeting dates include:

 

  • 6/7, 5:30 p.m. –Committee of the Whole
  • 6/17, 4:30 p.m. – Board Finance Committee
  • 6/17, 5:30 p.m. – Board of Education
  • 7/22, 4:30 p.m. – Board Finance Committee
  • 7/22, 5:30 p.m. – Board of Education

January-February 2010 Board Briefs

(Summary of January 21 and February 18 School Board meetings)

Superintendent Search Firm
Two representatives from School Exec Connect gave a presentation at the February 18 Board meeting, during which they outlined their firm’s methods for conducting a search for the best candidate to fill the superintendent vacancy in July 2011. Board members were provided with a brochure outlining the process that includes involving the community, conducting a survey, forming a focus group, selecting and interviewing final candidates, and site visits. The two representatives were interviewed extensively by the Board following the presentation. Two other search firms were scheduled to give presentations and be interviewed during the March 1 Committee of the Whole Board meeting.

Update from Three District Committees
During the January 21 meeting, a brief summary of work accomplished to date by the three District committees was given by co-facilitators of each committee. Co-facilitators of the Community Relations Committee reported that five ad hoc committees were created: Communication vehicles, volunteerism, service projects, school finance education, and business partnerships. This committee’s main goal is to enhance the partnership between the District and the Avoca community. Co-facilitators of the Diversity Committee reported they were considering ideas, including creating a diversity center and a book club focused on authors of different cultural backgrounds, starting a sister school in the city, Skyping with people from other countries, and examining hiring practices within the District. The committee’s main goal is to initiate activities that enhance and expand the benefits of diversity and to promote an understanding and appreciation of a world community. Co-facilitators of the Extra-curricular Committee listed the committee’s three main goals: Encourage the right match of extracurricular offerings to students’ interests; achieve a better balance of extracurricular activities between the two schools; and give specific recommendations to the Board to accomplish the first two goals in a budget-conscious manner. Student and parent surveys were scheduled to be conducted in February and the collected data analyzed in March. The three committees will provide another update on their activities in a few months.

NSBA Avoca Site Visit Set for April
At the February 18 Board meeting, it was reported that Avoca was selected last fall by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) to be one of four school districts in North America for this year’s NSBA site visit program. It was estimated that approximately 100 educators will visit the Avoca schools on April 8 and 9 as special guests of the NSBA. The District had solicited $30,500 to date from seven private sponsors to cover the cost of the event, with the biggest expense being a dinner and entertainment provided by an improvisation group from Second City to be held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Skokie. Donations from sponsors will also be used to provide each visitor to the District with a “welcome bag” containing a variety of items to make the visit to Avoca memorable. 

Avoca West Sculpture Donation
Superintendent Dr. Porto reported at the January 21 meeting that Avoca West Elementary School was being offered an outdoor sculpture, at no cost to the District, from a nationally-renowned local artist, who is also an Avoca West parent. The sculpture is a temporary piece of artwork that would last approximately 20 years. In order to obtain approval of the donation, the Board was provided with a photo of the sculpture, the artist’s biography, and an aerial view indicating two preferred locations for the sculpture in front of the school. After some discussion, it was the consensus of the Board to accept the donation and have it installed in May at a location north of the front entrance. The PTC will donate a pedestal for the sculpture.

PTAB Process Reviewed
An attorney from the District’s law firm, Robbins, Schwartz, Nicholas, Lifton & Taylor, Ltd., provided a brief summary and status report on recent pending Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB) challenges at the January 21 Board meeting. He anticipated an increase in future PTAB claims due to confusion about the change in the way properties are now being assessed. Although assessments will drop, tax bills will go up. It was also reported that school districts are now being allowed to go to the circuit court to challenge PTAB claims. A list of recent property tax appeals was reviewed to demonstrate the amount of money that would have been lost if those appeals had remained unchallenged.

Upcoming Board Meeting Dates
Regular Board meetings are open to the public and are held in the Community Room at Marie Murphy School during the school year. The public is invited to share input during the two visitors’ comments portions of the meeting. Regular Board meetings normally begin at 6:30 p.m. on the second to the last Thursday of the month. Committee of the Whole meetings usually take place at 5:30 p.m. on the first Monday of the month in the Marie Murphy School Library. To confirm the times and locations of these meetings, please contact the superintendent’s secretary at 847-251-3587. All School Board and Committee of the Whole meetings are videotaped, and the tapes may be checked out by the public through the Marie Murphy School Library (847-251-3617).  Upcoming meeting dates include:
> 3/1, 4:30 p.m. – Committee of the Whole
> 3/18, 5:30 p.m. – Board Finance Committee
> 4/22, 6:30 p.m. – Board of Education
> 4/22, 5:30 p.m. – Board Finance Committee
> 4/5, 5:30 p.m. – Committee of the Whole 3/18, 6:30 p.m. – Board of Education

December 2009 Board Briefs

(Summary of December 17, 2009, School Board meeting) 

2009 Tax Levy Approved
Following a public hearing immediately prior to the regularly scheduled December 17 Board meeting, the Board formally approved an operating tax levy of $11,297,803 for the 2009 levy year.  The proposed levy represents a 4.35% increase over the previous year’s levy.

Employment Matters
The Board approved the employment of John D. Adinamis as a full-time paraprofessional at Marie Murphy School for the 2009-2010 school year.

2010-2011 District Calendar Adopted
The Board adopted the proposed 2010-2011 District calendar.  Highlights of the calendar include:  First day of student attendance (a half day) is Thursday, August 26; the days before and after Thanksgiving are holidays; winter break begins December 18, 2010, through January 2, 2011; spring break begins March 26 through April 3, 2011; no student and staff attendance on Labor Day (September 6), Rosh Hashanah (September 9), Columbus Day (October 11), Martin Luther King Day (January 17), Presidents’ Day (February 21), Good Friday (April 22) and Memorial Day (May 31).  Barring any emergency closings, the last day of student attendance is Thursday, June 9, 2011.  The District previously obtained waivers/modifications for three holidays, including Veterans’ Day, Lincoln’s Birthday and Casimir Pulaski Day, making those student attendance days.

2009 ISAT Presentation
Statistician/consultant Dr. Clay Graham delivered a positive presentation on the District’s 2009 ISAT (Illinois Standard Achievement Test) results.  Included in the presentation were ranking comparisons between Avoca School District 37 and eighteen similar, high-achieving Illinois schools.  These rankings were based on achievement test scale scores rather than a percentage of “meets and exceeds” scores provided by the state.  According to Dr. Graham’s in-depth analysis of the test scores, District 37 currently ranked fourth in the state in overall student achievement after having ranked sixth the previous year.  Dr. Graham concluded by reporting that reading achievement lagged a bit behind achievement in math, science and writing and that this might be an area to focus on in the future.  Principals Reed and Jauch listed various methods currently being utilized by the teachers to address this particular area.  The Administrative Team indicated that the District will continue its quest toward improvement.

District Plan for Social/Emotional Learning
Consultant Diane Becker outlined the process for implementing a state mandate regarding a district-wide social/emotional learning program, as learning and behavior are directly linked.  Ms. Becker discussed the program’s mission, strategic goal, framework, and timeline for the process.  The program’s main objective is to bring 21st century learning to the students by aligning the program with the academic curriculum through a skills context, tools context, and life context using real world examples, applications and experiences.  The program does not affect the budget or create any add-ons for the teachers, but is simply imbedded in the daily routine.  The program has already been introduced to the teachers at Avoca West and is scheduled to be taken to the Marie Murphy teaching staff next.

Preschool NAEYC Accreditation
Consultant Diane Becker explained the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) accreditation procedure for the Avoca Community Preschool.  She also discussed the benefits of pursuing accreditation and the goals, standards of excellence and timeline for completing the process.  The preschool staff was currently focusing on the first four standards of excellence, including relationships, curriculum, teaching and assessment.  Several on-site training sessions have been arranged for the staff, and the preschool’s portfolio for accreditation is already being assembled.

Upcoming Board Meeting Dates
Regular Board meetings are open to the public and are held in the Community Room at Marie Murphy School during the school year.  The public is invited to share input during the two visitors’ comments portions of the meeting.  Regular Board meetings normally begin at 6:30 p.m. on the second to the last Thursday of the month.  Committee of the Whole meetings usually take place at 5:30 p.m. on the first Monday of the month in the Marie Murphy School Library.  To confirm the times and locations of these meetings, please contact the superintendent’s secretary at 847-251-3587.  All School Board and Committee of the Whole meetings are videotaped, and the tapes may be checked out by the public through the Marie Murphy School Library (847-251-3617). Upcoming meeting dates include:

> 1/21, 5:30 p.m. – Board Finance Committee
> 1/21, 6:30 p.m. – Board of Education
> 2/1, 5:30 p.m. – Committee of the Whole
> 2/18, 5:30 p.m. – Board Finance Committee
> 2/18, 6:30 p.m. – Board of Education

October-November 2009 Board Briefs

(Summary of October 22 & November 2 & 19, 2009, School Board meetings)

Tax Levy Hearing Date Set
At its October 22 meeting, the Board adopted a resolution scheduling a public hearing on the 2009 tax levy to take place on Thursday, December 17, at 6:15 p.m. in the Community Room at Marie Murphy School. 

K-8 Math Implementation Update
During the October 22 Board meeting, Marie Murphy School Principal Dr. Reed indicated that implementing the new K-8 math program is a deliberate and collaborative two-year process. The summer workshops and beginning-of-the-year training sessions for the teachers have proven to be very helpful to the implementation process. Avoca West Elementary School also held a Math Night to familiarize parents with the new curriculum. Marie Murphy School continues to use a strong conceptual approach, and the newly-acquired Promethean white boards are being used in the math classrooms with considerable success. Implementation plans for the remainder of the year and next summer include additional training for the teaching staff.

Approval of 2010 Summer School Rates
At the October 22 meeting, the Board approved the proposed $130 remedial fee and $85 bus fee for the 2010 Summer School Program. Business Manager Beth Dever provided the rationale for the Science Summer School fee structure and proposed new one-week field trip, which would cost an additional $100 per student.

2010-2011 School Calendar Proposed
Two options for the 2010-2011 school calendar were provided for Board consideration at its November 19 meeting. It was reported that the teachers preferred option two that starts with an Institute Day on Tuesday, August 24, a Contract Day on Wednesday, August 25, and a half-day of student attendance on Thursday, August 26. Winter and spring breaks follow New Trier High School’s calendar in both options. Barring the need to call any emergency days, the last day of student attendance would be Thursday, June 9, 2011, if option two is selected. The 2010-2011 school calendar would be officially adopted at the December 17 Board meeting.

H1N1 Vaccination Program Approved 
At the November 19 Board meeting, the Board approved a Memorandum of Agreement with the Cook County Department of Health (CCDPH) to have all Avoca students vaccinated on December 4 at Avoca West Elementary School. It was reported that both types of the vaccine would be available that day and dispensed according to an individual’s need determined by CCDPH personnel. Although the CCDPH reserved the right to change the date if the vaccine was not available on December 4, the District was advised that a vaccinating session would definitely take place during the first or second week of December.

Upcoming Board Meeting Dates
Regular Board meetings are open to the public and are held in the Community Room at Marie Murphy School during the school year. The public is invited to share input during the two visitors’ comments portions of the meeting. Regular Board meetings normally begin at 6:30 p.m. on the second to the last Thursday of the month. Committee of the Whole meetings usually take place at 5:30 p.m. on the first Monday of the month in the Marie Murphy School Library. To confirm the times and locations of these meetings, please contact the superintendent’s secretary at 847-251-3587. All School Board and Committee of the Whole meetings are videotaped, and the tapes may be checked out by the public through the Marie Murphy School Library (847-251-3617). Upcoming meeting dates include:

> 12/17, 4:00 p.m. – Board Finance Committee
> 12/17, 6:15 p.m. – Tax Levy Public Hearing
> 12/17, 6:30 p.m. – Board of Education
> 1/21, 5:30 p.m. – Board Finance Committee
> 1/21, 6:30 p.m. – Board of Education

September 2009 Board Briefs

(Summary of September 17, 2009, School Board Meeting)

2009-2010 Budget Approved
Avoca School District 37’s 2009-2010 budget, totaling $13,963,803.00, was approved by the Board of Education at its September meeting and is now available to the public by accessing the District’s Web site at http://avoca37.org.

Public Act 096-0434 Re. Web Posting of Itemized Administrative Salary Compensation Report
It was reported that Public Act 096-0434 was recently enacted by the Illinois General Assembly and officially becomes effective on October 1, 2009.  The act requires that each school district in the state post on its Internet Web site an itemized salary compensation report for every employee in the district  who  holds an administrative certificate  and works in that capacity, including the District Superintendent.  The act requires that the current Teamsters’ and teachers’ contracts also be posted, as well.  The approved salary report is submitted to the regional office, which makes copies available to any individual requesting the report. It was reported that teacher salaries will also be required to be posted on the District’s Web site starting next year.

Review of Summer Professional Activities
Superintendent Dr. Porto reported the Summer Professional Activities Program was extremely worthwhile and that much was accomplished by the teachers over the summer that normally would be done while school was in session.  This year’s summer program prepared the teachers to implement the new math curriculum initiative at the start of the school year.  Dr. Porto indicated the program was $1,500 over budget, which was mainly due to the technology team spending additional time imaging 350 new computers delivered to the District over the summer.

Avoca Community Preschool
As an optional program for school districts, the Avoca Community Preschool needs to be fully self-supported.  This includes yearly operating costs and the long-term repayment of initial start-up costs for construction.  The Board had directed the Administrative Team to explore possible options to assure this long-term self-sufficiency.  The Administrative Team presented several options to the Board.  These included expenditure reductions of $37,000 and revenue enhancements of $49,200, for a total savings of $86,200. The 2009-2010 specific budget projected a minimum yearly surplus of $18,660 (if there is no rental revenue from the second preschool room) to a maximum of $39,460 (if the second room is fully rented).  The surplus revenue will go toward repayment of construction costs.  Superintendent Dr. Porto indicated the Administrative Team will continue to monitor the preschool’s financial status and report back to the Board.

Upcoming Board Meeting Dates
Regular Board meetings are open to the public and are held in the Community Room at Marie Murphy School during the school year.  The public is invited to share input during the two visitors’ comments portions of the meeting.  Regular Board meetings normally begin at 6:30 p.m. on the second to the last Thursday of the month.  Committee of the Whole meetings usually take place at 5:30 p.m. on the first Monday of the month in the Marie Murphy School Library.  To confirm the times and locations of these meetings, please contact the superintendent’s secretary at 847-251-3587.  All School Board and Committee of the Whole meetings are videotaped, and the tapes may be checked out by the public through the Marie Murphy School Library (847-251-3617).  Upcoming meeting dates include: 

-10/22, 5:00 p.m. – Board Finance Committee
-10/22, 6:30 p.m. – Board of Education
-11/2, 5:30 p.m. – Committee of the Whole Board
-11/19, 5:30 p.m. – Board Finance Committee
-11/19, 6:30 p.m. – Board of Education

July-August 2009 Board Briefs

(Report of July 23 and August 20, 2009, Board of Education Meetings)

Employment Matters

The Board approved the employment of the following personnel at the July and August Board meetings: Jessica Dray as a kindergarten teacher; Perron Thurston, as a Marie Murphy School inclusion assistant; and Phyllis Levun-Agostino, as an Avoca West Elementary School teacher assistant.  The Board also accepted a notice of intent to retire from Marie Murphy School general/vocal music teacher Jill von Trebra, effective as of the close of the 2013-2014 school year, and approved a 12-week leave of absence request from Avoca West Elementary School intervention specialist Christine Nehring, effective as of February 11, 2010.

 

Preliminary 2009 ISAT Test Results Reported

During the July Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Porto reported on the preliminary 2009 ISAT (Illinois Standard Achievement Test) results provided by the state.  The District only had “meets and exceeds” data to share with the Board at this time.  It was reported that ISAT results were outstanding in all subjects and at all grades.  The strong ISAT results correspond closely with the positive growth reported earlier on the District’s MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) tests. Of the eighteen ISAT tests, all tests scored 93% or above in the “meets or exceeds” category.  A more comprehensive study and analysis will be presented to the Board after scale scores and comparative data are issued in the fall.  Dr. Porto reported that the writing scores demonstrated the greatest improvement, and Avoca scored very well when compared to the other districts in the township.

 

Tentative 2009-2010 Budget Reviewed

At the July Board meeting, Business Manager Beth Dever provided the Board with the tentative 2009-2010 budget, showing comparative amounts for budget and actual activity for fiscal years 2008 through 2010.  The projected surplus is $424,201, and the projected reserve level at the end of the current fiscal year will be approximately 64%, or $8,911,119, including project expenditures.  The budget will be officially approved at the September 17 Board meeting, immediately following a public hearing on the budget scheduled for 6:15 p.m. that evening.

 

District Goal Committees Being Formed

As part of the 2007-2010 strategic plan, three major District goal committees are being formed for the 2009-2010  school  year:  Community  Relations  Committee; Diversity Committee; and Extracurricular Activities Committee.  Each committee will be co-facilitated by an administrator and a School Board member.  During the August Board meeting, the following administrators and School Board members volunteered to be assigned to the committees:

>Community Relations Committee – Co-facilitators include Avoca West Principal Kevin Jauch, and Board member Rosanne Ullman, with Board members William Bazianos and Jeffrey Greengoss also serving as members on this committee;

>Diversity Committee – Co-facilitators include Pupil Services Director Cindy Devin and Board member Henry Kingwill, with Board members Rosanne Ullman and Rick Zelinsky also serving as members on this committee; and

>Extracurricular Activities Committee – Co-facilitators include Marie Murphy Principal Deanna Reed and Board member Sherry Wallingford, with Board member Michael Knippen also serving as a member on this committee.  Superintendent Dr. Porto and Business Manager Beth Dever will also serve as committee members.

Dr. Porto was in the process of recruiting teachers, parents, and non-parent community members to also serve on these committees.  September will be spent organizing the committees, and the first meetings will be held in October.

 

Review of Summer Enrichment Programs

During the August Board meeting, Pupil Services Director Cindy Devin reported some highlights from the joint Summer School Program with Wilmette District #39:  Enrollment was down slightly from last year; enrollment forms and catalogs were sent electronically for the first time; bus fees increased from $75 to $80 and class fees from $100 to $120; and primary classes were held at McKenzie School, and upper elementary and middle school classes were held at Highcrest Middle School.  Ms. Devin indicated that Wilmette District #39 continues to welcome its partnership with District #37.  She also reported that the Marie Murphy School Summer Science Enrichment Camp was very successful and had a 100% enrollment within a matter of days.

 

Enrollment Summary

Superintendent Dr. Porto reported at the August Board meeting that the District’s enrollment patterns have held steady for the last seven years, which concurs with the most recent Demographic Trends and Enrollment Projections study prepared by consulting demographer John Kasarda.  Avoca’s total enrollment as of August 14 was 680 students, not including the Avoca Community Preschool classes housed at Marie Murphy School.

 

Upcoming Board Meeting Dates

Regular Board meetings are open to the public and are held in the Community Room at Marie Murphy School during the school year.  The public is invited to share input during the two visitors’ comments portions of the meeting.  Regular Board meetings normally begin at 6:30 p.m. on the second to the last Thursday of the month.  Committee of the Whole meetings usually take place at 5:30 p.m. on the first Monday of the month in the Marie Murphy School Library.  To confirm the times and locations of these meetings, please contact the superintendent’s secretary at 847-251-3587.  All School Board and Committee of the Whole meetings are videotaped, and the tapes may be checked out by the public through the Marie Murphy School Library (847-251-3617).  Upcoming meeting dates include:

. 9/17, 5:30 p.m. – Board Finance Committee

. 9/17, 6:15 p.m. – Public Hearing on the Budget

. 9/17, 6:30 p.m. – Board of Education

. 10/5, 5:30 p.m. – Committee of the Whole

. 10/22, 5:30 p.m. – Board Finance Committee

. 10/22, 6:30 p.m. – Board of Education

February-March 2009 Board Briefs

(Report of February 19 and March 19, 2009, Board of Education Meetings)


 February Employment Matters
The Board approved the following employment matters at the February 19 Board meeting:  Transfer of 6th grade humanities teacher Carrie Stotz to the Marie Murphy School library/media specialist position for the 2009-2010 school year; retirement notice from Marie Murphy School inclusion assistant Melba (Tweed) Kline at the close of the current school year; employment of Carlos A. Tellez as Marie Murphy School Spanish teacher for the 2009-2010 school year; and a request for a child-rearing leave of absence from third grade teacher Stefanie Rick through the close of the current school year.

March Employment Matters
The Board approved the following employment matters at the March 19 Board meeting:  Resignation of Marie Murphy School creative technology teacher Kristine Toenjes, effective immediately; employment of long-term substitute teachers Barbara Pietroski (grades one through five Spanish) and Laura Barbanente (third grade) through the end of the current school year; requests for child-rearing leaves of absence from third grade teacher Brady Cassell and Avoca West Elementary School reading specialist Ellie Kaiser for the 2009-2010 school year; and a notice of intent to retire from Avoca West Elementary School nurse Shirley Harrigan, effective as of the close of the 2009-2010 school year.

New K-9 Math Curriculum Approved
During the February 19 meeting, Principal Dr. Reed and five members of the Math Adoption Committee were on hand to present various aspects of the proposed new K-5 grade math curriculum.  The presentation covered the following: Math study process; math mission and belief statements; internal textbook analysis; township survey; outcomes overview for grades K-5; examples from Scott Foresman’s “Investigations in Number, Data, and Space” and “enVisionMath” for grades K-5; 5th to 6th grade transition using McDougal Littell series; outcomes overview for grades 6-8; examples from McDougal Littell series and Glencoe McGraw Hill for 8th grade Pre Algebra; transition from 7th to 8th grade; technology components; ISAT preparation; budget overview and summary; and implementation plan for May 2009 through May 2010.  At the March 19 Board meeting, the Board officially approved the new math curriculum proposal and authorized the purchase of the materials and related services for a total amount not to exceed $165,000.

Transfer of Ownership of Lutheran General Children’s Day Care
During the February 19 Board meeting, it was reported that Advocate Lutheran General Hospital was transferring ownership of Lutheran General Children’s Day Care to Kids Hope United; a private, not-for-profit organization.  The transfer was to be completed in May and will affect the children’s day care program at the Avoca Center and the before- and after-school program at Avoca West Elementary School.  Advocate Lutheran General Hospital indicated that Kids Hope United has an excellent reputation and that all substantive features of the two programs will remain the same under the new ownership.  Lutheran General also requested that District #37 honor the current lease agreement until it expires in 2010.  The Board approved this request at the March 19 Board meeting.

Upcoming Board Meeting Dates
Regular Board meetings are open to the public and are held in the Community Room at Marie Murphy School during the school year.  The public is invited to share input during the two visitors’ comments portions of the meeting.  Regular Board meetings normally begin at 6:30 p.m. on the second to the last Thursday of the month.  Committee of the Whole meetings usually take place at 5:30 p.m. on the first Monday of the month in the Marie Murphy School Library.  To confirm the times and locations of these meetings, please contact the superintendent’s secretary at 847-251-3587.  All School Board and Committee of the Whole meetings are videotaped, and the tapes may be checked out by the public through the Marie Murphy School Library (847-251-3617).  Upcoming meeting dates include:
·         4/30, 5:30 p.m. – Board Finance Committee
·         4/30, 6:30 p.m. – Board of Education – Special
·         5/21, 5:30 p.m. – Board Finance Committee
·         5/21, 6:30 p.m. – Board of Education
·         6/1. 5:30 p.m. – Committee of the Whole
·         6/18, 5:30 p.m. – Board Finance Committee
·         6/18, 6:30 p.m. – Board of Education

January-February 2009 Board Briefs

(Report of January 22 and February 2, 2009, Board of Education Meetings)

Employment Matters
The Board approved a one-year, child-rearing leave of absence request from Marie Murphy School seventh grade English teacher Emily A. Gaul for the 2009-2010 school year.

Avoca Video Screening
At the January 22 meeting, the Board viewed a 10-minute video produced in-house that is designed to celebrate the tradition of sustained excellence in Avoca and that will be used during future referendum presentations to the community. The video contains interviews, testimonials, and film clips from children, teachers, parents, former parents, multi-generational Avoca families and community members. A longer, 28-minute version of the video is also being produced in-house that will be streamed on Avoca’s Web site and run periodically on local cable stations between now and April 7, when the public will vote on the referendum.

Update on Progress of District Goal #2
During the January Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Joseph Porto discussed the progress to date on District Goal #2: Review, refine and improve surveys and other measure tools to assess Avoca’s progress toward greatness. The goal is being implemented over a three-year period. As they pertained to a review of the goal, the Board was provided with a list of Greatness Indicators with corresponding measurements, a Distinctive Impact Log, and an Awards and Recognition Log. The Board will continue to receive updates on the progress of the District’s five District goals over the next few months.

New Curriculum Development Model
This particular discussion item relates to District Goal #3: Create a specific curriculum review process corresponding to Avoca’s instructional needs, etc. This item was discussed in detail during the January Board meeting. The Board was provided with a proposed master schedule for the District’s curriculum studies/review and a 30-month timeline of curriculum processes and procedures. Principals Reed and Jauch reviewed each document and answered questions from the Board on the newly-created Curriculum Development Model. It was explained that the new adoption timeline allows the District to order materials earlier than in the past, and the teachers will have training over the summer so they are fully prepared to implement the new curriculum at the start of school in the fall.

2008 ISAT Results
During the Board’s February 2 Committee of the Whole meeting, statistician/consultant Clay Graham gave a very positive PowerPoint presentation on the District’s 2008 ISAT results and recommendations for improvement. The presentation included ranking comparisons between Avoca School District 37 and 18 similar, high-achieving Illinois schools, which were based on achievement test scale scores rather than a percentage of meets and exceeds scores provided by the state. Based on Mr. Graham’s findings, it was reported that District 37 ranked sixth in the State of Illinois in student achievement. Mr. Graham concluded by offering recommendations for further improvement by the District: Look into improving benchmark averages in elementary reading; improve scores in two specific grade levels; and deal with the District’s budget deficit.

Upcoming Board Meeting Dates
Regular Board meetings are open to the public and are held in the Community Room at Marie Murphy School during the school year. The public is invited to share input during the two visitors’ comments portions of the meeting. Regular Board meetings normally begin at 6:30 p.m. on the second to the last Thursday of the month. Committee of the Whole meetings usually take place at 5:30 p.m. on the first Monday of the month in the Marie Murphy School Library. To confirm the times and locations of these meetings, please contact the superintendent’s secretary at 847-251-3587. All School Board and Committee of the Whole meetings are videotaped, and the tapes may be checked out by the public through the Marie Murphy School Library (847-251-3617). Upcoming meeting dates include:

-3/2, 5:30 p.m. – Committee of the Whole
-3/19, 5:30 p.m. – Board Finance Committee
-3/19, 6:30 p.m. – Board of Education
-4/23, 5:30 p.m. – Board Finance Committee
-4/23, 6:30 p.m. – Board of Education

December 2008 Board Briefs

(Report of December 18, 2008, Board of Education Meeting)

2008 Tax Levy Approved
Following a public hearing immediately prior to the regularly scheduled December 18 Board meeting, the Board formally approved an operating tax levy of $9,952,501 for the 2008 levy year.  The proposed levy represents a 7.9% increase over the previous year’s levy.                                                              

2009-2010 District Calendar Approved
The Board officially approved the 2009-2010 District calendar at the December Board meeting.  Highlights include:  First day of student attendance (a half day) is Monday, August 24; the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is a holiday; winter break is December 21, 2009, through January 3, 2010; no student attendance on General Primary Election Day on February 2, 2010; spring break is March 29 through April 4, 2010; no student and staff attendance on Labor Day (September 7), Yom Kippur (September 28), Columbus Day (October 12), Martin Luther King Day (January 18), Presidents’ Day (February 15), and Memorial Day (May 31); and, barring any emergency closings, the last day of student attendance is Friday, June 4, 2010.  The District obtained a waiver/modification of the Veterans’ Day holiday on Wednesday, November 11, making it a student attendance day for the second year in a row.  The intent is to make the holiday more meaningful to students by inviting local veterans to come to our schools for special ceremonies and activities.  The 2009-2010 District calendar is now available for public viewing on the Board of Education’s Web page under Documents at http://avoca37.org/boe/.

Employment Matters
The Board approved the employment of Robert Orsi on a part-time hourly basis for a four-month period immediately following his retirement at the end of December as the Director of Transportation/ Buildings and Grounds.  Mr. Orsi will continue to be responsible for buildings and grounds matters until a Buildings and Grounds Supervisor is hired in the spring.  The Board also approved the employment of Phyllis Tsevis as a long-term, seventh grade substitute math teacher starting February 23 through the end of the school year.

2008-2009 District Goals Reviewed
Superintendent Dr. Joseph Porto provided a brief update on progress toward the successful completion of five official District Goals for 2008-2009, including:  Goal 1) Pass a referendum to balance the budget; Goal 2) Review, refine and improve surveys and other measurement tools that assess Avoca’s progress toward greatness; Goal 3) Create a specific curriculum review process corresponding to Avoca’s instructional needs; Goal 4) Establish a Community Outreach Committee that will research and implement activities that enhance the partnership between the School District and the Avoca community; and Goal 5) Establish a District Diversity Committee that will research and initiate activities that celebrate, enhance and expand the benefits of diversity at Avoca, and promote an understanding and appreciation of a world community.  Dr. Porto reported the action plans for all five goals are currently on schedule. 
 
Upcoming Board Meeting Dates
Regular Board meetings are open to the public and are held in the Community Room at Marie Murphy School during the school year.  The public is invited to share input during the two visitors’ comments portions of the meeting.  Regular Board meetings normally begin at 6:30 p.m. on the second to the last Thursday of the month.  Committee of the Whole meetings usually take place at 5:30 p.m. on the first Monday of the month in the Marie Murphy School Library.  To confirm the times and locations of these meetings, please contact the superintendent’s secretary at 847-251-3587.  All School Board and Committee of the Whole meetings are videotaped, and the tapes may be checked out by the public through the Marie Murphy School Library (847-251-3617).  Upcoming meeting dates include:
·         1/22, 5:30 p.m. – Board Finance Committee
·         1/22, 6:30 p.m. – Board of Education
·         2/2, 5:30 p.m. – Committee of the Whole
·         2/19, 5:30 p.m. – Board Finance Committee
·         2/19, 6:30 p.m. – Board of Education 

October-November 2008 Board Briefs

(Report of October 6, 23, & November 1, 2008, Board Meetings)

 

Tax Levy Hearing Date Set

At its October 23 meeting, the Board adopted a resolution scheduling a public hearing on the 2008 tax levy to take place on Thursday, December 18, at 6:15 p.m. in the Community Room at Marie Murphy School. 

2009 Summer School Fees

The Board approved tuition and bus fees for the 2009 joint summer school program with Wilmette District #39 at its October 23 Board meeting as follows:  $120 –  tuition per remedial class; $190 – tuition for full-time science summer school enrollees; and $80 – bus fee. 

Tax Rate Referendum Resolution Approved

During the October 6 Committee of the Whole meeting, the Board reached a consensus on three main points relating to the proposed tax rate referendum in April 2009:  1) The referendum would be based on maintenance of a 50% reserve level; 2) To maintain the 50% level, the referendum would seek a tax rate increase of 0.167; and 3) The tax rate increase would be applied for one year, and then the tax cap law would again take effect.  A decision on these points was officially approved at the October 23 Board meeting through the adoption of a limiting rate increase referendum resolution. 

Referendum Contingency Plans

Following several meetings on the matter, the Board reached a consensus at its November 3 Committee of the Whole meeting on a list of budget reductions totaling $1,022,675, should the tax rate referendum fail to pass in April 2009.  Parameters for the recommendations were based on the values, cultures and traditions of the District and educational best practice.  A complete list of the proposed budget reductions may be found on the Avoca Web site at www.avoca37.org.   The final consensus of the Board was to accept the budget reduction list recommended by the Administrative Team and to implement the reductions in one year as opposed to phasing them in over a two-year period. 

Referendum Presentations Planned

At the October 23 Board meeting, plans for holding presentations on the referendum were discussed. During the months leading up to the April 2009 referendum, Avoca representatives will be delivering factual presentations to the community in a number of settings (i.e. town hall meetings, parent meetings and neighborhood teas).  Superintendent Dr. Porto reported that a Referendum Committee would form independently and conduct a campaign in support of the referendum. 

Upcoming Board Meeting Dates

Regular Board meetings are open to the public and are held in the Community Room at Marie Murphy School during the school year.  The public is invited to share input during the two visitors’ comments portions of the meeting.  Regular Board meetings normally begin at 6:30 p.m. on the second to the last Thursday of the month.  Committee of the Whole meetings usually take place at 5:30 p.m. on the first Monday of the month in the Marie Murphy School Library.  To confirm the times and locations of these meetings, please contact the superintendent’s secretary at 847-251-3587.  All School Board and Committee of the Whole meetings are videotaped, and the tapes may be checked out by the public through the Marie Murphy School Library (847-251-3617).  Upcoming meeting dates include:-12/1, 5:30 p.m. – Committee of the Whole-12/18, 5:30 p.m. – Board Finance Committee-12/18, 6:15 p.m. – Tax Levy Public Hearing-12/18, 6:30 p.m. – Board of Education-1/12, 5:30 p.m. – Committee of the Whole-1/22, 5:30 p.m. – Board Finance Committee-1/22, 6:30 p.m. – Board of Education