Sept. 18, 2017
New Trier Township High School District 203 Board of Education Meeting—September 18, 2017
Present: Board President Robitaille, Board Vice President Goldstein; Board Members: Albrecht, Dronen, Ducommun, Glucksman, O’Donoghue. Administrators: Superintendent Paul Sally; Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Christopher Johnson; Secretary Superintendent Lou Anne Kelly; Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Peter Tragos; Assistant Superintendent for Student Services Timothy Hayes; Principal (Winnetka) Denise Dubravec; Principal (Northfield) Paul Waechtler (arrived late because of Freshmen Parent Adviser Night)
Significant Topics Discussed:
Construction Report: Majority of Phase 2 completed, turned over for occupancy on time for start of school year. Certain areas still in progress as planned, with most scheduled for completion in October; punch list development ongoing. None of remaining work expected to affect student experience. Estimated total project cost now at $104,980,718, compared to last Board meeting’s estimate of $104,786,293. The Board has been reviewing construction updates monthly and voting on change orders. As getting to end more certainty on costs, but still negotiating change orders so costs not final. Building Dedication (open to public) scheduled for October 15, 2017.
2017/18 Final Budget voted on. Slight increases in revenues tied to CPI. Balanced budget presented again during lowest 4-year growth of CPI (avg. 1.2%/yr) since 1960s. Budget process has evolved significantly with the implementation of Skyward, which comprehensively tracks salaries and benefits for all full-time positions and stipends, and an improved Forecast 5 long-range planning system, combined with a line-by-line review of 4000 revenue and expenditure accounts allowing the administration to compile a budget based on actual expenditures from last year and in-depth discussions with departments. Areas that have historically underspent have reduced budgets. Account balances have been set individually by the budgeting software or based on a review, rather than increased by a set percentage. There are some appearances of larger variances in some expenses but that is generally a result of new budget process rather than any material change to programs or staffing.
2018 Summer Project update. Proposed projects involve Northfield parking lot and tennis court resurfacing, additional tennis courts, Northfield athletic field improvements (new small building to house bathrooms and concessions, new press box and additional stadium seating capacity), and Winnetka office/support renovations. Expected total cost now at $8.5M, compared with $12M at time originally presented with 5-year plan in November 2016. A $1M donation has been offered for the tennis courts, covering most of its cost. Another $534K would be funded through a one-time use of athletic reserves, mostly from camps and tournaments. $7M would be financed through issuance of working cash bonds. The Board wanted more specific information on estimated costs, especially with respect to the office renovations, and put off a vote on authorizing going forward until more specific information received. Even when Board does vote on authorizing going forward with project, the Board will have to vote at various other points before work can start. Even though Board did not vote now on going forward, Mr. Robitaille indicated that if any Board member now thinks that he or she would not vote to go forward on any portion of project, he or she should say so now. LWVW Observer note: Observer did not see written project update that was given to Board members, so numbers in this observer report subject to confirmation.
$1M donation offered from Theodore Eckert Foundation for additional tennis courts in 2018 Summer Project voted on subject to district entering into a mutually agreed upon donation agreement with donor. Legal counsel and Donation Committee had reviewed donation offer, and committee had recommended accepting it. Statement read from committee acknowledging tennis coach Tad Eckert in both his dedication to his work as a tennis coach and his effort in securing this unsolicited donation.
Issues Referred to Other Committees or Organizations:
Board Member questions on Summer 2018 Project to administration.
Board Member Glucksman requested information from administration on health curriculum: how dynamic, how quickly reflects trends, etc.
Other Items of Interest:
New Trier Education Foundation presented check of $100K for Green Roof that was part of completed Phase 2 of construction.
Tresasurer’s report and financial reports for August 2017. Total revenues for 1st two months of fiscal year $44,316,224, 1.63% higher than this time last year. First round of property tax revenue mostly in. State funding approved, should begin in September. Operating expenditures $7,144,423 through August, 9.94% higher than last year’s $6,471,176. Tentative budget for operating expenditures slightly lower than 2016-17 fiscal year. Fund balances for all accounts $149,610,341 as of Aug. 31.
Testing Report. Avg. ACT composite score 27.8 for Class of 2017, identical to Class of 2016 and far exceeding national average. PLAN to ACT growth exceeded expected growth as in past. Mr. Tragos said he wants to look into the cohort who didn’t hit college/career readiness benchmarks and what factors are interfering with their ability to do well. Board members also expressed interest in that, and in why boys perform not nearly as well as girls in English testing (much wider separation than in math scores). Note: LWVW Observer did not have access to written report given to Board.
Public Act 100-0465, the recently enacted state school funding act, discussed. Contains evidence-based funding formula that aims to move all school districts to adequate levels of funding. A funding adequacy target is calculated by the State from 27 elements considered required to adequately educate students. The 27 elements include class size, number of elective teachers, intervention programs, guidance counselors, etc. What D.203 provides is more than adequate, with estimated adequacy level at 195-200%. While D.203 does not expect any increase in state funding that districts who fall short in the adequacy formula will get, D.203 also does not expect any decrease in state funding. But D.203 is in a special category of school districts above 110% adequacy level, which would allow petition under the act by 10% of registered district voters to put a referendum on the ballot to reduce taxes for educational purposes up to 10%. Such a referendum could only be considered in odd years, and only at the consolidated election in April, and is subject to other limitations as well.
Proposed Revision of Board Policy 6-300 (Graduation Requirements): first reading. Document given to Board members not in public documents so LWVW Observer does not know exactly what changes would be. Not voted on at this meeting.
Summer School report. Total enrollment (number of classes taken) for 2017 was 2077, slightly less than 2164 in 2016, while the number of students involved was 1694 (42.7% of all students) vs. 1658 (41.3% of all students) in 2016. Meant to be run at net $0, and close to that in 2017 at net $304. Looking to increase tuition 2% for 2018 to keep up with expenses. Greatest student enrollment was in sports classes (1370 students in 40 sections), followed by science (178 students, 9 sections), business education (109 students, 5 sections), English (102 students, 10 sections), Math (69 students, 5 sections), Social Studies (66 students, 4 sections), travel courses (55 students, 4 sections), Driver’s Ed (49 students, 3 sections), Kinetic Wellness (29 students,1 section), Applied Arts (29 students, 2 sections), and Art (21 students, 1 section) .
Consent Agenda: August bill list, Personnel Report, construction Change Order #25, ISBE Compensation Report, Financial Advisor Contract. Detail given to Board members not in public documents so LWVW Observer does not know details.
No comments made from public at meeting.
All votes taken were unanimously Yes.
Next meeting: October 16, 2017
Observer: Mary Lawlor Meeting Length:3.5 hours