The Elmhurst Unit District 205 administration, along with a team of architects, construction managers, communications experts and bond experts, presented information at the Jan. 27 and Feb. 13 school board meetings on draft concepts that could form the basis of a long-term Master Facility Plan.
These initial ideas are based on community feedback from the two-plus year Focus 205 process (www.focus205.org) and educational research.
Input and feedback has taken multiple forms, including community engagement sessions, focus groups, an interactive ThoughtExchange survey, an architectural Educational Alignment Study, an All-Day Kindergarten Feasibility Study, and a scientific telephone poll.
The district's draft operational plan was presented to the board in July of 2017, but a final plan is still in development until the final facilities pieces can be included. The plan supports the mission of Accelerating Learning for All Students with three interrelated components: Student Achievement, Sustainability and Facilities.
When a final plan is approved, all financial and facilities decisions should be made such that they support the overarching student achievement objectives of balanced assessment and student engagement.
The draft plan was constructed taking into account extensive community input to address aging facilities, safety and security, and future-ready learning environments. The draft concepts are driven by a desire to incorporate the addition of all-day kindergarten into our instructional program, since we are one of the few districts not offering this option. (More information available at www.elmhurst205.org/MasterFacilityPlan.)
The board of education also discussed these draft concepts, including a communications plan for sharing this information with the community, at workshops held Jan. 27 and Feb. 24.
At its Feb. 27 business meeting, the board authorized a second community engagement process focusing exclusively on facilities beginning in April. The first step of this process would be establishing a Community Advisory Team, or CAT.
The CAT will help review the Master Facility Plan outreach efforts and materials. This group will meet about once a month starting at 7 p.m. Monday, March 19, at the District 205 Administration Center, 162 S. York St. The group's work should be finalized by the summer.
CAT will be asked to:
• Ensure messages and materials related to the MFP are clear and easy-to-understand.
• Help anticipate and provide representative community questions and concerns.
• Offer suggestions to make sure the district is using every opportunity to reach stakeholders.
The team will be a diverse representative group of parents, staff and community members. It will assist the administration with crafting clear communications for the community.
It will not be making decisions regarding the draft plan, as all community feedback will carry equal value/weight. The district plans to offer many opportunities for parents, staff and the community to weigh in on the Master Facility Plan.
The CAT is just one part of the engagement process, to help guide the district in communicating this work.
• David Moyer is superintendent of Elmhurst Unit District 205. During the school year, his column appears monthly in Neighbor.