Elmhurst District 205 developing long-term plan for schools

 
 
Updated 7/14/2017 7:37 PM

Elmhurst Unit District 205 school board members are reviewing the initial draft of a proposed operational plan that includes student achievement objectives and could lay the groundwork for a future referendum question.

The document -- presented to board members Thursday night -- is the culmination of the first phase of the district's "Focus 205" process that began in September 2015 and included community engagement sessions, focus groups and an online survey. Officials in the coming months will seek additional public input and revise the plan before the board votes on it, possibly in late fall.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Once completed, the plan will serve as a road map to guide professional development and resource allocation decisions. It will be updated annually.

"We want it to be a living and breathing document -- and not something that sits on a shelf," Superintendent David Moyer said.

The plan is meant to support a vision that all District 205 students will be "college, career and life ready" when they graduate from high school.

"The world is changing fast," Moyer said. "Technology is wiping out jobs. Graduates will need to be able to process complex information. They will need to be able to retrain for an ever-changing job market. They will need to collaborate with people from all different cultures."

The three components of the plan are student achievement, sustainability and facilities.

When it comes to student achievement, five instructional priority areas emerged from the Focus 205 process: all-day kindergarten; dual language programs; instructional coaches; intervention and enrichment; and science, technology, engineering and math programming.

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There also are two "student achievement objectives" in the draft plan. They are:

• Ensure student growth drives a balanced assessment system.

• Increase student engagement in all grade levels.

The other components of the plan -- sustainability and facilities -- are intended to support student achievement, officials said.

Sustainability includes organizational goals, resources and staffing.

Meanwhile, the facilities portion of the plan still is being developed.

"A lot of that is going to evolve over the course of the fall based on what the community indicates to us it is willing to support," Moyer said.

In May, the district released preliminary cost estimates for up to $151 million in building projects that could be included in a future referendum question. However, officials stress it will be up to the community to decide this fall if the district should seek a property tax increase to pay for any of the proposals, including one to replace Lincoln Elementary School.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The district is working to obtain schematic designs to get a more accurate picture of what various construction scenarios would cost. It then plans to launch a formal process to get input and feedback from residents and determine what they want.

After Thursday night's presentation, board member Chris Blum said he was pleased the district has a draft operational plan, adding that he's been "asking for this for years."

"I think ultimately for this community to successfully pass a referendum, it would be a referendum on this vision," Blum said. "Facilities are just the necessary investment the community will need to make to achieve what they want."

Plan: Facilities portion, maybe requiring referendum, still being developed

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