Board Meeting Recap March 2023
The March board meeting was not livestreamed due to last minute technical difficulties with the sound system in our boardroom.
2. Public Hearing
Tonight’s public hearing was specific to the final round of lease financing and bonds for our construction projects. This is the fifth part of the project. There were no public comments specific to the public hearing section of the meeting.
3. Patrons' Comments
- Four community members spoke about the new Taft Middle School site and their desire that the building be renamed.
4. Consent Agenda
- Regular business meeting minutes, the personnel agenda, and the monthly voucher checks were all approved.
5. Action Items
- Eisenhower, Administration, Early Learning Center, Col. Wheeler, MacArthur, Crown Point High School Remainder Furniture Award - the furniture award replaces old furniture and adds new furniture to the new areas in each of these buildings. KI (the furniture vendor) is part of our Sourcewell agreement, a national purchasing cooperative the district uses. Dr. Terrill reviewed the process for choosing furniture and equipment for these projects.
- FOB Reader / Door Access Panel Upgrades - The panels that help control our FOB readers are outdated and need replaced for not just our employees but also our first responders who have access to our buildings. The administrative team sees this as a safety issue that needs addressed.
- CPHS Football Stadium Lighting Upgrade – As part of our ongoing projects, the district received a significant number of rebates through Nipsco, and those rebates can be used to upgrade the lighting facilities at the CPHS stadium.
- Timothy Ball / Pre-School Playgrounds – Sourcewell provided the quote for the new playgrounds, which helps provide more options for large bids such as this. It also helps us identify the best responsible bidder for these projects.
- Solon Robinson Elementary School Additions, Renovations and Related Work Project Bid Package – Solon will receive an upgrade and additions similar to the other elementary projects. The bids came in about $800,000 under budget. This is the last major bid package for our elementary schools.
- Jerry Ross Elementary School Additions, Renovations and Related Work Project Bid Package – The work at Jerry Ross will not be as large scale as our other schools because it is one of our newer buildings. They will have classrooms added and minor upgrades.
- Underwriting Agreement for Bond Sale – Approves the underwriting of the upcoming bond sale for the construction projects.
6. Information/Recognition Items
- Superintendent's Discussion Groups – Mr. Vassar: Cedar Lake’s redevelopment group discussed TIF information but not for our township. Mr. Smith: there are two ribbon cutting ceremonies coming up in our community.
- Director of Elementary Education – Thank you to the board for the ongoing professional development provided to our teachers, especially because it helps us provide equitable learning experiences for our students. Through alignment efforts, every school had training with Universal Design for Learning, and our elementary levels have a strong commitment to their district-wide PLCs (professional learning communities). Thank you to Tammy Loosemore for her work on PowerSchool for kindergarten enrollment, which started last week. On April 11, Elementary Math Bowl will be at 5 pm at Col. Wheeler Middle School.
- Director of Secondary Education – Thank you to middle school staff and faculty for their flexibility with the opening of a new Taft. Every year, we have seven schools that become two, and in three years, they work to transition all of those students to one building at the high school. CPHS laude ceremony is this Wednesday at 6 pm – 133 seniors will be at the top of their class, with a minimum of 3.85 GPA. The spring musical Cinderella was a fantastic production. The students put on an amazing show.
- Director of Exceptional Education – Assistant director Kelly Oost and director Paskis have personally contacted about 60 families who will be impacted by the redistricting plan. She explained that IEPs will follow students from building to building and all students will receive the same services. Programs use the same curriculum, trainings, attend the same department check-ins, and support students in the same way. April 5th is paraprofessional appreciation day. Thank you to all of the paraprofessionals who support our students every day.
- Chief Academic Officer – Tomorrow night we will close with a two year process of unifying our education systems as noted in the 2020 audit. We entered into an agreement with LEAD Inclusion. 100 staff members committed to taking six courses, many of them 30-40 additional hours. We have focused on supporting all students, no matter their needs, whether behavioral or academic. Analyzing student growth data to inform assessments and effective teaching was another focus. These 100 staff members are the leaders for change in our district. We tested approximately 600 students in iRead, the state test for reading proficiency. Scores increased slightly from last year but are still slightly lower than our pre-Covid numbers. We continue to focus on strategies to help our students, and students who did not pass the test will have significant intervention opportunities the rest of the year. They retake the test in the summer. Typically, summer retakes push us towards a 98% passing rate.
- Chief Financial Officer – Thanks to the administrative team for their work in the many action items presented this evening. S&P released our ratings on upcoming bond issue and there is no change in our credit rating, which is AA+.
- Director of Communications – Thank you to Jori Dusseau, Sarah Fritz, and Angie Keaveny, as well as their students for being at CPHS very early last week for a live broadcast with CBS Chicago. Their St. Baldrick’s fundraiser raised another $10,000 by the end of the day. We will have a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Taft building on August 4, 2023. More information will be available in early summer.
- Superintendent of Schools – Great work to Mr. Flewelling and the students who put on the Cinderella production. We would like to have another board retreat this year. Dr. Terrill asked the board for their feedback on dates and times. May 9th will be the retreat from 5-9 pm.
7. Other Business of the Board of School Trustees
- Ms. Bazin asked for an update regarding the cyber event earlier this year. Dr. Terrill noted that while we know there was data accessed, we do not have a final report on whether that data included personally identifiable data. That is step two of the investigation, which will begin soon. After this determination, data counsel will review the information. It is possible this will take 2-3 more months for these steps.
- Mr. Vassar gave an updated legislative report. Nothing has been passed as a law yet. He provided a list of current bills to the board.
- Mr. Vassar read information concerning the naming of a school building. He motioned that the board should move forward with the process of renaming Taft Middle School. Mr. Babjak seconded the motion so that discussion could continue. Board members provided their thoughts on the issue. The board voted 2-3 to begin the process to rename Taft (did not pass). As a next step, the board plans to revise the policy on naming buildings at a future board meeting. Once the policy is revised, the board would like to consider a new name for the alternative education building.
8. Board Statements of Appreciation and Recognition
- Mr. Vassar: recognized Dave Coulson for his work behind the scenes to make our campuses safe.
- Ms. Bazin: thank you to fellow board members for cordial discourse. It is inspiring for a group to have differing opinions yet have this level of respect for one another. The high school students who performed in Cinderella were amazing; it is hard to believe they are high school students. Thank you to Dr. Terrill, Skillman, and the building principals who hosted her and Mr. Babjak on tours of the building last week. All of the workers in their trades were respectful and accommodating at each visit. Visitors would never know the construction is happening while visiting classrooms. There was no interruption to the student day, and it was very impressive to see how much work is happening yet everyone was having a normal school day.
- Mr. Babjak: thank you to our community members who spoke this evening regarding Harriet Warner Holton. Touring the construction sites was impressive and the schools were functioning as normal. The buildings are going to be awesome when finished.
- Mr. Smith: Recognized high school student Chris Gloff who won the student journalist of the year through the Indiana High School Press Association. Also recognized the Latin Club students and their recent success at the state competition. Good luck to our robotics teams and speech teams this weekend.
- Mr. Angel: Noted that it is rare when the board is not always on the same page when it comes to votes, but he appreciates the professionalism and the respect the board shows each other in these situations. Thank you to the fellow board members for the work they do.