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NOTE: Video footage of all Board of Education regular meetings are posted on 205TV within 48 hours. Audio is posted within 24 hours at (please click on appropriate meeting date).

...from the May 23, 2017 Board of Education Meeting­


The Board voted unanimously to approve the employment of Dr. Christina Podraza as the new assistant principal at Hawthorne and Lincoln elementary schools, effective August 7, 2017 with a salary of $91,573. (See related news item on the District 205 homepage.) She replaces Assistant Principal Tim Riordan, who was recently confirmed as the new principal of Hawthorne.

Dr. Podraza comes to Elmhurst from Naperville District 203, where she has served as the Learning Support Coach for Mill Street Elementary School since 2012. There she played an integral role in adoption and implementation of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). She served on the School Improvement Team and was a member of the District 203 Service Delivery Design Committee and the Science Curriculum Committee.

Prior to her tenure in District 203, she was a fifth grade teacher at Schiesher Elementary School in Lisle for four years. There she developed multiple assessments aligned to Common Core, designed authentic, interactive programs which incorporated technology to motivate student learning. She used both qualitative and quantitative data to make decisions regarding curricular planning.

Dr. Podraza was also a classroom teacher in Bensenville District 2, in East Aurora District 131 and served as a long-term sub and reading improvement assistant at Armstrong School in Hoffman Estates.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Monmouth College (1999), her master’s in Elementary Education from DePaul University (2003) and her doctorate in Educational Leadership & Organizational Change from Roosevelt University (2014).

“Christina, welcome! You have big shoes to fill. We can’t wait for you to start,” said Mr. Collins.


With all members present, the Board voted 7-0 to approve the following items*:

  • Personnel Report
  • Financial Reports
  • Additional Student Late Arrival Days at D205 elementary and middle schools

John McDonough removed the third item in order to discuss the process. “Real important work is happening on these days and our staff is asking for this. It’s not something we take lightly,” he said.

“Currently, York HS has Student Late Arrivals almost weekly; the EC-8 schools have a late arrival only once a month. That is not enough time for School Improvement Plan development and work on improving our assessments,” said Dr. Moyer. “We’re finding it very difficult to find time for those teachers to collaborate and do the work that we’re asking them to do.

“Professional Development is done within the school day. The work we are trying to do with assessment is not moving along as quickly as we would like. Two years ago, we took a lot of those late arrival times for assessment work and that compromised the ability for schools to implement their school improvement plans. This year, we reallocated that time to the buildings, so these three added days would be dedicated solely to work on assessment, with the other days remaining as school improvement work days. That’s when our Professional Learning Community grade-level teams and, often times, multi-district teams get together to focus on student growth and our instructional goals,” he explained.

“Assessment really drives instruction,” said Dr. Henderson-Baum. It’s an important part of day-to-day instruction. Our School Improvement Plans need to be a fluid, living and transparent process.”

Implementing Student Late Arrival days monthly at the EC-8 levels has been beneficial in a number of ways: It provides the only block of time longer than 30 minutes the month for teachers to engage in professional learning, either as an entire staff or in differentiated groups. Some of the work that has taken place during this year’s Student Late Arrivals:

  • Work on student growth assessments
  • Professional Learning to support teachers implementing the workshop model in reading
  • Collaboration among content area departments across all three middle schools
  • Refinement of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) at the middle schools

In order to more effectively support our teachers with curriculum implementation, assessment creation with data analysis, and the changes associated with the Middle School Task Force, the Administrative Cabinet requested the addition of three Student Late Arrival days for the 2017-18 school year. This work will focus on the following:

  • The monitoring and reflection on a more rigorous School Improvement process that will be implemented at all schools in 2016-17
  • Additional opportunities for professional learning as teachers implement Eureka math K-5 and continue to refine the implementation of the workshop model in reading and the use of Lucy Calkins resources for writing
  • The creation of formative assessments with the opportunity for guided data analysis and improvement of instructional practices
  • Ongoing professional learning for the changes associated with the Middle School Task Force
  • Continued implementation of PLCs, particularly at the EC-5 level, where common time for collaboration during the school day is limited

The additional Student Late Arrival days will be added to next school year’s calendar in October, February and April. Adding the dates now provides the necessary lead time for parents to be notified and make arrangements for childcare.


With all members present, the Board voted 7-0 to approve the following items, voting on each item separately:

  • Resolution Ascertaining Prevailing Wages
  • Resolution to Transfer Money from the Education and Operations and Maintenance Funds to the Debt Service Fund
  • Architect for Feasibility Analysis
  • Additional .6 FTE at Middle School level – primarily to staff mathematics
  • Thiems Instructional Grants – funded by the District 205 Foundation (see full details here)
  • Staff Salaries for 2017-2018 (non-union)
  • Donation (Field School) – Field PTA donated $9,000 toward playground equipment

Chris Whelton explained that technology leases and debt certificates on the D205 Administrative Center and the York Stadium require that money be moved out of O & M into debt services fund.

Dr. Moyer explained the feasibility study (not more than $50,000), this is for the first portion of the work and the District would negotiate subsequent phases, depending on what the community decides. Should Wight win the contract for the yet-to-be proposed work, 50% of the charges would be credited back to the District.

The Superintendent expressed appreciation to the Foundation for everything they do to support D205 initiatives. He requested, and the Board of Education approved, funding for 25 Thiems Grants in the amount of $53,827. Every K-12 school will benefit from at least one grant. The dollar amounts and percentages of grants recommended for funding in each of the following areas are:


STEM: $33,646 (63%)

     Science - $5,517

     Technology - $9,105

     Math - $2,068

     Maker Spaces - $16,956


Literacy:  $2,312 (4%)

Developmental Physical Education: $10,142 (19%)

Future Ready Classroom Enhancements: $7,727 (14%)


Karen Stuefen said “There are many different groups we want to thank. This is a wonderful thing; this is one of the largest distributions. We also want to thank our teachers for taking the time to bring forth these exciting and innovation opportunities. Thanks to the community for supporting the Foundation.”

Mr. McDonough noted that “This is something Dr. Moyer spoke about at the York graduation on Sunday; the level of philanthropy shown in this community is really on display here.”

He also thanked the Field School PTA, saying “this is exactly what we’ve been talking about over and over, the spirit of giving is very strong and part of what makes this community so great.”


Freedom of Information Act requests

There were two Freedom of Information Act requests filed:

  • One requesting information regarding work to be done in the District, which was granted
  • One requesting information regarding a specific RFP, which was granted

Principal Professional Development Update

Dr. Moyer explained that the administrative team broke from its normal routine on April 20 with a day-long activity devoted to the collective study of the school improvement planning process and revision of protocols for next year.

“The District attempted to make improvements this year, but it was determined that should continue to be a focal point, particularly in the area of utilizing data more effectively. Dr. Henderson-Baum facilitated this workshop, which was attended by the new principals. More details will be part of the Student Achievement Objectives presentation at the June Board meeting,” he said.

On May 11, Arianna Leonard, Nikki Tammaru, Kathleen Tomei, Leslie Weber and Deb Lee facilitated study of Chapter Five of the Michael Fullan and Joanne Quinn book Coherence entitled “Securing Accountability.” This focused primarily on the difference between internal and external accountability. Dave Beedy and Cathy Baker then led the team through study of the P21 Framework with a focus on critical thinking.

On May 18, Erin DeLuga, Gina Pogue-Reeder, Melissa DeLaRosa, Tim Riordan, Rob Wagner and Jacquie Discipio facilitated a learning activity based on Chapter Six of Coherence entitled “Leading for Coherence.” This included a self-reflective activity on the seven competencies for Whole System Improvement and work on identifying and cultivating leaders at the building level. Mr. Beedy and Ms. Baker facilitated Part II of the session on critical thinking.

At the May 23 Board of Education meeting, Dr. Moyer said, “In her final gift to the District before she retires, at our recent Leadership Team meeting, Cathy presented a great graphic that superimposed the Rigor and Relevance Framework, as it’s related to critical thinking, with the SAMR model for technology integration in a rubric we can use in our classrooms to see how technology supports what we’re trying to do. It was a nice way for us to conclude our work this year.”

The SAMR with Rigor & Relevance Mashup Matrix combines the work of Dr. Ruben Puentedura (SAMR) & Dr. Linda Lucey (ICLE Rigor & Relevance Framework).

Next year’s work will focus on building a culture of innovation and will utilize as primary resources Daniel Pink’s book Drive and Lead and Disrupt by Charles O’Reilly and Michael Tushman.

Middle School Programming Update

Dr. Moyer reported that teams from each middle school will attend the Institute for Middle Education leadership conference this summer. “We have begun work on building our acceleration block; people have begun the curriculum work; and we have shared schedules with teachers,” he said.

Dr. Henderson-Baum stated that the Acceleration Committee (comprised of about 30) is addressing both interventions and enrichments. Current 6th and 7th graders were asked about enrichment interests. “There were some very strong favorites – college and career exploration, critical thinking activities - such as the lockbox challenge and strategy games. The Committee has developed six starter units for teachers who need a little extra help with ideas. There are teachers who have some great ideas of their own. A Google site has been developed for the sharing of enrichment units between buildings. Enrichment will last 3 weeks at a time – good opportunity for self-directed learning and for students to develop independence and take ownership of their own learning. Acceleration time will begin September 5.

Students in need of intervention will meet for as long as it takes to meet the exit criteria. They will also be given enrichment opportunities.

Information about the middle school changes will be communicated to parents via summer e-messages and at Open House/Curriculum nights in August.

Construction Manager Update

Chris Whelton, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations, reported that an RFP for a construction manager was released on May 12, which is due to the District on May 30 and will be awarded by the Board of Education at its June 20 meeting.

At the May 9 meeting, the Board consensus was to move forward with the District’s current construction manager. However, the Board also made it very clear that the administration needed to demonstrate to the community not only the quality of the company chosen, but also the competitive pricing.

There was a required pre-bid meeting which 14 companies attended on May 18, during which Frank Schuh gave a detailed overview. All questions are being answered to all companies.

“As I considered the proposal by McHugh, I was confident that their experience and quality could easily be demonstrated to the community. However, the compensation structure for construction manager contracts is very complex. Based on survey data from other local districts, I wanted to be able to verify with 100% certainty that the proposal met the competitive pricing component. In order to alleviate any questions about the pricing component, and meet the expectation of full transparency, the administration decided to do an RFP for Cost Estimating and Construction Management Services. We immediately developed a Request for Proposal and placed the advertisement in the Friday, May 12th edition of the Elmhurst Suburban Life,” said Mr. Whelton.

“The biggest concern was to get the architectural work started. We can still facilitate the working relationship between the architect and the Construction Manager,” said Dr. Moyer.


Dr. Margaret Harrell revisited the topic of how the Board structures its meetings. She asked if the Board would like to discuss tonight or save this discussion for a Board Retreat this summer. President Shannon Ebner said she would poll the Board to determine a date.


June 20 - Board of Education Meeting – 7:30 PM – District 205 Center
July 18 - Board of Education Meeting – 7:30 PM – District 205 Center