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Downers Grove District 58 board looks to prioritize strategic plan goals

DOWNERS GROVE – The Downers Grove Grade School District 58 Board of Education is expected at its May meeting to approve the strategic plan – a 23-page report that features more than 2,000 comments about the district from a variety of stakeholders.

The questions for board members become: Where do they begin? How do they prioritize the three goals outlined in the report, each featuring numerous objectives?

The report was authored by Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, the firm hired by the district to conduct the strategic plan. It was presented to the board at its April 9 meeting.

“It really comes down to prioritization,” Superintendent Kari Cremascoli said at the board’s April 23 workshop meeting.

The strategic plan’s third goal alone is extensive. It calls on the district to secure its future by developing “a focused and long-term facility improvement plan that ensures safe, modernized and effective learning environments for all students.”

Objectives include improving school safety and security, adding air conditioning and transitioning sixth grade to the district's two middle schools. Continuing to focus on class size, enrollment projections and district facility use also are objectives.

“Some of these goals, these are not things we are going to accomplish tomorrow,” board member Elizabeth Sigale said. “We only have so many people to do so many things.”

When it comes to facilities, the district has limited financial resources as well.

David Bein, assistant superintendent for business, told the board that significant enhancements to the district's schools likely would require a referendum measure. Otherwise, the district will continue its maintenance schedule, which is focused on infrastructure needs, he said.

“We’re not going to be able to accomplish everything in the strategic plan,” said board member John Miller, who added a referendum would be needed to do so.

Miller agreed prioritization should be the district’s focus as it navigates the strategic plan.

“We’re not going to be able to tackle every facilities need on day one,” he said. “There’s a lot of comments about facilities. At some point the board is going to have to say, ‘We’re not going to be able to do everything in the first year.’ "

In addition to facilities, the strategic plan addresses curriculum and instruction, as well as improved communication and collaboration with the community and staff.

“Now we have to sit and figure out can we do them and how would we do them,” Sigale said of the plan's recommendations. “It’s not going to be easy, and it’s not going to be fast either.”

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