News - DeKalb County

DeKalb District 428 school board postpones vote on staff engagement, climate and culture survey proposal

School officials plan to take up the proposal for consideration at the board meeting scheduled to take place next week.

DeKalb School District 428 Education Center in DeKalb, IL on Thursday, May 13, 2021.

DeKALB – The DeKalb School District 428 leadership this week postponed a vote on a proposal that would’ve allowed school officials to get a better understanding of the district’s efforts to promote positive staff engagement, climate and culture.

During a special session held Tuesday, members of the school board voted, 7-0, to table their discussion until next week’s regular bimonthly meeting.

The district had enlisted Michigan-based human resource consultant HumanEx to provide pricing for its product offerings and services. The organization is proposing to provide special assessments, results, feedback and action planning sessions that would focus on staff engagement, climate and culture for an amount capped at $14,000 annually in accordance with a three-year deal.

School officials also took time to weigh options that would add a diversity, equity and inclusivity (DEI) survey and a student engagement survey with a social emotional learning component as part of the same contract proposed by HumanEx.

Board member Sarah Moses was among the school officials who asked for Tuesday’s vote to be delayed by one week. She said that because of the big rush made by the school board to add this topic to the special meeting agenda, people may have been caught off guard by it.

“We want to make sure that people are feeling very, very comfortable about what we’re doing as a board,” Moses said. “Because that creates climate and culture, that creates trust.”

The proposal came before the school board as one of the approved superintendent goals for the 2022-23 school year.

School officials expressed excitement at the idea of getting new data and how it could benefit the district.

But not everyone on the school board was sold on the district agreeing to a three-year deal.

Board member Jeromy Olson questioned how much money the school district may save if the school board could arrange a one-year deal instead.

Board President Samantha McDavid said she hadn’t asked the organization, nor has it become part of the discussions taking shape with the school district. She said she has a theory about why the negotiations had been centered on a three-year deal.

“They like the three years because it gives them a cycle to show that this is working,” McDavid said.

Olson said he believes it’s best to test the waters in this situation rather than get the district entangled in a long-term commitment.

“I just thought one would be unlike anything we’d ever [seen,] so we’d get to see what they did with something we’d never seen before,” Olson said. “That would be two different data points for us to look at and say, ‘OK, these guys are legit. We want to invest in this.’ That’s why I was hoping for it to be a one-year agreement with an option for two more years.”

McDavid said representatives from HumanEx communicated to her that they are used to seeing around 80% response rates to surveys, which is huge compared to what the school district has garnered in the past.

The proposal will be considered by the school board during its next regular meeting, set for Oct. 4.