The Winnetka Public Schools, January 2022
Strategic Goal Area #2: Integrated Systems of Support Framework for Equity & Inclusion
Kelly Tess, Assistant Superintendent, Professional Learning & Human Resources, and Denise Matthews, Director of Student Services, Equity and Inclusion, provided an update on efforts toward this goal area, particularly focused on the connection between belonging and student achievement. Initiatives include a book study for administrators and the School Board on Belonging Through a Culture of Dignity by Floyd Cobb and John Krownapple. This study is intended to establish a shared understanding of equity and inclusion in order to foster a culture committed to upholding dignity and a sense of belonging for all. The District’s next steps include expanding the book study to school buildings as well as identifying staff leadership teams and parent partners to engage in this work.
Regular Board Meeting
Dawn Livingston, President, began the meeting by clarifying items related to Covid-19 mitigation planning, including mask wearing, and the pending lawsuit. Austin v. Pritzker, was brought by parents across the state against 145 school districts (including D36) and the State challenging the mask mandate and the requirement that schools exclude close contacts from school. The Board is committed to having a public discussion on mitigation measures in District 36 once the ruling is issued. The ruling is expected within a week after which time the Board will host a special meeting to discuss mitigation measures.
Trisha Kocanda, Superintendent, recognized the collective efforts of families and staff to ensure that school remained in person following winter break. She noted that the daily work in the District remains focused on growth, achievement, and social emotional learning and a commitment to keep the community apprised on progress made toward the Strategic Plan. She encouraged Winnetka residents to look for Learners, our annual District magazine, which arrives in mailboxes this week. Dr. Kocanda also thanked the Buildings and Grounds Department for their support in keeping buildings safe and warm during the winter season.
Betsy Allen, a representative from Miller Cooper & Co., Ltd, the District’s auditor provided an overview of the Fiscal Year 2021 audit. The audit was conducted in September 2021, and resulted in no findings. The Board approved the audit as presented.
Denise Matthews, Director of Student Services, Equity and Inclusion, and District literacy and reading facilitators shared an update highlighting progress made toward this Strategic Goal including refining early literacy resources and instruction for K-1 students, intended to build strong foundational skills and improve readiness in reading and writing as they progress to later grades. A timeline was shared to show progress and next steps, including the implementation of curriculum, the administration of assessments, and professional development.
Vaccination rates increased to approximately 70% amongst K-8 students, and a letter advocating for a COVID-19 mitigation exit strategy (as conditions allow) was sent to Gov. Pritzker and Dr. Ezike on December 30, 2021. The School Board previously stated that in January it would discuss a strategy for reducing mitigations in District 36, in accordance with guidance, local context, and feedback from community and staff. However, due to pending litigation with an imminent ruling in the next week or two, the Board is limited in what it can discuss during its scheduled January 25th meeting. The Board will wait until after the ruling to hold the planned discussion.
Highlights of the District’s progress toward its annual goals include early literacy work and an emphasis on greater alignment in grades 5-8. A brief recap of the evening’s Work Session was also provided.
The next phase of the Educational Master Facility Plan (EMFP) advancement timeline is focused on public engagement, prior to the Board making any final decision regarding a potential November 8, 2022, referendum. The 2022 downsized facility and funding proposal will be shared with the community through multiple avenues to maximize understanding and engagement. This includes mailings, informational meetings, a survey opportunity and other outreach to all Winnetka residents.
A final staffing plan recommendation for the 2022-2023 school year will occur at the March Board meeting. While it remains the District’s commitment to provide targeted support to students as we continue to assess the impact of the pandemic on student growth and achievement, there is an equal commitment to assessing curricular and instructional implementation such that FTE is not the sole resource responsible for supporting students.
The Calendar Committee’s first meeting took place in December, to include the requirements set forth by the State when submitting a public school calendar. The Committee has collected feedback from the staff on possible features of the 2022-2023 school year calendar, as well as feedback from parents on their preference for the 2022 Thanksgiving holiday week. The Committee will present the recommended calendar in draft form at the February Board meeting, with anticipated approval at the March Board meeting.
The Board was provided with a review of the 2021 program and a recommendation for approval of fees for the 2022 program. It is anticipated that the District will be able to return to a more normal summer format that allows for choice of programs. The Board approved the fees as recommended.
It was recommended to move forward with pre-referendum design work with Perkins & Will, the District’s architect. This had been discussed at facility and finance subcommittee meetings over the past several months and will result in savings of approximately $3.3 million in expenditures versus post-referendum design. The Board approved this pre-referendum design work.
Bid documents for window treatments to replace aging blinds at Crow Island were shared with the Board. The updated window treatments will allow for additional light and heat filtering in the rooms. These shades will also have been reviewed as part of a color and materials study by the Stewardship Group. The Board approved the purchase and installation of the recommended window treatments.
The Board was presented with an update on the state sponsored Supplemental Savings Plan implemented by the Teacher’s Retirement System. This is required by the state, as they have added plans that are being offered to members of the TRS system. The Board approved these updates as presented.
The Board was given recommended updates to School Board policy as prepared by the Illinois Association of School Boards PRESS subscription service. The Policy Subcommittee reviewed the PRESS recommendations and are presenting those to the full Board for a 1st Read. These recommendations include the following subject matters: Ethics, Training, and Educator Misconduct; Student Attendance, Health, and Safety; Special education; Open Meetings Act; Holidays and Leaves; Student Data Privacy and Rights; Intergovernmental agreements; legal and cross reference updates. The Board will hold a 2nd read of policies at its February 22, 2022, meeting, and adopt those approved during the consent agenda portion of the meeting.
The Consent Agenda and Following Action Items Were Approved:
Adventures in Learning - Summer 2022 Programming and Fee Approval
Crow Island Bid for Window Treatments
457(b) Participation Agreement for the Teacher's Retirement System Supplemental Savings Plan: Adoption and Authorization
Fiscal Year 2021 Auditors’ Report
2022 Renderings and Pre-Referendum Design Work
To view the entire Board Packet from the January 25, 2022 Meeting, click here.