The Winnetka Public Schools, October 2021
Regular Board Meeting
Dawn Livingston, President, called the meeting to order and thanked all of the stakeholders who contributed to the development of the District’s Strategic Plan 2021-2025, which will help the District achieve several significant goals over the course of the next four years. Ms. Livingston also recognized that October is National Principals Month and thanked the District principals for their dedication to students and staff.
Trisha Kocanda, Superintendent, thanked teachers and families who participated in conferences. She noted the many ways the PTOs and Winnetka Public Schools Foundation have worked together on restoring connection and belonging in our schools with the return of traditions and family events this fall. Dr. Kocanda also highlighted the dedication of a new Pollinator Garden at Greeley School, an initiative conceived and led by a student.
Dr. Trisha Kocanda and District administrators provided an overview of the District’s Strategic Plan. Nearly 2,500 representatives from the entire Winnetka community were involved in informing the 20 month process (students, staff, parents, and community members) both in-person and virtually. The School Board later approved the 2021-2025 Strategic Plan in its entirety, as well as this year’s annual goals.
Throughout the process, there was keen awareness of the priority to align with the New Trier High School strategic plan as appropriate, as well as recognizing the importance of “pandemic agility.” The Strategic Plan sets ambitious goals and strategies to advance the District’s vision, yet also accounts for the need to be responsive to data and information that may develop as the District continually learns more. There remains a targeted emphasis on Social-Emotional wellness for students, staff, and families. Student performance indicators reset this year to a more typical practice of assessments, rubrics, and observational data collection. This data is reviewed 3 times a year at our schools to allow for dynamic responses to any developing patterns.
Each year, the Superintendent will present the Board with annual goals to advance the ambitious work outlined in the Strategic Plan. The annual approach is best practice and allows for dynamic and adaptive planning.
At its August 17, 2021 meeting, the School Board approved the Return-to-School Guide 2021-2022 and committed to including monthly Board reports. This month’s update focused on the District’s COVID-19 Testing Program, Vaccination status of 12+ individuals (over 90%), booster vaccines for employees, and outdoor tents.
Barry Rodgers, Director of Innovation, Teaching and Learning provided an update on Fine Arts and the curriculum review cycle. The Fine Arts Department members consisting of Drama, Music, and Visual Arts are resuming their curriculum review that was paused in 2020 due to the pandemic. The curriculum review includes alignment to current Illinois State Standards as well the characteristics of the District’s Portrait of a Graduate. The focus of this year’s work is to continue to research best practices and to develop course expectations and materials. The Fine Arts Curriculum Department is scheduled to submit updated curriculum for Board approval in November of 2022.
The District has committed this year’s professional learning offerings for all staff to center on the topic of social emotional well-being, providing consistent learning opportunities for all that illuminate the ways in which one’s social emotional well-being is linked to professional practice. The District has partnered with two specific providers, one targeting professional learning for all staff and one working in consultation with the administrative team to support from a leadership perspective. Similar offerings will be provided for parents through the Winnetka Parents Institute on a monthly basis.
With the return to the regular school schedule for the 2021-2022 school year, Right at School began welcoming students this fall to before and after-school programs. On average, 42 students (across the three schools) attend daily. This attendance is sufficient to meet the Right at School minimum requirements to host an onsite program and, if maintained, will not require the District to subsidize.
Following a 2nd read and with no edits requested, the Board voted to adopt updates to policies presented, as recommended by the Policy Subcommittee, during the Consent Agenda portion of the meeting.
The Consent Agenda and Following Action Items Were Approved:
Strategic Plan 2021-2025
Annual Goals 2021-2022
To view the entire Board Packet from the October 19 Meeting, click here.