The meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM. All members were present.
Following the Pledge of Allegiance, Board President Mark Steen asked for a moment of silence in memory of victims of school violence in Parkland, Florida. Mr. Steen assured the community that the district continuously reviews its security procedures. In the wake of the recent school shooting, the board and the administration are working with the Wilmette Police Department to discuss procedures and will keep the public informed. Mr. Steen also said that the district will not be formally participating in any of the school walkout days being planned nationwide. The district is striving to balance the need for student safety with civic duty.
The minutes of the January 22 regular and executive session meetings were approved.
During the first public comment period, Anne Stevens addressed the board regarding the planned national walkout days. She reiterated her written communication to the board that the walkouts are intended to be led by students. She said that she hopes the educators and principals will give students an opportunity to discuss how to respond to the recent school shooting in Florida, stating that even the youngest community members are affected. She said that allowing these voices to rise is a chance to strengthen our community.
Facility Development Committee: Alice Schaff reported. The committee has been reviewing bid documents for the Highcrest renovation. Construction on the secure entrance and office relocation will start in June and be completed over the summer in time for the start of school in Fall 2018. The 4 classroom addition is targeted for completion in December 2018.
School Finance Committee: Frank Panzica reported. The committee has developed an improved reporting format. They also began discussing fund balances and reserves for future planning.
Strategy Committee: Alice Schaff reported on three initiatives.
(1) Instrumental music – they have reviewed results of a survey sent to students and parents about band/orchestra scheduling. The majority of respondents preferred keeping the before-school option vs. scheduling band/orchestra as a related arts class during the school day. Respondents felt that sectionals are very important but did express concern about students missing instructional time in academic classes. The committee will continue looking at options for sectionals to address these concerns.
(2) Kindergarten enrichment (KE) – The committee continues to look at space and operating costs for offering tuition-based before/after school kindergarten enrichment. A survey was sent to parents to assess interest in KE and the proposed tuition rate. 650 parents responded and 70% said they would participate in KE at their home school. 69% would be willing to pay $6,500 tuition. Despite the overall positive response, some respondents commented that the price is too high. The committee will survey the broader community for opinions about the cost of offering free kindergarten as soon as possible, offering tuition based KE converting to full day kindergarten over 5 years and tuition based KE converting to full day kindergarten over 10 years.
(3) Student growth – the committee has been studying assessment of student growth. A report was presented later in the evening by the Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Ms. Lee.
Insurance Advisory Committee: Lisa Schneider-Fabes reported. There are no changes for the plan year June 1 - May 31. The HMO premium will increase slightly and PPO will have slight decrease with no change in high deductible PPO. Open enrollment is in April. Flu shots will again be offered but the committee has decided to drop wellness screenings due to lack of interest. Ms. Schneider-Fabes said the committee is looking at the option of making Insurance Advisory a board liaison vs. committee role.
Board Liaison Reports
CRC - the last CRC meeting was canceled due to weather so there is no report.
Educational Foundation: Jon Cesaretti reported. Trivia night raised $50,000 for Gripp Grants. The Foundation is planning two additional fundraisers - a screening of Princess Bride at Wilmette Theater and a pub crawl. Deadline to apply for next round of Gripp Grants is in March.
Legislative Update: Tracy Kearney reported on the Governor’s budget address. The Governor is proposing that Teachers Retirement System costs shift from the state to local districts by 25% per year over each of the next 4 years. Should this proposal be adopted, the state would save $490 million in first year, but costs to local districts would increase by the same amount. The Governor said the state would provide tools to offset these costs but gave no specifics. Legislators from both parties have concerns about this proposal. The Senate was back in session last week and the House convenes this week. No legislation is expected before the April session.
Dr. Lechner reviewed the subjects of written communication items received including school safety, participation in school walkout days and full day kindergarten. He noted that Kristen Dean, Board President for Youth Connection, informed the district that Youth Connection will be dissolving itself at the end of the current school year.
He reported that results of a survey done in partnership with the village board and library are now available on the district website. He was pleased to report that community members have a very positive view of education in the district, even those without children in the schools.
The summer enrichment program is open for registration until March 9. Some of the most popular classes are filling quickly.
The District 39 Angel Fund provides assistance to families in need of support and is entirely funded by private donations. On March 8th Valley Lodge tavern will be donating 15% of every purchase to the Angel Fund. To participate, access a flyer on the D39 website and show an electronic or printed copy at the restaurant.
Parents and teachers were invited to attend a Township technology expo on April 28 from 8:30 – noon at New Trier’s Winnetka Campus. Three breakout sessions will be offered and more details are on the website.
Two FOIA requests were received. One was for 2017-18 Teacher Salary Schedule for Wilmette Public Schools District 39 and one requested information regarding individuals contacting the district regarding various school climate initiatives.
Dr. Lechner announced that he will retire at the end of his current contract on June 30, 2019. Mr. Steen said how fortunate the District has been to have had Dr. Lechner’s leadership over the last 12 years. Mr. Steen noted that Dr. Lechner’s improvements will continue to benefit children long into the future. Many stakeholders will be involved in the selection of next superintendent. The Board will shortly begin interviewing firms to conduct nationwide search.
Strategic Plan Updates
Personalized Learning - Ms. Lee reported on Personalized Learning, a new strategic initiative. The team is currently meeting twice a month. At this stage they have worked to define personalized learning which differs from differentiation in the role that a learner plays. The next step is for the team to conduct site visits of schools implementing various personalized learning delivery models.
Student Growth - Ms. Lee gave a presentation reporting on the second year of implementation of this strategic initiative. Currently, the district has a multi-tier approach to students with learning and behavior needs called Response to Intervention. They are working to create a similar model for all students that addresses the intersection of achievement and growth which will be called Response to Growth Intervention. They will use student, school and district data to promote growth for all learners. MAP testing will provide quantitative data. Qualitative learner profile data will also be considered including personal traits, academic indicators, learning skills and non-cognitive factors. Teachers will be able to determine instructional groupings based on student goals including in-class differentiation, small group instruction, and additional 1:1 support. A guidance document will be ready in June for Fall 2018 implementation. Board members commented that they were excited to see the initiative launch and thanked Ms. Lee and her team for their work. In response to a question, Ms. Lee explained that teachers will have three MAP data points to look at this spring and results will carry over into the fall. Mr. Steen commented that this is one tool for measuring growth but that we also need to reinforce the mindset that every student should be growing at appropriate level
Summer 2018 Construction Project Bids - there are currently 36 bidders on the HMS secure entrance and four-classroom addition. The secure front entrance and office area to be completed before school starts.
Board Policy - the board reviewed the Second and Final Reading of Revised Board of Education Policies 6:150, 6:160, 6:170, 6:180, 6:190, 6:200, 6:210 and 7:180 Mr. Steen asked that policy 6:190 be pulled from the consent agenda for a third read.
Erin Stone responded to Dr. Lechner’s retirement announcement, thanking him for her family’s experience.
The Consent Agenda was approved including Second and Final Reading of Revised Board of Education Policies 6:150, 6:160, 6:170, 6:180, 6:200, 6:210 and 7:180
The board approved an additional reading of Revised Board of Education Policy 6:190
There was no old business, new business or good and welfare.
The meeting was Adjourned to Executive Session.
Respectfully submitted, Anne Sullivan