In recent months, Evanston/Skokie District 65 has hired an education consultant Ann Cummins Bogan to strengthen partnerships with the District Council of Educators — the union representing teachers in District 65 — and central administration and building superintendents and vice-principals, a move school board members discussed at their meeting on Monday evening.
Cummins Bogan, an Evanston native who still lives in town, said she taught in the classroom for more than 20 years before joining the school district board. Now, her work primarily involves building partnerships with districts across the country to help develop relationships between grassroots educators, their union, and district leaders.
At Monday’s board meeting, she explained how partnerships between educators and district leadership can improve morale, accountability, and shared goals, which can then translate to better student performance. , she said. Cummins Bogan participated in staff training events, conducted needs assessments at selected schools and met with three principals over the summer.
Now his work is shifting to new priorities for this year, like helping develop a central communications plan that ensures all staff, families and other stakeholders are on the same page about what’s happening. in the district and the direction the district’s work is taking.
“What we really want to move towards is that the union and management share responsibility for educational goals, student outcomes, equity work and that commitment to equity,” Cummins Bogan said. “We are working on means of communication to ensure that all stakeholders are informed. … I think there’s a lot of interpretation of how things are going, and if we can find a central way to disseminate as efficiently as possible, we can help people stay on top of efforts and intentions behind them.
Reacting to his presentation and vision for the district, council members said they were optimistic about the future and excited for a fresh start this school year after a chaotic and tense return to class. in 2021. While answering questions from representatives, Cummins Bogan said the access to administrators, teachers and meetings the district has been willing to provide has been “incredible,” and she also added that the patience throughout throughout the process of building this partnership will be essential moving forward.
“I think what I heard, basically, is that we really want to build relationships and create this safe space to collaborate,” said school board president Sergio Hernandez. “We cannot do this work alone. The administration cannot do it without the school board, the school board cannot do it without our educators and staff, our staff cannot do it without our families. So anything we can do to get people together in one room and coordinate efforts…is essential.
Kim elected vice-chair of the board of directors
Earlier this month, the District announced that Board Vice Chair Marquise Weatherspoon had resigned, effective immediately. Weatherspoon first joined the board in June 2021, filling the position vacated by Rebeca Mendoza, and she was elected vice-chair last April, succeeding Biz Lindsay-Ryan.
At Monday night’s meeting, board members unanimously elected Soo La Kim as vice-chairman to replace Weatherspoon. Kim filled a vacancy on the Board of Trustees in April 2020 before being elected to the position in 2021. She is Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs at Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies, and has been a resident of Evanston for over 15 years old.
“I am saddened that Marquise could not be here with us. I think his voice was so important on this board, and I know we miss his presence,” Kim said. “But I am honored by the confidence my board colleagues have in me, and I will do my best to support and be inspired by my predecessors in this role.”
In the meantime, applications to fill the position vacated by Weatherspoon are available online and due before 4 p.m. this Friday, September 2. The board will officially appoint the new member at its next meeting on September 19.
At the start of the new school year, which opened Wednesday, Aug. 24, enrollment in the district is 6,592 students, Superintendent Devon Horton said at the start of Monday’s board meeting. This represents an increase from the 6,393 students enrolled last year, and this fall is also the first time that enrollment has increased between school years since 2016.
Prior to this year, the district experienced a precipitous drop in enrollment, from a high of 7,559 students in 2016-17 to a low of 6,393 students in 2021-22.
Additionally, the district currently has two teaching vacancies and 22 paraprofessional vacancies, Horton said. To recognize the commitment and sacrifices made by district employees, the district is providing a $500 bonus to all returning staff members, including teachers, paraprofessionals, custodians and more, he said. he stated, which will be paid towards the winter holidays in December.
Hernandez also acknowledged two current students in the district who were recently victims of gun violence, including a 13-year-old girl shot in the neck at a backyard party on Fowler Avenue in July and a 5-year-old boy shot in the head. at Rogers Park on Sunday, August 28. The boy, a kindergartener at Willard Elementary School, remains in critical condition at Lurie Children’s Hospital in downtown Chicago.
The board observed a short moment of silence in honor of the students and their families.
“We continue to face violence as a country, and unfortunately some of the victims are so young,” Hernandez said. “We have a kindergartener who is fighting for his life right now.”