What started out as the formation of a three-year strategic plan for the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 morphed into a five-year plan Monday night and was enthusiastically and unanimously approved by the board amid a celebration of song and drama.
The evening started out on a somber note, as Peter Godard, the district’s chief officer of research, accountability, and data, explained the plan’s “outcome measures” by which the staff and board can determine how well the plan is working.
His recommendations were quickly approved before a youngster came forward from the audience, carrying a microphone, and announced: “Thanks to my teachers, principals, parents, classmates, and members of our community for sharing their voices and coming together to develop a plan that will continue to improve our schools, making them an even better place for us to learn.”
Then one by one, other students got up from their seats, seemingly at random but actually carefully rehearsed, and proceeded to mention how pleased they were that their educational experience will be enhanced by implementation of the plan.
Before you knew it, 10 students had come forward to make speeches on behalf of the plan.
Then faculty member Matthew Hunter, who heads the music department at the Martin Luther King Jr. Literary & Fine Arts School and the Chute Middle School, led the group in singing his composition, “Whatever It Takes,” that is part of the theme of the strategic plan, which is “Every child, every day, whatever it takes.”
The board then approved the plan and recessed for a reception to celebrate the event. By 8:15 p.m., the evening was over.
Superintendent Paul Goren told Evanston Now that it was the board’s decision to extend the three-year plan to five years, which involved a certain amount of last-minute rewriting without eroding the basic elements of the plan. Even after the vote was taken Monday evening, the draft that was accessible on the district’s website still was headed “A Three-Year Strategic Plan for Evanston/Skokie School District 65.”
There were other changes, as well. For example, no longer did the first strategy in the section on Family & Community Engagement begin with “Hire or identify a senior administrator solely responsible for family and community engagement.”
The final version, including six appendices, was available at the meeting in printed form, encompassing 53 pages, compared with the draft on the website that was 44 pages.
Top: Music faculty member Hunter leads a group of students in the debut performance of “Whatever It Takes.”