At its first public meeting since last month’s “meltdown,” the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Board of Education met Tuesday night in relative tranquility, with President Keith Terry delivering a brief apology to member Tracy Quattrocki and vowing that it will never happen again.

Referring to the waning moments of the Jan. 24 meeting in which Quattrocki’s request that a discussion of the district’s career and college readiness efforts be placed on the agenda of a future meeting generated a brouhaha during which words were exchanged between her, some other board members, and Superintendent Hardy Murphy, Terry declared, “Ms. Quattrocki was absolutely right and the board’s action was wrong.”

Terry said he called a special executive session of the Board for Feb. 16 to  hash out their differences and to ensure that such an outburst will not reoccur.

In the future, he added, if board members want something to be placed on the board agenda for discussion, they should make that request directly of the board president.

Murphy said his comments were misunderstood and that he did not mean to question any board member’s commitment.

On another matter,  the Board, as well as some parents who addressed the Board, questioned the superintendent’s decision to extend the school year by two days as a result of the heavy early-February blizzard, with the last day of school being a one-hour day on a Monday.

Acknowledging that the decision was not an easy one, he said the one-hour day on the last day of school was a tradition of 25 years or more, whereby when the students leave, the teachers need time “to pack up their room.” Members anticipated that few students would return on a Monday for only an hour of school.

Board member Andrew Pigozzi, reflecting on the anguish caused by the school year extension, said he understands now why superintendents are reluctant to close schools during a big snow.

Most of last night’s meeting was devoted to hearing updates on plans to restructure the two magnet schools, Bessie Rhodes and Martin Luther King Jr. Laboratory School.

Under the proposals, the Rhodes School would be renamed the Rhodes School of Global Studies and the Lab School would be renamed the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Literary and Fine Arts School.

Each magnet school would be focused on what the study teams referred to as “pillars.” In the case of the Rhodes School, those pillars would be citizenship and service, science and technology, cultural and physical geography, and language.

In addition to Spanish, the school would also offer Mandarin Chinese as a foreign language opportunity. It might also incorporate a Model United Nations program. Teachers would incorporate global themes, where possible, into lesson and unit planning.

The King School pillars would be arts-integrated learning; enhanced fine arts learning; performance, publication, and enhanced literacy; and inclusion.  Creative movement, music, drama, and media arts would be incorporated into the curricula.

The changes were being proposed to take effect with the 2011-2012 school year.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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5 Comments

  1. “One-hour last day is a 25-year tradition”

    A tradition that does nothing for education and needs to end.

    1. And yet, get ready for more…

      There is a proposal on the table to "start" the 2011-2012 school year with a shortened day (again, only 1 hour? according to the rules, they can!) on Friday, August 26th.  This shortened day would also count as a "full attendance day."

      Please contact the administration (superintendent@district65.net) and let them know that this proposal does not serve the educational needs of our students.

      As an informal poll, how many parents will not bother to take their children to school on the new last day of school?

  2. All’s not fair at D65

    Why are only a small number of students chosen to attend the magnet schools that have a much lower student/teacher ratio and foreign language requirements?

    Don't ALL D65 students deserve the best education?

    If D202 decides all freshmen who have the requisite reading skills for high school work will have the opportunity to earn Honors credit in freshmen classes then why can't ALL students get the quality education provided for charter school students, including foreign language courses?

    Why do only SOME D65 schools offer TWI and others don't?

    I'd like to see what lawsuits came about after the D202 Board's unanimous and 's controversial vote as well as parents who can't get their students in charter schools for … ya know.

    VOTE, people, vote.

  3. The last week of school

    The last week of school — if not more — in District 65 is worthless.  The entire school year should be used for teaching.

  4. How one hour equals a full day

    Imagine that one day you go to work and after an hour, you leave.  On the way out, you poke your head into your boss's office and announce that although you are only working an hour today, she can just go ahead and bill your clients for the full day.  What would your boss say?  What would your clients say – if they knew?  Apparently – nothing.  We are the clients (actually our kids are the clients), and yet we allow the teachers to do this every year.

    With all of the discussion these last couple of weeks about the unions, it is no wonder that people are supporting Wisconsin's governor Walker.  The unions themselves are responsible for their own demise.  They have turned "middle class" voters against them by ridiculous demands.  The teachers whine that they need more money if a school board asks that the last day of school (and the first) be actual full days.  This is “fuzzy math” as this time has already been paid for as our kids are ‘credited’ with a full day.  It is the whining from the infamous and powerful teacher’s union over demands that in any other profession would be seen as unreasonable (see example in the first paragraph) that has gotten, quite frankly, nauseating.

    Typically, I do not side with republicans, but the unions have put teacher’s benefits (like the example above) ahead of the best interests of our children's education and it is the republicans that are calling them out on it.  Teachers unions have gotten too greedy and taxpayers are finally fed up.  Hopefully, along with changes to pension and health insurance contributions, our kids will finally get the full days of education that we parents have been paying for all along.

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