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Ire quenched, D65 Board apologizes and moves on

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

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 stations and business-oriented magazines.

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