The prospect of significant collaboration between the two school boards that operate Evanston public schools will be tested tonight over a joint resolution establishing a community legislative committee.
Hailed as an example of virtual consolidation, whereby District 65, which runs the elementary and middle schools, and District 202, which runs Evanston Township High School, act cooperatively as if they were a single district, the two boards have agreed to form a joint legislative committee, but with two versions of the enabling resolution.
The first version, crafted by the superintendents and board presidents of the two districts, was passed unanimously by the District 65 Board at its March 18 meeting. The presumption was that the District 202 Board would pass the identical resolution at its April meeting.
To the apparent surprise of then-President Mark Metz, another of District 202 Board’s members, Gretchen Livingston, at the April 22 meeting, moved to table the adoption of the resolution because of concerns over the makeup of the committee, among other things.
At the first meeting after Livingston was elected president of the District 202 Board, on May 20, she presented a revised version of the resolution, which was passed unanimously by the new board that now had three new members, because of the April 9 election.
On the agenda for tonight’s District 65 Board meeting is the revised version. But District 65 now has a new board president and three new board members, so it is not the same board that passed the resolution in its earlier version.
The original version of the resolution called for a committee made up of two members from each of the two boards, each district’s chief financial officer, a representative from each of the two teachers unions, a representative from the City of Evanston, from Northwestern University, and from Ed-Red, a regional lobbying group for school districts.
It also included a community member from each district. The new resolution drops the Ed-Red member and changes the community representation to “at least one community member.” It does not specify how the community member(s) would be selected.
Also dropped from the original resolution was a stipulation that “districts 65 and 202 shall establish a rotating schedule for the committee’s chairperson, with District 65 chairing the committee and hosting meetings in odd numbered years and District 202 chairing the committee in even numbered years.”
For several years, the two boards had enjoyed representation on a similar Joint Legislative Task Force that had been established under the auspices of the Evanston/Skokie Council of PTAs, but at a joint meeting of the two boards in January, they had agreed to reconstitute the task force as a joint committee of the boards.