Board Does 'Heavy Lifting' on District 36 Goals
Approval of $41 million budget is among issues tackled during session on Winnetka schools.
The continued goal-setting discussion picked up where members left off and ended with a consensus on the six broad goal categories and subgoal projections drafted for the district's schools.
Swift Goals Setting
The last meeting’s lengthy and tense debate focused mostly on the top goals of curriculum, instruction and assessment. A discussion on the No. 2 goals of metrics and reporting was tabled.
But this time around, board members breezed through the remaining goals of communication, human resources, strategic planning and even tackled the overall “board goals” in less than an hour.
Monday’s 5 p.m. special public session was held at the Carleton Washburne Resource Center, where board members were mostly in agreement with definitions and supporting objectives for the broad goals. But the hard work has just begun. When it comes to goals such as strategic planning, there is still a lot of work ahead.
“In terms of heavy lifting for the board, this is going to be one of the big priorities,” said Thomas Hagerman, superintendent of District 36.
The strategic planning goal that seeks “to develop, adopt and initiate a strategic planning process that ensures the long-term success of our high-quality instruction, programs and services” is what Hagerman calls “a vision of the future of the district.”
One of the biggest issues during the last meeting was establishing metrics and nailing down concrete numbers and dates for each goal and its subobjectives. Hagerman addressed the issue by presenting a chart that would be embedded into the 14-page goals document to help the board track the progress each month.
“I love it,” said board member Matt Hulsizer, who personally advocated for clearer action steps, initiation dates, deadlines and estimates at the past meeting.
With only one public comment, the meeting was adjourned until 7:15 p.m. and the regular board session began soon thereafter.
Susan Pingitore, the district's chief financial officer, kicked off the regular session with a presentation on the 2011-2012 budget.
The Highlights included:
- The Education Fund for instruction, health, attendance and other primary operating costs is the largest expenditure in District 36, exceeding 70 percent of the total budget. It was noted that the amount was slightly higher than most school districts. Illinois public schools have budgets comprising nine major funds.
- State funds for special education students are budgeted at $34,000 less than what the state has committed to pay--revenues have been pro-rated in anticipation of the state’s fiscal issues.
- The district's revenue is property tax-driven and is the largest source of funding, aside from some state and federal funding. Based on the local revenue, the state aid formula considers Winnetka to have resources in excess of $14,000 for each student–much higher than the state average of $6,119.
- The budget is about $41 million for the fiscal year, and it was unanimously approved by the board. The state deadline for school districts to have a budget in place is Sept. 30.
The superintendent’s report spotlighted human resources updates.
Maureen Cheever, director of human resources, addressed one of the more stirring issues of the session: Senate Bill 7 (SB7). The law, a major education reform package passed by the General Assembly in May and signed by the governor, deals with the evaluation of staff members and seniority.
Cheever said that key changes to “reductions-in-force”–the layoff process–have to take place immediately.
“I must pull together a joint committee of equal representation from the teachers and from the administration to determine how this reduction-in-force is actually going to be carried out,” said Cheever.
A revised plan must be in place Feb. 1, she said.
Final meeting items included the approval of five action items, including approving the budget, and a discussion of the 2008 Regional Office of Education Compliance Report, a review required of all school districts.
Cheever said she checked the old report to make sure the district had resolved all previous compliance issues and was on track to meet the requirements for the next report.
Monday's meeting was also the last for Susan Pershing, who is retiring as the superintendent's secretary after nine years of performing such duties for the district.
The next regular board meeting is scheduled at the Carleton Washburne Resource Center at 7:15 p.m. Oct. 25*. A special board meeting may be announced to finish addressing the goal-setting project and approve a final draft.
*Oct. 12 Correction: The meeting is Oct. 25, not Oct. 15.