President Engelland stated that the Board met December 15 with the goals of clarifying when the District would return to e-hybrid in-person learning and determining how that decision would be made. On the agenda was a report from the District’s new COVID-19 Metrics Advisory Council, whose recommendations would help guide the Superintendent as he would decide whether school could be in-person or remote amid the continuing pandemic.
President Engelland also addressed the earlier announcement that Superintendent Michael Simeck resigned, effective July 1, 2021 to take a job with Deerfield School District 109 and he thanked Superintendent Simeck for his nine years of service and said that a search process for a new Superintendent would be determined over the coming weeks. Principals and community members would help guide that process under the banner of the District’s Mission.
“I believe,” he said, “that transitions create opportunity. I also believe transitions happen when they do for a reason. This is an opportunity for District 67 to figure out how we can better fulfill our mission.”
Superintendent Simeck told Board members that later in the meeting they would receive an update on the District’s school-level strategic plans, which define initiatives at each school aimed at ensuring that all students have access to a rigorous curriculum and all students grow socially and emotionally and academically.
“I am incredibly proud of the team and the work that they have done and will do,” he said of work on the plan.
Several community members addressed the Board on topics ranging from a desire to return to in-school learning to questions about the upcoming superintendent search to opposition to proposed raises for District employees who also work for District 115.
Mr. Simeck said the District’s adaptive pause would end on January 11, with a return to in-school learning coming a week after students return to lessons after winter break. Key to that decision were the recommendations from the D67 COVID-19 Metrics Advisory Council.
Presenting the Advisory Council recommendations were members Dr. Diane Rener, a teacher representing the Lake Forest Education Association, and Mr. John Zilka, a community resident with children in District schools.
The Council was tasked with reviewing District criteria for moving between remote, hybrid, and in-person learning and with prioritizing metrics to be used by the Superintendent when considering a shift in learning formats. Mr. Zilka clarified that the Council, which was made up of community and District stakeholders, was not a decision-making task force or a reopening advisory board.
The Council shared a draft dashboard that could be posted on the District website to illustrate their recommended COVID-19 metrics such as Lake County incidence rates. They recommended that the dashboard include ways to give the community a greater understanding about the COVID-19 data being used to make decisions, including definitions of terms. They also recommended an increased focus on social and emotional well-being, including adding dashboard information so that people know where to get any needed help. The Council meets with Mr. Simeck next on January 4.
January 4 is also when students return to remote instruction after Winter Break. The District plans to do gateway COVID-19 testing for students and staff January 7 and 8 ahead of hybrid staff and students’ return to school buildings on January 11.
“We want to start and we want to stay in,” Superintendent Simeck said.
School Strategic Plan Report
Principals from each of the District’s four schools presented their building’s strategic plan, which covered a range of topics including social emotional learning. The plans linked back to the District’s Mission and Vision, which Sheridan Principal Susan Milsk said “are still always the guiding light for us.”
Dr. Jeff McHugh, the District’s Director of Teaching and Learning, sought to reassure worried parents as he presented the annual Assessment Update. Despite how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected education, including forcing cancellation of the District’s usual spring assessments, “your kids are going to be OK,” he said, addressing parents. “In fact, they are going to be more than OK because they are in Lake Forest.” Here, he said, the families are supportive and the District has an amazing staff with plentiful resources and support from the administration and the Board.
With no spring assessments data, Dr. McHugh looked instead at how the District assessed students in the fall, what the data said about their skills and knowledge, and what the District was doing based on the existing data.
“Overall, District 67 students are doing well, all things considered,” he said. But the pandemic has had an impact.
“Our students now are not where they would have been a year ago, because it was a different time,” he said. “However, in older grades kids are not as far behind as we thought.” First- and second-grade were hit hardest, with those students not as far along this year as they would have been in years past.
However, teachers have noted positive data coming out of the pandemic, including the emergence among students of a variety of non-academic skills such as increased resiliency, self-advocacy, and mastery of technology.
“The silver lining,” he said, “is the observational data from teachers are telling us that kids are acquiring skills that maybe typically we wouldn’t have seen them doing.”
Meanwhile, more assessments are coming this winter and spring and the District was working on plans for more robust summer school offerings, he said.
Suzanne Sands, committee chair, reported that the committee met November 19 and discussed the Assessment Report that Dr. McHugh presented earlier. They also discussed the evolution of the Personalized Student Portrait (PSP) at Deer Path Middle School. They are working to refine the initiative, which is intended to provide students, parents, and staff with a more holistic view of each child rather than just looking at test scores or grades, Ms. Sands said. The committee would meet next on January 7.
Finance & Operations Committee
Rob Lemke, committee chair, said the committee would next meet on January 21.
Jeff Folker, committee chair, said the Districts 67 and 115 joint policy committees met on December 2 to discuss PRESS Issue 106 and Policy 2.140, which addresses communication to and from the Board. The committee recommended that the Board email link on the website be expanded to include the superintendent’s email address. A notation would advise community members of that change and they would still be welcome to email Board members individually. With no Board members objecting, that change will be made.
Joint Compensation Committee
Jeff Folker, committee chair, said the committee would meet early in January as work continued on Shared Services optimization. Committee members were standing by to meet with their District 115 counterparts.
North Suburban Special Education District (NSSED) Liaison
Suzanne Sands reported on NSSED’s December 9 meeting, saying that NSSED was in an adaptive pause until January 19. She also told the Board that District 67 received national exposure when staff members joined staff from other member districts and NSSED’s Dr. Kurt Schneider at the virtual TASH conference.
Alice LeVert shared highlights from the Illinois Association of School Boards’ virtual summit on November 20 and said District 115 has reached out about collaboration on legislative initiatives.
Spirit of 67 Liaison
Richard Chun reported that the Spirit began an affiliation in November with the Family Action Network (FAN), an organization that curates speaker series. The District and Spirit will jointly promote these events for parents, teachers, and staff members. Mr. Chun also reported that Everett won the Crosstown Challenge, with 80% of families participating.
APT Executive Liaison
Suzanne Sands reported that the APT Executive Board planned to meet virtually in January and was working on the Shine Bright 67 Winter Lights Tour. APT’s 17th annual Help Us Give Suppers Thanksgiving Food Drive provided 520 Thanksgiving meal bags and $1,650 in Jewel gift cards to food pantries in Lake County.
Approved: Approval of D67 COVID-19 Metrics Advisory Council Recommendation
Adopted: Adoption of 2020 Tax Levy
Rejected: Approval of Superintendent 2020-2021 Compensation
Approved: Approval of Shared Service Staff 2020-2021 Compensation
Approved: Approval of Human Resources Report
For Complete Information
Next District 67 Board of Education Meeting
Tuesday January 26, 2021 — 7:00 p.m.