Regular Meeting 

Dawn Livingston, Board President, welcomed all in attendance. She thanked the school community for their continued efforts, from custodians keeping our buildings safe and clean to teachers for their resolve to keep our students supported. While this past year has been challenging, Ms. Livingston affirmed the desire to move forward with planning for a more typical school year in 2021-2022.

Trisha Kocanda, Superintendent, recognized that the past year has been focused on growth and progress, with progress prioritized over perfection. She shared that August is five months away, affording a great deal of time for guidance to evolve and school to be as normal as possible. 

Additionally, Dr. Kocanda mentioned that the Crow Island Principal search is spearheaded by a national search firm in educational leadership, which is engaging Crow Island staff and families to recruit the next leader for the school.

It was also noted that a Special Board Meeting will be held on April 15 at 6:00 pm to review final plans for Grades 1-6 Modified Full-Day, review Washburne plans to offer more time on campus, and preview transition plans for the Fall 2021 school day.

Kelly Tess, Assistant Superintendent for Professional Learning and Human Resources, presented the Preliminary Staffing Plan for the 2021-2022 School Year, which takes into consideration the lingering impact of the pandemic as the District plans to transition to a more typical school year in the fall. Staffing priorities are reflective of students' needs and reflect a balanced consideration for a projected stable enrollment in the coming year. The staffing models include reductions in areas where staff were added in specific response to the pandemic; however, given internal shifts where openings exist, the need to reduce in force is minimal, and the staffing levels remain relatively stable when compared to the 2020-2021 staffing plan. The plan has a net impact of a reduction of 2.5 FTE certified staff and an addition of non-certified 5.0 FTE. Note that this is due to a reallocation of alternatively placed staff, resulting in an addition of only 0.6 FTE from last year to this year. This preliminary plan reflects a commitment on behalf of the Board to adhere to a target of no more than 3% Cost Per Pupil Growth.  The 2021-2022 Staffing Plan will be voted upon at the April 27, 2021 Board Meeting. 

Brad Goldstein, Chief Financial Officer, presented information on FY22 Student Fees. Because the District has spent less than budgeted on student activities during the pandemic while maximizing the use of available funds, a one-year pause on collecting student activity fees from families was recommended.  All other fees such as clubs, activities and Extended Play will remain consistent.  Transportation services will be addressed in a survey during the 2021-2022 registration process, which will help project ridership for the fall before the District determines a cost structure.  The District is also evaluating Right at School to determine what after school services will be offered, as well as locations for this program. Food services are also being reviewed, and information on those programs will be provided later in the spring. Later in the meeting the Board approved all recommended fees.

Informational Items

Progress was shared toward shifting to a Modified Full Day for grades 1-6 (scheduled for April 19), as well as an update on the transition to an Extended Day schedule at Washburne (which occurred March 15).  These schedules offer further opportunities for socialization, more in-person instruction, and student support services. 95.5% of grade 1-6 students will be learning in-person by April 19.
Schedule information was shared for grades 1-4 as well as grades 5-6, including the option for lunch in-person as well as in-person related arts opportunities. Logistical preparations for grades 1-6 are underway, such as ensuring classroom layouts comply with evolving health guidance and outdoor spaces accommodate technological needs. Schools will complete standardized state required and District-implemented testing this spring. District administrators and educators are prepared to address social and emotional needs that may arise amongst students due to the shift in schedule. 
Dawn Livingston, School Board President, noted that with rapidly evolving public health guidance, community questions have emerged on the necessity of certain mitigations throughout the school day.  As of March 9, school guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health and Illinois State Board of Education includes essential mitigation requirements (not recommendations) for in-person learning. The local School Board nor administration have the authority to override these requirements.

The Strategic Design Team met on March 3 to begin the next phase of strategic planning work. This included a SWOT analysis, review of the District's current Mission, Vision and Values, and feedback on the drafted competencies, characteristics and graphic representation of the Portrait of a Graduate. Focus group meetings were held with parents, students, staff, principals and Board Members to gain feedback on priorities and opportunities identified through the SWOT analysis. This information will inform survey questions that will be administered in April to all District stakeholders. 

Registration for Adventures in Learning begins at 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 25, 2021 for Winnetka residents. If space permits, non-resident registration will open April 15. The program will occur in-person and adhere to the District's student cohort and pod framework.

Since Spring 2019, the Facilities and Finance subcommittee have worked to advance the  Educational Master Facility Plan (EMFP), approved in October 2018, including addressing immediate, critical needs within District buildings (i.e. lead mitigation, ADA compliance, etc.) and implementing the redistricting plan.  The District has been working to scale back the scope of the prioritized plans, while ensuring our excellent educational standards are met within fiscal constraints.  To directly advise the Superintendent, the District has engaged a Citizens Task Force to test and verify facilities priorities and funding options to help the District determine next steps.  

A 1-year extension of the WEA contract (which was set to sunset in June 2021) allows the Board and WEA to focus on spring and fall in-person learning.  The agreement includes the same increases as this year, with teacher salary increases (2021-2022) at a range of 3.0% to 4.5% annually (exclusive of those in the retirement track). These increases are in line with the expiring contract and are market comparable. Associates and entrance monitors will receive an increase of 4.0%, again, in line with the current contract and market comparable.  The overall cost to the District when factoring in all features of the contract extension is estimated at 3.92%.  There is also a 1% pandemic bonus for WEA members. 

The School Board was updated on funds received from North Shore Transit from the CARES Act, in the amount of $12,870.64.  This provides an offset to the $63,935.03 we paid for transportation between March 12, 2020 and the end of the school year to ensure the District had the ability to resume service if the District was able to resume in-person learning. 

At the end of the meeting, the Board approved an extension of the lease with Scottish Soccer for use of the fields between Skokie and Washburne.  The lease covers use of the fields for the fall and spring seasons through 2022, and will have Scottish Soccer maintain responsibility for maintenance of the field.   

The policy subcommittee recommended for 1st read updates to Board policy including a new draft policy that outlines the requirements to comply  with amendments  to the Student Online Personal Protection Act ("SOPPA").  This new law directly impacts how Illinois public schools collect and store student information and takes effect on July 1, 2021.

The Consent Agenda and the following Action Items were approved:

1. Approve the 2021-2022 School Year Calendar
2. Student Fees 2021-2022
3. Winnetka Educators Association (WEA) Contract Extension
4. Scottish Soccer League Lease
5. 1% Pandemic Bonus for non-WEA Employees

The Complete Board Packet for the March 23, 2021 School Board Meeting is here.
Upcoming Regular Meeting Dates
April 27, 2021
May 25, 2021
June 15, 2021

Regular meetings are open to the public and will be held at Carleton Washburne School through June 2021. Regular meetings begin at 7:15 p.m. Work sessions are also open to the public and may be scheduled at the discretion of the Board. Discussion topics and times for work sessions will be posted on the District website 24 hours in advance.
The Winnetka Public Schools community empowers every student to flourish in an innovative, experiential environment. We support and challenge all learners to actively engage in continual growth and achievement to make a meaningful difference in the world.  
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