Safety improvement plan approved at ETHS board meeting

Paul Thissen

Evanston Township High School’s school board approved a bond issue Monday night to fund roof repairs, asbestos removal and other routine construction projects.

District 202 issued $1.4 million in bonds to fund safety improvements on the school’s facilities at a low interest rate, thanks to a favorable rating from Moody’s Investors Service, a firm which rates the quality of bonds for investors.

“I want to congratulate you on the retention of your very fine Moody’s Investors Service rating,” said Linda Bobert, a representative of Hutchinson, Shockey, Erley & Co., the Chicago firm that sold the bonds. “They were very impressed with the way you’re handling yourself.”

Recently many Illinois schools have been under financial pressure because of tax caps, which limit how much money school districts can collect. But Bobert said Moody’s decided that the district’s long-term financial planning and focus on reducing costs merited the good ranking.

“It is the hard work on the part of the administration in maintaining the financial planning,” Bobert said.

First Bank & Trust of Evanston bought the first three maturities of the bond, demonstrating local support for the system and whetting the interest of other buyers, according to Bobert.

ETHS has been selling bonds of this variety every other year since the early ’90s to prevent drastic spending.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the board commended the work of the ETHS Induction Program, a program to help new teachers adjust to ETHS.

“I know that the work you do helps teachers teach better,” board member Jane Colleton said.

The program came about because of national and local data showing that a large percentage of new teachers leave the profession only a few years after starting to teach.

The program includes an introductory course for teachers the summer before they begin, one-on-one mentoring programs and staff developers in every department.

Since they do not have any say in promotion or dismissal, staff developers can help teachers through problems they might be hesitant to take to department heads.

Consultations between teachers and staff developers are confidential and not recorded to protect teacher privacy.

The program also focuses on emphasizing the qualities that have helped other teachers succeed at ETHS. Induction coordinator Renee DeWald said the most successful teachers will go out of their way to accommodate students’ needs. She also stressed the importance of teachers making an effort to communicate with their colleagues.