Parents, teachers collaborate to identify D65 priorities

Ben Clark

Evanston and Skokie School District 65 Board members, administrators, principals and parents met yesterday with a single goal in mind — communicating better.

The group met to discuss appointing members to the Council of Excellence in Learning — a group of parents, educators and community members — and the group’s goals following its approval by the board on Sept. 13.

The council’s main priority is to provide voices to every group in the school community, said PTA Council President Linda Dameshek. As a group it will represent a cross section of District 65. The council’s first task will be to assess the district’s programs, identify priorities in the schools and make budget recommendations to the board of Education. But they’re not quite there yet.

“This is like the Continental Congress,” said board member Jonathan Baum. “What will convene in November will be like the first Congress.”

During the meeting, the board established Nov. 1 as the deadline for appointments. By that time all members that will serve on the 29-member board — including nine parents, minority students, gifted students and the bilingual and special education committees — must be in place.

After being appointed members will be trained and then meet three times, on Nov. 15, Nov. 29 and Dec. 6, to prioritize district programming. These meetings will be open to the public.

Although the council plans to address various issues affecting District 65 schools, the first issue to come up was budget formulation.

“One of the issues that came up when we went through last year’s budget cycle was that we didn’t have a process,” Baum said.

Baum said the council will help provide a more detailed process during budget proposals, ensuring that every group’s interests are included.

“Every person has considerations that other people may not have,” Dameshek said. The new structure will allow council representatives to receive input from their peers and bring those ideas to the group.

“We prioritized those things that we valued, but it was done differently,” Timber Ridge Magnet School principal Pat Mitchell said, “I don’t think we brought everyone together in the past.”

Dameshek said the new structure will allow concerns to be aired before board meetings and prevent panicky presentations in the future. It will also allow groups to see the big picture in the district, not just what the board is presenting.

Reach Ben Clark at [email protected]

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