Parents, school officials discuss ETHS issues at ‘community conversation’

Manuel Rapada

District 202 Superintendent Eric Witherspoon and other administrators addressed resident concerns about teacher tenure and cellphone thefts Tuesday at the First United Methodist Church, 516 Church St.

About 20 people attended Tuesday night’s meeting, part of a series of “community conversations” organized by the district. D202 community liaison David Futransky said the district needed more input from residents to create a more collaborative model of learning for students.

“Our theory was if we come out and have these discussions, we’ll hear what people are thinking, what they’re hearing,” Futransky said. “We can help people get a better understanding of what we’re doing to help their kids and help their community.”

Keeping high quality teachers and not granting tenure to less effective ones is a priority at ETHS, Witherspoon said.

“The quality of an education begins with the quality of the teacher in the classroom,” he said.

Peter Bavis, assistant principal of teaching and learning, said ETHS offers an induction program to new teachers and provides coaching sessions to interested instructors.

“The worst thing you can have is a teacher entering their 23rd year, and having them enter their 23rd first year,” he said.

Later, some parents at the meeting also raised concerns over cell phone thefts at the school.

Director of Safety Sam Pettineo responded that cell phone theft is common in all high schools,

“It’s not only an Evanston issue,” Petinneo said. “It’s an issue where kids have cell phones and iPods.”

The school has implemented new patrol procedure in locker rooms, he added.

The casual tone of the meeting turned heated when parents expressed concerns that freshman classes do not adequately challenge high-achieving students.

Witherspoon said the current curriculum provides students with a solid foundation before they branch out to pursue specific interests.

“It would be a misnomer to say that we have detracked the high school,” he said.

Communication director Evangeline Lemoine said attendance at Tuesday’s meeting was the highest so far for the “community conversations” series.

The final “community conversation” is scheduled Wednesday at the Beth Emet The Free Synagogue, 1224 Dempster St..

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