District 65, District 202 joint meeting emphasizes new collaboration initiatives


Daily file illustration by Emily Sakai

District 65 and District 202 met to share updates on collaboration initiatives.

Olivia Alexander, Senior Staffer

In their first joint meeting of the 2021-22 academic year, Evanston/Skokie School District 65 and Evanston Township High School/District 202 met Monday to share updates on the districts’ collaboration initiatives. 

Last month, teachers from the District 65 District Educators’ Council demanded more transparent COVID-19 measures from the district. District 65 Superintendent Devon Horton said since then, the district has worked with board members and educators to identify the stressors that continue to affect the community. 

“I’m thankful that we’ve been able to come to a position of support, and (are) finding ways to make sure that our teachers are not stressing,” Horton said. “Not to say that we can remove it all, but we were really conscious to put in time to land in a better place.” 

The Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction for District 65, Stacy Beardsley, and District 202, Pete Bavis, then presented the beginnings of monthly meetings to take place between department leaders from each district. 

Together, they reported updates from the first two meetings of this kind. Bavis said curriculum leaders from each district spent time building relationships with one another and learning about each district’s equity and literacy work. 

“We’ve done collaborative efforts in the past, we’ve done joint reporting in the past,” Bavis said. “What was really missing was this sort of structure where we could have frequent meetings, not just the two of us, but with our teams.” 

On a practical level, Bavis said the districts hope to implement a shared Google Drive to allow students to bring their work and learning with them as they move through the districts. 

Beardsley reminded the boards of the districts’ joint literacy goal set in 2014, ensuring all students are proficient readers and are college and career ready by the time they reach 12th grade. The districts’ aim is to achieve the goal in 12 years, or one cycle of students. 

Other areas of collaboration focus include STEM, social sciences and 21st century skills, according to Beardsley.

District 202 board member Gretchen Livingston said she participated in the joint literacy goal’s creation in 2014. “Despite all best efforts,” she said the districts have not made enough progress since then. 

“We just aren’t where we need to be,” Livingston said. “We need to see some comparison of the data to have an understanding as to where we need to go (and) what are the changes we need to make.” 

While COVID-19 interrupted some of the work, Livingston said the pandemic cannot be the excuse, as the districts first established this goal seven years ago. Rather, she hopes COVID-19 can inspire the boards to move forward and make decisions based on the results of district collaboration. 

Although he did not participate in the literacy goal’s creation, District 65’s Sergio Hernandez said by focusing strongly on literacy, the districts neglected a more holistic approach to student learning. He said he looks forward to seeing the district prioritize STEM proficiency and college readiness resources, particularly for marginalized students. 

“What I’m more interested in is these add-ons here that are really going to give us a holistic picture of how our child develops throughout both of our systems,” Hernandez said. 

Pat Savage-Williams, president of the District 202 board, said District 65 sets the educational, social and emotional foundations for ETHS students. While the districts come together a few times a year, she said their relationship continues to exist outside the joint board meetings. 

“Every level of our district is collaborating with colleagues across districts on a regular basis,” Savage-Williams said. “The collaboration is more formal this evening, but it’s ongoing as well.” 

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Twitter: @oliviagalex

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