On June 15 School District 65 administrators presented an outline listing strategies to achieve 37 individual long-term goals contained in the District’s five-year strategic plan that was adopted on March 16.

“Most of [the strategies] represent efforts that are underway already and it’s about direction, it’s about improving the effort, it’s about fine tuning; and for some of them, it’s about doing something completely new,” said Dr. Murphy.

The administrators did not propose any measurable benchmarks or targets for either the strategies or goals, but checked off the year in which they plan to report back to the Board on the “implementation progress” of the long-term goals.

The long-term goals stated in the District’s strategic plan are general in nature. William Attea, facilitator for the District’s Strategic Plan Committee, stressed throughout the year-long planning process that the long-term goals in the strategic plan should be general and provide a direction or focus for the District.

He said, though, that on an annual basis the School Board should pick out several goals contained in the strategic plan to focus on for the coming year, and it should adopt specific measurable targets or benchmarks for the annual goals.

“If you don’t determine what your product is at the end of a goal, then you don’t have a goal,” Mr. Attea said. He suggested the Board devote a full day to developing its annual goals.

With the exception of a third-grade reading goal, the strategic plan does not contain any measurable benchmarks or targets. And, at the Board’s June 15 meeting, the Board did not discuss or adopt any measurable benchmarks or targets for any other goals.

The Board spent about 40 minutes on the administration’s outline, and the focus of the discussion was whether the administration should report on certain long-term goals contained in the strategic plan earlier than the year proposed by the administration.

Many Board members said they wanted the administration to report annually on the third-grade reading goal, the only goal for which a benchmark or target is stated. That goal provides “Ensure, by the end of third grade, that students enrolled in the District or four continuous years are reading at grade level.” Board president Keith Terry said he wanted to “make sure it’s on track.”

Several Board members said they wanted a survey conducted in the coming school year to solicit parent’s views. Board member Katie Bailey said she wanted to be sure the Board had input into the content of the survey.

Different Board members asked for reports on many other long-term goals to be submitted earlier than proposed by the administration: ensuring that students graduating from the District have the necessary skills to be successful in high school and adult life; successfully implement differentiated instruction and enrichment; ensure inclusion of students with a disability; maximize continuity of program placement and services for special needs placements; nurture school-home partnerships that engage parents and guardians; promote health and wellness for students; ensure cultural sensitivity and equity in student discipline; solicit input for continuous improvement.

Dr. Murphy said if the Board wanted reports on all of these goals next year, the administration may need to defer reports on other goals. The Board did not reach a decision on the timeline for reports, but the administration will come back to the Board with a revised timeline, taking into account the Board’s comments. It is expected the Board will continue discussions on the timeline at a subsequent meeting.

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...