The School District 65 “Magnet School Planning Committee” considered possible disciplines, themes and instructional models for the District’s two magnet schools at its third meeting held on Oct. 14.

The Committee consisting of parents, teachers, principals and central office administrators is charged with making recommendations regarding the purpose and the instructional programs of the District’s magnet schools. The District’s long-term strategic plan, approved by the Board on March 16, called for the Committee to be formed to study and make recommendations on these issues.

The goals of the Committee are:

  • Review the historical role of the magnet schools in District 65;
  • Review the current vision, mission and instructional focus of the magnet schools;
  • Complete a literature review on the structure and function of successful magnet schools;
  • Obtain input from stakeholders on the future development of the magnet schools; and
  • Develop a plan and recommendation which includes budget implications and a timeline for implementation.

At the Oct. 14 meeting the Committee broke into small groups; each group selected a possible discipline, theme or instructional program for a magnet school and then gave ideas on how students would be drawn to the school, whether any requirements would be imposed on the students or parents, how the school would provide an impetus for school improvement across the District, how the theme would increase student motivation, what special skills teachers and administrators would need, what professional development would be needed, as well as other factors.

The potential disciplines, themes or instructional programs that the groups considered included math and science, performing arts, global studies/sustainability, multiple intelligence, world languages/world culture, fine arts, and international baccalaureate.

Suzanne Farrand, math and enrichment coordinator for the District, provided the Committee with a list containing numerous other potential disciplines, themes and instructional programs to broaden the Committee’s view of what could be done. The Committee’s facilitator, Cathy Berlinger-Gustafson, said the exercise was to get the Committee to think about “what else we could do.” No decisions were made.

The Committee plans to continue its discussions concerning possible disciplines, themes, and instructional programs at its next meeting. In addition to many additional meetings, the Committee is planning to visit magnet schools in other districts in small groups, review research on successful magnet schools, and obtain public input before deciding on its recommendations.

Larry Gavin

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...