Getting your Evanston news from Facebook? Try the Evanston RoundTable’s free daily and weekend email newsletters – sign up now!

This week, we celebrated another first day of school. I would like to extend a special welcome to our kindergarten and preschool families who may be enjoying their very first day of school. In addition, welcome to our new families. We are so glad to have you! Our outstanding teachers and staff will support you every step of the way. 

Starting the school year takes a team effort from our teachers and all of the professionals in District 65. I want to thank our unsung heroes – our custodial and maintenance staff who cleaned every nook and cranny to ensure schools were ready to welcome back students and staff. To our principals, assistant principals, secretaries, administrators, and central office staff – from ordering instructional materials, to scheduling, to registering families – a successful start would not be possible without your dedication. I am extremely grateful for our teaching staff who worked their magic, as they always do, to decorate classrooms and hallways to create a colorful and engaging environment for our children. 

I recently saw a beautifully decorated bulletin board that reflects our commitment to the children and families that we serve. It read

When you

Enter this

Loving School

Consider yourself

One of the special

Members of an

Extraordinary Family 

In District 65, we recognize that every child is unique. As educators, we embrace the dreams and possibilities in every child and must live up to our responsibility of helping every child reach their full potential. We have a terrific group of professionals in District 65 who are committed to making a difference in the lives of all kids.  

With the opening of school, we see promise, opportunities, and challenges. We must be willing and ready to embrace them all, together. This year, our team is committed to making significant progress on our strategic plan by focusing on high-quality teaching and learning, racial and educational equity, and the district’s overall financial sustainability. 

Commitment to High-Quality Teaching and Learning

High-quality teaching and learning is at the heart of our work for all children in every school. While nearly 70% of our students perform above standards in math and reading, too many children and too many children of color are not. This year, we will focus on literacy instruction across all content areas and developing literacy skills in our youngest learners. We have developed a professional learning plan to support teachers in the implementation of new literacy and math frameworks to better facilitate student learning and to close opportunity gaps. Teaming with Northwestern University and the EvanSTEM initiative, we also look forward to expanding STEM learning opportunities for students and teachers. 

Commitment to Racial and Educational Equity

Last year, we took a deep dive into the achievement of all students and especially black and Latino students. We understand that opportunity gaps exist within our schools that must be addressed. We remain committed to improving educational outcomes for all children by eliminating racial predictability and inequalities in achievement. This school year, we will conduct “equity walks” in our schools to understand how we might change our practices, policies, and procedures to improve outcomes for all children and especially children of color. In addition, we are working diligently to recruit diverse educators who better reflect our student body. Through the continued implementation of culturally relevant teaching practices, we will ensure high expectations for every child regardless of performance level or background and empower both teachers and students to better understand and celebrate the diverse backgrounds and experiences within the classroom. 

Commitment to Financial Sustainability

In order to achieve our strategic plan goals and to offer educational opportunities for all children to excel, we must ensure the district’s financial stability. Despite spending reductions over many years, we face increasing costs and decreasing revenues resulting in a structural deficit. Revenues are only increasing by 0.8% while expenditures, on average, are increasing by 3.5%.  This structural deficit is something that has existed for many years, yet has not been solved. In the 2017-2018 school year, deficits are projected at $4.5 million and may grow even higher due to uncertainty of state funding. I must be proactive in addressing these constraints in order to maintain financial sustainability in the years to come. I encourage you to read the Guest Essay published in the August 11 RoundTable to learn more about our financial situation.

As a district and community, we will embrace the opportunities before us and address the challenges we face. Take a moment as the school year begins to thank the teachers, support staff, and administrators who work tirelessly for your children. We all look forward to celebrating the many achievements ahead. 

Every Child, Every Day, Whatever it Takes.