At the June 3 meeting of  the Finance Committee of the District 65 School Board, Kathy Zalewski, Business Manager, presented a draft tentative budget for the 2019-2020 school year. The Committee’s discussion focused on a proposal to add three Assistant Principals for Special Services and Restorative Practices.

Assistant Superintendent Andalib Khelghati said two of the positions would be budget neutral because several smaller classes in schools throughout the District had been consolidated, and the consolidations eliminated the need for two classroom teachers.

Board members, though, had many questions, and requested more details. A June 10 memo prepared by administrators said they were recommending the three new positions to address concerns expressed by school principals, representatives of the District Educators Council (DEC, the teachers union), and by parents at certain forums. They were also addressing the overrepresentation of Black and Lantinx students in special services programs.

The memo said the three new Assistant Principals for Special Services and Restorative Practices “will focus on special needs students, and will advance the restorative practices work in each of the buildings.” The role of these assistant principals will be to:

• Evaluate special education staff within the school building to which they are assigned, and lead the IEP meetings and develop the special education practices within each school building 

• Serve as one of the co-leads for restorative practices in the schools to which they are assigned, and assist the principals in discipline and safety issues

• Serve as an instructional leader of the school 

Mr. Khelghati said the people filling these new positons would spend three or four days in one building where there is currently no assistant principal, and spend one or two days in another school building where there is currently an assigned assistant principal.

Joyce Bartz, Assistant Superintendent for Special Services, said these new positions would fill a need raised by the community about discipline, safety and restorative practices. “Restorative work is big work. It’s a big lift,” said Ms. Bartz. “This kind of work, we think, will be really transformative and helpful in terms of building relationships.”

The District currently has five special education supervisors serving the schools.

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...