Literacy, safety focus of D65, D202 combined board meeting

Annabelle Harris, Assistant News Editor

On October 24th, District 202, ETHS’s district, along with District 65, which includes the elementary and middle schools that go into ETHS, had a combined board meeting. In this meeting they mainly focused on their plans to improve literacy and safety in Evanston schools. 

According to Pat Savage-Williams, president of the D202 board, this meeting was about “[The two districts] ability to work together and collaborate together.” She explains this further, stating that collaboration includes, “Communicating consistently, assisting one another, not necessarily doing the same thing, but understanding where we’re coming from and having enough trust in each other so that if we have questions we can just communicate that and articulate around that. So even though we don’t have to do the same steps it’s really important that we understand and support each other, particularly because we are educating our students in this community so we have a very important role.” 

Joseph Hailpern, a district 65 board member, resident of Evanston, and parent of multiple children in D65 also shared his point of view on the reasons for this meeting, which was to “Reaffirm the relationship and the collaboration, and the collective work we need to do to advance equity and embed it and operationalize not only individually within our own respective systems, but across the city and in collaboration.” He goes on to explain that embedding equity into our systems doesn’t just apply to D65 and D202, but also other institutions in the city and the city as a whole. 

Hailpern also explained that along with these board meetings, they have joint leadership meetings with the city to address the issues that impact the families in our community, and how to provide them with the resources that they need to succeed. 

In light of recent events, such as the lockdown at ETHS, safety has been a huge priority at ETHS. They even hired a consulting firm to conduct a full safety assessment. Taya Kinzie, assistant superintendent and principal at ETHS, explained that along with putting safety measures into place such as students scanning in and out of the building, building trust with students is a very important part of making ETHS safer. “The data shows focusing on relationships is truly the greatest act of prevention, so we are going to continue that focus. That’s one of the reasons we have been even more intentional about beginning our schoolwide effort towards building our restorative practices,” Kinzie explained. If students trust the adults in the building, they will come to them with safety concerns.

D65 also took steps to improve safety at the elementary and middle schools. Several new full time safety positions were added, along with new technology that keeps track of who is in the school buildings. They are also training more staff in crisis prevention/intervention. 

While the districts’ methods for improving safety seem to be going well, several attendees of the meeting admitted that the literacy goals were more of a struggle. District 202 Board President Sergio Hernandez suggested that the literacy goals could be improved by being more understandable and aiming to support marginalized students more. 

Overall, both districts are taking important steps to improve their schools, and will continue to take even more. 

“We still have a lot of work to do, so we can’t be complacent,” said Savage-Williams. He wants “this environment in Evanston where our students transition in a very seamless and successful way”

Dr. Campbell and Dr. Horton are constantly in contact, and even get lunch every two weeks to talk about all the things that they need to talk about.