Strategic Planning

Board Highlights are timely recaps of School Board meetings. They are emailed to staff, parents, and interested community members before the official minutes are approved and posted. 


Links to pertinent memos and presentations from the Board packet are highlighted in green. Board packets are posted the day before regularly scheduled Board meetings.


Meeting podcasts, packets, and Board information can be accessed using the links on the left. 

Greg Kurr Appointed Chief Financial Officer

The School Board has unanimously selected Gregory Kurr to be the next Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer of The Winnetka Public Schools. He will begin in the position on July 1, 2015, when current CFO, Susan Pingitore, retires. The two will work together to ensure a seamless transition.

Kurr was the Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Facilities for North Shore School District 112 in Highland Park/Highwood and Business Services Director of Mount Prospect School District 57, where he also served on the School Board. He is a CPA with extensive private sector experience who will bring decades of leadership, finance, and accounting experience to District 36.

CFO, Dr. Susan Pingitore, presented the amended 2014-2015 Budget, noting that it reflects salary and benefit changes resulting from the WEA contract settlement, minor adjustments reflecting carryover money for special education services, and a reduction in spending in the Capital Improvements Fund. The budget increased 3.16%, from $40,782,593 to $42,069,567. The amended budget was approved later in the evening.

Regular Meeting

Board President, Ms. Kendra Wallace, began by noting that the first portion of the PARCC assessment is almost complete. The process went smoothly thanks to the efforts of the staff and students who were also able to engage in many of their typical activities during the assessment month.

Superintendent, Ms. Trisha Kocanda, shared some of those notable teaching and learning moments.  Greeley School held their first family STEM Night; students and their parents participated in activities that demonstrated the connections between Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Second grade students at Hubbard Woods School built an All Star Village while Crow Island School students created a Doughnut Museum. Fifth and sixth grade students at The Skokie School had their third Choose Kind Assembly, and the Glencoe and Winnetka Symphonic Bands performed together in of honor Music In Our Schools Month.

Ms. Kocanda congratulated Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, Alison Hawley, on earning her Doctorate degree. She also noted that The Winnetka Chamber of Commerce is holding their annual recognition lunch on April 8. Four retiring District educators--each of whom has served in Winnetka for 25 years or more--will be honored. They are Betsy Gmitro, Sheila Medow, Fay Wasserman, and Alla Borodyansky.

She concluded her comments with an Entry Plan Update.  Superintendent Kocanda is conducting follow-up meetings with stakeholders to share the findings presented in her mid-year report, and to solicit additional feedback for a shared vision and refinements to the Strategic Plan.  


Teacher on Special Assignment, Ms. Betty Weir, and Kinetic Wellness teachers Mr. Victor Cooper and Ms. Kate Wilkenson, provided the update. Kinetic Wellness is in the second year of the six-year curriculum review cycle. Last year the committee reviewed the current curriculum, wrote mission and belief statements, and drafted overarching essential questions and understandings. This year's work included reviewing the newly released national and ISBE standards, organizing those standards into units, and developing KUDs (what students are expected to Know, Understand, and Do for each unit at every grade level). Next steps include identifying professional development opportunities, selecting materials, and creating new units for three strands--health and wellness; additional team sports; and music and movement. The Board will be asked to approved the revised Kinetic Wellness Curriculum at its December 2015 meeting. 

Director of Human Resources, Dr. Maureen Hager, began by noting that staffing decisions must be aligned with student needs and enrollment. Logistical considerations, including the number of teams at the middle schools and travel between buildings when positions are split, are also a factor. Recommendations for next year were made based on what is currently known.  They will be monitored and may be adjusted as enrollment is finalized, IEPs are completed, and the number of English Language Learners (ELL) is determined. ELL students require specialized instruction when they enter the District. The District proposes an overall decrease in certified staff of -0.88 FTE and decrease in classified and support staff of -6.25 FTE, for a Total Personnel Adjustment of -7.13 FTE. (-2.15%). 
This mirrors the projected enrollment decline of 2.6% and includes the reinstatement of full-time assistant principals at the two middle schools to address student needs. This is currently a shared position between The Skokie and Carleton Washburne Schools. 


Informational Memos

Due to inclement weather this winter, the District closed schools on Wednesday, January 7, 2015, and on Monday, February 2, 2015. The last day of student attendance for the 2014-15 school year will be Thursday, June 4 (a District Early Release day). Dismissal for The Skokie and Carleton Washburne Schools will occur at 2:30 p.m.; the elementary schools will dismiss at 2:45 p.m. Per the contract approved last fall, two additional days of professional development for staff will follow.


2. PARCC and STAR Assessment Update

PARCC testing will be completed this week. Testing went smoothly thanks to the coordinated efforts of all District staff members. The District will be reestablishing the spring STAR window for grades 3- 8. It is unclear when PARCC data will be made available to the District and what information will be included in the reports. STAR offers the only other nationally normed data point the District has to help monitor growth and achievement in math and reading. Fall to spring data will reflect a full year of student growth.


The ERB data presented last month showed improved scores for students at the 25th percentile in all subject areas. Students at the 50th percentile showed improved scores in verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and mathematics, and level reading comprehension scores. Reading comprehension results for students at the 75th percentile have been trending downward for three years. Further analysis revealed that one third (17) of the students in the top quartile had a relative weakness in making inferences. Teachers have already revised this year's lesson plans to include additional reading instruction; spring STAR results will be used to measure student growth for the top quartile. 

Instructors from Columbia University's Teachers College will conduct a five day institute on best practices reading instruction for K-8 teachers of English Language Arts (ELA), social studies, and science teachers next August. Minutes dedicated to ELA ranges from 53-84 minutes daily within the Township; Winnetka is at the low end of the range. Incorporating reading instruction into other curricular areas may be one of the strategies used to address this issue. A high-readiness learners framework will be presented at the May 19, 2015, Board meeting.

Hardware, software licences, and technology infrastructure needs are presently reviewed on an as-needed basis. A tech refresh cycle that includes these key components will ensure that we are effectively utilizing existing resources while planning for future needs. It will also allow the District to take advantage of leasing options and create a predictable budget to support these needs. A lease/purchase agreement was recommended and subsequently approved.


District 36 is one of three Township districts that does not currently charge technology fees. Families cover intentional damage to devices and the District assumes responsibility for all other repair and replacement costs. A recommendation to begin assessing a $25 optional insurance fee to offset the costs of unintentional damage and loss/theft was proposed. If the fee is approved at the April 28, 2015, Board meeting, Winnetka will have the lowest fee (based on current information and excluding the two districts not charging fees). A sliding scale of charges for repair and replacement will be established.


6. Scottish Soccer Academy

The Scottish Soccer Academy has leased the field between The Skokie School and Carleton Washburne School since 2013. The parameters of a five-year non-exclusive lease, including fees and maintenance, were presented and approved later in the meeting.


7. Policy Update Second Read

Nineteen policies were submitted to the Board for a second read and approved later in the meeting. 


8. New Board Member Orientation

The Board turnover meeting will be held on April 28, 2015, following the election. Orientation includes training as well as meetings with administrators and staff. An exit survey will be administered to outgoing Board members.


Action Items


The Consent Agenda, Policy Updates, and the following action items were approved.


1. Student Fees 2015-2016 

2. Adopt Amended FY 2015 Budget

6. 2015-2016 Staffing Plan

7. Chief Financial Officer/Treasure Employment Contract

8. Student Suspension Hearing Report And Discipline



 meetingdates Upcoming Regular Meeting Dates
April 28, 2015
May 19, 2015

June 9, 2015


Regular meetings are open to the public and will be held in the Hubbard Woods School Resource Center. Regular meetings begin at 7:15 P.M. Work sessions are also open to the public and may be scheduled at the discretion of the Board. Discussion topics and times for work sessions will be posted on the District website 24 hours in advance.
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