Karen York 0

Preserve Art and Music in Winnetka's Public Schools

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As recently as 2013, our community and the School Board were aligned in a vision for the education of our children:

“The Winnetka Public Schools is a community that honors the whole child, fosters creativity, inspires lifelong learning, and develops civic responsibility. District 36 will develop learners who are compassionate citizens, who contribute to their community, and are well prepared for a dynamic future”.
–From The Strategic Plan (2013)

It is in the context of staying true to this mission that we would like to engage the Winnetka community in reviewing and responding to the School Board’s most recent decision through this petition.

On February 25, 2014, the Board voted unanimously to “benchmark” the full-time status of Art and Music teachers to the projected level of student enrollment. The practical outcomes of the Board’s decision are:
a. Art and Music teachers may teach art and music only part of their time at their schools.
b. Successful programs like young composers, chorus and potentially many more could be eliminated or altered.
c. Art and Music teachers might have to travel to other schools within the district.
d. Music and Art teachers that have flexible time may provide special education services and Response-to-Intervention (RtI). This would be in place of hiring specialized, experienced teachers that are certified in these areas.
e. Electives at Washburne may be reduced.

It should be noted that the Board and Dr. Hagerman acknowledged that this decision was not made as a cost cutting measure and would not result in significant cost savings.

More than 200 people attended the five-hour board meeting on February 25th, 2014. Many concerns were emailed to the Board before the meeting. Many of the attendees were distressed by the limited discussion and the Board’s unwillingness to explain their position, which appeared to have been decided before they heard the community’s concerns.

The Board’s latest decision is a serious departure from our District’s mission of educating the whole child. Furthermore, Kenilworth, Glencoe, Wilmette and Avoca are all committed to full time art and music teachers. At the very least, Winnetka District 36 should meet the standards of our neighboring districts.

The Board’s latest decision will:
- Dilute the quality of our public schools
- Impair our district’s ability to be innovative educational leaders
- Negatively impact teacher morale
- Reduce Winnetka’s ability to recruit and retain excellent teachers and administrators.
- Reduce the quality of our Special Education / RtI services
- Eliminate or alter the programs that are unique to our district
- Limit our children’s preparation for the robust Art and Music programs at New Trier
- Lower our property values
- Contribute to continued lower enrollment in our schools

We ask that you sign and forward this petition to insist that the Board reconsider its decision and identify solutions that preserve the quality, character, and culture of our public schools.

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