“Classrooms First” agreement emphasizes efficiency and effectiveness
SKOKIE — Aug. 20, 2014. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon celebrated an education reform milestone between Niles Township High School District 219 and Skokie/Morton Grove School District 69 on Wednesday. Superintendents signed a “Classrooms First” agreement today that aims to align instruction, reduce high school remediation needs and maximize financial resources at both districts.
“This agreement puts students first by focusing on educational effectiveness and efficiency simultaneously,” Simon said. “I hope this inspires the other elementary school districts that feed into District 219 to take similar steps, and that other districts throughout the state take notice.”
The intergovernmental agreement creates shared faculty and instructional tools between Niles West High School and District 69, the largest of the five elementary school districts from which it draws new students each year.
The reforms are largely based on the findings of the Classrooms First Commission, which Simon chaired and which issued a report detailing recommendations for voluntary and virtual school district consolidation in 2012. The report urged school districts to share services and cut administrative costs in order to redirect savings into classrooms.
The Niles agreement creates shared faculty between the districts and personalized learning plans for students, among other changes. Two shared positions will oversee science, technology, engineering and mathematics curricula, and instruction between the two school districts. The new alignment should reduce the need for costly remediation – or re-teaching – of math and sciences in high school and college.
Starting in 2016, new kindergarteners will also be issued the same “individualized learning plans” District 219 uses to personalize the instruction of its high school students. That plan will follow students throughout their entire K-12 career, said District 219 spokesman Jim Szczepaniak.
“Our Classrooms First Consolidation agreement with District 69 will guarantee students and their families that their elementary education will properly prepare them for high school and that their high school experience will make them ready for college and ready to succeed in life,” said Nanciann Gatta, superintendent of Niles Township High School District 219. “We're honored that Lt. Governor Simon is able to join us for this signing event to validate what we are doing in Niles Township to show that public education works.”
Simon joined District 219 and District 69 officials at the signing ceremony, which featured a series of talks by district instructors, and a tour of the high school following the presentation and signing.