Wednesday, July 30, 2014

On the Road Again...Schneider Continues His Social Justice Mantra

We have been alerted by one of our readers that Kurt Schneider, D181's Assistant Superintendent of Everything, is currently on his annual trek to Wisconsin for promotion of social justice and inclusion within educational settings. We wouldn't be surprised if Schneider is using his D181 Learning for All experiment as a self-promotional tool during his seminar sessions, especially with his trusted colleagues Frattura and Capper also listed as presenters.

Message to Dr. White: Is it acceptable that your newly minted administrator is spending an entire week away from the central office? We certainly hope that he is taking vacation time for this conference (as would be appropriate), however, we can’t imagine the work and responsibilities that are on hold just several weeks before the start of the school year.  Last year, 8 administrators and principals attended this conference and were reimbursed by the taxpayers for their expenses.

Will we be on the hook again this year? Guess we will have to wait and see . . . .

For more information about Schneider's activities this week click on the following link:

Be sure to scroll to the end of the web page to see the names and bios of all of the facilitators presenting at the conference.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Update on D86 High School Teacher Contract Negotiations -- Board President's Conduct Questionable

Moments ago, we received the comment below regarding recent activity pertaining to the D86 teacher contract negotiations. Because we believe this is critical information that calls into question the behavior and lack of transparency of certain D86 board members, we are publishing this as a free standing post.

Anonymous said:

"Is there a sister blog for District 86? If not, there really should be one considering what the 86 board just did (and feel free to make this a free standing post if you want):

Basically, two of their board members held a press conference to discuss how contract negotiations with the teachers were going. Apparently, to start off with, the federal mediator said that neither side may discuss publicly how the negotiations were going. Secondly, and much more frightening, is that they only allowed the press to be there. They did not allow teachers, parents, community members, or even OTHER BOARD MEMBERS! According the the above articles, a third board, who did not know in advance about the press conference, wanted to come and sit in the audience. This board member was asked to leave by the two other board members because then they would have a quorum and need to have the conference open to the public under the Open Meetings Act. Seriously?!? Oh, wait, I'm sorry. I thought for a second that District 86 was a PUBLIC school district. I guess not. My bad."

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Special Board Meeting Announced for July 8.

A Message from Superintendent Dr. Don White

Dear District 181 Key Communicators,
Please note that we are holding a Special Board meeting on Tuesday, July 8 at Elm School (6:30pm). The meeting agenda is focused primarily on personnel, including the staff changes I outlined in my message to you, sent July 1. You can view the agenda on BoardDocs beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday. We invite you to tune in via podcast and to watch for the Board Summary to be postedon July 9. You can learn more about accessing the meeting audio on our website

I wish you and your family a happy4th of July!

Don White, Ph.D.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Dr. White Announces Reorganizational Changes Including Promoting Oak Principal Sean Walsh to Director of Learning

Earlier today Dr. White sent out the following email. We invite our readers to sound off on the organizational changes.

Email from Dr. White:
Dear D181 Families,

As today is July 1, let me be the first to officially welcome your family to the 2014-15 school year! We have an exciting journey ahead.

Since coming to the District in May, I have been asking many questions and absorbing a great deal of information in pursuit of learning what our parents, staff, and community members feel are the immediate needs of our organization. One key component of my work has included processing how best to move forward in filling open positions in District Office, and I want to be transparent in sharing the result of that effort.

In the book “Good to Great,” author Jim Collins talks about having the “right people on the bus” who are also “in the right seats.” Below I have outlined a plan for reorganizing the “seats” to give greater attention where I believe it is needed and to most effectively utilize the talents of our team. What I am recommending is cost neutral and does not ultimately add to the total number of staff at District Office, but rather shifts some roles to better serve our community. Following meetings this week with the administrative team, staff association leaders, and District Office staff, I am confident these shifts will be the right move for District 181.

There are two sides to our District’s organizational chart (attached): Learning and Operations. Teaching and learning are what we do each day and will always be our first priority. Human Resources is being moved to the “Learning” side of our organization because people are at the heart of a strong educational system; John Munch was recently approved by the Board to fill the Assistant Superintendent of HR position. Also in “Learning” is Dr. Kurt Schneider as the Assistant Superintendent of Learning. Supporting that work will be Dawn Benaitis as the Director of Learning, Eric Danley as the Director of Technology, and a second Director of Learning. Sean Walsh will fill the second Director position. I am thrilled that Mr. Walsh has accepted this role. He is a respected educational leader with nine years of service as the Principal of Oak School, two years as a principal in Palatine, and three years as an assistant principal in Palatine. He has elementary classroom teaching experience and a very strong knowledge base. Please join me in congratulating Mr. Walsh on his new position! I know the staff and families of Oak School will be sorry to lose such an outstanding leader in their building, but fortunately Mr. Walsh will continue to serve the students of District 181. I anticipate making a decision this week regarding how to proceed in filling the Oak principal position. More information will be shared with the Oak community as we determine the next steps.

On the “Operations” side of our organizational chart, Gary Frisch will continue to serve as an Assistant Superintendent. Joining Mr. Frisch on the Operations side will be a new role, the Assistant Superintendent of Information Systems and Operations. Attached is a job description to clarify what this role will entail. Filling this position will be Ken Surma. Ken held a similar position in my previous district, and I have recruited him specifically to fill this role, beginning July 21.His expertise will be a major asset to our team. I look forward to providing you with more information on Mr. Surma’s background later this summer. The Director of Communications and school structure will remain the same.

As we finalize the work around open positions, it is important we also acknowledge the exceptional team of staff at District Office. The professionals in our Business, Communications, Human Resources, Learning, and Superintendent’s Offices continue to provide outstanding service and support for our schools. Before school resumes, I will be providing an overview of all that we have been up to this summer, along with an update on the exceptional progress of our Buildings and Grounds staff as they work hard to ready our facilities.

The changes in staff at District Office have been a challenge and we are saying goodbye to a group of fantastic leaders, but we can turn that challenge into an opportunity for stronger alignment from Boardroom to classroom. I am enthused by the team of educators in District 181 and the journey we are taking together with our District families and community.

I again wish you welcome to this new 2014-15 school year, and I hope you have a great summer.


Don White, Ph.D.