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Highlights of the April 23, 2020 Board of Education Meeting

Dr. Hannigan introduced a presentation on the Hawthorn Education Association (HEA) agreement. The presentation participants included Board President Robin Cleek, Director of Finance and Business Operations Abe Singh, Director of Human Resources Adam Palmer, Director of Teaching and Learning Allison Stein, and School of Dual Language teacher Millie Naughton.

Ms. Cleek said that during the Board’s first official meeting with Dr. Hannigan last July, it was agreed to make a successful contract negotiation a top priority.  Starting in September, the Board met monthly to discuss goals and parameters for the upcoming contract while working closely with Dr. Hannigan, Mr. Singh, Mr. Palmer and Ms. Stein. The goals were to:

  • Negotiate an agreement that is fiscally responsible while recognizing the significant contributions that staff make to the District each day.
  • Engage in a process that demonstrates respect and honors professionalism of staff at all times.
  • Complete and ratify an agreement before the conclusion of the school year—with an HEA approval percentage at 80 or higher.

To retain current staff and remain competitive in attracting new qualified individuals, the Board compared District 73 with other surrounding districts in several areas including funding, staff retention, salary, benefits, and other working conditions such as the length of an instructional day and teacher planning time. The Board examined what was and wasn’t working in the current contract and what needed adjusting to align with the surrounding districts. At the very beginning of the process, Ms. Cleek had stated on behalf of the Board that the only acceptable outcome was one in which a mutually beneficial agreement could be created. In the end, all stakeholders won. The contract ratified with 87.5% approval. 

Following are some of the highlights of the contract: 

  • The contract will last five-years (from 2020-2025) and is fiscally responsible.
  • During the 2023-24 school year, the student instructional day will increase to seven hours. 
  • An appraisal/evaluation committee will be formed in the 2020-2021 school year to review the evaluation process for staff.
  • Equal benefits will be offered to licensed and support staff.
  • The contract addresses inequities for staff members to more closely equate the steps to years of service at Hawthorn. 

Ms. Stein discussed several points about the increased instructional time:

  • In 2023/2024, the student instructional day will increase to seven hours for both elementary and middle school students. 
  • A committee will be developed in the 2022/2023 school year to determine the structure of the increased instructional day to ensure the District maximizes these instructional minutes.
  • In 2023/2024, Early Release ½ days and bi-monthly staff meetings will be eliminated in favor of weekly professional development time. On Wednesdays, students will be dismissed 30 minutes early and licensed staff will engage in 1 ½ hours of learning and collaboration.
  • The Board has a five-year tentative plan for providing teachers with curriculum and resources for all core subject areas. 

In the Action Items section, the Board unanimously approved the HEA contract. On behalf of the HEA, Ms. Naughton said that she greatly appreciated all the efforts that went into the process. The Board also approved contracts for the resurfacing of the parking lots at Middle School South, Elementary South and Aspen Elementary, which are in substantial need of repair. The total cost of these projects is $525,791.

In his Superintendent’s Report, Dr. Hannigan discussed year-end plans now that the governor has extended school closure to the end of the school year. The District has secured June 29 at Libertyville High School for the promotion ceremony. In the event the District is unable to host a traditional ceremony, staff is preparing a virtual ceremony. The District is planning other virtual activities, such as a virtual field day. More information is forthcoming. Dr. Hannigan also thanked the PTO for providing $25,000 to offset the cost of technology purchases to increase student access to remote learning. 

In her President’s Report, Ms. Cleek said she enjoyed seeing examples of the things that students were doing in support of “Hawthorn Cares,” “Earth Day” and other campaigns on social media and in the community. She appreciated the fact that everyone was working together and supporting each other.