Five golden moments at D86 board meeting

We’ve written a number of editorials about areas of improvement for the Hinsdale High School District 86 Board. So we thought it only fair to highlight a handful of shining moments from the last regular board meeting July 27.

1. A 7-0 vote to hire School Exec Connect to help the board find a permanent replacement for Superintendent Tammy Prentiss, who is on paid leave through March 31.

Two firms made presentations to the board July 20. All seven board members not only agreed on which firm to hire, they chose the firm The Hinsdalean thought to be the best fit for the district.

2. Board agreement to launch the new academic committee approved in May.

Members did get into the weeds a bit when discussing whether it should be a standing board committee or a superintendent’s committee, but the most important thing is that this work is beginning — at the group’s first meeting today.

3. Interim Superintendent Linda Yonke telling it like it is.

During the discussion of the new academic committee, Yonke said she and Ray Lechner, the district’s other interim superintendent, had some hesitation about forming such a committee, which is unusual in a high school district.

“Ray and I both felt a concern, at first, in hearing about this committee because curriculum, academics, are so clearly administrative directed,” she said.

She went on to acknowledge that the board has the responsibility to approve the program of students, new courses, new curriculums and textbook purchases, but she offered a clear delineation between the job of the school board and the job of district administrators.

What needs to be determined, she indicated, are processes and procedures so the board is comfortable with the work the staff is doing. She noted that Jason Markey, the new assistant superintendent for academics, agreed this is a great need. And the audience applauded.

“It’s rare that we have applause,” board member and academic committee Chair Debbie Levinthal noted.

So true.

4. Reports of a smooth transition.

In her board president’s report, Cat Greenspon thanked Yonke and welcomed her and Lechner, who had a conflict and could not attend the meeting.

“I will say that their addition to the administrative team has been quite spectacular and seamless and I appreciate all the work that you’re doing,” she said.

Later, board member Jeff Waters said the district is “super blessed” to have them and Markey working in the district.

We haven’t heard that kind of praise for administrators in D86 for a long time.

5. Talk of trust

After welcoming the new interims, Greenspon went on to say that she, as board president, hopes to “work very hard to establish some understandings of procedures and processes and the framework in which district business is conducted and to help, really, to communicate effectively all of these processes and procedures, and build trust between the board, the administration, all employees and especially the community.”

There is certainly work to do. But District 86 board members have a golden opportunity to get their house in order before a new superintendent joins the staff in 2024. We’re happy to see they plan to do just that.