Staffing is still an issue in District 86

Board ultimately approves administrative recommendation with addition of Haven staff

Staffing and course offerings continued to be a topic of discussion last week in Hinsdale High School District 86.

At one point at the March 21 school board meeting, it looked like the board might postpone approving the 2024-25 staffing until its April 11 meeting. Board President Cat Greenspon made a motion to do so and was discouraged by administrators.

“The logistical piece of finishing the scheduling process prior to the end of the year so we can get to that discussion about course confirmations and communicating that information and giving students the opportunity to make some of those changes while the counselors are still here ... would be very challenging with a delay,” said Jason Markey, assistant superintendent for academics.

At issue was additional staff for the district’s Haven program, a self-contained therapeutic program for students with emotional disabilities. The administration’s recommendation was to reduce staff by from 6.8 to 5 full-time equivalents because of lower enrollment.

Katie Havertape, a social worker in the Haven program, urged the board to reject the administration’s plan to cut positions and to keep staffing flat.

Board member Jeff Waters said he worried about having only two certified teachers for Haven students in four different grade levels.

“Jeff Waters can’t possibly approve this staffing framework,” he said. “My hope is it would be 6.8 (FTE) and frankly I think it should he higher.”

Cheryl Moore, assistant superintendent of human resources, offered an alternative approach to delaying the vote.

“I’m only hearing you might want to add. I’m not hearing anyone say you want to take away,” she said, suggesting the board approve the total FTE request and leave open the possibility of adding staff.

It was after Moore’s request that Greenspon made an amended motion (a motion to approve the original request already had been made and seconded) to postpone the vote on staffing to the April 11 meeting. A discussion of Robert’s Rules of Order ensued, with the board taking a short break to obtain legal advice.

The board ultimately voted against the amended motion and the original motion was withdrawn. A new motion to approve 362.6 FTE — which included the 1.8 Haven staff in question — was made and passed 6-0, with board member Teri Walker absent. The staffing plan includes an overall increase of 3.9 FTE compared to this school year.

Conversation about adding an early- bird physical education class for ninth- and 10th-graders, which was part of the staffing discussion at the last meeting, came up again March 21.

Board member Peggy James referred to an email sent to all freshman and sophomore families since the last meeting that cited a board directive to offer the new class.

“I’m a little speechless because I don’t know who wrote that email,” she said. “At no point was I informed a new course was being developed.”

Interim Superintendent Rebecca Nelson said based on discussion at the last meeting, she thought the board wanted to add the early-bird PE class.

“I’m sorry, Dr. Nelson. To clarify, the confusion was not at the board table,” Greenspon said, adding that she had reviewed the March 7 meeting video. “The direction the board agreed to and administration agreed to was to offer an exception to music students in ninth and 10th grade.”

Board member Heather Kartsounes said she didn’t know the early-bird PE class was being offered to everyone until she was questioned by a reporter.

“The whole situation was confusing to me as someone going through this process for the first time,” she said.

The board voted 6-0 to add the course to the program of studies.

Greenspon said she appreciated everyone’s patience.

“As you can see, there are times when discussion and conversation is challenging,” she said. “But what you can see very clearly is the board is working very hard to work with administration to get the answers that we need and trying to support administrative recommendations.”

Author Bio

Author photo

Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean