Consistently poor student performance, combined with significant financial and operational challenges, prompted the Illinois State Board of Education to undertake direct oversight of North Chicago Community Unit School District 187 (CUSD187) in 2012. The unprecedented state takeover included approving the creation of a charter school, disbanding the local school board and appointing new leadership. Specifically, the leadership team was given the dual mandate to dramatically improve educational opportunities and outcomes for students and to improve the district’s financial stability. Together, with the support of qualified educational consultants and strategic community partners, we are leading a grand-scale restructuring of the district.
The district’s short-term and long-term outcomes are guided by our stated purpose which is “to prepare all students for success in college, career and global citizenship.” In order to accomplish this, we are committed to implementing a collaborative, data-driven instructional approach through operating as a Professional Learning Community. In addition, we are committed to providing all students with an equitable and high-quality educational experience through the implementation of a guaranteed and viable curriculum and instructional best practices. Finally, we are committed to supporting all students as individual learners through a research-based problem-solving approach supported by rigorous assessments.
To move forward toward fulfilling our purpose, highlighted below are just some of the operational and instructional changes that have occurred within the past two years:
- Modified neighborhood elementary school structure, creating “grade level centers”
- Established a culture of high expectations and accountability for all staff and students
- Introduced a revised evaluation system, coupled with rigorous professional development to ensure only the most qualified teachers remain in classrooms
- Reduced annual district expenditures by approximately 22% since 2012
- Secured grant funding for School Improvements at Neal Math & Science Academy, expansion of preschool programming and the launch of Career Pathways and Alternative Learning Opportunities Programs at North Chicago High School
- Created FACET – the Family and Community Engagement Team
- Embraced the “community school model” and developed relationships with more than 50 strategic community partners
- Articulated and unified PK-Grade 12 curriculum in Math and English Language Arts and full implementation of comprehensive curricular materials at all levels
- Implemented a comprehensive assessment system aligned to the New Illinois Learning Standards, including common formative assessments at all grade levels
- Built the foundation for a data-driven professional community, including upgraded technology and purposeful professional development to support differentiated instruction
Significant progress has been made in all areas during the past 24 months; however, there is still much to be done to ensure EVERY student in CUSD 187 receives the educational opportunities he/she deserves and needs.