District 171 makes decision on superintendent evaluation

Then-Assistant Superintendent Erika Millhouse-Pettis at a District 171 parade during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Superintendent board evaluation, district funding, and Heritage Middle School topics of discussion

By Quinton R. Arthur

LANSING, Ill. (March 5, 2022) – During the February 28 Sunnybrook School District 171 board meeting, the board conducted a lengthy discussion about superintendent evaluations.

The bulk of the conversation surrounded the workshop for the evaluation, with board members having strong differences of opinions on whether to have an open or closed session on the topic.

Board member Kenisha Lesure wanted to move the conversation to a closed session, but fellow Board member Elissa Veloz advocated for a public session.

“I think for the superintendent evaluation, what we’re trying to do is understand this process for Dr. Pettis. We’re new to the board, I would like to make sure that we are following the proper protocols. If I don’t know how this goes, I’m doing her a disservice,” said Veloz.

“It’s really about having the board unified. First, decide on the metric that we are using for the evaluation. Next, we need to come up with a schedule,” said School Board President Cozette Pettigrew.

The final decision was to move forward with the workshop provided by Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB).

District funds updates

During the Chief School Business Official’s report, David Shrader announced the district was not awarded the property tax relief grant for the year. On a positive note, the June 30, 2021 audit was completed. The rating for Sunnybrook’s financial profile was 3.9/4.0, achieving the highest category of recognition.

Grand Canyon University, and Heritage Middle School updates

During the Superintendent report, Dr. Millhouse-Pettis mentioned a working collaboration with Grand Canyon University for teacher recruitment.

“We’re looking to create our own teachers. We know that there is a teacher shortage. We have some very talented paraprofessionals that are phenomenal people and always there for us. So we invited Grand Canyon University out to help us to grow our own teachers in our high-needs areas,” said Dr. Millhouse-Pettis.

Chantelle Cambric, Principal of Heritage Middle School, gave an update about the volleyball team. In the final game of the season, both 7th and 8th grade teams won, with the 7th grade team maintaining their undefeated record.

Heritage Middle School has also started a new program, “The Secret Society of Readers”. The program, led by Dr. Susan Brady, will encourage students to find unique places to read.

Students in Heritage’s student council are raising funds for a nonprofit for their state service project. The nonprofit they chose, Variety of Illinois, helps children with disabilities. Students found unique ways to fundraise for the program.

“Some teachers will get pie in their face, others will dye their hair, some will be eating hot sauce, and others will be eating crickets,” said Cambric.

Other items on the agenda included:

  • Discussion of presenters for superintendent evaluation and professional development
  • Medical leave approval for several school employees
  • Approval of a 36-month contract with Comcast for 2GB Internet connection
  • Approval for the purchase, installation and configuration of new network switches.

District 171 meets on the third Monday of each month.The meetings are held at 6:30 p.m. at Heritage Middle School, 19266 Burnham Avenue, Lansing.