Thursday, March 29, 2018

Events and Numbers

At our Board of Education meeting on 3/26/18, we highlighted a slew of upcoming events that may be of interest to various community members. Here's a short summary; mark your calendars!

Parent CommUniversity Kickoff
  • March 29, 2018 (tonight!) -- Garden Hills, 6:00-8:00pm
  • Garden Hills, Stratton, and Booker T. Washington students/families invited
Community Meetings about Referendum Facilities:
  • April 3, 2018 -- South Side 5:30-7:30pm (preview of initial designs)
  • April 10, 2018 -- Dr. Howard 5:30-7:30pm
  • April 17, 2018 -- Central and Centennial (hosted at Central) 5:30-7:30pm
Board Meetings (5:30pm, Mellon Board Room):
  • April 9, 2018 -- Public Hearing for NCA Charter School will occur at end of Regular Board Meeting
  • April 23, 2018 -- Ruling on charter proposal will be on the Board's meeting agenda
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One highlight from our meeting on 3/26/18 was our discussion of the annual AA/EEO audit and report.

The AA/EEO (Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity) Audit and Report contains a wealth of information about who works where in what capacity in our school community. Anyone with concerns about diversity in Unit 4's workforce needs to spend some quality time with this report, available here (all 189 pages).

When we say "the District remains committed to maintaining a diverse workforce that reflects the community we serve" (p. 2), this report examines what that commitment looks like. On the surface, some of the numbers don't look good. In 2017, for example, the student body of Unit 4 was 34.8% African-American, but the percentage of African-American teachers in Unit 4 was 8.3%. As some African-American teachers in our district will confirm, that number can feel awfully low -- and often lonely.

However, this report reminds us that the percentage of teachers in all of Illinois who identify as African-American was only 5.8% of the total teaching force in 2017, and that percentage has been dropping. Simply put, non-white teachers in Illinois are few. Here in Unit 4, not only is our teaching force more diverse than the state average, but that diversity has been slowly increasing over the last several years.

Compare Figures 1 and 2 (taken from the AA/EEO Report and from illinoisreportcard.com), showing the genders and ethnicities of Unit 4's teachers in 2017 compared to Illinois's teachers overall:

Figure 1: Ethnicity and Gender of Unit 4 teachers, 2017

Figure 2: Ethnicity and Gender of Illinois teachers, 2017

When we consider Unit 4's total workforce -- and remember, Unit 4 is the third largest employer in Champaign County -- we see more progress toward diversity. In 2017, 30.6% of our staff identified as non-white, and that percentage has been slowly increasing since 2010 (as seen in Figure 3 below).

Figure 3: Ethnicity of Unit 4 Staff, 2010-2017

The AA/EEO report goes far beyond counting people in Unit 4. Representation Parity Index Analysis is used to compare Unit 4's employees to the nationwide labor force, to show in greater depth where a particular demographic group is overrepresented or underrepresented in Unit 4 compared to the people available to fill those jobs. Anyone interested can delve deeper in the AA/EEO report to view employment trends from the past several years. Also available are further breakdowns of information by employment class or by building, as well as detailed narratives about hiring, recruiting, and retention.

During our discussion of the report, the Board heard from several administrators who underlined the importance of personal relationships and contacts for successful recruiting. Not only do our HR staff work on recruiting, but an estimated 30-40 additional people from Unit 4 -- from the executive administrative team to members of our support staff -- assist in recruiting. I hope that level of commitment to Unit 4 impresses others as much as it impressed me.

In short, anyone can quote numbers. Some of our employment numbers are impressive; others are not so good. The AA/EEO report gives context for those numbers, as well as restating Unit 4's yearly commitment to increasing our workforce diversity.

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Remember that applications to join the Referendum Oversight Committee (ROC) have been reopened, and are being accepted until March 30th -- tomorrow! Please consider sharing your expertise with Unit 4 in this important capacity. A schedule of upcoming ROC meetings can be found here.

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Next meeting of the School Board: Monday, April 9, 2018

We meet in the Mellon Building, 703 S. New St. (next to South Side Elementary School) at 5:30pm, with the Open Session beginning closer to 6:00pm. Members of the public are welcome to observe, and to address the Board (for up to 3 minutes) during the designated public comment period.

You can find the meeting agenda here on BoardDocs by navigating to the "Meetings" tab, clicking on the meeting date, and then clicking "View the Agenda." (Be sure to click on each agenda item to bring up additional information or description, including any attached documents.)

The schedule of Board meetings is available here; meeting minutes are posted here (once they are approved at a later meeting); and meeting videos can be viewed here.

For the latest news and announcements from Unit 4, visit the district website:

For the latest information on referendum facilities projects, check out