Students at middle schools in Evanston/Skokie District 65 are in for a period of austerity, for the next couple of years at least, as the district copes with the impact of rising enrollments and the failure of voters to approve a referendum last month that would have given the district the authority to borrow some $28 million for construction work at its middle and magnet schools.

Some of the changes under consideration will involve lunch hours that begin as early as 10 a.m., two or more students sharing a single locker, some classrooms reduced to rolling carts that move from space to space, and mobile classrooms detached from the main building.

Although the district has limited borrowing authority for capital projects within its debt service extension base, these funds are allocated for dealing with a crumbling infrastructure, such as leaky roofs, disintegrating masonry, and aging boilers that demand immediate attention as a life and safety issue.

At the board’s regular monthly meeting Monday night, member Andrew Pigozzi, a school architect with expertise on such matters, continued to advocate a referendum to seek additional funds for middle school additions and renovations.

Member Kim Weaver inquired as to whether the district could dip into its estimated $10 million in reserves for some emergency maintenance, but was told by the district’s chief financial officer Mary Brown that the reserves were necessary to manage the operating budget, where timing issues between expenditures and income require reserves just to keep the district operating on a day-to-day basis.

Member Jerome Summers doubted that another referendum would do any good as “the voters told us they did not want to pay to build a new school or to fix the middle schools” by the defeat of the March referendum.  He advocated a significant visioning exercise to put the district on the path to excellence.

Board President Katie Bailey supported that notion for the long term, but said the short-term focus on the board needs to be “to deal with our housing problem.”

Superintendent Hardy Murphy said that the immediate strategy is to let classroom sizes rise and to manage the increase as it occurs. In the short term, for example, space is especially critical at Lincolnwood, in Northwest Evanston, while some space is currently available at Walker School in Skokie. Some Lincolnwood students could, he said, be redistricted to Walker.

Complicating matters is the fact that Walker and Lincolnwood are feeder schools to different middle schools, as Lincolnwood feeds into Haven and Walker into Chute. All three middle school principals addressed the board Monday night to outline the difficulties facing them as they anticipate enrollment increases.

As a weary board adjourned around 11:30 p.m., it directed Superintendent Murphy to develop new scenarios for them to consider at future meetings.
 

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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39 Comments

  1. Incorrect assumption about what referendum defeat means

    According to your article, board member Jerome Summers said he "doubted that another referendum would do any good as 'the voters told us they did not want to pay to build a new school or to fix the middle schools' by the defeat of the March referendum."  I don't think this is correct.  

    Based on many conversations with District 65 parents, I think that most people who voted no would have voted yes if the referendum had been for a lesser amount and focused on improving the middle schools.  The divisive issue was the building of a new school and whether or not the district had the resources and capability to run it, not the improvement and expansion of the middle schools.  

    I predict that, if the Board were to put another referendum on the ballot in November, asking for $28 million to improve the middle schools, that referendum would pass.

     

  2. Voters rejected new school, not entire referendum

    Contrary to School Board Member Jerome Summers doubts "that another referendum would do any good as 'the voters told us they did not want to pay to build a new school or to fix the middle schools' by the defeat of the March referendum", it seems to me that what the voters rejected was the new school alone.  Discussion surrounding a new school seemed to be more about reversing moves in the past to desegregate Evanston schools and to give the 5th Ward its own school, again.  This changed the conversation away from meeting the infrastructure needs of the District and its students as a whole toward the preferences of constituents and community leaders in the 5th Ward. 

    At least some Members acknowledged the referendum represented funding for their ideal vision for the District, not the necessary needs of the District.  In a down economy, it makes perfect sense that people would prefer funding only District necesseties rather than an ideal plan that assumed a better economy.

  3. really?

    "Member Jerome Summers doubted that another referendum would do any good as “the voters told us they did not want to pay to build a new school or to fix the middle schools” by the defeat of the March referendum.  He advocated a significant visioning exercise to put the district on the path to excellence."

    My no vote was meant to convey that I did not want to build a new school, but I would be delighted to vote for a referendum to fix the middle school problems.  That's why you shouldn't shove 2 things together in one ballot measure — you don't really know what people want.  

    1. Splits-ville

      Amen, ME AGAIN. Apparently the less-than-intelligent school board and superintendant never even thought to split the issue. I'm sure a referendum for repairs would have passed, but they p—ed so many people off that the "new school" portion hadn't a snowball's chance in hell of passing! Wise up, Board!!!

    2. Here’s my visioning exercise — defeat in upcoming elections

      I envision Jerome Summers, Katie Bailey, Andrew Pignozzi and Kim Weaver off the D65 School Board as soon as possible.  The power of our collective positive thinking and their poor stewardship of our children's education will make it happen.  See, as a powerful example, the prior School Board president who was voted off the Board after his less-than-stellar decisions and positions on important issues.

      I agree with Me Again.  What goofball (or group of goofballs) puts two completely unrelated issues in the same referendum?  Oh, yes — a group of goofballs that were trying to grease the skids to get a new school based on the community's support for needed school improvements and additions.  Not one of them considered how they would proceed if that single referendum failed.  Two referenda would have been crystal clear to establish the will of the community on each issue.

      Shame on them.  But fool us twice — shame on us.  Please do not vote for these Board members who are becoming known to many as the bobbleheads.  Their mantra:  the answer is yes, Superintendent Murphy.  Now remind me what is it that you wanted, Superintendent Murphy. 

       

    3. Just ask why

      Maybe our friends at C4BE can invest in some basic exit polling at the next referendum to get a better idea of why people who actually came to the polls voted the way they did.

      If the larger campaigns are doing exit polls, Evanston might be able to piggyback on those with a few clear questions around the referenda.

      We might all learn why the voters vote the way they do with more accurate feedback than the loudest shouts on the comment boards.

      Check out the board of elections results page – most of the school referenda on ballots around Cook County failed on March 20, so it's possible Evanston is just part of a larger trend despite our sense of exceptionalism.

       

  4. Serves them right

    Yes, bundling two so VERY different things in to ONE referendum was rediculous.  We all voted to keep the low-income neighborhoods distributed to the schools – something we believe benefits ALL the children of our city.  The extra funds for the middleschools was the fallout of that HORRIBLE political mistake.  Learn from it, politicians.

  5. Students yes, Administration no

    We voted against a political referendum that was ill-concieved by a small group to appease a small group by calling racism. The voters would, I think, vote for real improvements in the schools and eductation but we don't trust the decisions of the Board and 'see' results in the schools [by them and the teachers] that make us think they are not doing their duty.

    Maybe the schools are good—and certainly some students are—but the teachers and administration have not shown us that—we see poor test scores, Board actions, salaries/contracts, spending money on contractors who tell them what they want to hear "spend more money" on programs to solve problems that don't exist.

    When the Board and the administration is thrown out or vastly re-done, then we will vote for more money.  Right now it is clearly 'No Confidence.'

  6. District consolidation is the answer to our problems

    Someone please inform D65 Board members Andrew Pigozzi and Jerome Summers that you don't need a referendum to get money for additions and renovations.

    Redistricting is part of running school districts. Some outlying areas in Lincolnwood would have to be redistricted to Kingsley, Willard and maybe Walker.  

    Has anyone on the board considered the idea of consolidating D65 and D202 and the money it would save? Not only that, but the schedules would be in alignment. As it stands now, D202 and D65 are talking about different start times next year. That would make it difficult for parents who have kids in both school districts.

    Consolidation would also bring in the single-most important component – singular accountability.

    Consolidation will NOT happen unless citizens absolutely demand it. All we will get from board members and superintendents from both school districts is perpetual pithy platitudes and endless committee chatter.

    Big change is needed in our schools and it starts with capable, bold and visionary leadership.

    Wanted – Capable and committed leaders for the April 2013 D65 and D202 school board elections.

    Are you in?

  7. Vote for the middle schools

    Many voters would vote for the more realistic and immediately necessary jr. high school improvements.  The voters did not want the twice as expensive grade school whose operating costs were not even included in any budgets with the district's year of magical thinking budget shenanigans appearing right before the vote.

  8. Vote for the middle schools

    The middle schools warrant the STEM additions and the community will support these less expensive and tailored capital expenditures for the District.  They rejected the 5th ward school due to its ill conceived purpose, supports and complete lack of operating budget with the District's "magical" balanced budget appearing right before the vote. 

  9. Lincolnwood issues

    Excuse me, but Lincolnwood Kindergarten is currently only at 82% capacity enrollment for next year.  That leaves plenty of room for last-minute enrollees for next September, which is only four months away.  Quite frankly, the Board needs to provide better info about just how "overcrowded" the schools will be.  Perhaps, instead of paying consultant after consultant (who know who pays their rent, btw, and clearly will come up with the answer that satisfied HM, the true driver behind the failed new school). the Board can cull through the data themselves and come up with an accurate picture of just how many students there will be?  Isn't that their job, or is it to pay outside people to create answers for us? What kind of information do they need to address the space issue?  Do they even know what to ask for?

    Those board members who are still smarting about the referendum will talk plenty of fear-mongering non-sense designed to get all the north side moms in a tizzy.  Cap and transfer?  NIMBY!!  Let's stop the hysteria, put on our thinking caps, and try to determine just exactly what our needs are before we start building trailer parks on the playground in anticipation of the influx of students that haven't been proven to materialize just yet.

    We need a cogent plan from the Board about what the "Plan B" is for student capacity issues.  So far, there's just a lot of hyperbole and barely disguised anger.

  10. Time to get creative!

    Of course they thought to split the issue…and then decided instead to railroad the community into voting for two issues in a kind of two for one special, thinking that no one would notice.  We noticed, alright,  and instead voted against both as any educated populace would have done.  I'm certain the board will figure out some way to fund the middle school improvements with (or without) a referendum.  I guess it's time to get creative!

  11. Referendum to fund middle school improvements

    No one should be fooled about the intentionality of the Board in putting the new school and middle school additions in the same referendum.  The idea was to get more people to vote for the new school because they were in favor of getting the middle school improvements done.  Of course the middle school projects are important and necessary.  I agree with Andy Pigozzi.  Let us vote on that!

  12. Get out the violins

    This cry baby soap opera put on by the school board, is the last straw. The following members of the school board should be terminated: Jerome Summers,  Andrew Pignozzi, Katie Bailey, and Kim Weaver.

    Hardy Murphy's contract should be terminated for non-performance of duties. Replacement should come from within Evanston.

    The other SB members should tell us why they are better than than the targeted four.

    District consolidation of D65 and D202 should be  placed as a referendum on the November ballot

  13. The little board who cried wolf…

    All we know about the failed referendum is that it failed – 55% nay to 45% yea.  We don't know whether it was defeated by young voters, old voters, parents, voters who would fix our old schools but would not build a new school, voters who are already strapped for cash and voted against higher taxes, or voters who just didn't believe the numbers – any of them, and so on and so on…we don't know!  Board members are still flouting a parade of horribles they promise will result from the referendum's failure.

    But we can see the Board resents that we said NO, and we can recognize the thinly veiled threats and hostility from board members who are peeved we did not buy their sales pitch…and did not trust their "facts"…and do not want to pay for consultants who are not accountable to anyone.  We can see you think we owe you our support and even gratitude, and you don't want to hear our voices.     

    Board members are just mad they lost, and instead of looking for plan B, they're blaming the voters for not letting them slide one by us.  Well, I'm getting pretty angry myself.  And NO, I would not support any referendum proposed by petulant board members who are still crying wolf.

  14. the elephant in the room

    While all the discussion about STEM improvements to the middle schools goes on, Springfield and Mike Madigan in particular are talking seriously about shifting the teachers' pension costs TO THE LOCAL DISTRICTS.  I generally don't believe in writing in caps with lots of exclamation points, but I did this to call attention to something that our citizens and Board seem to be ignoring.  What will that mean for the financial picture of Districts 65 (and 202)?  How will they manage to take it on?  And what kind of a tax increase will that produce?

    If we behave like Scarlet O'Hara and think about this tomorrow, we will be even deeper in the weeds than we are now.

     

    Mary Brugliera

    1. Why some students do well and others do not—one point

      If you wonder why some students in the schools do well and others are excellent, I would suggest the book 'Count Down:Six Kids vie for Glory at the World's Toughest Math Competition'  by Steve Olson.  [EPL has it]

      Though the story line is about student [six from the US but students from all over the world] the author tries to describe not only why these students do wel in math but why people do well in all kinds of fields including the arts.  There is no simple answer but he explores nature  vrs. nuture; U.S. born students and second generation foreign born vrs. first generation; parents and teachers who are supportive vrs. dis-interested or 'pushy'; some about income and general school state; various socialolgical/test studies; IQ vrs. creativity, etc..

      This is not a text but a story line about 7-12 year old student and possible reasons why they are what they are.

  15. We’re all suffering

    We're all suffering — at all ages, in all capacities — from Evanston's budgeting debacle.  Why shouldn't the schools tighten their belts and go without, along with everyone else?  However much citizens devote to the schools' budgets, students continue to do not-particularly-well on whatever measures are used.  Let's see what administrators and teachers can do with less.  The outcome may not be worse.

  16. It’s just a shame

    It's just a shame that the voters rejected a referendum that addressed the needs of all of the members of our community.  Instead of making plans for our great new state-of-the-art middle schools, were looking at a "bleak outlook".

    Many of you say "I only wanted to vote for the middle school improvements — why did the boeard bundle this with the new school".  The middle school improvements are your issue, but other people that are not in the majority have issues as well.   The board tried to not only deal with something that affects the majority in this city, but also with a long-standing grievance of the 5th ward African-American community.  Sometimes we have to look beyond ourselves and our own self-interest and consider what it feels like to be in someone else's shoes.  I simply didn't see many people willing to do this.

    A process took place.  A commitee was formed some time back to look into the idea of a new school in the 5th ward. The committee voted 11-1 in favor of a new 5th ward school.  The board debated the issue of the new school and voted 5-2 to put it on the ballot.  The plan that emerged may not have been everyone's first choice — I would have changed a few things too given the chance.  But I realize that we all have to make compromises when it comes to the better good.

    People, stopping the forced bussing of the minority children of the 5th ward out of their community everyday and instead giving them a choice is a fundamental fairness issue.  None of us with would consider moving into a community that didn't have a school, and where all of the children, starting at age 5, line up everyday to be picked up and scatterred around to 4 other neighborhood's schools.  North Evanston has "diversity" because it is delivered to them every school day via a fleet of school buses.  Would you like your children and every child in your community to be in those shoes?

    By the way, no one was going to be forced to attend a "re-segregated" school.  But yes, for once, the residents of the 5th ward would have a choice of whether or not to attend a school in their community.  Have any of you considered how patronizing it must be to be told "we'll decide for you" when it comes to deciding where your children should go to school?

    We can't afford it, right?  But we've put additions on Willard, Dewey (twice) and Lincoln in recent years and K-5 attendance is up over 17% over the last 5 years and is expected to continue to grow.  Somehow we find the money for not one but 2 stand-alone K-8 magnet schools that serve as an alternative for those who are unhappy with their neighborhood school, yet the 5th ward doesn't even have a neighborhood school.  We would be borrowing money at today's super-low interest rates, building on D65 owned land, and the annual tax bill cost would be almost half of what we've been quietly paying for the past 10 years for the previous referendum-approved bond issue which has now expired.  Pension costs are going to possibly be shifted from the state — this is an issue that every city in Illinois will face, and a solution will be found.  The sky is not falling.

    I'll take a contrarian view:  put the referendum back on the ballot in the fall — both issues together.  Let's keep the conversation going and maybe we can change a view minds and get a few more votes out and turn this result around.  Shifting 5.1% of the votes wins this.  Great up-to-date schools benefit all of us and we can afford this.

    1. Dishonesty and divisive rhetoric doomed the referendum

      There ya go again, Jim McGee.

      Blaming Evanstonians living outside the Fifth Ward as selfish for the failed referendum is nothing but divisive and insulting rhetoric.

      News flash – voter turnout in the Fifth Ward was lukewarm at best. Former Mayor Lorraine Morton and activist Hecky Powell opposed a new Fifth Ward school.

      A survey showed that Fifth Ward residents were lukewarm about a new school. If Fifth Ward residents really wanted a new school they would have turned out en masse to vote. They didn't.

      So next time you cast blame against non-Fifth Ward residents and call it patronizing when THEY allegedy decide which school Fifth Ward students should attend consider the response in the Fifth Ward.

      BTW – the New School Committee was obviously stacked just as the Rental Licensing Committee is. One of the New School Committee members started C4BE – a well organized and well-funded group designed solely to whip up support to pass the referendum. Developers and Democrat politicians such as Robyn Gabel and Jan Schakowsky even endorsed the new school referendum. 

      Here's a contrarian viewpoint – forget about another new school referendum – voters had their say. If the referendum goes back on the ballot it would further divide this community, especially when Evanstonians constantly hear racially loaded words such as social justice and the implied statements that if voters don't pass a new school it must be racism.

      We are taxed enough already and fed up with the lies, half truths and divisive rhetoric coming from our city and school leaders. The answer to overcrowding is redistricting since NOT ALL schools have high enrollment (Oakton has an average class size of 16).

      The D202 Board angered parents when it detracked freshmen honor classes. Some members of the D65 Board now have angered parents when they tried to ram down our throats an expensive and unnecessary new school and probably violated the law by publicly voicing support and donating money to pass the new school referendum.

      If you want to talk about fairness and social justice then why do some D65 children get to have foreign language instruction while most others do not? Lincolnwood, bursting at the seams and led by a rookie principle, doesn't even have foreign language instruction but Willard, Dewey, Oakton, Washington and I think the charter schools do.

      There's a familiar adage – honesty is the best policy. It's best you and board members start practicing it. You might be surprised at the results.

    2. Why not de-magnetize King Lab

      Why not de-magnetize King Lab and make it a neighborhood school for incoming kindergartners, and give older kids the choice of attending it or their current school? That avoids the expense of a new building and puts the school in the 5th ward. What is the reason or justification for magnet schools now?

      I also would have voted for making necessary repairs/expansion to the middle schools. That's a far cry from building a new school. Now the board is faced with a crisis that didn't have to happen.

      1. King Lab is not a 5th Ward School — it is located in the 2nd

        King Lab is in the 2nd Ward, not the 5th Ward.  Confusion is understandable, though, as King Lab used to be in the 5th Ward – it was the old Foster School (now Family Focus, next door to the site of the proposed new school).

        Actually, several neighborhood schools are closer to the "Central Core" than King Lab — for instance, Dewey and Kingsley

        Only recently, the board reaffirmed its commitment to the magnet school in a unanimous vote.  For more information please read the following report.

        http://www.district65.net/FV1-00019473/S0061F282-00EBAEA2.0/MagComm%20Final%20Report.pdf

    3. The shame here

      I think the shame here is that you cannot accept that the voters have voted and said No!

      These really are two separate issues. I think that the voters did look beyond their own interest, you not only have to factor in the reality of the economy as an individual but as a community.

      The community is faced with many other economic issues that have to be addressed. This is just not the right time for an additional school. The voters have been heard.

      Sorry that the hand picked committee of  11 individuals was veteod by 55% of the Evanston community.

      I also resent the implication that the Evanston community is doing a disservice to the African-American children iin Evanston. In case you didn't notice south Evanston has a very large African-American poplution, and yes I live in South Evanston. Those children do have a neighborhood school to attend.

      This is not a race based decision by the voters. I for one find that insulting. However, insinuating that race is involved sensationalizes the whole issue.

      1. I’m sick and tired of this

        Everything done in this town is based on race… where you live, where you shop, where you work, where you worship. The sooner you realize that better.Why is it when African-Americans stand up for the rights of our children we have to sensationalize everything. Why can't we just be right and want what is best for our children. Yes South Evanston has a school, and the 5th Ward has none.. Wakeup Evanston residents.

    4. It is a shame

      Jim, you are right on.  A majority of Evanstonians seem to me to be very mean-spirited on these school issues.  I can only assume they don't have kids in or heading to the middle schools, or they don't own property in town.  I supported both parts of the referendum.  We missed an incredible buying opportunity the likes of which may never be seen again.  Our aged school buildings are filling up and need tens of millions of dollars of urgent repairs.  It seems crazy to have to spend that kind of money on those obsolete buildings, and that we spent millions to add onto some of them, when we could have built a new building.  It will be interesting to see what solutions leadership is able to come up with.  I am relieved that our youngest is in 6th grade at Haven now, and that we'll be done soon.  Oh but wait, we still own a house here.  I hope we can sell it someday, as it's hard to imagine new families wanting to move in here once they take a good look at our crumbling, overcrowded schools and the tax rates.  When you can't fit everyone in to have lunch in middle school, things are pretty bad.  

      I do agree with some commenters that there is some available capacity at some schools (but not a lot), especially at the magnet schools, and that this capacity should be filled up by whatever means necessary.  Cap and transfer, if there isn't enough voluntary movement?  This would help the problem at some schools, but it would not solve it.  Look at the data.  Is it worth the hardship to a few families to be forced to move for a stop gap?  Kids do adapt, but it is a severe transition, and in this situation it seems as though it would be fundamentally unfair to pick out a few kids from crowded classes here and there whose parents happened to register them last, or who were chosen by lottery, and tell them that this year they (and not their friends) have to go to school across town.  Redistricting, which would be nice in order to correct gerrymandered attendance area boundaries that no longer make sense, is not warranted now because there aren't any buildings with lots of capacity.  (Redistricting would make sense in the context of some solutions, like de-magnetizing the magnets, or clustering schools, or opening a new school).

      With Evanstonians unwilling to fund a big solution, in order to even out enrollments across grade levels, the board and administration should look again at clustering three or four schools, with one being K-2, another 3-5, and a third 6-8; or K-1, 2-4, 5-6, 7-8; they should also look at this option in the context of eliminating the magnet schools.  They also could eliminate full day kindergarten, to open up additional classrooms in the elementary buildings.  In the middle schools, they could eliminate daily gym, send kids home for lunch, or go to a year-round calendar (with staggered enrollment, so not all kids are there all the time) or double sessions.  These would be drastic steps, but they would be solutions.  

      As I said, I'm glad for our children's sakes that they'll be out of there soon.  But I'm not glad that someday we'll have to sell our house.

    5. I disagree with your opinions

      You present many opinions that i and many others disagree with :

      1. "voters rejected a referendum that addressed the needs of all the members of our community"

      Obviously many others disagreed, else the referendum would have passed by a landslide. The referendum presented to the community had many deficiencies as cited by numerous comments posted on Evanston Now.The Administration never once showed how the new school was going to lead to improved student outcomes. It was presented as a new, state of the art building. Buildings don't teach kids, teachers teach. The cost of operating the new school were deceptive, as Dr. Murphy initially stated they would be around $690,000. He lost any remaining credibility amongst people who studied this issue.

      2. "long standing grievance of the 5th Ward African American Community"

      Yes, there are a dedicated core of ardent supporters of a 5th Ward School and this will continue for understandable reasons and they are vocal and will remain vocal. However, there are many black families in the 5th Ward, and many other families who live in the 5th Ward who do NOT support a 5th Ward School. This contingent is not organized nor vocal. Who is looking out for their interests? Look at the voting results – only about 24% of registered voters in the 5th Ward voted. What does this say? Doesn't seem to be as important as some people claim.

      3. "A process took place"

      Look at the composition of the committee, especially the fact that Jerome Summers was co-chair. He has been an ardent supporter of the 5th Ward school for years. This was a biased group from the start.

      4. "How patronizing…"

      Were both Hecky Powell and Mayor Morton being patronizing in their very public opposition?

      5. "Pension costs…and a solution will be found"

      Pensions are very expensive and their cost will become increasingly visible to taxpayers. Do you have a solution? This is an important issue that will constrain our budgets for years to come or result in major tax increases. Look at what's happened to the City of Evanston budget. I hope a "Pension Fairy" arrives soon.

      6. "Put the referendum back on the ballot"

      NO WAY !! Our School Board and Administration has spent an enormous amount of time on the referendum. Voters voted. The referendum was rejected. That's how a democracy works. Time to move on and look at other options that will serve the best interests of our community, especially our children.

    6. Re-referendum?

      Holding the referendum again is a bad idea. It would only solidify opposition against spending more money on schools.

      People that have lived in Evanston for a long period of time know that the Evanston school boards have a history of submitting failed votes over and over again until they wear out the voters and win with a low voter turnout by a slim margin. After finally obtaining their goal, they announce loud that the voters have spoken.

      If they try this again, there will be a strong effort to oust all of the board instead of just the trouble makers.

  17. The referendum did not fail

    Contrary to what people are arguing here, the referendum did not fail. A referendum is a direct vote, where voters get asked a yes or no question. The referendum was held successfully. The proposal was rejected.

  18. I would NEVER send my kids to a school in the 5th Ward. YIKES!

    I would NEVER send my kids to a school in the 5th Ward.  YIKES!

  19. re: incorrect assumption

    You're so right, Anonymous. I agree with you for saying "Based on many conversations with District 65 parents, I think that most people who voted no would have voted yes if the referendum had been for a lesser amount and focused on improving the middle schools."

    Until recently, I was a D65 parent for a number of years. And yes, I would have seriously considered a referendum that focused solely on improving the middle schools. HOWEVER, I also wonder about another opinion expressed above . . . "What goofball (or group of goofballs) puts two completely unrelated issues in the same referendum?"

    We're talking apples and oranges, here. Or perhaps apples and giraffes.

    Maybe such mental and computational calisthenics works on Congressional finance and subsidy bills. You know, broadcasting a big project that the bill supposedly supports . . . and then sneak one, or two, or a whole bunch of other smaller projects in on the revisions, so congressional representatives who already committed to the original bill can't sneak out of voting for it. But at least in the local setting, IT WON'T WORK.

    1. Why would you not support a new school in the 5th ward?

      Why have people that you have spoken to say they would support middle school work only?  How about the proposed work at the magnets?  How do they feel about the additions at Dewey, Lincoln and Willard? 

  20. What has Hardy Murphy ever

    What has Hardy Murphy ever done for D-65 other than somehow get his contract extended?  He makes 6 figures, and why again?  D-65 has experienced conflict, debt and ongoing board arguments, regardless of what issue or what referendum is on the table.  In the end, regardless the well-intentioned, intellgent board members (and sometimes the not-so-intelligent) – the board as an entity remains dysfunctional thanks mostly to their ineffectual leader.  I have never understood why anyone was a fan of Hardy Murphy as I've watched for over a decade his failures, his posturing, and his arrogant, patronizing personality.  Yet it seems as if every time I turn my head, his contract has been extended.  Why?  I will never understand.

    1. What has Hardy ever

      I agree with all that was said.  Why is he still here after all these years?  Only answer I can think of:  Those who could get out did.  The remaining folk are apathetic or overworked.

  21. “A High-Tech Fix for Broken Schools’

    Juan Williams has an opinion article today about Mooersville N.C..  They are 100th out of 115 in school spending per student in N.C. but in 10 years they have gone from 'middling' to tied for 2nd place in school ranking.  In three years they have gone from 73% proficient in math, science and reading to 89%.

    They reduced the number of teachers and gave all students 3-12 th grade laptops. The kids can progress at their own rate—including the brightest—and teachers immediately see where students are having problems and make adjustments.

    If we sticks with the education techniques of the 1950s which are what the teacher colleges [and unfortunately even education departments in well known universities] still teach and schools expect teachers to follow 'because that is always the way we have done it' and 'it was good enough for me and will be for them' we will continue to fall behind.

    Will Evanston schools move ahead ? Don't count on it.  It will still be left to parents—either to provide the resources [books, computers, access to best teachers, private schools, colleges or not be able  to help and leave them to the mercy of the same old same old.

    Wall Street Journal 8/15/12 p. A11 [not that the Board or most teachers will read it]

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