The Evanston/Skokie District 65 Board of Education has expressed its eagerness to obtain community feedback on a proposal to build a new school in the central core of Evanston as a way to provide enough classrooms for growing enrollments.

The Evanston/Skokie District 65 Board of Education has expressed its eagerness to obtain community feedback on a proposal to build a new school in the central core of Evanston as a way to provide enough classrooms for growing enrollments.

To that end, it has tentatively scheduled a public forum on the topic for Wednesday, Nov. 16, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the district headquarters at 1500 McDaniel Ave. While the board hopes to make its final decision on the new school at its Nov. 21 meeting, President Katie Bailey said it is likely that there would be more such forums after the decision is made.

Member Kim Weaver noted that the public will have two additional opportunities to make their views known—on Nov. 14 at a meeting of the Finance Committee, and on Nov. 21 at the regular board meeting. Public comments will be heard from 6 to 7 p.m., immediately preceding these two meetings, the district confirmed Tuesday.

Under current interpretations of state law, the Board cannot issue bonds to finance construction of a new school without obtaining voter approval in a referendum, and Dec. 19 is the deadline for putting the issue on the ballot for the primary elections in March, 2012.

Because of widespread speculation that a referendum would be a tough sell in the current economy, Board members have insisted on exploring every available option before recommending a sale of bonds to the electorate.

Board member Jerome Summers, a leading advocate for the new school, reminded the Board Monday night that on major issues like this one, “you do your due diligence and then you just have to vote.”

Bolstering their case was a review of the 2011-2012 Opening of Schools Report, a 36-page document that discloses and analyses the number of students served by the district in the current school year, with comparable data from the past three years.

Even though the total population of the district has remained essentially flat, the number of students served by the district has increased by upwards of 200 students every year, from 6,593 in the 2008-2009 year to 7,352 this year, an increase over the past three years of 759 students.

While additional classrooms have been constructed at some schools to meet this demand, another 600 students is projected by the end of the decade, largely as a result of home turnovers that bring younger families with school-age children into the district.

Further analysis of the need for a new school is contained in the report of a New School Committee, dated Sept. 5, 2011.

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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1 Comment

  1. Redistrict, do not build!

    Because the student enrollment analysis only goes back three years it does not show the complete picture.  If you go back further you will realize the current student enrollment hasn't reached the peak enrollment a decade ago!

    That's problem #1.

    Another problem is that this analysis IGNORES the fact that population in the Fifth Ward has significantly declined in the past three years. The D65 Board led by Bailey and Summers want to build the new school in the Fifth Ward. Why there? Why not build a new school in the areas with the largest projection of student growth such as Willard or Lincoln? 

    If you look at the report you will notice a DECREASE in students in several schools notably Oakton which has a comparatively low student/teacher ratio.  Also consider that Chute, Oakton and Washington granted transfers under No Child Left Behind. A few years back D65 had actually talked about CLOSING a school because there was too much classroom space and a steady decline in enrollment

    A D65 survey shows the majority of Fifth Ward parents are happy with the current school situation and are not excited about a new school.

    The answer is clear even with the school report. REDISTRICT!!!!!

    It's appalling and disgusting that the D65 Board is considering to search ways to fund the new school WITHOUT voter approval. The new school will cost about $25 million to build in additional to the permanent cost to operate the school. And all this done in an area with DECLINING population growth.

    Someone please inform D65 School board members that we are heading for a double-dip recession and property values are still on the decline. The LAST thing Evanston needs is to pay for a $25 million new school compounded with the city's proposed Eight percent tax increase.

    The property taxpayers in Evanston are tapped out. It's time to CUT BACK not SPEND MORE!!!!

    I am sure D65 incumbent board members will be voted out in the next school board election.

    Evanstonians are outraged by the direction both D65 and D202 are taking Evanston. It's time for a big change.

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