Some nervous parents in the audience at Monday night’s meeting of the Finance Committee of the Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Board felt somewhat relieved that plans for construction at the Lincolnwood Elementary School, including additional classrooms, were not shelved due to lower enrollment projections.
Meanwhile, all the bids submitted for work at Lincolnwood and the three middle schools—Haven, Nichols, and Chute—were rejected and new bids will be requested.
The new bid forms will ask bidders to break their bids down by individual school, rather than bidding for all the work at once.
In this way, district officials said, they are likely to obtain more bids, including additional bids from local firms hiring workers who live in the district.
What made Lincolnwood parents nervous was the fact that fewer students enrolled in kindergarten this year than projected, even though overall district registration for the new kids was slightly above projections.
Projections last spring were for 446 students at Lincolnwood this year, but the actual enrollment came in at 407, largely because the incoming class of kindergarteners had 22 fewer students than projected.
Rolling the numbers out for the next five years projected the need for three fewer classrooms than at present, or 18 rather than 21. At the same time, the two middle schools that were due for improvements showed just the opposite…a need for four more classrooms at Haven and eight more at Nichols.
What kept the Lincolnwood proposal alive was the fact that other improvements the board considered desirable, if not essential, would result, such as a larger art room and an elevator that would aid the physically challenged. Also, there was some concern that the lower enrollment at the kindergarten level was an aberration, in that the district overall received 863 kindergarten enrollments, compared with a projected 800.
Lora Taira, the district’s chief information officer, said that predicting the number of kindergarten students was an imprecise science, while middle school projections tend to be more accurate, as those students simply move up a grade from within the district.
During the public comment period of the meeting, the committee heard an impassioned plea from Abbey Prujan, Lincolnwood PTA co-president, who noted that “now we are completely out of space and the result has created less than adequate classroom situations and challenges for us as a school.”
The school lacks a safe entry to the building, it has an art room in the basement in a former storage closet, it has a former conference room that has been converted to a classroom that can hold no more than 16 students, and the school lacks an elevator, which limits access to the building’s three floors for students with disabilities, she said.
“We urge you to vote to move forward with the proposed addition to Lincolnwood School and provide our students and community with a safe, accessible, and productive learning environment,” she pleaded.
The new bid forms for work at the four schools are due to go out this week, with bid opening scheduled for Oct. 29. The Finance Committee will review the bids at its Nov. 12 meeting, with action scheduled by the full board on Nov. 19.