Foster Field, the anticipated site of a new 5th Ward School. (Google Maps image)

The first day at the long-awaited 5th Ward School has moved from the originally announced fall of 2024, to some time in 2025, and now to 18-24 months after whenever construction begins.

Sarita Smith, District 65’s Student Assignments Manager, told the school board’s Curriculum and Policy Committee on Monday that announcing a new target date that might not be met is not a good idea.

Sarita Smith, Manager of Student Assigments, at school board Curriculum and Policy Committee meeting.

“We’ve stopped saying dates at this time,” Smith said,” because construction is reality just as COVID is reality.”

The $40 million dollar facility will return a neighborhood school to the historically Black 5th Ward. Students from that community have been bused to other parts of town since Evanston schools were desegrated half a century ago.

More information about the new school will be discussed at a community meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Center.

Smith said four potential designs will be presented at the session.

One major question, Smith noted, is high interest in what the new building — replacing the old Foster School — will be named.

“I’ve probably been asked more about the name than anything else,” Smith said.

The new school will be grades K-8.

Smith said she has also been asked about early childhood programs for the community.

“We know early childhood is a need in that ward,” she stated.

“Where we put it” is yet to be determined.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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  1. Whew – good thing we raised the financing almost a year ago and are wasting millions of dollars a year in interest while we plan away. Smart, real smart. Meanwhile, imagine what that interest expense could have done for the $180M needed in deferred maintenance for existing schools. Every position up for this board in April must be turned over. Incompetence at its worst.

  2. Remember this thing supposedly going to be funded with savings from reducing bussing. The longer you delay the building the less you can rely on the bus savings.

    Because of the contempt the board and Horton have for the electorate they decided to embark on this risky financing scheme instead of using bonds that could only be issued by referendum.

    This means that all of this debt servicing is coming from the annual operating budget. So money will be taken away from instruction, maintenance, etc… to fund this ridiculous project.

  3. Horton said the new school and redistricting would end busing and save enough money to pay for lease certificates that are funding the new building. How does moving the Bessie Rhodes magnet school figure into the equation? Won’t busing be required to get magnet school students to their school? Someone help me out.

    1. I think we all know that the busing savings was a load of BS. The exorbitant cost of the the new school and adjacent facilities will be paid for by higher future taxes.

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