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District 65 debate program to resume

Superintendent says contract hurdle that scrubbed first tournament now has been cleared.

District 65 board members at their virtual meeting tonight.

There is no more debate about debate. The popular student activity at Evanston/Skokie District 65 middle schools will be back.

“Debate will continue, it’s just a matter of timing,” Superintendent Devon Horton told Board of Education members during a Zoom meeting Monday night.

Debate team members and their parents were angered last week when the teams had to withdraw from their first scheduled tournament on Saturday, because of uncertainty over funding from the District for all student clubs during the pandemic.

Nearly 300 people signed an online petition calling for the debate program to be reinstated, and during their meeting, the Board heard four emotional letters from parents as well as from former and current debate team members.

A graduate of Bessie Rhodes school who is now in college called debate “perhaps the most influential experience in my life.” And a 7th grade debate team member at Nichols school said debate has taught her “to be open minded about many things in a world that is deeply divided.”

The superintendent explained that bargaining agreements had to be worked out with unions before staffing and club funding could be determined. That has now happened, he said, so the debate teams will return. “We do value debate,” he said. “We do value the voices of our children.”

Related story

Parents, students angry D65 forced debaters to miss tourney (10/24/20)

Jeff Hirsh

Jeff Hirsh

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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