Evanston/Skokie District 65 school board members got a first look Monday night at attendance figures for the current school year and found that an increase in Hispanic students is a prime reason for the attendance surge that has the board considering the possibility of building a new school to handle the influx.

Evanston/Skokie District 65 school board members got a first look Monday night at attendance figures for the current school year and found that an increase in Hispanic students is a prime reason for the attendance surge that has the board considering the possibility of building a new school to handle the influx.

The total number of students taught within the district this year is 7,006, or about 100 more than projected, according to Paul Brinson, chief information officer for the district. This compares with 6,815 last year and 6,503 in the 2007-08 year. That’s an increase of about 8 percent in the last three years.

In the last year alone, the number of Hispanic students increased by 19 percent in the middle schools and a whopping 27 percent in kindergarten through the fifth grade.

By comparison, the number of white students increased by 2 percent in the middle schools and 3 percent in the elementary schools, while the number of black students decreased by 7 percent in the middle schools and 8 percent at the elementary level.

The overall ethnic distribution of students for the current year is 42 percent white, 27 percent black, 20 percent Hispanic, 5 percent Asian, and 6 percent multi-racial.

Superintendent Hardy Murphy told the board that, while challenging, the enrollment increase represented a compliment to the district.

Board member Bonnie Lockhart said the figures dispel the widely held assumption that a number of district residents were pulling their children out of district schools and placing them in private institutions. “People are moving to Evanston because of the schools,” she declared. “This is a tribute to the district and to the administration.” Brinson added that the district needs to be vigilant about people moving out of the district but keeping their children enrolled in district schools.

Regarding a proposed new school to help ease the impact of the enrollment increase, the board added Kim Weaver to the committee known as the Ad Hoc Referendum-New School Committee that is charged with determining the feasibility of building a new school in the district, based on “space needs and community interest and support.”

She joins fellow board members Jerome Summers and Katie Bailey on what is ultimately expected to be an 11-member panel that includes parents, teachers, and other community members.

A new school requires a referendum by the voters of the district. Earlier the board made the determination that it was too late to request a referendum for the April 2011 school board election and directed that the ad hoc committee finish its work in time to put the issue on the ballot, if necessary, at the next election, which would be in 2012. 

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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4 Comments

  1. Current D65 Administration & School Board “don’t get it”

    The comments from Dr. Murphy and school board member, Bonnie Lockhart, demonstrate poor logic. Dr.Murphy has a 5 year contract, so there will be no near term change, but Bonnie is up for re-election in April 2011 and hopefully she will not be voted in for another term. The specific comments pertain to the increase in enrollment. Dr. Murphy said, "the enrollment increase represented a compliment to the district." Bonnie Lockhart said, "the figures dispel the widely held assumption that a number of district residents were pulling their children out of district schools and placing them in private institutions."

    How can you make these statements based on the fact that enrollment has increased? Does the district know how many families have moved out of district 65 because of the schools? Does D65 know how many Evanston students who could be in D65 schools are going to private schools? Does the district know how many potential Evanston homes are not bought because of people’s concerns over the schools?

    These statements are just like the Administrations and Boards prior statements that we’re seeing educational progress in D65 schools because more students were meeting state standards. False. More students were meeting state standards because the Illinois State Board of Education lowered the bar for the tests.

    Given the increase in Hispanic students cited, i would agree that US schools and Evanston schools are on average better than public education provided in Latin and South America. And I would agree that on average Evanston D65 schools are better than Chicago Public schools. So i can understand the attraction of Evanston for many people. But is District 65 realizing it’s potential? Are most residents happy and satisfied when their students meet state standards? 

    The logic of Ms. Lockhart’s statement is troubling. I hope more people take notice and ask her what she really stands for and why she wants to serve another 4 years on District 65 School Board.

    Evanston deserves better. ALL of our children deserve better.

     

  2. I wonder if these

    I wonder if these race/ethnicity figures are based on the new two-part federal race/ethnicity question, in which marking "Hispanic" trumps all other selections. That could explain some- but certainly not all- of the demographic changes in the district.

    1. Hispanic students on the new federal form

      The report indicates that on the new federal form, 19.5 percent of the students are listed as of Hispanic ethnicity and 80.5 percent as non-Hispanic.

  3. You built it, they have come

    “People are moving to Evanston because of the schools,” Bonnie Lockhart declared. “This is a tribute to the district and to the administration.”

    Hispanic families account for most of the increase. Hispanic families are moving to Evanston because of the Two-Way Immersion (TWI) program and support programs specifically directed to Hispanic children in the middle schools. That’s what’s going on here. District 65 has built programs for Hispanic families and their children, so it has attracted those families.

    District 65 has become less attractive to other student populations, because it has no programming for them.

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