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King Lab and Rhodes schools get new missions

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King Lab and Bessie Rhodes schools in Evanston/Skokie District 65 will have new names and missions when they start the new school year in September, thanks to a unanimous vote Monday night at the district's board meeting.

King Lab and Bessie Rhodes schools in Evanston/Skokie District 65 will have new names and missions when they start the new school year in September, thanks to a unanimous vote Monday night at the district's board meeting.

The schools will henceforth be known as the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Literary and Fine Arts School, providing an arts integrated curriculum that includes creating, performing, and responding to arts and literature,  and the Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies, which will offer a global perspective throughout its curriculum.

Along with the name change comes the new direction for the two schools, based upon a study conducted by two committees of parents, principals, and staff members.

First presented to the Board at its Feb. 22 meeting, the proposal adopted Monday night for the two "magnet schools," as they are called, "offer parents an opportunity to choose a school that best addresses their child's interests, talents, and learning needs," according to the written recommendation from Superintendent Hardy Murphy.

"They provide a thematic focus and an alternate structure for differentiated curriculum and instruction," he added.

The literary and fine arts theme at the King school will involve additional professional development, staffing allocations for a "creative movement" position, additional technology, and stipends to pay for participation in the Chicago Debate League program.

The Rhodes school proposal calls for instruction in the Chinese Mandarin language and funds to pay for participation in the Model United Nations and Chicago Debate League programs. Estimated costs to implement the recommendations are expected to range from $77,000 to $87,000 per year.

"As the magnet schools become more distinctive," Murphy predicted, "desirability and applications will increase," giving the district an additional  tool for managing enrollment at the attendance area schools.

Also, new ideas developed in the magnet schools can be shared with the attendance area schools, thereby strengthening all the schools, in Murphy's view.

Also at Monday night's meeting, the Board supported the Eco Power Challenge, an Earth Month program that begins in April to help students build greater awareness of their role in energy conservation.

And the board directed Superintendent Murphy to advance the "courageous conversations" initiative by asking the consulting firm, Pacific Education Group, to present a proposal for helping the Board avoid unconscious racism in its deliberations.

The Board also heard a report about the district's physical education program and its health and wellness efforts.

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 stations and business-oriented magazines.

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