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Library to host forums on 5th Ward school

The Evanston Public Library is planning a two-part discussion on the history of school segregation in Evanston and proposals for a new 5th Ward school.

An image of the original Foster School, in the 5th Ward constructed in 1905 and later destroyed by fire.

The Evanston Public Library is planning a two-part discussion on the history of school segregation in Evanston and proposals for a new 5th Ward school.

“Investigating Our History From Different Perspectives,” will be held on Zoom at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 13, hosted by Dino Robinson, founder of the Shorefront Legacy Center; Mary Barr, author of Friends Disappear: The Battle for Racial Equality in Evanston, and Evanston youth organizers.

The discussion will focus on how the historical backdrop of school segregation affects the experiences of students today.

“Visions for a Community School in the 5th Ward,” will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 20. District 65 Manager of Student Assignment Sarita Smith, STEM School Evanston Founder Henry Wilkins II, and EPL Executive Director Karen Danczak Lyons will engage in a panel discussion about future plans for creating a new educational experience in the 5th Ward.

“I look forward to being part of this discussion as we explore possibilities for a Fifth Ward library. The co-location of public libraries within schools and other facilities can provide wonderful ease of access for students and families alike,” Danczak Lyons said in a statement.

Registration for the sessions is available online.

Just over decade ago the school board considered building a new school in the 5th Ward, despite survey results at the time showing little interest in it. Even west side residents offered sharply differing views about it.

Ultimately the board’s referendum to fund the new school went down to defeat in 2012.

But by 2018 a new group of parents was pushing for what they proposed as a STEM school in the ward.

In this year’s school board election, advocacy for a new school ran up against concerns about the district’s looming budget deficits.

But school officials are now pursuing proposals that could lead to closing some existing schools and shifting their students to a possible new school in the 5th Ward.

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