A sharp drop in the number of kindergarten students has altered the projections for Lincolnwood Elementary School in northwest Evanston, but the middle school it feeds into has the opposite problem.

The reasons why and what can be done about it are subjects for discussion at tonight’s meeting of the Evanston/Skokie District 65 Finance Committee.

Back in June, district administrators were expecting 82 kindergarteners to show up at the school, located at McDaniel and Colfax, but only 60 actually enrolled, a decline from the projections of about 27 percent.

By the time these students advance to the fifth grade, total enrollment for the school is projected to be 353, compared to this year’s enrollment of 407.

Meanwhile, at Haven Middle School, which Lincolnwood feeds into, enrollment is expected to grow from 743 this year to 840 five years from now.

In terms of the number of classrooms needed, Lincolnwood’s demand is expected to decline from 21 sections this year to 18 sections in 2017-18, while at Haven, the number of sections is expected to grow from 31 this year to 35 in 2017-18.

Nichols Middle School is expected to experience even more rapid growth, from 542 students in 23 sections his year to 752 students in 31 sections in 2017-18.

There are many strategies available to the district for handling these fluctuations, from redistricting attendance areas to reallocating the number of students in the magnet schools that draw from the entire district.

Tonight’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Joseph E. Hill Education Center, 1500 McDaniel Ave.

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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  1. Just an excuse not to build an addition at Lincolnwood

    The Lincolnwood principal a few months ago boasted how the school was finally going to get an addition. Looks like this will be used as an excuse to can that promise of a much-needed expansion at Lincolnwood.

    So many parents I talk to are at wits end with D65 and D202 and have talked about sending their kids to private schools. How many parents took their kids out of Lincolnwood and other D65 schools this year and sent them to private schools?

    St. A's just got a blue ribbon award. We will probably send our kids there next year.

    Good thing voters didn't approve the costly $28 million new fifth ward school. D65 board members and the superintendent Hardy Murphy wanted the new school so badly they warned everyone how enrollment at elementary schools was increasing exponentially but ignored the fact peak enrollment occurred a decade ago.

    When you go to vote this Nov. 6 remember how Democrats Robyn Gabel and Jan Schakowsky used their office and money to support the new school referendum.


    1. Best wishes to you at St. A’s

      Keep in mind, though, that St. A's sends its accelerated math students and band and orchestra students to Haven Middle School for those programs.  And your kids no doubt would miss Lincolnwood's fantastic open space.

      Sometimes you have to take the not-so-good with the good.  It is unfortunate that in some schools and in some years some kids draw the short straw of a large cohort and/or a crowded school.  But this is life.  When money is in short supply or a bubble is projected to be of short duration, you don't always get an addition.

  2. Every year there is a supposed exodus to private schools

    But I don't see or hear that any of the Catholic schools or Baker or Roycemore or Chiaravalle are turning kids away or have long wait lists.   I think every year some families decide to send kids to private or parochial schools, often for private, religious or other reasons that are not specific to the public schools.  And in fact, every year, kids come to D65 or D202 after having attended a private or parochial school.  I don't think there is a big exodus – anyone have data rather than anecdote that tells us otherwise?

    1. Maybe not an exodus, but certainly growing numbers

      A five minute check of the internet provided some data that clearly indicate rising enrollments at a number of these schools.

      One site showed that Chariavalle enrollment rose from about 250 in 2004 to about 350 in 2010– an increase of 40% in six years.

      One Roycemore page refers to the search for  "another Evanston location that would allow room to continue a trend of enrollment growth that had occurred over the previous 10 years", and a January 2012 story on this website indicated that the new building "should let the school increase its enrollment by about 100 students, to a total of 350."

      As for Baker, a 2012 website indicated 350 students enrolled; other undated sites showed numbers ranging from 274 to 325.  The school's website doesn't cite specific numbers, but does indicate that enrollment is up 15%.

      So I don't know that the term 'exodus' applies, but it does seems that despite the recent challenging economy, hundreds of kids have made the move to some of the private schools in the area.

  3. District 65’s and the City of Evanston’s Major screw up

    Last night I happened to be watching the District 65 finance meeting, they were talking about a retention pond they built at Lincoln school and the potential need to build one at Haven, if they add an addition.  I was suprised. I noticed this pond as a drive by and thought it odd.

    I decided to attend the meeting last night.

    I heard more about how our less than competent city officials had forced the district to build this pond at Lincoln.

    There are several troubling issues here.  The pond takes away value playground space.  It is dangerous a child could die, ( recall some years back a child died in a half empty pool in south Evanston ), one school board suggested to me they are not a problem they are every where, is the current one fenced at Lincoln?

    What is interesting it appears city official would not allow a water connection to the school if this pond was not built.  This is a total piece of work, as most of you know the list is long on city of Evanston screw ups. Recall how are city manager violated the ADA ( civil rights of disable citizen when move ECTV to the second floor of the service building, and now he is misusing cable fees )

    This cost several hundred thousand dollars of valuable school district dollars, wasted, on an unnessary item.($400,000?) It appears to me Lincoln school did not add on any more hard surface that would have made a REAL need for a pond.

    Hundreds of people turned up at the council to attack the landlord licensing, as they knew the city of Evanston building department will enforce nonsense and useless, ordinances on them that add nothing to REAL life safety, just like this retention pond, a bongus waste, of city staff lack of technical skill.

    I blame both the District 65 board for its lack of guts to confront the city in public about this total waste on our Mayor and Management at the city for this Major screw up. The Mayor has time on her hands to do all types of useless activities, rather to set any direction and leadership, Wally is running out of control, and staff is not much better, wasting money and not dealing with real LIFE SAFETY ISSUES.

    1. Lincoln Retention Pond

      A beautiful school…with a retention pond.  The City clearly did not work cooperatively with District 65 on this and the Board should have continued the work as planned for months and seen if the City would have called their bluff.  This not clearly required or even possibly required by law or ordinace. 

      The architects and contractors on the Lincoln construction work said they had never seen anything like the City's action in this situation and were obviously still very upset with the unsightly and unsafe retention pond next to a spectacular renovation.  The City should be ashamed.

  4. I am a Lincoln parent

    I am a Lincoln parent and the improvements at the school are no less than breathtaking. I feel very lucky to have my son there. I don't know about the so called retention pond, rather I see a safe play field with adequate drainage. 

    1. Retention Pond at Lincoln School – is it safe?

      Is there a large hole in the ground at Lincoln school with pipes at both ends?  I have driven by and not stopped to look at the details, but from what I see from the road this looks like a hole in the ground.  It will fill with water, when it rains and slowly drain. There will be water in it, is it fenced off or open, even if its fenced, can kids climb over it?From what I was told at the school board this is a retention pond, I think it is NOT safe, but the district officials claimed it was fine, you as a parent should be concerned, that children have no ability to get into it after a rain storm.

      This is a mistake for the reasons I stated  in my first post and No one on the school board wants to repeat it at another school. It is a total waste of taxpayer resources that could have been used on other improvements.  It appears the city would like the district to repeat this screw up.

  5. Private school kids = more money

    Why shouldn't the kids at Saint A's – or any private school, take advantage of working programs paid for in part through their tax paying dollars?   I say – good for them.   Why duplicate what already exists?

    Regarding why kids attend the school they do – we don't know if it's to go to something that better suits their child's needs or to move away from some place that doesn't. 

    There has never been an interest in tracking those kids who's parents opt out of the public schools.   Why would there be?  This community helps supports 8 private schools to varying degrees:   Baker, Roycemore, Chiaravalle, Saint A's, Saint Joan of Arc, Solomon Schechter, North Shore County Day and Sacred Heart in the City. 

    Both Baker and Roycemore have had the means to invest heavily.   

    Can you imagine the strain on the public schools if these kids all came back and attended our public schools?   

    There is no interest in understanding why these kids aren't using the public schools.   It's easier to take the tax dollars and be grateful for the reduced enrollment. 

    It's anecdotal to say the kids are fleeing the public schools and it's anecdotal to say they are not.

    Maybe if some private group decided to survey parents – we'd know more – but until then it's conjecture either way you look at it.

    1. Don’t forget Pope John XXIII School

      In your list of private schools in Evanston, you neglected to mention Pope John XXIII School, the shared parish school of Saint Nicholas Parish and Saint Mary Parish — the first private school in Evanston to be named a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. Pope John has 300 students enrolled from Pre-K through 8th grade. It also has before- and after-school care from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and summer camps.  

      1. Pope John XXIII School

        My grandchildren, along with other friends' children, have gone to Pope John. Their performance at ETHS demonstrated the wisdom of that choice. A sad commentary on Evanston schools.

        1. Public vs Private

          I'm weary of this idea that public education is inferior to private when most private, PJ 23 included, offer little academic support for students with learning disabilities* and have the ability to be selective about who remains in their student population. 

          There are plenty of extremely bright, creative, high-acheiving kids being sucessfully educated in our public schools.  Public schools continue to grapple with the achievement gap that exists, but private schools don't (since many of the children who fall into this gap are the same ones who need extensive support and are often unable to afford a private education) and so private education's "success" isn't very surpising or impressive. 


          *On a sidenote, did you know that any child who attends private school in Evanston and is in need of educational support, is eligible for that support through our public schools, whether or not they live in Evanson?  True story.

          1. Race-based policies is a reason kids are leaving public schools

            Many local private schools do accept kids with learning disabilities. Roycemore as one example has a learning disability program.

            When parents of white kids keep hearing that the primary objective of D65 and D202 superintentendents is to "fill the gap" then they understandably become concerned. In order to "fill the gap" test scores of black kids must go up and test scores for white kids must come down. You can't "fill the gap" if test scores of white kids keep rising. As a white parent that doesn't sound appealing.

            D202 is paying tens of thousands of dollars to a group called Pacific Education Program (PEG), which essentially believes institutional racism is the reason black kids score lower on tests. Are Evanston public schools guilty of institutional racism?

            Meanwhile, D202 Superintendent Eric Witherspoon says there are too many "white faces" in advanced placement programs so he and the D202 Board eliminated the freshmen honors track program. Everyone now is a freshmen humanities honor student at ETHS.  D65 Superintendent Hardy Murphy wholeheartily supports detracking of advanced courses.

            This kind of thought process does not hold water in a competitive global economy and does a great disservice to ALL of our kids.

            That is why more Evanston parents are sending their kids to private schools. Unless Evanston public school parents get serious and get involved to make changes things will progressively get worse.

            Evanstonians ultimately make the decisions not school boards and superintendents. The ball is in our court.

            Now is the time to get nominating petitions to run for the school boards to make the changes. If they are not made then we have no one to blame but ourselves.

  6. Pope John as well

    Sorry about that.   I've got friend's whose kids like Pope John.  

    If anyone should track this – it should be the city.   If a trend shows a greater percentage of school aged children attening private schools (or even flat in these economic times) – than I think it'd be something to look in to at greater depth.   

    What none of us wants is for the public schools to diminish as a draw for incoming residents.   Strong schools support a strong housing market which in turn supports a steady strong tax base.

    So – anyone who's curious about long term health of the housing market – they might want to take a look.

  7. St. A’s awesome

    St. A's has orchestra for kid in grades 3-8. The 8th grade puts on an annual all-class play that includes musical performances.  They do use the space at Haven Junior high for the performance, but it is staffed by St. A's teachers and privately paid outside professionals.   There are also many opportunities for the orchestra/band to perform at all school functions.  I have never heard of them sending kids to Lincolnwood for any of this.

    In addition, the music and art program are very strong.  Children study famous artists and composers and then go on to replicate their works/create their own as early as first grade.  Children learn about the historical significance of music/art, as well as how it shapes and is shaped by culture. 

    St. A's used to send kids to math at Haven when ETHS hosted a high school class for accelerated math. Now that D69 wants to eliminate accelerated math in lieu of accelerated math "for all,"  my guess is that St. A's will most likely find another way to meet the needs of the junior high children who can do higher level math.

    I'm not saying D69 is a bad place.  I am saying that St. A's is awesome.





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