The Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Board heard an earful Monday night from parents and students of the Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies over the lack of a secure place for the kids to change clothes.

They packed the board room at district headquarters for a discussion that ran more than an hour at the top of a lengthy agenda without coming to a resolution of the problem.

The former Timber Ridge elementary school was built a half-century ago at 3701 Davis St. in Skokie and converted to house the K-8 magnet school program 21 years ago..

In the middle school grades, students begin to play sports that requires them to change into uniforms.  Students were forced to use classrooms with outside windows, and several of them testified Monday night that such an arrangement makes them uncomfortable.

As one parent put it: “A windowed classroom where students have been walked in on while changing does not provide the absolute minimum of privacy, safety or security.”

The solution district officials came up with was to make a secure locker room out of an all-purpose room that was used by some teachers when they were not in the classroom. This project was added to the district’s five-year plan of capital projects, and the job was to be put up for bids this year.

But as luck would have it, there was a more immediate need for funds to provide for more technology projects. In short, the locker room got pushed aside for more computer hardware and software.

Hence, the firestorm.

The board was reluctant to delay more critical capital projects like roofing and masonry work, so they agreed to keep the Bessie Rhodes project on the five-year list and look for some other workable solution in the meantime that might even be less expensive.

Someone suggested a changing trailer, but that option did not appear to gain much traction.

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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