Even though Lincolnwood Elementary School enrollments for this year were below projections, the number over all for the Evanston/Skokie District 65 schools appear to exceed projections, a committee of the board was told Tuesday night.

A preliminary report for three schools—Lincolnwood, Haven, and Nichols—contained in the advance packet distributed to the district’s Finance Committee before the meeting, showed that 36 fewer students reported for class at Lincolnwood  than projected, most of them in kindergarden.

For the district as a whole, however, the unofficial figures for the opening of school were some 97 more than projected back in May, according to Chief Information Officer Lora Taira.

The Opening of Schools Report, a detailed analysis of the number of students enrolled at the end of September, is expected to be released in November. Last year, the total number of students in the report was 7,352, an increase of 346 students from the previous year.

Because projections indicated a growing number of students over the remaining years of the decade, the district called for a referendum to build a new school in the 5th Ward of Evanston and to make extensive renovations, including additional classrooms, at existing middle schools.

When the referendum failed in March, the district dropped plans for the new school, but went ahead with plans for some of the middle school renovations, based upon the borrowing capacity of the district that did not require a referendum.

As plans proceeded for making some of these renovations Tuesday night, board member Jerome Summers complained that their actions were, in effect, “a back-door referendum” that ignores the needs of students in the 5th Ward, with a 90 percent population of low-income African-American and Latino students.

“This is how institutional racism happens,” he complained. “There is zero consideration for children in the 5th Ward.”

Finance Committee Chairman Andrew Pigozzi responded that “what we’re proposing are very small incremental renovations that are very much needed at these various middle schools.”

While Summers agreed that the renovations being proposed are the correct ones to make for the short term, the board, he contended, is nevertheless continuing to neglect the needs of “some 600 or so kids that for 45 years are still waiting at the bus stop” to be transported daily to schools in the perimeter of the district.

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. Lincolnwood parents chose other schools

    It is not surprising that enrollment has exceeded estimates for the past five years.

    Lincolnwood families were scared off by the overcrowding there and made other arrangements for their kids (permissive transfers, magnets, private).

  2. After Labor Day start = higher enrollment number?

    Enrollment numbers are set by first day of school attendance. In past years, the first day of school was before Labor Day. I know many families that chose to return to school on the Tuesday after Labor Day. Result: enrollment figures from day 1 were lower than the actual school enrollment just a few days later. But in 2012, school started on the Tuesday after Labor Day. It was a good move for many reasons, including that our day 1 numbers better reflect the number of students starting school. (After all, the school district's state aid is set by the day 1 enrollment.) But given this significant change in the start date, I don't think that we can conclude that there are actually significant increases in the populations of our schools. Apparently, for 2013, District 65 wants to return to a goofy before-Labor-Day start. (I hope that they don't yet as is typical for District 65's administration, they won't give one hoot about what works best for families but how about considering the impact on our state aid?) Let's see what happens then before we make any conclusions as to whether the District's attendance projections are accurate.

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