The Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Board has released preliminary design sketches by TMP Architecture of the proposed new school for the 5th Ward, the fate of which is in the hands of the March 20 primary voters on a referendum to issue $48.2 million in bonds for the construction of the school and for additions at three middle schools.

This aerial view shows how the school is positioned on the property of the former Foster School, which was sold to Family Focus in the 1960s after it had been renamed Martin Luther King Laboratory School. Upon closing, King Lab was moved south to Dempster Street, leaving the 5th Ward without a school. To this day, students in that area are bused to other schools in the district.

This is the front of the school, as it is positioned along Simpson Street. The school’s main entrance would be at Simpson Street and Ashland Avenue. The school would serve students from kindergarten through fifth grade.

This is the view of the rear of the school and the adjacent Foster Field. It is presumed that the field would be shared with the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Foster Street and Ashland Avenue.

The school would feature state-of-the-art environmental sustainability attributes such as a green roof and sun shading at the windows.

The question on the March 20 ballot will read as follows:  “Shall the Board of Education of Evanston/Skokie Community Consolidated School District Number 65, Cook County, Illinois, build and equip a school building, build and equip additions to existing school buildings, and improve the sites of and alter, repair and equip existing school buildings and issue bonds of said School District to the amount of $48,200,000 for the purpose of paying the costs thereof?”

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. Family Focus

    What will happen to the Family Focus building at 2010 Dewey St.? I hope they dont close it down. I take my son there.

    1. Family Focus

      The Family Focus building was the old Foster School, and while there has been some talk in the community of the school district trying to acquire it for a new 5th Ward school, Family Focus, which owns the building now, has said that it is not for sale, and school board members have shown no interest in trying to use eminent domain to acquire it.

      — Bill

      1. Other options

        Wasn't the JEH center built to be able to accommodate use as a school with minimal modification?  Couldn't D65 convert that and lease office space for a few years at a much lower cost while waiting to see if the population and surplus projections look likely to continue?  If the population bump is temporary, why would we need such a permanent solution, with its attendant debt service and operating cost outlasting the bump?  If the administration leased space, it would not tie its (and our) hands. 

        Naperville is facing a similar situation and is not quite as fearful of redistricting as a solution as Evanston is.

  2. While I am not opposed to the

    While I am not opposed to the building of a school in the 5th Ward, I find it frustrating that the issue of funding  middle school renovations and repairs has been lumped in to the same referendum question.

    I am certain that there are people who support the 5th Ward school but oppose the middle school renovations, just as there are people who are against the building of a new school in the 5th Ward while they are in support of the middle school renovations and repairs.

    This seems more like a Washington congressional stunt than a school district election in a progressive city and I will therefore be voting NO.  

    1. Comprehensive Solution

      The Better Schools Initiative is a comprehensive solution to the capacity issues facing our district.  It is not practical, in terms of time and money, for separate referendums to be presented every few years.  Personally I think it's great that our school district is being proactive versus reactive with regard to the projected increase in student enrollment in the coming years.   

  3. This is very premature.

    This is very premature. Evanston voters should not approve this referendum. A new school in the fifth ward is not necessary and is not indicated for the number of residents in the ward. It is a purely selfish concept that will increase the taxes for everyone in the city at a time when most cannot afford increases. This is an unnecessary proposition. Vote no on this proposal.

  4. Nice looking building

    I wonder how much money they wasted on the design and why they decised to bring it out.

    The answers are: too much and to help sell the school boards folly.

    Let's hope the citizens catch on and vote NO on the sucking sound as the taxpayers' wallets are emptied.

  5. Aren’t they getting ahead of themselves?

    Isn't the Disctrict 65 board getting a little bit ahead of itself by publicizing a design before there's even been a referendum?

    They probably calculated that they could sway the vote by showing the public an image. Let's hope the public isn't that gullible and childlike.

  6. The inside?

    What do we know about the inside of this potential building? Is there going to be a library, an art room,  or a science lab? I saw somewhere that this building would be open before & after school for community programs and events. How is the district going to pay for people to oversee these buildings after hours? 

    It seems to me like a beautiful plan and I do believe that the 5th ward school is a good idea. I just wonder if it would work better as a charter that could go against district norms such as school day length and teacher salaries.

  7. Cost to prepare school design?

    As usual the city/Board probably spent $$$ to have designs for the school prepared before knowing if voters will even approve it.  One more way they try to assume everything they want is fait accompli.

    They should start to realize that just because they say something is needed, it will be done. They have fooled the residents too long and hopefully we have awoken enough to understand their projected enrollment estimates and costs and benefits are not worth the paper they are written on.

  8. Beautiful design

    This is a beautiful design.  Notice all the windows!  So many of our school children are in classrooms with tiny windows too high to see out of, or tiny slits of windows.  Past generations of school architects didn't believe in windows.  But this generation is in love with natural light.  I wish all our windowless buildings or additions could be replaced with a modern design.  That is not feasible.  But many of our school buildings are obsolete according to current school building codes, they are expensive to maintain and improve, and they won't last forever.  Let's build a modern building now, when costs are as low as we may ever see, and retire an obsolete building when the enrollment peak has passed through.

    The district had to do site studies to decide on a location, and preliminary design of the building was necessary to determine what size building would fit on each site.  The district already owns the site on which the proposed new school would be built.

  9. Playground scale

    Not sure the scale here, and the open space behind the school is great, but the equipped playground space seems a little tiny…

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