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Public to offer input on new school tonight

The Evanston/Skokie District 65 Board of Education will conduct the first of three public forums tonight designed to find out what potential referendum voters think about a proposal for a new school in the central core of Evanston.

The Evanston/Skokie District 65 Board of Education will conduct the first of three public forums tonight designed to find out what potential referendum voters think about a proposal for a new school in the central core of Evanston.

The hour-long forum is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the Joseph E. Hill Education Center, located at 1500 McDaniel Ave. It precedes a scheduled meeting of the board’s Finance Committee that is to begin at 7 p.m.

To date, about all the board has heard publicly are positive comments about the proposal, largely from residents of Evanston’s Fifth Ward, which has no elementary school, and African American leaders and clergy who assert that the black community got a raw deal when the district began busing students to achieve racial integration of the schools back in the 1960s.

Faced with projections of rising enrollments that will require additional classrooms and teachers before the end of the decade, the board has been examining the recommendation of a special committee that the district take this opportunity to accommodate projected space needs while at the same time righting a perceived wrong under the flag of social justice.

A new school, however, is projected to cost $25 million to build, plus ongoing administrative costs to operate after it is built, and a referendum would be required to obtain approval to borrow the funds required for the project. With voters sensitive to new government spending during a fragile economy, the board harbors doubts about the success of such a referendum.

Tonight’s forum is the first of three. On Wednesday, a two-hour forum is scheduled, from 7 -9 p.m., and next Monday, another one-hour event has been slated, beginning at 6 p.m., immediately preceding a regular meeting of the board.

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 stations and business-oriented magazines.

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