Fewer students are attending Evanston/Skokie School District 65 this year, but more of them are experiencing homelessness.
A report on the Board of Education’s agenda Monday night showed a total of 236 students are “considered homeless” under federal guidelines, an 18% increase (36 children) over school year 2020-21.
Overall enrollment for all students has dropped by 8% from last year, to 6,789.
While the report, which covered a variety of enrollment data, was not discussed at the meeting, district officials have previously stated that economic dislocation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with the high cost of living in Evanston, may be to blame.
Under the federal McKinney-Vento Act, students are eligible for certain services if they “do not have a fixed, adequate, or regular nighttime residence.”
Of the 236 homeless children, 79% were sharing housing, 9% were in emergency or transitional shelters, 9% were housed in hotels or motels, and 2% were unsheltered.
When you add in homelessness to the social/emotional impact of the pandemic on children, the consequences can be challenging, not only for the children and their families, but also for their teachers.
At a school board committee meeting earlier in January, Elijah Palmer, the district’s Dean of Climate and Culture, said “a lot of behavior we are experiencing in school” is coming from McKinney-Vento-eligible children.
“We are trying,” he said, “to think of new ways to offer support.”