The District 65 board meeting Monday night.

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.”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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5 Comments

  1. “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.” Unbelievable statement. Blaming behavior problems on disadvantaged kids while you have a “system” in place where students are not held accountable for anything nor are there consequences for their actions is laughable. The kids aren’t the problem. They are kids. Their home life is out of their control. D65’s failure to hold ALL students accountable – regardless of race/socioeconomic status – for their words and actions is the problem. We are failing the youth of Evanston to live and navigate the complexities of the real world.

    1. I agree, Ryan. This district has begun blaming homeless children for their failures to keep ALL students accountable and safe? Deplorable.

  2. In a super wealthy town such as ours, with a super wealthy school system such as ours, managed by people who say “we care…” it is worth our questioning why are there so many homeless people in our town? Schools say “education is the key out of poverty.” But after 13 years at a our super wealthy institution of “learning,” many leave without being able to grasp such a key! And for so many decades! Why???

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