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Rhodes proposed to get Spanish-English focus

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Evanston/Skokie School District 65 is considering a plan that would eventually see Bessie Rhodes Magnet School entirely dedicated to Spanish-English bilingual instruction.

A staff report to be presented at Monday’s board meeting says Rhodes is the best place to expand the popular two-way immersion program — because west Evanston and Skokie neighborhoods near the school, located at 3701 Davis St. in Skokie, have a large Hispanic population.

A chart from StatisticalAtlas.com showing the Hispanic population by census tract block group in District 65.

Staff recommendations also include replacing Mandarin instruction with Spanish in the non-TWI grades at the school.  Administrators suggest adding two strands of the TWI program this fall and adding two new strands every year, with the end result being a school that’s entirely made up of TWI classes.

The report outlines several reasons for this choice.

  • Bessie Rhodes has an attendance preference area in the 5th Ward which is populated by predominantly black and Latino families, creating opportunity for native English speaking black families to have increased access to TWI.
  • Adding TWI strands at Bessie Rhodes addresses a growing population of native Spanish speakers in north Evanston where District 65 currently offers one TWI strand, at Willard School.
  • The addition of TWI to a magnet school allows for both strands to be added in the same year without eliminating a neighborhood school which would be the outcome if a non-magnet school is converted.
  • With an average class size of 19, Bessie Rhodes has opportunity to more fully maximize enrollment.

This plan comes with a price tag of $85,000 this year alone. Immersion would be complete by the year 2026-27.

Over the next two years District 65 will look into adding two-way immersion to middle school grades as well.  

The proposal, after initial discussion at Monday’s meeting, is expected to be discussed again at the board’s Nov. 20 meeting, with a vote on the plan to be taken at the Dec. 4 meeting.

Information sessions on the proposal are scheduled at the school at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 15 and 30.

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