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Some schools may run out of space on Monday

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Some students at Evanston/Skokie District 65 schools may be asked to switch to one of the district’s two magnet schools if their classes exceed guidelines when school opens on Monday.

Chief Information Officer Lora Taira told the board at its August meeting this week that some classes at Lincoln, Willard, Oakton, and Washington are nearing capacity, as some 125 applicants have not yet completed the enrollment process.

She warned that the district may have to tell some parents that they will be given the “opportunity” to transfer their students to either the Martin Luther King, Jr. Literary and Fine Arts School, at 2424 Lake St., or the Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies at 701 Davis St. in Skokie.

Three parents of students at Lincoln Elementary School, at 910 Forest Ave., addressed the board Monday night and urged it to hold down the enrollment at their school, due to space considerations in the common areas, such as the lunch room and gymnasium, even though the class sizes may technically meet the district’s guidelines.

Lincoln PTA member Lisa Fontoura told the board that “you can’t get the kids through the hot lunch line in 20 minutes, much less give them time to eat.”

Superintendent Paul Goren said that he and Assistant Superintendent for Schools John Price are monitoring the situation on a daily basis and will be visiting each of the schools Monday to deal with any space problems that may arise.

Enrollment in the district has continued to rise, even after the community rejected a referendum two years ago that would have created a new school in the Fifth Ward to deal with the projected enrollment crunch. Since the rejection, the board has added classrooms at some schools, but enrolllments since then have exceeded projections.

At the time of the referendum, the district projected there would be 6,958 students in the 2014-15 school year. Current projections for this school year are now at 7,234.

Part of the enrollment management process involves placing students in the two magnet schools, rather than changing the attendance areas of the individual schools, to lessen the impact as population shifts occur within the district.

As a last resort, the district can put more students in a class than the guidelines allow, but board member Claudia Garrison, a former middle-school teacher, complained that the guidelines need to be revisited by the board because they “seem pretty high to me.”

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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