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...

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  1. New apartment tenants add to the growth

    As a Lincoln parent it is my hope that the city counsel and D65 can work more closely together when it comes to city planning/real estate developments to more reliably forecast school enrollment. For instance, with over 200 new rental units in the AMLI building it's not that surprising to see that the substantial number of families who have moved into that building did so planning to send their children to Lincoln. What will happen once the huge 9-story development slated to be completed as early as 2016 is open for new tenants?

    1. Are you sure new apartment tenants add to the growth?

      Historically, Evanston's new apartment buildings and high-rise condos do not attract families with school-age children. Are you sure that the AMLI complex actually has very many school-aged children? Quite unlikely. Rather the increase in students is because young couples with small children are buying single-family homes in these attendance areas.

      The projection was there two years ago when the new school — which was proposed for the most available real estate in Evanston, which happened to be in the 5th Ward — was advanced by the Board of Education. We were cautioned and did not listen.

      The proposal was turned by some people to be primarily for a 5th Ward school, but, if you look at all the Board's information, they were seeking a solution to the projected overcrowding. Live and learn.

      1. AMLI

        Yes, the housing stock of condos in South East Evanston turned over.  Parents moved into AMLI and apartments and condos.  Lincoln School went from 320 students to 540 students.  There aren't enough single family homes in South East Evanston to support your claim.  

  2. Time to consider redistricting

    After the failed referendum on the 5th ward school (which was not proposed to relieve over-crowding but to put a school in the 5th ward), it was obviously the time for the board and administration to bite the bullet and consider redistricting. With enrollments continuing to increase above expectations, it is crucial that these discussions begin immediately.

    Yes, redistricting will always cause concern because people will invariably be sent to different schools than they were used to. But redistricting will not only allow greater balance, it can eliminate the Willard island and other discrepencies that adversely impact students from the 5th ward.

    Wouldn't it be better to have some students moved to different schools than to have too many kids in a classroom?

    1. Retrofit 2010 Dewey for Fifth Ward school

      Redistricting is a good idea but it will never happen.

      The powers that be will use this as an excuse to push again for a new elementary school in the Fifth Ward. Jane Grover, Gabel, Schakowsky, local teacher unions and so many others spent a lot of time and money to get the Fifth Ward School voter referendum passed. But the $28 million price tag plus an undisclosed amount to operate it was too much for overtaxed Evanstonians.

      I think the best solution is to convert the building at 2010 Dewey that houses the YMCA reading center and  Family Focus back into an elementary school it once was. There would be no need for a voter referendum and folks get their neighborhood school.

      But when politicians get to make decisions based on other people's money they get a little greedy. You know what I mean if you got your property tax bill Aug. 1 or paid your state income tax or water bill or… 



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