The citizens’ group pushing for a STEM school that would focus on science, technology, engineering, and math in Evanston’s 5th Ward is modifying its tactics.
In a news release issued Monday, Henry Wilkins, president of STEM School Evanston, says the organization is now looking at the idea of a Foster Community Campus, linking a new 5th Ward school with nearby social service and recreation providers.
Details will be released on Saturday.
Wilkins says, “We have not given up on the pursuit of delivering a STEM Community School located in the Central Core, however how we might accomplish that goal” has changed.
Evanston/Skokie School District 65 is already aiming, in principle, for a new 5th Ward school which may or may not use a STEM curriculum.
The district also has a different funding model than what STEM School Evanston was discussing. STEM is now endorsing the district’s plan, which school officials say can cover the $37 million new school price tag without a tax increase.
Returning a school to the 5th Ward has been a goal of neighborhood activists for decades. It has been more than 40 years since Foster School closed in the historically Black neighborhood, with students bused to other parts of town in a desegregation plan.
On Saturday, Wilkins’ group will release its STEM school feasibility study.
Wilkins says that study has “helped birth the Foster Community Campus concept.”
Wilkins says that campus would link the new 5th Ward school, the Fleetwood Jourdain Community Center and the Family Focus social services agency into a “single hub for educational and community support.”
Family Focus is located in the old Foster School.
As part of the idea, Wilkins’ group is exploring creation of a “STEAM Center of Excellence” Hub in the Family Focus Building, and “ideally, we tie this STEAM Hub to the new 5th Ward school.”
The “A” in “STEAM” adds “arts” to “STEM.”
The feasibility study will be presented during a live-streamed panel discussion Saturday at 11 a.m.