A new survey conducted for School District 65 shows little interest among any stakeholder group in establishing a school in Evanston’s 5th Ward.

School board members recently have advocated building a school in the 5th Ward as a way to respond to forecasts of continued enrollment growth in the district. But the board last month postponed holding a referendum on issuing bonds to finance such a school until at least 2012.

The survey, conducted by the ECRA Group, shows the 5th Ward school concept ranking dead last among a list of 18 issues in a survey of community residents who don’t have children in the schools as well as among school administrators, faculty and parents.

The most popular goal among all the groups was “hiring and retaining quality teachers.”

After that the groups showed some divergence in their rankings, with “maintaining lowest possible class size,” “student achievement,” “student behavior,” “parent involvement” and “hiring and retaining quality administrators” scoring high among one or more of the groups.

At the bottom of the list for all the groups, just above a 5th Ward school were “addressing environmental concerns in facilities planning” and “expanding the world language program.”

Some board members have long advocated for a 5th Ward school to replace the old Foster School that was closed as part of the district’s desegregation program in the 1970s.

The closure led to busing of most students from the neighborhood served by Foster School to other schools in the district.

Related link

Board packet containing survey report (See section “H” of the report starting at p. 43)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. New school would help meet most goals

    I would argue that building a new school would improve the outcome for many of these issues – certainly class size, possibly retaining teachers, parent participation, and student achievement and behabior.

  2. Don’t build a school people don’t want

    Let’s not spend millions of our precious tax dollars building a school people don’t want, especially when we just practically gave away a school building to Chiaravalle. That decision was extremely short-sighted.

    1. D65 gave away the 425 Dempster building for a $1 in 1976

       D65 viewed the building–then Miller School, now Chiaravalle–as a liability to its balance sheet back in 1976. They gave the building to the City of Evanston for $1. It wasn’t D65’s decision to make. Talk to your alderman. 

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