Board members at a District 65 Curriculum and Policy Committee meeting on Monday.

Evanston/Skokie District 65 board members are scheduled to vote Monday on a plan to close one school in Skokie and build a much larger one in Evanston’s 5th Ward.

But Superintendent Devon Horton has indicated that if projections from a consultant for future enrollment declines come true, the district may have to close as many as two more schools, in addition to Bessie Rhodes, in coming years.

Horton hasn’t said which other schools he expects would close, but looking at the district’s new student assignment plan and the enrollment projections for 2031-32, it’s pretty clear which schools could end up at the top of the shutdown list.

Black lines indicate the new elementary school boundary lines the district is considering, colors indicate current boundaries in this map provided by District 65..

We sorted the schools into three groups, with boundaries that involve physical barriers and traffic hazards that could increase the need for busing if they’re crossed:

  • North: Located north of a line formed by Golf Road, McCormick Boulevard, Green Bay Road and Grant Street.
  • Central: South of the north boundary, but north of Dempster Street.
  • South: South of Dempster Street.

Elementary SchoolsCapacity2031-32 projected enrollmentProjected enrollment as % of capacity
North area
Central area
5th Ward (elementary)*45441291%
South area
Sources: Capacity from Cordogan Clark study. 2031-32 enrollment projections from D65 presentation 3/7/22.
* 5th Ward elementary capacity is based on projected 2026-27 enrollment

In the North area, if the enrollment projections come true, the district could close the two schools with the most excess capacity — Willard and Kingsley — and relocate their students to the two remaining north area schools — Orrington and Lincolnwood — and have those two schools at only 80% of their capacity.

In the Central area, Dewey School would have only 38% of its capacity used. But if it were closed, the remaining three schools in the area would be over their capacity by about 16%.

In the South area, Lincoln School would have only 38% of its capacity used. But if it were closed, the remaining two schools in the area would be at 97% of capacity.

All the district’s schools have such substantial deferred maintenance issues that it does not appear the relative cost of upgrading a school would make much difference in a decision about which schools to close.

Of course, the enrollment projections may not come true — but if they do, residents in the northern part of Evanston can likely anticipate that their part of town will be hardest hit by school closures down the road.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. It would be interesting to see how much of these “enrollment drops” are due to demographic and school choice shifts, and how much are due to the creation of the fifth ward school. Is it possible for a neighborhood to lose its neighborhood school yet be a bigger supporter of public schooling than a neighborhood that keeps theirs simply because their were more 5th Ward children at that school?

  2. I can’t believe that people of this community is letting this go down! This is insane. What happened to ALL kids should have a walkable school in Evanston? You can’t keep threatening to shut schools down because you “think” that kids are not being birthed in Evanston. Based on the hot real estate market Evanston will always have kids to fill these schools and this is a big reason why people move here. However if they start shutting schools down and pulling stunts like their doing that will change.

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