Skip To Main Content



Important 5th Ward School Update January 26, 2024

Dear District 65 Community -

I hope your week went well! It remains my goal to provide updates regarding our student assignment planning process as we know the significant impact it will have on our community. In addition to this one, another important message will be forthcoming regarding next steps for the future of Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies.

On Monday, the School Board unanimously approved a resolution containing new design plans and an updated budget for our new 5th Ward School. This includes a two-story school that will serve 600 students in kindergarten through fifth grade at an estimated cost of $48.4 million. The shift in scope is related to budgetary constraints that I communicated back in October for the project as previously designed.

The Board and I believe that the return of a new state-of-the-art school to Evanston’s Fifth Ward exemplifies both necessary historic and critical investment within our community. Since the closing of Foster School in 1967, students who reside in the Fifth Ward consequently experienced a disproportionate burden. This included loss of their neighborhood school and sense of community, increased busing and accompanying environmental hazards, and lack of access to before and after school programming not shared by other D65 students who have access to walkable neighborhood schools.

Monday night’s Board action balances our commitment to providing a neighborhood school to the 5th Ward community with the district’s fiscal reality in needing to address the structural deficit with significant budget reductions in the upcoming school years.

Regular updates will be forthcoming as the new school becomes a reality. This includes construction, financial aspects, programming, and more. In the oversight of this historic project, the Board and I assure you that it will be handled with the utmost care, integrity, transparency, and love.

Thank you for your continued partnership.

Dr. Angel Turner (she/her)
Interim Superintendent


Future of Bessie Rhodes 

Dear District 65 Community -

Only a few moments ago, I hit the send button on a message regarding the historic return of a school to Evanston’s Fifth Ward community. On Monday evening, another decision was made that will likely impact the future of our school district and, most significantly, the Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies community. And, while Monday’s decisions are nearly impossible to separate or look at independently, it's important to me that I give this community and the decision the attention it deserves. Not just a footnote to another email. 

The School Board made the very difficult decision, in a 4-2 vote (one abstention), to commence the formal hearing process required for considering the closing of Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies. This continues a longstanding conversation regarding the future of Bessie Rhodes since the student assignment planning process began in 2021.

This is undoubtedly one of the hardest decisions we face as a school district. We heard from dozens of family members at Monday’s meeting of their love for their school and the positive impact on their children. 

To continue to ensure our community is informed, I am including the memo presented which includes our requirement to host three public hearings. While our team is currently developing a timeline, the earliest the school closure would go into effect is following the 2025-2026 school year. More details will be forthcoming as this process evolves.

Should the Board decide to close Bessie Rhodes following the required process, it is still to be determined where students will attend school and where the Two Way Immersion (TWI) programming (K-5) and Dual Language (6-8) will be relocated. Our team is working towards being able to provide thoughtful options for families.

Our district remains 100% committed to the TWI program and expanding the dual language program to middle school beginning in sixth grade at Bessie Rhodes next year. We are also looking forward to sharing an update on our planning for expanding the dual language program to other middle schools in the coming years. We believe wholeheartedly in providing this educational experience to our Spanish-speaking English Language Learners and fostering bilingualism, biliteracy, and biculturalism for all program participants.

In closing, I also want to be fully transparent in setting the stage that in the face of declining enrollment and budget challenges, it will be important that we continue our conversations around student assignment planning. This will include potential further building consolidation as well as ensuring equitable programming for students across the district. The future of Bessie Rhodes will be an important aspect within this process. More information will be forthcoming.

As always, we thank you for your support of District 65, our schools, and students. 

Dr. Angel Turner (she/her)
Interim Superintendent