Student Assignment Planning FAQs
Additional questions and responses will continue to be posted on this page. Due to the evolving nature of this process, please note that information is subject to change and is based on the best information available at the time. Questions and responses will continue to be updated accordingly.
- How was this decision justified?
- District 65 is required to review boundaries annually according to Board Policy 7:30. Student assignment, including overall district configuration and attendance boundaries, have not had significant changes since 1994-1995. Developing a comprehensive and equitable student assignment plan that takes into consideration shifting enrollment and demographics was deemed a priority of the School Board in 2020. The District embarked on a robust multi-year process driven by a community-based committee to review data and make a recommendation to the School Board. The recommendation would be based on community feedback related to needs and would include updated data from the Master Facilities Planning process (current facility needs and usage across the district, enrollment projections, capacity, and more).
The scenarios presented represent the SAP Committee's current thinking based on the best information available and the values expressed by the community which include neighborhood schools, broad availability of programming to meet student needs, and fiscal responsibility.
- When were impacted stakeholders notified or given a chance for input?
- The SAP process has been ongoing since early 2021. The timeline, including opportunities for engagement, is detailed on the SAP Resource Hub.
- When is any decision expected to be enacted?
- The earliest the approved Student Assignment Plan would go into effect is the 2024-2025 school year. The timeline is subject to change based on external conditions such as the proposed construction of the Fifth Ward School, the continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, community engagement process, and other considerations. The District will continue to keep the community informed of progress and provide more than ample notice of any change to the proposed timeline. Students and staff will remain in their current schools/programs until the new plan goes into effect.
- What are the educational benefits to building a new school?
- Student achievement is an outcome that is supported by many different factors. There are critical academic elements including high quality standards-aligned teaching and learning across content areas as well as the use of regular assessment to inform teaching. Zaretta Hammond, author and professor, outlines that this learning needs to occur in environments where students feel safe, supported and free to show up as they are. Environments that support this allow students to be available for learning.
Bringing back a school to the 5th Ward provides an opportunity to center a school design and environment where the students in this community are engaged in learning within their neighborhood and where they are more likely to see themselves and feel connected and supported.
Additionally, a challenge that has been raised by 5th Ward students and families is that bussing can prohibit students' ability to engage fully in a school program and environment. This also limits access to before and after-school academic and enrichment programs and support.
- How will you decide which option to choose?
- The scenarios being presented on behalf of the SAP committee were developed in response to community input over the past year. Additional feedback was collected on the specific scenarios presented as part of a series of virtual sessions through March 2, 2022. Community feedback will determine which scenario, including any revisions, is recommended to the School Board. The Board is expected to take action at the March 14, 2022 Regular Board Meeting.
Once a scenario is approved, the District will move into the implementation phase and meetings will be hosted with various stakeholders and community members to ensure involvement and engagement. Plans are subject to change based on the implementation period and the feedback gathered.
- Has the committee taken into account the research that shows opening and closing schools has a negative effect on students?
- The Committee entered this process with efforts to minimize disruption for students while knowing that the current student assignment system was outdated and was not adequately meeting all students' needs. Given values expressed by the community related to walkable, neighborhood schools, declining student enrollment (both across the district and more steeply in magnet schools), and data related to building conditions and repair needs, it is not recommended or financially sound to keep all existing buildings in use.
- Do parents and families get to vote on the scenario choice? Or is it only the school board?
- Scenarios were developed by the approximately 40-person community-based SAP Committee which has been gathering feedback from staff, students, and families over the past year. Feedback from the community scenario presentations is being compiled and will be factored into the SAP Committee's consideration of which scenario to recommend to the School Board for action and if any revisions are needed. It is the Committee's charge to make a recommendation to the School Board.
- How has student voice been factored into decision-making?
- The SAP committee has consulted with the Superintendent Student Advisory Committee and the Director of Student Assignments has met with Bessie Rhodes 3rd-5th grade students several times to discuss the historical context and the student assignment process. Students were also interviewed throughout the process which offered qualitative stories to the Committee. The District is sensitive to student needs and the impact of uncertainty and that there has been no decision made to this point. Student voice will continue to play a key role throughout the implementation phase.
- What have people, specifically 5th Ward residents, requested of a 5th ward school - K-8 or just middle?
- We have heard feedback that both are desirable options but come with challenges. The SAP Committee is engaging in a variety of efforts to continue to seek feedback and perspective from 5th Ward residents to determine building design and programming.
- What percentage of the 73% approval cited for a 5th ward school were 5th ward residents?
- SAP Committee representatives are actively in the process of meeting with the 5th ward community and these efforts will be ongoing. There is flexibility in the configuration of the 5th Ward school and community voice, especially Fifth Ward families and students, will be critical in the implementation phase.
There were 6% of 5th Ward families that took the survey, noting that 5th Ward residents make up approximately 10% of the Evanston population. The District is working with STEM School Evanston which is completing interviews with Black families in Evanston to better understand their needs and desires.
- What happens if the Board says 'no' to both options?
- A Student Assignment Plan cannot move forward without Board approval. In the event that neither option is approved, even with revisions, the Committee will need to continue their work to put forth a more desirable option for action and approval.
- Has there been any conversation with the city about what they’re doing to increase the population and encourage movement into Evanston?
- The District is committed to maintaining a high quality public educational program for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade students through an equitable student assignment program. While we are aware of city efforts to create more affordable housing and showcase Evanston as a desirable community to live, we believe these specific efforts to be largely within City purview.
- Who was represented on the SAP Committee?
- Since its inception, the District has been committed to having diverse representation on the SAP Committee. There are currently residents representing all wards, several community educational partners, teachers and support staff representing various unions, local alderpersons, and parents/caregivers. Many of these individuals wear more than one hat and exercise their perspectives in various roles (e.g., community partner and parent). While there has been strong turnout, not all members have attended all meetings held and there have been a couple committee members who resigned during the process for personal reasons. All members are listed on the SAP Resource Hub.
- Will scenarios be discussed in accordance with the Open Meetings Act?
- Yes. The scenarios will be brought forth for Board discussion as part of the March 7, 2022 Curriculum and Policy Committee Meeting and the March 14, 2022 Regular Board Meeting. In addition, several presentations and updates have been presented to the School Board for review and discussion over the past year. View SAP Timeline
- Why is the District relying on the Thought Exchange tool to collect community feedback?
- Thought Exchange has been a valuable tool used by the District over the past year to crowdsource community feedback in a more equitable and democratic way. All participants have the opportunity to share their thoughts both publicly and anonymously and to view all of the thoughts shared by others. Further, they have the ability to vote on which thoughts are resonating most which allows the most pressing thoughts to be elevated to the entire group. It also allows everyone to have the opportunity to have their question asked and diverse voices to be heard and eliminates the ability of one or more individuals to dominate the conversation. These have all been concerns expressed within our community.
All thoughts are captured through the platform and have been individually reviewed by our team. In addition, the team is responding to hundreds of questions put forth by our community in the spirit of transparency.
- Why is the timing so rushed?
- While this may feel rushed to some, it has been decades in the making. While the District is required per board policy to review its student assignment plan annually, this has not been done in over 30 years. Further, the District has not had a formal Master Facilities Plan in place to help guide regular upkeep, maintenance, and repair of District 65 facilities. Current student assignment planning was launched in early 2021 and the master facilities planning process shortly thereafter. Both of these processes are necessary to "right size fit" the district given the significant shifts in student enrollment and academic and social emotional needs over the past several decades. One thing that has remained constant is the systemically racist practice of busing students following the closure of Foster School in the 5th Ward over 50 years ago. While we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us in this work and acknowledge the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognize the urgency of closing the opportunity gaps that exist and providing the highest quality educational experience while students are in District 65.
- We believe that the past 13 months of SAP work, led by a community-based committee, is critical to these efforts. While we are nearing the end of the phase to make recommendations on a path forward, the community conversation is still in the beginning phases and no scenario is final. We look forward to continuing to engage with our community through the implementation phase over the next two years which is where the SAP plan is really brought to life. We are committed to this work in collaboration with our community.
- Why are there only two scenarios? What other scenarios were considered?
- The SAP Committee considered nearly 50 scenarios using a data analysis tool and support provided by Northwestern University. Some of the iterations included:
- Several 5th ward scenarios - size, middle school feeder pattern, student staying at Haven, Kingsley as the neighborhood school
- Consolidate Bessie Rhodes programs with Kingsley (K-5) and neighborhood middle schools (6-8); or the new 5th ward school
- Magnets become neighborhood schools
- More magnet schools; less neighborhood schools
- Closing or repurposing schools with significant decreases in enrollment
- 7th-8th grade middle schools and 6th graders remaining in elementary buildings
- Alternate middle school boundary lines based on capacity
- Dividing elementary lines for schools to alleviate middle school overcrowding issues
- Walker students attending Haven
- Combining all TWI stands to form double strands or moving TWI to single strands at more schools
- How do you calculate estimated loss over the next ten years of students in the district and in schools?
- The district completes 5-year enrollment projections each December which have accurately reflected decreasing student enrollment since 2016. Through the Master Facilities Planning work, detailed analysis was done by a demographer to create 10-year projections. The full report is located here.
- What qualitative and quantative data was considered in this decision-making?
- Scenarios were developed by the SAP Committee and were driven by various data sources. These include:
Qualitative - Historical review of data on Park School, Rice Children's Center, overall student assignment since the inception of the District, previous efforts to build a 5th Ward School; interviews with various students, families in selective enrollment programs (ACC and TWI), families at magnet schools (Bessie Rhodes and King Arts), preschool families; meetings with educators, school administrators, union leaders, district leaders; community feedback collected by STEM School Evanston; review of emails received by parents/caregivers, staff, and residents regarding student assignment including needs, desires, and concerns. In addition, various formal community meetings were held to collect feedback on topics such as neighborhood schools and magnet schools/programs. Various Thought Exchanges were held to collect the hundreds of thoughts and ideas on related topics from across the community.
Quantitative - Data from the Master Facilities Plan and accompanying documents, demographic and enrollment data, community and staff survey data, ACC board updates, TWI enrollment and surveys, SPED board reports, transportation data, several Opening of Schools reports, Achievement and Accountability Reports, Dividing Lines: Racially Unequal School Boundaries in US Public School Systems etc.
- How can I share my preferences on scenarios?
- Feedback can be shared directly with the SAP committee. The link is here.
- Why were there so many individuals on the SAP Committee who are not parents?
- It's critical that there is variety in voice and diverse representation of roles. The SAP Committee includes veteran and new educators and leaders, current and prospective parents/caregivers, representatives from D65 bargaining units, city leaders, and community partners who interact within our schools. Several individuals on the committee that are community members are also parents, which provides an excellent intersection for our committee.
- Why isn't all data being presented in the Community Sessions and not until the March 7 Board Meeting?
- There is over a year of research and data that informed the scenarios being presented and a limited amount of time at the community sessions. Efforts were made to provide an appropriate amount of context and background as well as a well-rounded snapshot of the scenarios. Much of the data is available on the SAP Resource Hub and any additional analysis that contributed to the scenario development will be available at the March 7 Curriculum and Policy Committee Meeting.
- Will both scenarios be presented to the School Board? Or only one recommendation?
- Both scenarios will be presented to the Board on March 7. At this time, the SAP Committee will ultimately recommend one of the scenarios for approval based on their consideration of community feedback and the one that is believed to be the best path forward for our students, community, and schools.
- Are the scenarios considered final?
- No. The purpose of the community feedback sessions is to gather input and reaction to the scenarios presented. The SAP Committee will review feedback and provide a recommendation to the Board for consideration. This may be either Scenario A and B or a variation of either.
- How did you come by your numbers? Can you share the data to explain the numbers?
- Most of the data is uploaded to the SAP Resource Hub.
- How has new construction in the community impacted enrollment projections?
- A comprehensive Geodemographic Study was conducted by an independent demographer that considers detailed analysis of school and community demographics and addresses current and future facility needs including demographic projections over the next five years and ten years. This information is available in the SAP Resource Hub.
- With all the talk about walkability, why is Walker still feeding into Chute?
- There is not currently an attendance-area middle school located in proximity to Walker and the majority of Walker students would need to continue being bused. While other scenarios were considered such as Walker feeding into different middle schools, this was the least disruptive option.
When and where are the board meetings where the SAP scenarios will be discussed?
- The Curriculum & Policy Committee Meeting will be held on March 7, 2022 beginning at 4:45pm. The Regular Board Meeting will be held on March 14, 2022 at 7pm. Both meetings will be held in-person at the JEH Education Center (1500 McDaniel Ave, Evanston) in the Board Room and will be live-streamed and the recordings will be available on-demand. Individuals may sign up in advance to make public comment.
- What consideration has the District given to demographic imbalances, lack of diversity, or resegregating our community schools?
- While our schools are relatively diverse, our Evanston neighborhoods are not. This diversity is manufactured by busing students (largely students of color) into schools located in other neighborhoods. Based on community feedback, individuals expressed a desire for neighborhood schools even if that meant schools would ultimately be less diverse. The scenarios being proposed are about elevating family choice rather than creating disproportionate impact and harm
Will these proposed boundary changes ensure that no schools in the District are over 60% white? Is that policy still in effect?
- This is an outdated policy that is no longer in effect in District 65. With the community emphasis on neighborhood schools and the potential building of a Fifth Ward School, there will be less diversity in schools. This is largely because neighborhoods are not diverse. Until the student assignment plan goes into effect and families make choices about school, it's difficult to accurately predict the school-based impact at this time.
Under these scenarios, north Evanston schools will have significantly smaller class sizes. How does that achieve equity?
- The SAP committee and the 5th Ward Alderman met extensively about redlining and the locations of our schools. We also asked what our community prioritizes in our virtual interactive presentations. Overwhelmingly, community members stated that they prioritize neighborhood schools over racial diversity. The 5th ward community has advocated for a school for over five decades and several attempts were made without success. Over 500 students are currently being bused out of their neighborhood and across the community - primarily to north Evanston schools. We do not believe that equity is about forcing integration but about giving choice to families and access to a neighborhood school.
Why are schools with the greatest reduction in students (due to opening of 5th Ward School) not being considered for closure?
- Through engagement opportunities over the past year, the SAP Committee heard loud and clear from the community the value placed on walkable, neighborhood schools and the need to reduce transportation for students. Closing any neighborhood schools would be contradictory and would increase the burden on students, families, and the district.
How does a new school address historical inequities?
- The SAP committee and the 5th Ward Alderman met extensively about redlining and the locations of our schools. We also asked what our community prioritizes in our virtual interactive presentations. Overwhelmingly, community members stated that they prioritize neighborhood schools over racial diversity. The 5th Ward community has advocated for a school for over five decades and several attempts were made without success. Over 500 students are currently being bused out of their neighborhood and across the community - primarily to north Evanston schools. We do not believe equity is not about forcing integration but about giving choice to families and access to a neighborhood school.
How were students with special needs factored into these scenarios and decision-making?
- Our student assignment project team consulted with the Student Services team about supporting students with diverse learning needs. All schools now have IEP support and will have Emergent Bilingual services as of 2024. We are currently transporting several students that did not have these supports within their neighborhood school and are recommending that a seat at their neighborhood school be offered to them.
- Will staff members lose their jobs as part of the SAP scenarios being presented?
- At this time, there are no planned reductions of staff related to the opening or closing of any school or programmatic expansion or consolidation. Based on the changes being proposed, the District anticipates that operations will largely be cost neutral.
As a reminder, student enrollment and programmatic need have always driven staffing decisions. While declining enrollment will inevitably have an impact on staffing, efforts will be made to first address through attrition and staff retirements.
- Based on potential closures or recommended program consolidation/shifts to other buildings, how will staff be reassigned?
- In consultation with school leaders, the District's goal is to ensure that we can maintain an effective transition for staff and students. This includes ensuring programmatic efficacy and excellence and to retain our staff in alignment with student enrollment and programmatic needs. Please note that any changes to programming outlined in the scenarios are only recommendations at this point. Programming recommendations will continue to be considered in the implementation phase with staff and community feedback.
Any staffing-related decisions will be handled in accordance with the guidelines outlined in collective bargaining contracts with various employee groups. This includes both reassignment and voluntary transfer.
If a new school in the 5th Ward is approved, applications will be open and a recruitment process will be in place to build a powerful team to both lead and support the school in various capacities.
The District cares deeply about staff and recognizes the pivotal roles they play in students' lives and overall educational experience. The District is committed to supporting a smooth transition and being communicative and transparent throughout the implementation phase as well as working collaboratively with unions to ensure all contractual agreements are adhered to.
- How will you support the emotional and mental toll this might take on staff/teachers/students as you make these changes?
- Through close collaboration with the school administration and unions we plan to develop the necessary programming support to assist staff who may find shifts stressful. The new District 65 Change Management Policy will be in place to help ensure strong communication, collaboration, and the availability of resources.
- Will staff be competing for jobs?
- No, staff will not be competing for their jobs.
- Will staffing changes impact schools across the district?
- Student enrollment and programmatic need have always driven staffing decisions. Changes to programming within schools as well as student enrollment will be considered to help ensure all buildings are staffed appropriately with qualified, diverse teams.
- Are you anticipating a need to RIF non-tenured teachers?
- As a response to this proposal, no, we do not anticipate having to RIF non-tenured teachers.
- How will programming shifts be made and what about related service staff?
- As part of our community engagement, families valued diverse programming and expanded availability. At this time, the recommended scenario does propose a reduction in programming.
While the Board is expected to take action on the recommended Student Assignment Plan on March 14, this will not have any direct impact on programming. We believe strongly that programming changes (including those related to TWI) across the District must be made in collaboration with our community as part of our Implementation Phase which will likely begin this spring. Any significant programming changes go into effect at the earliest in the 2024-2025 school year.
- If programs are expanded/consolidated across buildings, how will this impact educators and support staff?
- At this time, there is not a recommendation to reduce programming but work to better align to student needs and more efficient building usage. Further, programming changes need to be made with fidelity, which will require in-depth collaboration with educators, related staff, administrators, departmental leads, and families. Student enrollment and programmatic need will continue to drive any shifts in staffing, including reassignment.
- Will there be a disruption to operations?
- While we do not anticipate disruption, any level of change has an impact on a school community. Efforts will be made to mitigate disruption and provide continuity by entering into a two-year implementation phase. This will allow time for planning and communication. Any changes regarding student assignment (consolidation, program shifts, boundary changes) will go into effect over the summer in advance of a new school year starting.
- How have we considered communication to families and students who participate in our specialized programs?
- Meetings and various conversations were held with both the Bessie Rhodes and King Arts communities in advance of the scenarios being made public at the community information sessions. As a result of these conversations and better understanding their needs and desires, the recommended scenario was since revised and presented to Board Members on March 7. In addition, community engagement will be necessary in making programming recommendations in the implementation phase.
- Has SAP considered adding ACC to King Arts and TWI to the new 5th Ward school?
- Programming options remain under consideration across the district.
- What is the final year Bessie Rhodes would be open?
- The earliest the physical school building would close would be following the 2023-2024 school year. Any updates or changes to this timeline would be communicated with ample notice to the community.
- Is the District still committed to having a K-8 TWI program?
- The district is committed to expanding TWI from K-8th grade, which is why we believe its desirable to move the Bessie Rhodes community and programming to another K-8 school.
- Will TWI be offered in the 5th Ward School?
- During the implementation phase, the District will engage with community members, specifically 5th Ward families, to determine programming options at the new school. Collaboration and engagement is also occurring through efforts being led by STEM School Evanston.
- If the Bessie Rhodes building closes, will students still have the option to continue with TWI programming?
- Absolutely, this would be at the new location for the school community or in their neighborhood school.
- Is STEM programming still a consideration at the new 5th Ward school?
- During the implementation phase, the District will engage with community members, specifically 5th Ward families, to determine programming options at the new school. Collaboration and engagement is also occurring through efforts being led by STEM School Evanston.
- Is the District considering expanding pre-k?
- This is under consideration, especially in schools that will have unused space and lower student enrollment.
- What is the benefit of keeping single TWI strands? Will those be maintained?
- The District has collected data on the benefits of double stands of TWI supporting educator collaboration, student connection, and Spanish culture. Currently, families and educators at schools with one strand of TWI have voiced challenges with isolation, classroom choice, and lack of connectivity to the school. The benefit of a single strand allows for more offerings throughout the community. While efforts will be made to create double strands, we know single strands will still exist in some buildings.
- Will Emergent Bilingual programs be in all buildings? How will this transition be handled?
- Emergent Bilingual services will be offered at all schools by the 2023-2024 school year. There are two types of Emergent Bilingual models; Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) and Transitional Program of Instruction (TPI). One of the TBE models we use in the K-5 space is Two-Way Immersion (TWI), which is at six schools. In the proposed plan, we still need to meet with a few communities before determining when the Bessie Rhodes TWI strands will move and if we need to combine any other strands. We will offer TPI services, which is language support to all other Emergent Bilinguals that are not Spanish-speakers and the model we use is English as a Second Language (ESL) services.
- How will TWI students be integrated into the rest of the school with their same grade peers?
- In all schools, minimum, lunch, assemblies and recess are for all students by grade level. It is encouraged that schools integrate during specials like gym, fine arts, library, etc. Some schools have established planned intentional time with students from different programs to interact such as science lessons, reading buddies, etc.
- Is the Oakton TWI strand definitely moving to Dawes?
- While this is the recommendation of the SAP Committee, a final decision has not been made. Programming considerations will be made in collaboration with our community as part of the Implementation Phase and over the course of the next two years. The program will remain at Oakton during this time. It's important to note that the Committee only recommends the moving of TWI from Oakton to Dawes if the necessary capital improvements can be made within the building to support students and staff.
- What is the curriculum and achievement impact of the recommended scenarios?
- Last school year, an independent audit was conducted by CMSI, Inc. of District 65 curriculum and instruction practices, policies, and materials. Our Curriculum and Instruction Team has been trained and has revamped the district's curriculum plans. These plans have been driving seismic shifts in what is written, taught and assessed across the district. This will help ensure that all schools have and will continue to engage with research-based written curriculum plans in all core subject areas. In addition, the district will soon finalize a new strategic plan that will include both academic and social emotional learning achievement goals. School work plans, developed in collaboration by school leadership teams including educators, will directly connect to the district strategic plan. Creating an equitable student assignment plan and "right size fitting" the district will ensure a plan for optimizing our facilities and helping to ensure learning environments are conducive to achieving these goals by improving student outcomes. Note, the district did not have achievement goals in the previous Strategic Plan. We are changing expectations to hold ourselves accountable by setting goals and sharing outcomes district-wide.
- Can the 5th Ward school be a magnet and capture Global Studies?
- This is a potential consideration of the Committee.
- Are there enough students for all of the TWI strands being proposed in these scenarios?
- This depends on the school and location.
- In any of these scenarios, will class sizes be affected?
- Demographic and enrollment analysis was conducted for both scenarios and will be available in the March 7, 2022 presentation at the Board Curriculum and Policy Committee Meeting. Schools will likely have varying class sizes, yet all will remain within district guidelines including the following teacher-student ratio:
- K-2 : 1/23
- 3-5: 1/25
- 6-8: 1/28
- What happens to students impacted by boundary changes or consolidation?
- To provide continuity and minimize disruption, the District will allow permissive transfers for students who want to stay at their currently assigned elementary or middle school beyond the 2024-2025 school year. However, the District is unable to provide transportation. Please note that in accordance with current policy, elementary students must attend their newly assigned middle school beginning in 6th grade. This is to help address current overcrowding in some middle schools.
All newly enrolled students will be assigned according to the approved plan. If there is a sibling in a magnet program, the District will continue to honor sibling preference. It is important to know that sibling preference is not for students on permissive transfers.
- Will class and scheduling structures remain the same if students are transferred?
- This depends on the school. If a student is transferring from a magnet to neighborhood school, there will be a schedule change. We hope to support similar scheduling options in new school settings, if applicable.
- How will this impact other students’ schedules? For example, one student may attend Bessie Rhodes but their sibling may attend another school in the district. Have we considered the implications of how this will impact siblings and families?
- All newly enrolled students will be assigned according to the approved plan. If there is a sibling in a magnet program, the District will continue to honor sibling preference. It is important to know that sibling preference is not for students on permissive transfers. It is also important to know that ALL students will be assigned to their local area middle school regardless of their school program assignment.
- What will happen to the kids getting services for special needs at their current school?
The relationships built with the school social worker and learning specialists is priceless for trust.
- We acknowledge the importance of relationships with service providers and peers. Like with all transitions, we can work with the student, families and staff to develop transition plans for students that may include tours, meet and greets, etc. We will be very thoughtful and intentional to support students through any changes.
- How many 5th ward parents want to send their kids to 5th ward school?
- Engagement and outreach remains underway with the 5th Ward community. As part of our student assignment survey this fall, approximately 20% of 5th Ward families indicated their interest in having their child stay in their current school. Once the school opens, all incoming kindergarten students and newly registered students will be enrolled. Families may choose to apply for a permissive transfer within Zone 1 (Haven, Kingsley, Lincolnwood, Orrington, and Willard) according to board policy.
- Are there any risks of overcrowding at the elementary schools that will take on new students based on the proposed boundary lines?
- Not at this time. Scenarios were built using Master Facility Planning data and consideration of capacity, building usage, and student enrollment projections.
- Where can I view the attendance area maps for the proposed scenarios?
- Community members can explore proposed attendance area maps on the SAP Resource Hub.
- If a student will be in 5th grade during the 2024-25 school year, does that mean they have to go to a new elementary school for only a year?
- Not necessarily. Students can remain in their current school to support continuity under a permissive transfer. However, transportation is unable to be provided. Students will need to attend their newly assigned middle school beginning in sixth grade.
- Has the impact of so much change on our young kids in the middle of 3 years of pandemic been discussed? Have mental health experts been consulted?
- Efforts are being made, and will continue to be considered in the implementation phase, to provide continuity for both students and staff. This will include allowing students to stay enrolled in their current school beyond the 2024-25 school year (no transportation provided). In addition to Student Assignment Planning, there is a continued focus on mental health across the District. The District applied for the state wide R3 grant that prioritizes focusing on ALL students who will be impacted by any potential shifts in school placement. The District also worked with Evanston Cradle to Career to provide full community wraparound services for students and staff. District 65 staff and its partner organizations will utilize Restorative Practices and data-informed practices as centerpieces of any methodologies employed during the program. A growing body of research supports the argument that Restorative Practices (RP) can increase student social emotional skills, decrease negative behaviors, increase student academic success, and activate student voice. (Ramey, 2015) District 65 is taking a data informed, equity focused, and culturally sensitive approach to addressing students’ SEL and mental health needs. Since 2018, D65 has been working to transition to an evidence-based, RP approach to classroom management and disciplinary actions that work towards reducing the “discipline gaps” between black, brown and white students. (Pearman et al, 2019) This approach will be expanded upon and extended to community-based partner practices for youth and families in the 5th Ward.
- Will sibling preference be maintained?
- Sibling preference will be maintained per current policy for magnet schools and programs. Sibling preference has never been a consideration for permissive transfers.
- Does the District have projected enrollment numbers based on these scenarios?
- Yes, projections will be shared at the March 7th board meeting.
- If students are "re-assigned" to another school due to boundary or program changes, can they stay in their current school beyond the 2023-2024 school year?
- Yes. However, no transportation will be provided.
- Will 5th Ward students have the choice to stay at their current school?
- Yes. However, no transportation will be provided.
- I heard buildings were in poor condition. What does that mean?
- This term is an architectural facility concept. It refers to the building's ability to function as required and is categorized using the Facility Condition Index (Total Building Repair Cost / Total Replacement Cost = Facility Condition Index). There are two categories below 'Poor' which include 'Very Poor' and 'Replacement Candidate'. More information is available in the Master Facilities Planning Report.
- What will happen to the Bessie Rhodes building when it is no longer occupied by students and staff?
- The intent is to sell the building, when appropriate. Funds from the sale would go towards building improvements across the District.
- Who will "own" the Bessie Rhodes building if it closes?
- District 65 owns the building.
- The District has indicated there are $188million in facility needs for schools across the District. How will the District invest in making much needed repairs in all schools?
- Currently, the average age of our buildings is 77, and there have been many deferred facility upgrades over the past several decades. Over the last five years, the District has been creative in refunding bonds that are eligible and using the savings for building repairs. In addition, funds from the 2017 operating referendum were earmarked and continue to be used for capital repairs. However, the scope of the repairs far exceeds the District's financial resources. Therefore, the District has focused on building envelopes and important mechanical repairs. The District will continue to get creative and explore all options, including using the funds from the potential sale of Bessie Rhodes.
- Was an option considered where Bessie Rhodes would not close?
- Yes, the SAP Committee explored over 50 different scenarios. Based on the significant facility needs and repairs of Bessie Rhodes (over $9.5M), declining student enrollment, and proximity to an existing neighborhood school, it was determined that this was the most feasible and appropriate path forward.
- Where will the new 5th Ward School potentially be located?
- The Fifth Ward School would be located at the existing Foster Field site (located at Simpson and Asbury). The District already owns this land.
- Will Bessie Rhodes continue to accept new students?
- Yes, under the current plan, Bessie Rhodes will continue to accept new students. When the new 5th Ward campus (if approved) has been completed, the entire school community will transition to the new building. The move will occur over the summer and students and staff will begin in the new location at the start of the new year.
- If Nichols' student enrollment increases, how will the District accommodate those students and what facility upgrades have been identified?
- We recognize the impact of increased student enrollment at Nichols and space concerns within the building. Given projected enrollment over the next 10 years, it will be necessary to make capital improvements within the building to repurpose and reimagine space. This was a consideration of the Master Facility Planning process and we are committed to working with the Nichols community on the necessary upgrades.
- How did the District determine the repairs needed for buildings? What was the process and who was involved?
- The process of identifying repair needs was conducted by the independent architectural firm of Cordogan Clark and included as part of the Master Facility Planning Report.
- Is there a plan to build new schools to cycle out ones that are really old and in need of too many repairs?
- The Master Facility Planning Report addressed all the building repair needs districtwide. At this time, there are no plans to build additional schools beyond the one proposed in the 5th Ward. The District will continue exploring options to repurpose space within buildings and make the necessary improvements to the greatest extent possible.
- Will District staff be walking around buildings to really see what the facility needs are? Will families have the opportunity?
- Yes, plans are underway to do so collaboratively early this summer.
- Is the District planning to build additions on any schools?
- As part of the proposed plan, repurposing of space is definitely necessary to accommodate enrollment and staffing at Nichols Middle School. In the implementation phase of student assignment planning, the District will continue to take a close look at facilities across the district to repurpose space, align programming to student needs, and work to ensure environments are conducive to high quality teaching and learning.
- Have there been any ideas about building a middle school where Bessie Rhodes is, to accommodate folks further West?
- This was not a strong consideration as there aren't enough elementary schools in proximity, nor would it address overcrowding concerns at some of our other middle schools.
- This timeline seems fast. How is the district able to design, construct, and open a school in just over two years?
- The Board of Education has not yet approved the student assignment recommendation. However, once the Board makes a decision to build a new school, we are confident that the District architect can design and manage the construction project for a new school in two years. In the event of any delays, the timeline will be adjusted accordingly and the community will be kept informed along the way.
- Two buildings were referenced in the community presentation as nearing the end of their lives. What is the other building besides Bessie Rhodes?
- Park School
- Some schools in north Evanston will have low enrollment. How will space within these facilities be maximized?
- As part of the implementation phase, the District will consider various scenarios for optimizing the use of underutilized spaces districtwide. Options will be discussed in collaboration across communities.
- Why were Park and Rice not considered in the plan, considering the cost?
- These schools were analyzed but there was not enough data to support change at this time. During the implementation phase, the District will continue to look at student needs, programming, and facility usage across schools.