Lora Taira, assistant director of information services at School District 65, presented the Opening of Schools Report for 2009-10 at the Board’s Nov. 30 meeting.

Enrollment: The report reflects that 6,339 students are enrolled in the District’s elementary (k-5) and middle schools (6-8), up 170 students from last year. The number of students in the elementary schools increased by 186 students; the number in the middle schools declined by 16 students.

Ms. Taira said the official enrollment, which includes students in the elementary and middle schools, Park School, Rice School and students aged three and up receiving special education services at the Joseph E. Hill Center, is 6,458, up 164 students from last year.

Kindergarten Enrollment: 797 students are enrolled in kindergarten, 10 more than last year. Ms. Taira said 84% of those students had pre-K experience in a home or center day care, pre school or Head Start.

Pre-K: 371 children attend an early childhood education program at the Joseph E. Hill Education Center, 107 more than last year.  

Ethnic Breakdown: 42% of the students are white, 30% black, 15% Hispanic, 5% Asian, and 7% multi-racial. The number of black students in the District dropped by 2% this year, but Ms. Taira said it was due to more families choosing the multi-racial category when completing registrataion.

At the kindergarten level, 48% of the students are white, 22% black, 13% Hispanic, 4% Asian, 2% American Indian, and 10% multi-racial.

Ethnicity by School:  In accordance with the Supreme Court’s decision in the Seattle School District case, the District no longer uses race as a factor in admitting students to the magnet schools or in granting permissive transfers. This year two schools, Orrington and Willard, have racial groups that exceed 60 percent of the student body at the school. Orrington is 72% white; Willard is 64% white. Three schools – Lincolnwood, Orrington and Willard – exceed the 60% ratio at the kindergarten level. Lincolnwood’s kindergarten class is 65% white, Orrington’s is 86% white and Willard’s is 64% white.

Low Income: 2,668 students, or 41% of all students, are identified as low-income (using free/reduced-price lunch as the criteria) the same as last year. The percentage of low-income students at the District’s schools ranges from a high of 69% at Oakton to a low of 20% at Orrington.

Special Education: 894 students ages 3-14, or 14% of all students, are in special education programs. Of those, 41% are black, 26% white, 19% Hispanic, 5% Asian, and 6% multi-racial.

Last year 917 students were in special education programs.  

ELL: 729 students are English Language Learners (ELL). Of these, 291 are enrolled in a Two-Way Immersion (TWI), 159 are in a transitional bilingual program, 23 are in a bilingual special education program, 140 are enrolled in an English as a Second Language program, and 116 have waived services. There are a total of 35 TWI classrooms at five different schools: Dawes, Dewey, Oakton, Washington and Willard.

Ms. Taira said the number of ELL students enrolling in kindergarten has declined in recent years from 99 in 2006-07 to 89 this year.

ACC: 88 students are enrolled in the African-Centered Curriculum (ACC) program at Oakton School,14 in kindergarten, 12 in first grade, 18 in second grade, 15 in third grade, 17 in fourth grade, and 12 in fifth grade.

Class Sizes: The average class size for general education classes at the K-5 levels are as follows: kindergarten – 19.5 students; first grade – 21.3 students; second grade – 18.6 students; third grade – 20.0 students; fourth grade – 20.3 students; and fifth grade – 20.1 students.

 There is a wide disparity in average class sizes, ranging from 13 students at the fifth-grade level at Oakton to a high of 25 students at fifth-grade at Willard.

The disparity in class sizes sparked discussion among Board members concerning the class sizes at certain schools, overcrowding, the capacity of schools, and the purpose of the magnet schools. Board president Keith Terry said the Board has retained an architectural firm to conduct a building capacity study and demographers to project population growth, and that the Board would analyze options next year. Superintendent Hardy Murphy said the administration had plans to address the District’s space needs for the 2010-11 school year.

Busing:  2,426 students are eligible to take the bus because of distance, safety or a program placement. Of these 35% are white, 33% black, 6% Asian, 17% Hispanic and 8% multi-racial. The report does not reflect the number of students who actually take the bus.

Larry Gavin

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...