In a series of meetings earlier this year, the School Board considered the possibility of establishing a new 18-classroom school in the Fifth Ward, adjacent to the Weissbourd-Holmes Family Focus Building, the site of the old Foster School. Before a new school may be established, voters must approve it in a referendum. 

On Dec. 6, the District 65 School Board took a step toward putting a referendum question on the ballot. The Board formally decided to establish an “Ad Hoc Referendum – New School Committee” whose charge is to “determine the feasibility for building a new school based on space needs and community interest and support.” 

School Board members Jerome Summers, Katie Bailey and Kim Weaver will serve on the 11-member Committee. Mr. Summers and Ms. Bailey will be co-chairs. In addition, each School Board member will nominate one person to serve on the Committee; and Mr. Summers and Ms. Bailey will select an additional member. The goal is to include persons who bring the following perspectives: parent; neighborhood, historical, community (Northwestern, business, etc.) and educational. 

The Committee, together with the administration, will review the District’s space needs over the next five years; outline the history of Foster School; review educational data; survey potential attendance-area families to determine interest and support; hold at least one public forum; design curriculum and program options; address attendance options; analyze location options (including building a new school, leasing space or developing shared options); analyze funding and governing options; analyze financing options; and, if the Board decides to proceed with a referendum, propose referendum questions. 

The Committee is scheduled to present its findings to the School Board in the fall of 2011. If the Board decides to put a referendum question on the ballot, it is anticipated it would be the March 2012 ballot.