District 65 administrators are beginning to look at the possibility of adding classroom space and making renovations to Lincoln Elementary School. In a shift of how the District approaches major renovation projects at the schools, TMP Architecture has been retained to facilitate conversations and develop design options with the Lincoln School community. 

At a Finance Committee meeting on Feb. 14, Paul Brinson, chief information officer, presented projections showing that Lincoln School’s enrollment would increase from 356 students this year to 484 by the 2015-16 school year, or by 128 students.

 Only three other elementary schools are projected to have increased enrollments: Dewey by 23 students, Walker by 3 students, and Willard by 52 students. The School Board recently approved construction work at Dewey and Willard, which Paul Brinson, chief information officer of the District, says will address the space needs at those schools. 

The remaining eight K-5 schools are projected to have a decline in enrollment between now and the 2015-16 school year. At the middle schools, Haven and Nichols are projected to have increases of enrollment by 178 students and 128 students respectively by the 2015-16 school year. 

TMP, which has completed more than 5,000 school projects, uses an interactive and collaborative approach in working with school districts and engaging school community members. It says, “Our goal is to elevate the school to an environment that fosters education.” 

On March 8, Superintendent Hardy Murphy presented TMP’s proposed scope of work at Lincoln school to the Board’s Finance Committee. There are five phases. TMP will:

  • learn about the school and explain their approach to the school community;
  • conduct an interactive brainstorming vision session with the community;
  • compile information from the “vision session” and refine and prioritize ideas in interactive sessions with the community;
  • present priorities and an “ideal”space program based on priorities; and
  • develop “concept options” for improvements and upgrades and cost estimates for each option; present the options to administrators and the community and reach consensus. 

TMP plans to complete its work in April at a cost of $24,510. At this point it has not been retained to prepare architectural drawings, and the School Board has not approved the preparation of any architectural drawings or any construction work. 

Superintendent Hardy Murphy said the District has learned from prior projects that parents want more involvement in the process. “This is a way of doing this at the front end.” He added that this approach could be a model going forward with other similar building projects.

 Finance Committee members were positive about TMP’s approach. Finance Committee Chair Katie Bailey cautioned, though, that the District needs to stay realistic in terms of ensuring that the options proposed address life/safety and space issues, and that they recognize there are budgetary constraints. 

One Lincoln parent said parents are excited to be involved in the process from the very beginning. She added that parents were realistic in their expectations and were holding their breath until a dollar amount for building work was set. 

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...