At its June 30 meeting, District 65’s New School-Referendum Committee began to firm up some details on its recommendation to establish a new school. The Committee decided that the “preferred location” for the new school would be within the attendance area of the old Foster School that was converted into a magnet school in 1967 as part of the District’s desegregation plan. Foster was later closed altogether in 1979 as part of a series of school closings. The Committee did not decide on a specific site, but will leave that determination to the School Board.

The Committee also decided it would recommend that the new school be “an attendance area school with an option enrollment feature,” meaning that students in the attendance area would have a choice to attend the new school or their current attendance area school.  The Committee did not vote on the geographic attendance area of the new school, but it appears it would be roughly that of the old Foster School, or perhaps an area slightly larger.  

The Committee also decided to proceed with a telephone survey of all families who reside in an area slightly larger than the attendance area of the old Foster School and who have children in District 65. The survey is intended to ask open-ended questions to gauge these families’ interest in the new school. Superintendent Hardy Murphy will work out the details of the survey with ECRA, which will conduct the survey.

No decision was made on the curriculum or programs for the new school or whether it will be a magnet. The Committee plans to recommend that the School Board conduct a “visioning process” with the community, similar to the one conducted with the Lincoln School community in planning for the expansion and modernization of that school, and that the Board decide on the curriculum and program offerings in that visioning process.  The Committee will also likely recommend that the School Board be open to magnet school proposals.

Dr. Murphy was asked to discuss an arrangement with Richard R. Murray to consult on ways to get the new school built without tax revenues.  Dr. Murphy outlined a set of proposed criteria for any such arrangement, and said he would report back to the Committee on July 14. He is also scheduled to provide at that meeting an outline of the additional operating costs or savings associated with the new school.

The Committee is also scheduled to meet on July 20 to discuss a draft report and recommendations. On July 21, the Committee is scheduled to gather input from the community at the regular Fifth Ward meeting at Fleetwood Jourdain.

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...