Evanston news delivered free to your inbox! 

Lora Taira, director of information services at School District 65, presented the Opening of Schools Report for 2013-14 at the School Board’s Nov. 4 meeting, together with five-year projections of student enrollment.

Enrollment: The report reflects that 7,116 students are enrolled in the K-8 grade levels at District 65, up 89 from last year; 453 children attend an early childhood education program at the Joseph E. Hill Education Center, down 15 from last year. 

Kindergarten Enrollment: 824 students are enrolled in kindergarten, 39 less than last year. Ms. Taira said 96% of those students had pre-K experience in home day care, a daycare center, pre-school or Head Start. Board member Richard Rykhus asked for additional breakdowns of this data.

Ethnic Breakdown of the K-8 Enrollment: 45% of the K-8 students are white, 25% black, 18% Hispanic, 8% multi-racial, and 4% Asian. In the last 12 years there has been a drop in the percentage of black students enrolled in grades K-8 at District 65 from 45% in 2000 to 25% in 2013; a part of this drop may be due to a multi-racial category being introduced in 2005. During the same period, the percentage of Hispanic students attending District 65 has increased from 8% in 2000 to 18% in 2013.

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 one school, Orrington, has a racial group that exceeds 60 percent of the student body at the school. Orrington is 66% white. 

Low Income: 2,697 students, or 37% of all students, are identified as low-income (using free/reduced-price lunch as the criteria). This is down from 41% last year. Of those, 2,323 qualified for the free-lunch program, indicating a higher level of poverty. The percentage of low-income students at the District’s schools ranges from a high of 62% at Oakton to a low of 18% at Orrington.

Homeless Students: There are a total of 355 students from households who said they were homeless, up from 299 last year and from 31 in 2004-05. Candance Chow pointed out the number of homeless students has increased by 200 in the last two years.

Special Education: 895 students ages 3-14, or 12% of all students, are in special education programs. Of those, 36% are black, 26% white, 25% Hispanic, 6% multi-racial, and 3% Asian. The report indicates that the District has 10 self-contained classrooms. In response to questions, Joyce Bartz, director of special services, said there are three more self-contained classrooms this year than last, and the trend may be to add more self-contained classrooms in the future.

ELL/TWI: 838 students are English Language Learners (ELL). Of these, 310 are enrolled in a Two-Way Immersion (TWI) program, 131 are in a transitional bilingual program, 241 are enrolled in an English as a Second Language program, and 130 have waived services. There are a total of 36 TWI classrooms at five different schools: Dawes, Dewey, Oakton, Washington and Willard. Katie Bailey noted that Spanish speaking students appeared to be dropping out of the TWI program at certain schools and asked administrators to explore why that was happening.

ACC: 92 students are enrolled in the African-Centered Curriculum (ACC) program at Oakton School, 14 in kindergarten, 14 in first grade, 16 in second grade, 17 in third grade, 16 in fourth grade, and 15 in fifth grade.

District 65 Family Center: Mr. Rykhus pointed out that the number of families served by the Family Center dropped from 314 last year to 213 this year. Assistant Superintendent Ellen Fogelberg said this may be due to a shift in focus to 0- to 3-year olds, and also because Oakton Community College is providing some of the services. The Board asked for information that would show how many families in the Fifth Ward were being served by the Family Center.

Class Sizes: The average class sizes for general education classes at the K-5 grade levels are as follows: kindergarten – 20.2 students; first grade – 21.4 students; second grade – 18.8 students; third grade – 20.7 students; fourth grade – 20.0 students; and fifth grade – 19.7 students.

 There is a wide disparity in the average class sizes at the schools, ranging from a low of 11.5 students at the second grade at Oakton to a high of 25.7 students in first grade at Dewey.  

Busing: 2,304 students are eligible to take the bus because of distance, safety or a program placement. Of these, 34% are black, 29% are white, 23% Hispanic, 6% Asian, and 8% multi-racial. The report does not reflect the number of students who actually take the bus. These numbers do not include special education students who have special transportation needs in their IEP.

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...