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Evanston Township High School currently has the largest student body it has had in five years, according to a report presented to the District 202 School Board at the Nov. 17 meeting. At 3,238, there are 118 more students enrolled than there were last year and the new freshman class, 800 students, is the largest since 2004-05. The report, presented by Dr. Carrie Levy, director of Research, Evaluation and Assessment, uses enrollment numbers as of Sept. 30, the official date used by the State of Illinois. Enrollment numbers include students attending the main campus as well as those in off-site programs. This year 152 students attend off the main campus, down slightly from last year’s number of 159.
The report also identifies Evanston residents who attend schools other than ETHS. In 2014-15, the number of District 202 residents attending non-public schools increased to 304 from 267 the year before. Most of this increase is attributed to higher enrollment at Loyola Academy and North Shore Country Day School, according to the report.
Enrollment by Race/Ethnicity
The percentage of black students at the main campus is 28.8% this academic year, down from 29.4% in 2013-14. This is the lowest percent in five years. The proportion of black students has seen a steady decline since 1994-95. The proportion of Latino students at the main campus remained relatively constant from the prior year; 17.0% in 2014-15, compared to 17.1% in 2013-14, which is the second highest in ETHS history. Since 2012-13, the percentage of white students at the main campus has remained relatively constant and is 44.7% in this year. The percentage of Asian students at the main campus has increased slightly in 2014-15 to 4.9% and the percentage of students identified as “two or more races” has remained relatively constant over the past five years.
Special Ed Numbers Trending Upward
The number of students enrolled in special education programs increased from 348 in 2013-14 to 383 in 2014-15. School Board member Bill Geiger asked about the implications of increased enrollment in special ed. Dr. Eric Witherspoon, ETHS Superintendent, said that increased special education enrollment has “big budget implications” and that ETHS is “spending more today than in history” but that we live in a community where we “don’t hesitate to identify” kids as special needs and “offer support when needed.”
Pat Savage-Williams, Board vice president, asked if families are moving to Evanston specifically to enter our special programs. Dr. Witherspoon said, “We know for a fact, families tell us” that they come to Evanston for our help. Providers also tell special needs families that Evanston is a community that “serves needs well, where (special need) students are embraced.”
Mark Metz, Board member, said this is “another area where we need to put pressure on legislators,” that the financial burden “should not fall solely on Evanston.” Jonathan Baum, Board member, agreed, pointing out that Senate Bill 16, which proposes to redistribute dwindling state funds to Illinois districts, “dumps special education funding” altogether.
Mr. Baum also pointed out that class size has gone down in some areas. The average size is 21 according to the report. This shows, said Mr. Baum, “what we’re getting for the money. We’re getting a lot.” ETHS is “spending wisely and the numbers reflect that.”