School District 65 presented its Opening of Schools Report for 2015-16 at the Nov. 16 School Board meeting. Here are some statistics on the student body at the District.

Enrollment: The report reflects that 7,371 students are enrolled in the K-8 grade levels at District 65, up 153 from last year; 408 children attend an early childhood education program at the Joseph E. Hill Education Center, down 13 from last year. The accompanying chart shows the trends.

Kindergarten Enrollment: 820 students are enrolled in kindergarten, three less than last year; 96% of those students had pre-K experience in home day care, a daycare center, pre-school or Head Start.

Ethnic Breakdown of the K-8 Enrollment: 45% of the K-8 students are white, 23% black, 18% Hispanic, 9% multi-racial, and 4% Asian. In the last 14 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 23% in 2015; a part of this drop may be due to a multi-racial category that was introduced in 2005. During the same period, the percentage of Hispanic students attending District 65 has increased from 8% in 2000 to 18% in 2015. The accompanying chart shows the trends.

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 62% white. 

Low Income: 2,731 students, or 37% of all students, are identified as low-income, measured by those who qualify for free- or reduced-fee lunch. This is down from 41% last year. Of those, 2,352 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 68% at Oakton to a low of 25% at both Orrington and Willard.

Homeless Students: There are a total of 216 students from households who are classified as homeless, down from 344 last year and up from 31 in 2004-05.

Special Education: 903 students ages 3-14, or 12% of all students, are in special education programs. Of those, 38% are black, 30% white, 24% Hispanic, 6% multi-racial, and 3% Asian.

ELL/TWI: 871 students are English Language Learners (ELL). Of these, 374 are enrolled in a Two-Way Immersion (TWI) program, 107 are in a transitional bilingual program, 267 are enrolled in an English as a Second Language program, and 87 have waived services. There are a total of 36 TWI classrooms at five different schools: Dawes, Dewey, Oakton, Washington and Willard.

ACC: 85 students are enrolled in the African-Centered Curriculum (ACC) program at Oakton School: 15 in kindergarten, 12 in first grade, 13 in second grade, 13 in third grade, 16 in fourth grade, and 16 in fifth grade.

District 65 Family Center: The number of children served at the Family Center has increased from 170 last year to 314 this year.

Class Sizes: The average class sizes for general education classes at the K-5 grade levels are as follows: kindergarten – 19.5 students; first grade – 20.4 students; second grade – 20.0 students; third grade – 22.4 students; fourth grade – 19.5 students; and fifth grade – 20.1 students.

 There is a disparity in the average size of general education classes at the schools, ranging from a low of 13.5 students in second grade at Dawes to a high of 27.5 students in third grade at Washington.

Busing: 2,650 students are “eligible” to take the bus because of distance, safety or a program placement. Of these, 29% are black, 32% are white, 24% 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.

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...