School District 65 currently provides transportation from Evanston Township High School to District 65 schools for students who choose to take geometry at the high school. District 65 also pays ETHS the cost of instructing the students.

In a memo dated Jan. 13, Stacy Beardsley, Assistant Superintendent of Curriclum & Instruction, and David Wartowski, Director of STEM, informed the School Board of an administrative decision to stop busing geometry students from ETHS to District 65 schools if the students attended a middle school that offered geometry. The middle schools that offer geometry are Nichols, Haven and Chute.

By doing this, District 65 administrators say they will save about $10,000 in busing costs, and save about $13,000 in instructional costs, for a total savings of about $23,000. The memo also says the District will save the time and expense involved in arranging schedules so that District 65 students can take geometry classes at ETHS.

However, the memo says it is possible that District 65 may be required to hire an additional part-time teacher to staff the geometry courses at District 65 at a cost of about $30,000 per year. If this is the case, it would cost District 65 on a net basis about $7,000 a year to discontinue the program, says the memo.

One factor influencing the administrators’ decision is that more students have been deciding to take geometry at District 65.

The table below shows the number of students who elected to take geometry at ETHS and at District 65 in school years 2018-19 and 2019-20, and the District’s estimate of what the numbers would be in 2020-21 if the program were not discontinued.

Administrators thus estimate that about 15 families would be impacted by the decision in 2020-21. They say these students would not be adversely impacted academically, because students who take geometry at District 65 are well prepared and show greater growth in math on the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test than District 65 students who take geometry at ETHS.

The District would continue to provide busing for students who attend a school where geometry is not offered, i.e., King Arts, Bessie Rhodes, and private schools. It would also continue to provide busing for about 10 students who take Algebra II at ETHS, because District 65 does not offer Algebra II.

The memo also says that the change is also supported by equity, noting that about 72% of the students enrolled in geometry are white students, 13% are multi-racial, 7% are Asian, 6% are Latinx, and 2% are black. The memo says, “The predominantly white classes send a false narrative about the academic abilities and talent of our black and Latinx students. This also provides an opportunity to shift resources towards earlier math interventions with the goal of dismantling these racial patterns.”

Meg Krullee, President of the District Educators Council (DEC, the teachers union), said DEC supported the change. Board members did not discuss the memo or the change at their Jan. 13 meeting.

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...