Evanston news delivered free to your inbox! 

In stark opposition to the District 202 School Board election, where there are not enough candidates to fill the four open positions, at School District 65, eight people have filed for the four open seats.

Angela Blaising, Joseph “Joey” Hailpern, Elizabeth “Biz” Lindsay Ryan, Soo La Kim, Ndona Muboyaya, Donna Wang Su, Katie Magrino Voorhees, and Marquise Weatherspoon are candidates in the April 6 election for the four open positions on the District 65 School Board.

Mr. Hailpern, Ms. Lindsay-Ryan, and Ms. Kim are incumbents. Current Board member Suni Kartha is not seeking re-election – accounting for the fourth open seat.  For Ms. Kim and Ms. Lindsay-Ryan, this is the first election, as both came to the Board as appointees, Ms. Lindsay-Ryan in 2019 and Ms. Kim in 2020.

Two challenges facing the District are addressing a structural deficit and a controversy over reopening schools. The deficit is projected to increase in increments of about $3 million annually starting in June 2022 and be $12.4 million by FY’26 if nothing is done.

Administrators proposed at the March 8 School Board meeting proposed cuts of $1.9 million in the FY’21-22 budget.

The Board has not held a public debate about reopening schools. Social media, though, have exploded with vitriol and racial accusations toward groups that have publicly favored reopening schools. Some emails and letters between Superintendent Devon Horton and some parent groups have also been heated. The division over reopening schools appears to be playing a part in this campaign season.

Another issue that may affect this election is the Board’s decision to eliminate, after more than two decades, the option for eighth-graders to take geometry through District programs. While District 65 will not offer geometry or provide for students to take geometry at Evanston Township High School, eighth-graders in private and parochial students in Evanston take geometry there. Along with eliminating geometry, the Board decided it will limit math acceleration. Over the past several years, an annual survey has shown math instruction decreasing in rigor.

The RoundTable has asked all candidates to complete a questionnaire that includes their education level, civic activities and connections to the District. In addition, candidates are invited to answer the following four questions:

Describe what would be your three top priorities as a District 65 School Board member.

Name the top two things the current board has done in the past two years that have benefitted all the children of District 65.

Results from the 5Essentials survey, conducted in 2020 before the schools were closed by the pandemic, showed the district lost ground – scoring in the “less implementation” range – in the areas of effective leaders and collaborative teachers, yet the current board did not discuss the results public. What do you think should be done to remedy the situation?

The report on the Joint Literacy Goal of District 65 and 202 shows that almost 60% of Black and Latinx students enter the high school reading below the proficiency level defined by the two Districts. What needs to be done?

The RoundTable will post on March 12 all answers received from candidates.

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...