Joseph E. Hill Education Center in Evanston
Joseph E. Hill Education Center. Credit: Adina Keeling

Editor’s note: In addition to this piece, the RoundTable has also published an ETHS 101 on everything students, parents and families in high school need to know.

Time flies when you’re having fun! To the chagrin of Evanston kids but the relief of many parents, Evanston/Skokie School District 65 will open its doors for local elementary and middle schoolers once again on Wednesday, Aug. 24, the first day of the 2022-2023 school year.

At the district’s central offices at the Joseph E. Hill Early Childhood Center, planning for the new year has been underway for months, and both old and new faces will be there to greet students at every school.

But first, families have to sift through paperwork, including student fees, meal applications, health forms and more. Here’s a full guide from the RoundTable with resources and dates to keep in mind to ensure you start the year on the right foot.

Class schedules and key dates

All 15 schools and three education centers in the district will open for the new school year on Wednesday, Aug. 24. Monday and Tuesday of that week are staff work days to prepare for the start of the year.

The middle schools start class every day at 8 a.m. and dismiss at 3:05 p.m., while the 10 elementary schools each start at 9:05 a.m. and dismiss at 3:35 p.m. The two kindergarten through eighth-grade magnet schools – Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Literary and Fine Arts School – start classes at 8 a.m. daily and dismiss at 2:45 p.m. Finally, Park School runs from 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., and Rice Education Center runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

If you have a child in the Joseph E. Hill Early Childhood Center, you can check the website for more information about morning and afternoon session hours for preschoolers and Head Start students.

Each individual building will host an open house for parents, caretakers and families at some point during the first few weeks of school, so stay tuned for an announcement about a date and time from your child’s teacher or principal. In the meantime, here are a few key dates to add to your calendar:

  • Evanston/Skokie Community End of Summer Fest with District 65, the City of Evanston and Evanston Township High School: 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13 at James Park on Dodge Avenue and Mulford Street.
  • Back-to-school ‘Kits, ‘Cats and Kids Block Party: 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15 at ETHS’ Lazier Field on Church Street and Hartrey Avenue.
  • Parent teacher conferences: All day Monday, Oct. 17, through Thursday, Oct. 20.
    • You’ll find out more about specific dates and times for your own meetings from your school closer to the date.

Student fees and meal applications

At registration time each year, families have to pay student fees for items like transportation services, classroom activities, iPads and basic school supplies. But all fees are waived for students receiving free meals, and fees are discounted for students receiving reduced-price meals. For more information about applying for free or reduced price meals, go to the district’s webpage, which also includes a link to apply. Applications are due Wednesday, Aug. 17.

District 65 families can make payments online at the district web store, and you can also find instructions for setting up an account here. Additionally, you can make payments in-person at the district business office on the second floor of the Joseph E. Hill Early Childhood Center.

This year, as in the last two years, the district is also paying for all school supplies for every student using federal pandemic relief funds, so families can save themselves the headache of fighting the crowds at Target over the next few weeks. 

“We hope this will relieve some of the financial burden and provide parents and caregivers with one less thing to worry about,” the district said in a post on its website.

Health and wellness requirements

Illinois law requires school districts to have certain health information on file before students start certain grades, especially kindergarten. Before the first day of kindergarten, families have to submit an eye examination report, a proof of dental examination form and a child health examination form. The dental form also has to be completed before second and sixth grade, and the health exam form has to be submitted before sixth grade as well. You can read more here about vaccination requirements for each grade level, and you can find out here about other details concerning student medications, allergy resources and student illnesses. 

In the coming days, the district is also expected to announce more information about COVID-19 protocols and precautions for the new school year, and Supt. Devon Horton will be sending out a welcome back letter closer to the first day, according to school board Secretary Adeela Qureshi.

Child care options

District 65 offers child care programming both before and after school every weekday for kindergarten through fifth grade using two different services: the district’s own School Age Child Care (SACC) program and a separate program from a company called Right At School. Child care services are provided from 7 a.m. to the start of school and from the end of school to 6 p.m. each day. Transportation is not provided, however.

Info for substitute teachers

District 65 is hosting a recruitment and registration fair for new and returning guest educators – formerly called substitute teachers – from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. this Saturday, Aug. 13, at the Joseph E. Hill Early Childhood Center, 1500 McDaniel Ave.

New guest educators will have a chance to learn more about the program and interview for a position with current district staff, while returning guest educators can participate in an expedited onboarding process. Anyone interested in attending should bring a valid Professional Educator’s License or Substitute License, which you can also obtain by following these instructions from the Illinois State Board of Education.

Guest educator positions and applications are available online here. The daily pay rate for guest educators this year will be $150 per day. Guest paraprofessionals will make $120 per day and guest administrative assistants will make $16.50 per hour.

More Evanston 101: The RoundTable offers a crash course of information on many local topics.

Duncan Agnew covers Evanston public schools, affordable housing, City Hall and more for the RoundTable. He also writes long-form investigations, features and the morning email newsletter three times a...