Superintendent Devon Horton, Elizabeth "Biz" Lindsay-Ryan and Sergio Hernandez at the Oct. 10 District 65 Police Committee meeting

School District 65 has 280 fewer students in grades K-8 (excluding Rice and Park schools) than last year, according to data provided by Sarita Smith, Manager of Student Assignment, as part of a lengthy memo presented to the District’s policy committee on Oct. 10.

For purposes of preparing the budget for this school year, 2022-23, the District assumed that enrollment would decline by 58 students, so the actual decline was 222 more than projected.

Ms. Smith did not orally present the enrollment data at the meeting, and members of the policy committee did not ask her any questions about the data or comment on the most recent decline in enrollment.

In the last four years, District 65’s K-8 student enrollment has declined from 7,422 students in the 2018-19 school year to 6,113 students for this school year, 2022-23, or by 1,309 students.

The chart below shows the trend.

The table below breaks down student enrollment data by school. It shows the total number of students who were or are now enrolled in each of the District’s schools for the school years indicated (excluding Rice and Park Schools).  The data is taken from the District’s Opening School Reports for 2019, 2020 and 2021, and Ms. Smith’s recent memo for 2022.  

The chart below illustrates the trends in enrollment at each school.

The biggest decline in enrollment was at King Arts, where enrollment dropped by 171 students in the last three years. Enrollment at King Arts is controlled to some degree by administrators.

Schools in the north end of Evanston had some of the major declines in enrollment in the last three years: Haven Middle School’s enrollment declined by 162 students; Willard School’s by 122 students; and Orrington School’s by 125 students.

Other schools where enrollment declined by more than 100 students in the last three years were Dewey, where enrollment declined by 112 students; Lincoln, by 104 students; Chute by 104 students; and Nichols by 102 students.

Ms. Smith’s memo said that 127 students transferred to District 65 from private schools and 111 from the Chicago Public School System. There are 90 new McKinney Vento students, who are viewed as homeless.

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...

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  1. RT, thanks for the coverage. It would be great to get some context, ie, what are the trends in, say, Wilmette, Skokie, and other similar communities? It’s impossible to evaluate what’s happening in Evanston as one data point.

    1. Joe, Sarita Smith said 83 were added in 2019. The Opening School Reports say that there were 236 McKinney Vento students in 10/22, 200 in 10/21, 178 in 10/20; 199 in 10/19/ and 150 in 10/18. A student who does not have a fixed, adequate or regular night time residence qualifies under McKinney Vento.

      1. Wow those McKinney Vento student numbers are startling – that’s a 57% increase in homeless students over a 4 year period? I know the economy is not great but has there been a corresponding increase in homelessness over the same period? Troubling.

      2. On the topic of McKinney-Vento, the numbers you just provided don’t match what was reported above. Why the difference? On the increase in numbers, are these kids who are new to the District or are kids who were previously part of the District but were newly identified as qualifying? Thanks!

  2. Is there a correlation between school enrollment trend and population trend recorded by the 2020 census? It would be interesting to compare school K-8 enrollment numbers/trend with the 2020 census for increase/decrease in number of primary school age children in each school’s neighborhood.

  3. The -58 number was clearly an old estimate, if you look through old board meetings that was presented during the May 2022 meeting using estimates from December 2021. My question, when Dr. Horton presented a number of 6,592 on the first day of school – was he lying? Operating with bad information? Nobody is ever held accountable in this School District and I am certain there will not be any follow-up on this blatant mis-truth. The board was more than happy to celebrate his announcement but it’s not surprising there are crickets from them now.

    It depresses me to no end to see my son’s friends moving away from the District and his class, which once held 28 students has only 16 this year. I’m happy about the small class size but eventually this is going to lead to a budgetary collapse.

    1. The numbers in my article are for K-8 students, excluding Rice and Park schools, as indicated at several spots in the article. The numbers thus do not include students at Rice or Park schools, and also do not include pre-K students attending JEH. Sarita Smith’s memo states that the total enrollment at D65 including Rice and Park, and pre-K students at JEH and some additional students receiving services, is 6,618.

      1. I see now, that makes sense. Sorry – the numbers get muddied up when you include Park students vs K-8 only.