Evanston RoundTable

Good morning, Evanston.

The District 65 School Board has a very full agenda for its Monday night meeting, including plans to redraw attendance areas and revamp math curriculum. After the working board meeting ends, the finance committee will discuss budget projections for the next five years.

The board will discuss a Student Assignment Plan designed to evaluate and propose changes to the attendance map for the district’s 15 elementary, magnet, and middle schools. The plan calls for three phases of study beginning this winter and concluding with a recommendation to the board in March of 2022. One of the first steps will be to convene the Student Assignment Advisory Committee, a group selected to give input into the process. Applications for the committee will be available on Feb. 15th.

Also up for discussion is a new middle school math curriculum that would provide “a single pathway for all students.” Central to the plan is a recommendation to close the accelerated Math 6/7 course and replace it with a three-year sequence for all students, to discontinue district-wide math placement testing, and to eliminate the middle school Geometry program offered at ETHS. Along with academic and equity concerns driving the recommendations, the proposal would also generate cost savings of up to $29,000 in 2022-23 for busing and tuition fees for the Geometry program, plus additional savings within the district.

After the working board meeting ends, the finance committee will discuss budget projections for the next five years. The revised projections show a deficit of $1.9 million next year, which is a shift from the earlier projected $67,000 surplus, assuming nothing is done to cut expenses or increase revenues. The projected deficit would rise to about $15 million by fiscal year 2026. One memo refers to a three-phase plan to eliminate the structural deficit by the end of fiscal year 2026.

You can read the full District 65 School Board packet here and watch live coverage of Monday’s meeting here.

Alicia Garza

In other school news, the ETHS Black Student Summit will be held tomorrow, with keynote speaker Alicia Garza of Black Lives Matter interviewed by ETHS graduate Nia Williams . . . A recent update on the status of remote learning in School District 65 raised some concerns about the pace of instruction and the level of student engagement . . . In last Friday’s E-Town Live, District 202 Superintendent Eric Witherspoon and Assistant Superintendent and ETHS Principal Marcus Campbell discussed plans for in-person learning experiences that begin Feb. 16th. And several ETHS sports are back – find out what the season will look like and how the teams are shaping up.

Speaking of sports, Northwestern’s Football announced its schedule for 2021.

City News: On Friday night, the Chamber of Commerce celebrated Business Persons of the Year: Heather Bublick and D’Andre Carter of Feast & Imbibe, Soul & Smoke; Non Profit Person of the Year: Monique Jones of The Evanston Community Foundation; and Community Leadership Person of the Year: Meleika Gardner of Evanston Live TV.

In the wake of Burger King’s closure, NU students called for more late-night dining options in an appearance before the recent City Economic Development Committee.

Election news: The Evanston RoundCast (our podcast series), features three candidates for Fourth Ward Alderman in the Feb. 23rd primary: Jonathan Nieuwsma, Diane Goldring, and incumbent Don Wilson. Candidates Patricia Connolly and Sari Kadison-Shapiro did not participate. Veteran city reporter Bob Seidenberg led the candidates through a discussion centered on the renovations and cost of the new Robert Crown Community Center, transparency and accountability in government, and affordable housing practices in the Fourth Ward. 

We also have a guide to the City Clerk race: five of the seven candidates (six of them write-ins) provided the RoundTable with their perspectives on the duties and responsibilities of the City Clerk and why they are seeking the office.

Don’t forget: Early voting start tomorrow, 9am-5pm at the Civic Center and continues until the day before the Feb. 23rd primary.

Today is predicted to be the coldest day of winter, according to the Chicago Tribune, with an arctic air mass hovering over the area for the next ten days.

The Week in COVID:

  • The number of COVID-19 cases fell to 62 this week from 98 the week ending Jan. 30.
  • There were two fatalities reported this week. Evanston has lost 108 residents to the pandemic.
  • Our City’s positive test rate is 0.7%, down from 1.1% the week ending Jan. 30; the test positive rate in suburban Cook County is 6.2% and in Illinois, 3.4%.
  • Illinois has received 2.1 million doses of the vaccine, 58% of doses have been used and about 50,000 doses were administered last week.  About 285,000 residents are fully vaccinated. 
  • Evanston has received 8,900 doses to date.  Our City’s health department is currently vaccinating residents age 77 and older.

The City hosted a Vaccine Q&A on Thursday. The headlines:

  • Evanston has nowhere near the number of doses it needs to vaccinate all groups in Phase 1b but hopes that supply will increase in the next month. About 20,000 people – 25% of Evanston residents – are eligible to receive a vaccine in Phase 1b. 
  • The City plans to launch a Vaccine Dashboard this week – we will alert you when it goes live!

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