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It is obvious that this BOE lacks the professionalism and humility to acknowledge that they own this--for not doing their due diligence, not asking questions, not seeking updates and details instead of blindly following their leader/their anointed one. Some in this town still blindly trust them --bc they lead with equity in mind and nothing else. Others, not so much. I’m not sure where we go from here. All I know is that I don’t trust them to make a bowl of ramen noodles at this point --so expect a new building that will be built but not necessarily set up to succeed. Also expect multiple schools to close (easy choice yes but we have the BOE that we have), extremely austere times ahead for the district, continues academic decline, a horrible contract negotiation with teachers, and a likely ask of the public to fund over $200M in expenses to fix existing structures. Ugh.

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Yes all those things are absolutely still true and the board does owe a big apology to the community and the fifth ward. I wouldn't keep your hopes up though.

I think at this point, it's about damage control and reigning in their pet projects, such as solving climate change with a K-5 school.

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Solving climate change with 5th Ward School 😂

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I wish someone would shake out what really happened there. The teachers all seemed to get it within 24 hrs of the incident. From what I hear it’s nothing like the narrative promulgated--yeah, I know...shocker. Yet I was surprised at the meeting how many people still believe the Horton narrative.

PS - I’ve heard that several difficult kids were taken out of haven and that things are much better. No one talking about it; it’s hidden. But that’s part of why things went from 5-alarm fire to relative quiet within a relatively short period of time.

PPS - After the noose incident at Haven, there was a swastika incident at Nichols. Does anyone know about that? Remember all the emails, articles, peace circles? Yeah, me neither. 🦗 🦗 🦗

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Thank you! I thought I was the only one who remembered the swastika!

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The swastika was an edgy 7th grader who couldn’t draw an acceptable penis.

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@svetlana - apologies for hijacking your post --I thought you were talking about Haven’s climate, not THE climate change. 😬🤣

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I’m a strong believer in the value of local schools that are within walking distance, even though I also agree with Tom Hayden’s diagnosis of the corruption involved in this particular project. Some money apparently has been lost, but we should build a needed local school in the fifth Ward without bankrupting D65 if we can.

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So, it makes sense to saddle this city with debt that can only be repaid through higher taxes to create a walkable school for some kids when there are already several walkable schools they could walk to? And then to create two new schools’ worth of kids who need bussing because their schools will be shut down? Orrington has been on this Board’s chopping block for sure. Willard is up there, too. There is zero way we have walkable schools for everyone unless we kept Foster and Noyes around just in case or the maps are redrawn. Even then, some kids will need bussing due to distance or danger. The problem today is we are stuck doing something the voters would never have voted for and we don’t have the money to pay for it. Plain and simple. We do not have an extra $40+M laying around and the buildings they sell won’t come near that. Nothing else matters but the fact they have saddled us with debt and we are already in deficit and we already have basic and major school repairs to make and we have a negotiation upcoming and no super and a bloated JEH. Let’s not talk about even larger gaps, lowered test scores, lowered enrollment and teachers and principals fleeing the district. I’m sick of hearing about walkable schools when the district is absolutely on fire. The high mortgage interest rates are the only thing keeping scores more residents from escaping. At my block party this summer, out of 18 sf homes (there is an apartment building as well but not counting), 5 wanted to sell and move because of the belief the city and schools were making it harder to live here financially. Two were old empty nesters and three were families with elementary school kids. One block out of how many? This town needs a turnaround back to a sensible city. I can’t wait until the next mayoral election and to also finally get rid of Biz and the rest of those village idiots. Maybe Omar should stay. I don’t have a principle opposition to a new school for anyone! I have an opposition to my already higher taxes getting even higher as these aholes continuously talk about affordable housing.

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I agree with most of what you say. The taxpayers have been ripped off of millions of dollars by grifter Horton and his supporters and fellow grifters on the board of education. According to Hayden’s analysis much of the money is gone and into the hands of the griftors and their friends. Worse, the money already set aside for building a new school cannot easily be recovered. Of course, we should try to limit new school expenditures to the money already dedicated to that purpose. No more.

On the other hand, bussing is not only expensive, but costs students precious time and flexibility before and after school (Not least of which is loss of sleep). Bussing adds nothing to the neighborhoods bussed kids live in: No playgrounds, no convenient structures available for neighborhood social interactions, and no possibility for teachers and administrators to make use of facilities after hours with children who require bussing.

If you live in a rural area bussing might make some sense. But a dense city like Evanston-Skokie, doesn’t need a large fraction of grade and middle school kids losing time and sleep on traffic congesting, pollution generating school busses.

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Honest question... how much time is spent on these busses? Evanston isn’t that big, so Im not imaging that much different than some kids have to walk to school, but am I way off? Are there some gratuitous routes some kids have to endure?

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The question is how many stops does a school-bus make in a trip. Each stop takes a lot of time. Just loading a school-bus after school takes a lot of time. I tried bussing my three kids for a while and compared it to driving them directly to two different far-away schools. The busses arrived a half hour or more before I left and took a comparable amount of time bringing them home. IMO a half hour of extra sleep and a comparable amount of after school freedom was valuable enough to make the sacrifice of driving them.

Of course not everyone can afford the time to give their kids another hour each school day. If the kids live nearby and walk to school, the trip is good exercise and relatively quick as well.

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It’s not ideal but it does not create adverse outcomes. But agreed in principle. Middle schoolers are not bussed except KA and BR and Chute from 60203. I would argue the 60203 commute to Chute is more detrimental to those families. But the grift? Agreed 100%.

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Oct 24, 2023Liked by Tom Hayden

I’ve worked on prepayment of several types of bonds including tax exempt municipals. There are always ways to prepay with costs. You’d have to approach the note holders (I am sure the district knows who holds them) and offer them something to compensate them for the lost interest. It would be messy and a shitshow just like the district! I think the District should be sued for doing this without a referendum. They clearly have been flaunting that they avoided one (hey Sergio - looking at you) as well as last night’s proclamation that the building of the school is “educational reparations” - again, illegal. The board views themselves as decision makers - not the voters and taxpayers - and they are willing to go as far as to use taxpayer money to redistribute educational opportunities based on race. Now one can be for that and that’s fine but it’s not lawful and should then be a private school. It’s also a slippery slope. Reparations for this school - what’s next? Last - there are studies that show busing has zero impact on academic success. It’s a weak argument for blowing up a school district budget.

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Sergio was talking about affordable housing in the last campaign for crying out loud. So who knows what hare brained schemes he would be up for?

I appreciate your last point about bussing and the lack of impact on student outcomes. I’ve made the argument in other threads that theoretically the District should be able to show data on the academic performance of bussed students vs non bussed students. Is there a difference in performance when you control for demographic variables, free lunch eligibility, etc….?

Likely not if results from studies done in other states holds for Evanston. There are actually lots of studies that show bus travel helps with things like absenteeism.

At the very least we need the board to set some performance goals to evaluate the effectiveness of the decision.

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Oct 25, 2023·edited Oct 25, 2023Author

There's an old quote about Donald Trump, "take him seriously but not literally" - that's how I interpret 2-3 of the current board members. Sergio said a lot of stuff at the beginning of the last meeting that was probably bullshit - he was on a hunger strike as a kid to fight against Daley and get a high school? Please. The "educational reparations" line was delivered in such a way that he was testing how the audience responded.

Sergio clearly has his eyes on higher office and is just saying things to see what lands. If you watch him, he's carefully surveying how the crowd responds to what he says. Also, two weeks ago, he had a plant in the audience (sitting next to me) who was taking notes for him on how people responded to what he said.

He's a savvy politician, you can't deny him that. He won the last election even though he is responsible for the whole mess!

I don't think we're used to this style of politician in Evanston but it's the era we live in.

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"Not the sharpest knife if the drawer" was how someone who knows him well described him (!!!). A career with the ISBE - wow, such a great background for a political career. YAWN!

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Interesting. I wonder if we will see a trickle of resignations after the dust settles. They certainly won’t take responsibility for the finances, but it seems like the normal way these people leave is to quit mid-term so the board can nominate a replacement. We haven’t had a resignation in a year (is that a record?) so we’re due for a couple in the next six months. Maybe Joey or Biz or Soo?

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Oct 25, 2023·edited Oct 25, 2023Author

Nah, I think Joey, Biz, and Soo are all in. Donna seems like she's had enough and I think has a lot of professional commitments. I hope she doesn't resign though, because she's kind of been a voice of reason on the board. I think Mya and Omar are improvements over the previous board members 1000% though.

We are in a much better situation than this time in 2022, when Anya and Weatherspoon (personal friends of Horton) were on the Board.

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Academic performance. Showing up to school on time. None of this matters to the board, it’s only the “perception” that matters. If we were truly talking about academic performance why would a new school even be on the agenda? Smoke and mirrors.

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Oct 26, 2023Liked by Tom Hayden

Yet interesting that the “Project” as defined in the document for the lease certificate that you linked to specifically seems to talk about building and equipping a new K-8 school (as opposed to a K-5 one that they seem to want to build now).

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I saw that .. I asked some folks about that and the general thought was that the bond holders probably care more about the property and less about what is actually on the property (because they’ll have a lien on the land)

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Oct 25, 2023Liked by Tom Hayden

Karl, totally with you on not wanting to see our taxes go up substantially (again), but wouldn't you attribute that more to macro conditions like avg sale prices vs. questionable fiscal management by D65? Would seem to me to be more driven by the former than the latter...

Not a 5th Ward resident here but I feel like a new school can still be a W in a number of ways, particularly to give a school that's truly WITHIN a community that overall has been neglected and mistreated for decades. Perfect is the enemy of good.

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The board truly talks out of both sides of their mouth. The 5th Ward school will be more segregated by race. However, when they took away accelerated math it was because the classes weren't diverse enough. So which is it? Diversity helps the underperforming kids or harms them? How will all of the upcoming cuts to the operating budget help children? All of the mismanagement will not close the achievement gap but only widen it. Also, the hypocrisy of Sergio Hernandez is beyond. During the election all he talked about was affordable housing. How is this making Evanston any more affordable?

I was so disgusted by the lack of acknowledgement by the board last night. Just chatting away like business as usual, even laughing during their discussion. It makes me sick. Where is the apology? Where is the comment saying, we are sorry but we should have dug deeper. I see the Roundtable reached out to Horton and Obefami and they declined to comment. I wonder if this will affect their current jobs. I hope so. No other community should have to suffer like this. What's even more disgusting is we seem to be stuck with all of it.

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The board absolutely owes the fifth ward an apology, for the last 18 months of screwing around in their name

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They will owe them apologies moving forward as they have no vision for the school beyond getting a building built and taking credit for righting a historical wrong. Just wait.

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No - I hear you and I will continue to call them out at every point along the process. We can't control the stupid things they say but we can control how we react and talk about it with our neighbors. I think that's the only way to vote them out is to control the narrative.

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Oct 25, 2023·edited Oct 25, 2023Liked by Tom Hayden

I'll second that. I don't know I always agree with you on everything (nor should I expect to), but I greatly appreciate all your hard work, and efforts to promote a healthy dialog amongst the community!

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Oct 25, 2023·edited Oct 25, 2023Author

I like when people disagree with me and sometimes I write stories designed to get some disagreement because I really believe the disagreement is where either 1) we need more transparency/info or 2) we need to argue over priorities. #2 is like the very definition of politics and #1 I feel like is a big problem in the community

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Yes, agreed! And thank you for all you’re doing, Tom. We cannot all thank you enough.

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This is not a win for anyone. Being saddled with debt for decades, creating a segregated school full of underperforming students, all in the name of equity? Has this city lost its mind? Anyone who thinks this Board would sue and therefore admit anything here is amiss…ain’t going to happen. This is disgusting. Just disgusting. Every Board member should resign and new elections held. Slash and burn at JEH. Keep Turner for the long-term interim (no perk package, keep her at current salary and no contract) only because the search is expensive. Public apologies are needed. But to say the Board was lied to, poor them, how could they know, is disingenuous. They have all the access to all the financials. If they didn’t bother or simply don’t know how to read a P/L statement, well that’s their fault. It is their job and they failed. Maybe don’t apply for a job you aren’t qualified to hold. In all of this moving forward, the Board is ultimately and completely responsible for this mess. They hired that con man Horton and kicked his boots. They failed to ask questions or do the research. What incompetent boobs. Their hubris is even worse. If they were remotely contrite, maybe people wouldn’t think they were garbage. But they aren’t. This is all their fault. Even if moronic voters elected them in.

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I agree with a lot of what you are saying .. but last night at the meeting there were a ton of folks at the meeting who were not equity types advocating for the school. Average regular people with kids who live in the fifth ward .. I didn’t see any of the facebook crew. I think it’s fair to say that for those folks, this is a win.

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Oct 25, 2023Liked by Tom Hayden

Not when they are stuck in a school with all underperforming classmates and some PTA funds coming from PEP or when the area gets a burst of development and then they have to move because of further gentrification. Where would you move to if the 5th ward was too expensive? Away, or to Oakton. Most of these families won’t even be students there by the time it’s built- they will be walking to Haven same as they would be. Just with higher rents. Btw I am an average regular person.

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I think a strategy of deliberately inconveniencing families in order to keep real estate prices low so the area doesn't gentrify is unethical. I also think the rapid gentrification this will cause / has caused is also a problem. You have to balance the two.

Either way, I still don't see a way out of this other than to build.

TBD what happens with PEP, it was a three year program. Let's see if the PTAs renew it next year.

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Oct 25, 2023Liked by Tom Hayden

This is not about inconveniencing families to keep real estate low. It is about the absurdity of the BOE argument justifying the obscene expenditures to build the new school at the outset of this whole disaster.

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Tom, I should know this but is there anything prohibiting the bonds be used on major capital improvements for other schools? So not sexy but man, $40M could do a long ways towards improving aging schools.

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This is primarily why I think the Board was very stupid here and was mislead by Raymond James. The next largest lease certificate in the state of IL was for about $25m. The reason I would assume most districts don't use lease certificates for big projects like this is because it's a very inflexible funding mechanism, unlike a general obligation bond, etc.

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You absolutely cannot do that - the lease certificate is very specific that the funds can only go towards the specified project. My assumption is because the bondholders get a lien on the property.

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Was not implying you are not an average Joe/Karl!

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Oct 25, 2023Liked by Tom Hayden

I meant I am an average regular person with kids in the 5th ward. We were promised this glorious build with all the amenities including STEM facilities and LEED or LEED-like green aspects and now we are forced to accept a stripped down school as cheap as they can build it. It’s not a win. I’d rather have nothing and not have my taxes go up ANOTHER 33% in 3 years. Yes- that’s how much my taxes went up.

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Oh, I see what you're saying, point taken. Yeah, my taxes here have been going up crazy, the last round we had was a 25% increase and we always challenge it but don't win the challenge anymore, like we used to.

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Oct 24, 2023·edited Oct 24, 2023

When you say we currently have the money to pay for the smaller building are you adding in additional dollars? It appears we are $10M short of the expected cost even with the lease certs…this is based on a current $45M budget which I am rounding up to $48M for inflation bc we know this contract is not ready to sign).

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This is a fair question and let me get back to you because it’s been a long day. My general belief is that they have around $44 million in the account now, which is the original certificate amount plus $4m in interest. More to come.

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I haven't forgotten about this. The basic numbers, which I haven't yet verified by going through the documents (so don't quote me on this):

Lease Certificate: $38,315,000

Additional Money put in May 2022: $2,000,000

Interest Earned to date: $4,000,000 (needs to be verified, this comes from Turner)

Interest Earned before construction: $2,000,000 (needs to be verified, comes from CC)

That gets us up to $46,315,000 which is pretty close to the last K-5 plan they had. I think they can even make the school smaller and drop the LEED shit and save a couple million in bullshit LEED consultants.

Of course, they could just be making up the interest numbers so I do need to verify that and probably should've done it before the article, so you make a good point.

They need to start bidding out the work yesterday and it saddens me to see they're already delaying the bidding.

In addition, I am going to start advocating that they sue Raymond James' Errors and Omissions policy too.

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Tom, thank you for all the work you put in to present information to either amplify local publications' coverage of these issues and add context or to provide deeper analysis these pubs may be lacking.

Apologies if this is already somewhere within these pages or elsewhere, but has there been any concrete analysis of what % of school-age kids within the district attend our public schools? While there are some factors beyond D65's control in terms of changing demographics, I have a hard time conceding that we are completely helpless in trying to "right-size" our district in a different way.

What if we formed a strategy to be BETTER than average in terms of anticipated enrollment declines and didn't simply throw up our hands saying "welp! we've seen less people coming in over the past few years...probably going to continue." One idea, use some of the excess building capacity to make pre-K available across the district. Not only is more widely available pre-K a good thing in general for families (esp. through an equity lens), but it also would likely pull more families into the district for school-age years -- a feeder program, if you will.

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I did some math with census data in this story:

https://www.foiagras.com/p/on-enrollment-and-revenue

RE: Pre-K - I think it might also be subsidized by the state / federal governments as well.

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Oct 25, 2023Liked by Tom Hayden

Thanks for pointing me in that direction! I don't see how there can be a "rightsizing" conversation that doesn't include any discussion of how we generate a better D65 utilization rate among eligible families. IMO this should be an ongoing topic that's frequently revisited, considering that substantial dropoff over the past 3-4 years. It's going to get worse, not better, amid some of the financial turbulence on the horizon and coded language alluding to further school closures in addition to Rhodes.

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I'll be honest, I pulled my kid from D65 this year because the class sizes were ballooning and the discipline situation in the buildings is out of control. It was becoming a safety issue for me, we even had to go to the ER because kids were unsupervised and playing with scissors and my sons finger got chopped badly.

I think probably less than half of the eligible kids in the area actually go to the public schools at this point. It's not like there are abandoned houses all over town - kids still live in those houses, they just don't go to the public schools. I know a ton of parents that are still homeschooling after getting so burned by D65 during COVID.

I do think there is an opportunity to do something with all the migrants arriving in the area that can include federal funds. As a liberal town that wants to help the migrants, offering up our vastly under-utilized school district that wants to prioritize TWI is something I think the community should support (if we really believe in our liberal ideals).

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Ok Tom. That’s a fine idea Let’s keep following our “liberal” ideals. That’s what led our community to integrate the schools in the first place. How about a novel idea? Let’s work on providing a first class education while there are still some children left in our schools

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Oct 26, 2023·edited Oct 26, 2023Author

lol that is a fair critique

edit: I appreciate this comment. I think sometimes we all fall into a trap of wanting to solve all the problems in the world and "Do Something!" but end up making more problems. This is kind of Evanston's thing dating back to the early 1900s.

I think we need to find a reasoned balance between political innovation and just running schools and its out of balance now.

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Sorry to hear you reached your breaking point. Independent of a negative experience with the alternative, is there anything the district could do that would bring you/your kid back in? I think that's an important piece if there's any hope of "right-sizing" the % of eligible kids that attend the schools. The admin/board would need to understand 1) what would bring families who left back in (i.e. maybe kid left before 4th grade, try to get them back for middle school), 2) how to establish and maintain a better perception among new families so we don't lose them from the get-go.

In a district with a perception of really great public schools, you are going to have a higher utilization rate, so the opposite is true right now.

One byproduct of people pulling their kids out of D65 and putting into private is the private schools get bloated, class sizes there swelling, them having to dig deeper for teachers (who tend to make less $$) etc. There's not infinite capacity in those spaces either.

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Thanks for this! Some takeaways for me are:

1. Next Super will be in charge of admin costs. Will they keep status quo or cut (as they should)?

2. Apropos the bells, whistles and certificates that the Board wants to cram into the 5th Ward school, keep close look at what alternative they actually vote for.

Somewhere on FB or Roundtable

I saw mention of a possible future referendum to raise money for D65 infrastructure ... does the Board really think the voters would trust them with more $?!

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We (the people) need to stay on top of #2 with eagle eyes. This thing could easily become a $80m boondoggle of robotics labs and LEED ultra platinum gold status if we don't stay on top of it. And then in 18 months we can be right back here again.

I think the Board is probably angling to have a referendum so when it fails, they can blame the voters for closing schools.

What I think they should do is have a broad referendum for building improvements that prioritizes turning Bessie Rhodes (or wherever the TWI program is) into something of a sanctuary school for all the migrants in the region. I bet they could even tap into federal funding for that too given how much money the federal government is trying to allocate towards migrant stuff. This is probably asking too much creative thinking, though, for our current board and would also require an actual CFO.

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Oct 26, 2023Liked by Tom Hayden

I would say another takeaway would be to elect candidates who are serious about exploring 65/202 consolidation. Part of the issue with the Board is that it really is a thankless job. Alderman is a thankless job as well, but at least they get a stipend and health insurance. The Board gets nothing in compensation and the fact that we have two boards of education in off-year elections I would say results in having poor candidates.

Compound that with the fact that I think everyone on the Board now with the exception of Joey and Omar were originally appointed--not elected--show me that something is wrong. Why can't people serve out their terms? Not that I was disappointed when Weatherspoon quit, but here you have a person who lost the election, then was appointed when there was a board vacancy and she couldn't even last a year before quitting.

We have had similar quitting mid-term issues in 202 as well.

Consolidation of the districts would make the job of Board member more prominent and--maybe--we would attract better people to run. There would be more eyes on Board actions and maybe the elections would mean more to residents. I'm not necessarily convinced this would occur, but at the very least with consolidation you could reduce curricular compatibility between elementary and high school and reduce administrative costs.

We used to have decent people on the boards, like Mary Rita Luecke at 65 and Jonathan Baum who served on both boards. Why are we not attracting those sorts of folks? Could consolidation help?

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I’ve spoken with board members about this and I think they would be in favor of this too. Seems like a win, when they combined the Evanston township and Evanston city into the same public body...

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That really surprises me that any of the current board members (especially on 65) would support this. I don't even think it was brought up during the last campaign by any of the candidates--even the reformers like John Martin.

The most recent board discussion about consolidation that i can find is from over a decade ago. And even in this report, some of the smart Board members at the time that I mentioned above were not very enthusiastic.

It is interesting to see the discussion in this article from 2012. Board members were actually discussing what might be best for students and how best to efficiently spend taxpayer money! A total turnaround from the current situation at 65!

https://evanstonroundtable.com/2012/01/18/school-districts-65-and-202-to-explore-issues-relating-to-consolidation/

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I’ve never met a politician that didn’t want to consolidate their powers haha

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Tom, Do you have any expectation that the board will conduct a transparent superintendent search?

Some of the board members like Joey and Biz *seem* to be gently tossing Horton under the bus for not informing them of the financial situation. Leaving the absurdity of that to the side, they hired Horton.

Maybe I'm naive, but if there had been a real, transparent search I don't see how Horton could have made the finalist list. Someone with zero experience in a city like Evanston who had never been a superintendent before and when you google his name the first thing that comes up is the NBC report on all them money he owes for his failed real estate deals?

Maybe they would have hired him anyway, but my first reaction upon seeing his name as the new superintendent after two minutes of googling was 'WTF?!?!'

Are they going to go the secretive route AGAIN?

The fact that they have no shame makes me think not.

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I don’t have a good answer to this, they hired outsiders to do the search (the ISBE) but haven’t discussed how the finalist part will work yet.

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I keep checking the Atlanta and Oswego press and I don't see anything about this scandal. Don't those communities deserve to know who is running their district? Also, what can we do as a community to keep this Board accountable? Speaking at board meetings and writing emails doesn't seem to move the needle at all.

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I'm not sure you'll see much in Oswego but keep your eyes peeled in GA

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I don’t know the legalities of these loans, but I strongly disagree there isn’t a better path to be found. It may include eating some subk costs and thats a shame these board members should wear like a scarlet letter.

How can Haven be walkable for 5th ward kids but Kingsley isn’t? Or Kingsley and Dewey?

I can’t fathom allowing such incompetence and/or lying to continue for another minute. They cannot and shall not be rewarded for this repugnant behavior at the expense of taxpayers. And according to them (right or wrong) at the expense of yet another school and community (or more) within Evanston.

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....sunk costs

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This post reminds me - why don't they just move Bessie Rhodes to Kingsley, move the Kingsley kids to the new school, and then make Haven/Kingsley a TWI campus?

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To be clear, I don’t believe we should write off the whole thing as a sunk costs. I do believe we should explore every avenue to reduce the bleeding (to include legal pursuits against those that created this boondoggle) and then determine the best course of action that maximizes the ROI. (Fiscally and academically)

I also truly dont understand the argument for needing a new 5the ward school so everyone can have a walkable school. I grew up in a rural area and bussing was a necessity granted, but never a problem. Walking 15-20 minutes in the rain and snow as we do now is no treat! I don’t understand all the arguments about how unfair it is to the kids to stand in the rain... as if walking in the rain was better? Can somebody explain that to me? Id gladly wave from the front door with my coffee as the kids kid on a bus from the corner on some days.

Also... just amateur google map sleuthing here, but I don’t see how Kingsley and Dewey aren’t already ‘walkable’. If you throw in Walker and BR and King Lab there doesn’t seem to be any 5th ward locations that aren’t already exceedingly walkable by D65 standards of distance. A proper safety plan for crossing any major streets would be a must of course, but that seems to exceedingly doable and affordable as opposed to 10’s of millions of money for a new physical school with all new staff and all new administrators and support a new physical school necessitates.

This all just seems like a made up hussle for political wins. Wins that are completely symbolic at best, and illegal ‘reparations’ at worse!

I’m not against a 5the ward school at all costs to be clear... but I am against the doing no matter the costs mindset. We must deal with the reality we have and take care of all students and families, not the reality we want to live in with unlimited resources.

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Wouldn’t that result in anyone north of McCormick needing to be bussed to the new school? Would that negate some (most?) of the bussing savings?

And I don’t think it really addresses Jo’s point that we have sunk costs and blindly continuing on the path we’re on shouldn’t be our only consideration.

With the new and factual information we have we should be looking to understand all our options. Whether that be a referendum for additional funds to make sure the new school is a success or taking our losses and resetting.

Either way, there needs to be a comprehensive plan before we move ahead. Building a new school without knowing which schools will be closing and the financial impacts is just as ill-advised as blindly approving a new school based on made up figures.

We seem to be making the same mistake twice. We are looking to move forward for the sake of showing progress without know what our destination is.

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Oct 25, 2023·edited Oct 25, 2023Author

No - because the Kingsley families could just stay at Kingsley and get TWI programming but they could elect to opt out and yeah, would have to travel to the new school.

Yeah, the board spent a lot of time talking about a "50 year plan" at the meeting on Monday but they've shared no such thing with the community. There is definitely an absence of long-term planning and I think we should demand the board show their thinking.

It's just not clear to me what other options we have right now. This is a pretty bananas sunk cost to just write off..

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These humans don’t even have joint goals --including literacy goals --with ETHS. Mention of a “50 year plan” was hilarious.

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Especially since 50 years from now you'd be looking at the end of the useful life of the building. Between modern construction and the inevitable deferred maintenance new schools only last 50 - 60 years

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Fun stuff from DeKalb. Nepotism hiring? Check. Board violating sunshine laws? Check.

https://decaturish.com/2023/10/editorial-the-dekalb-school-board-should-remember-its-communications-agreement-with-the-public/

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He's doing the 100% same playbook he did here with the board

1) Pass a stupid board communications / admin policy so they don't look into details (he did this here, we have a very stupid policy he wrote)

2) Move as much conversation into closed session as you can

3) Say "who cares" because it takes the IL or GA attorney general years to investigate open meetings violations, if they do at all

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Any idea why the 5th Ward debacle hasn't surfaced in the Atlanta press yet? Or even in Chicago? No other community should suffer.

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Amazing discourse on the D65 parents Facebook page about Halloween of all things. Soo la Kim and the Facebook ‘Equity’ Warriors getting to exercise their outrage muscles while totally ignoring comments asking about the board’s governing and financial mismanagement.

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Could you send me some screenshots (tom@foiagras.com) I want to write about it - there was a big NYTimes piece on this

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I used to belong to that group when my kids were in D65. It became a cesspool of self righteous SJW bullies. It’s one thing to champion the oppressed, it’s another to be a toxic keyboard bully.

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Since leaving d65 my children had their very first Halloween parade at their new school. It’s a shame in all of elementary school they have only gotten to experience Halloween once. You can buy stuff at the 1$ store. Equity is the reason Halloween and all American culture has been destroyed ahd taken from children. Equity.

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Given that your kids did aa halloween parade I would say it was not taken from them or destroyed. A little dramatic?

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If you celebrate Halloween with them I guarantee your kids will have fond memories of Halloween despite not wearing a costume to school. During elementary school I moved to a town where there was no dressing up at school and where, technically speaking, Halloween was not observed in the city.

There was still what amounted to trick or treating, but it was your choice to participate. As a kid I didn't care if I didn't wear costume to school because I was excited for the weekend when we did dress up. I felt sorry for my friends whose religion prevented them from going out with us, but their parents usually made plans for something else fun that night instead (like a movie night).

As an adult I see the kindness of not forcing a kid in school to watch everyone else have fun while they have to sit it out. There were plenty of other activities/celebrations in school where I had to watch my friends watching the rest of us play while they were stuck with some dumb worksheet. Not exactly comfortable party conditions.

Now a celebration I really miss that hasn't returned since the pandemic was my kids fall concert. I don't remember what it was called, but each grade would learn three songs (so 18 songs total) and all put on a concert together. The songs were pulled from all over the world (American, European, African, Middle Eastern, Asian, Native American...). Some were traditional, some new, some translated to English, some in original language, but all were a beautiful showcase of the different backgrounds present in our school.

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Nov 1, 2023·edited Nov 1, 2023Author

Thank you for writing this - I think this is a compelling argument. I wish our elected official would put it in these terms instead of the inane political arguments they wrap everything in.

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Nov 3, 2023·edited Nov 3, 2023

Cognitive dissonance is holding two contradicting ideas at the same time. Public schools cannot be cancelling halloween, columbus day, veterans day, and totally redoing all of American Culture and holidays (elsewhere in the world when statues and history are destroyed its called terrorism), but d65 still gives off one week for and celebrates Thanksgiving? If we don't celebrate Halloween because it's not inclusive there is simply zero reason to celebrate Thanksgiving as one example.

The ADL just announced that Black Lives Matter is basically a discriminatory hate group that is anti-Israel -https://www.adl.org/resources/blog/fringe-left-groups-express-support-hamass-invasion-and-brutal-attacks-israel - yet d65 has a entire year long Black Lives Matter curriculum while ETHS's street is literally called Black Lives Matter Way, when there is a large jewish population in the area. Another example of cognitive dissonance.

Here is a link to d65's blm curriculum https://sites.google.com/district65.net/d65equityweeks/home

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Oct 27, 2023·edited Oct 27, 2023

Great article as usual Tom. There's a lot to unpack here. Are you related to the late Tom Hayden, California State Rep, anti-war, civil rights, and intellectual activist?

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No relation but I am organizing a meetup of Tom Haydens at the 2024 Democratic convention. We will meet at the “hill” in Grant Park 🤣

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I love it!

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