Shipping Containers Shipped Off
FOIA GRAS notches our first W
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About a month ago, I reported on a story provided by some concerned citizens and teachers regarding shipping containers, potentially fully of moldy trash, on District 65 properties. I was working on this story last week and I emailed Dr. Horton and the District 65 Comms team for quotes on Sunday March 26.
Only two days later, by mid-week, March 29th, the storage units were being removed from individual schools. My son (the recess beat reporter) reported seeing it get taken away during recess on Wednesday. He reports that the children did not cheer the removal but I know some parents who certainly did.
I received multiple reports from different schools that the units contained the following:
Teacher property stored during COVID, such as materials, couches, chairs, pillows, and cushions.
Rugs which belonged to schools and/or teachers.
Some of the units flooded during the last two years, causing mold to build up on the contents, trashing the content inside. One school (Dewey) held a fundraiser to replace the contents before the District eventually did replace some contents.1 Below is a photo of contents removed from one of the shipping containers. You’ll see the trashed contents include chairs, rugs, bookshelves, and boxes.
As I previously reported, the District acquired the containers from Great Lakes Kwik Space, an Aurora-based provider of shipping containers in November 2021. The vendor includes a guarantee on their website that the containers are “weather-proof.”
I have reached out to the District to see if they’ve sought reimbursement for the contents of the containers.
With Health In Mind,
During the COVID-era, the District spent a great deal of advocating for strict public health requirements as recently as May 2022;
Masks Strongly Recommended
In addition to the enhanced ventilation efforts, we will continue with our existing mitigations through the end of the school year. While masks indoors are not required for the general District 65 community (except at Park), we still strongly recommend that they continue to be worn, especially when distancing cannot be maintained.
As advised by our local health departments, it may be necessary to require masks as a preventative measure in some circumstances. Masks may temporarily be required in certain classrooms, school buses, or even grade levels if we are seeing increased COVID-19 cases or evidence of transmission. This is all in an effort to keep students and staff in school and reduce spread.
With health in mind,
Dr. Devon Horton (he/him)
Yet multiple District properties had a shipping containers full of moldy junk (and allegedly rats) on the premises! Regardless of your position on masking and school re-opening, it is hypocritical that the District continued to let these containers sit on properties as long as they did. In fact, a story on Evanston Roundtable even noted the increased risk of BIPOC children in Evanston to environmental hazards;
Emergency room visit rates for asthma among Black children in the 60201 zip code are about four times higher than the overall state rate. Improved air quality decreases asthma attacks, respiratory infections as well as student and teacher performance, including test scores.
When folks advocate for climate justice, this type of thing is exactly what they should be fighting again! A government organization leaving behind a shipping container full of moldy trash is precisely the type of local effect that results in ill health of children. If you are concerned about increased asthma risk to black kids, don’t leave a shipping container full of moldy garbage on their school’s property! And I haven’t even addressed the absolute waste in letting all these supplies, chairs, rugs go straight to the landfill.
We, as a community, talk a lot about climate and environmental justice as if it’s this abstract evil thing being done by some big scary other. But the reality is that anyone who is in power needs to be held accountable, regardless of their political affiliation, color of their skin, or public statements they make. All politics is local and these things, literally, start in our own backyards.
I find this particularly egregious - the District has $10m of funds allocated for COVID relief, much of which has gone to consultants or pet projects. Meanwhile, the very stuff in our classrooms is