Crowding foreseen this fall at Evanston’s Haven Middle School
Updated: May 28, 2012 8:25AM
Students at Haven Middle School may begin to feel the effects next fall of rising enrollments that could force lunchtime scheduling changes and displace a foreign language teacher, who would move from classroom to classroom with a cart.
The school’s enrollment is expected to grow by another 50 or 60 students on top of an increase this year, bringing the school’s head count to between 750 and 760 students.
“We have been hovering around 625 for awhile now, so that is a big change,” Haven Principal Kathleen Roberson told the School Board Monday.
Roberson is developing plans to perhaps stagger lunch periods, so one-half of sixth-graders, for instance, would have a 20-minute lunch period, then move outside for 20 minutes while the other half would spend the first 20 minutes outside, then eat lunch in the cafeteria.
The principal said that adding more tables to the cafeteria would affect the safety of students.
Two sets of projections show the school’s enrollment swelling to more than 800 students by 2014. The school is adding two full-time teachers next year in response to higher enrollment, which will displace part-time staff and a foreign language teacher. School administrators are predicting more teachers could move from room to room to deliver instruction as the enrollment surge plays out.
Similar cramping is foreseen at Nichols Middle School within the next several years. Nichols’ counts are seen growing from 546 to more than 700 students by 2016.
“We have been talking about splitting the kids up for lunch, but the problem with that is, in inclement weather, what do we do with all the kids?” said Nichols Principal Sarah Mendez. In addition to staggering cafeteria shifts, the school also will need additional teaching space for physical education, including a fitness room and classroom to deliver the curriculum, according to administrators.
Board president Katie Bailey asked Superintendent Hardy Murphy to come back with a set of recommendations May 21 for handling the enrollment growth.
Options include changing the feeder-school patterns to provide some relief at Haven and Nichols while increasing the number of students at Chute Middle School. Chute Principal Jim McHolland cautioned that higher enrollments at Chute would require facility changes at some cost.
“There is no way to redistrict the population and make (the space) issue go away,” said board member Andrew Pigozzi, contending the end result would not justify the disruption and divisiveness.
Other options include use of mobile classrooms and school expansion, financed either by tapping into the district’s shrinking borrowing capacity or taking another referendum question to the voters.
On March 20, voters rejected a $48.2 million bond issue by a 55 to 45 percent. That question included $21 million for a new elementary school in the central core area of Evanston, $20 million for additions at Haven and Nichols and $8 million for work at Chute, King Lab and Bessie Rhodes.