Evening high school aims to reach higher goals

Naomi Kim

The evening school program at Evanston Township High School should focus less on meeting requirements and more on helping students succeed, administrators told the District 202 School Board Monday night.

Superintendent Allan Alson and members of the planning committee discussed the goals and changes they hope to implement for next year’s evening high school. According to the proposal, the new program would be directed toward academic, social and career development.

“The goal for the new program is deeper learning,” said Bruce Romain, assistant principal of ETHS and a member of the planning committee. “We really want (teachers) to be invested in the whole student.”

Implementing the changes would cost more than $400,000, though ETHS Business Manager Jeffrey Taggart said he was unsure whether ETHS has the funds to support the changes. The cost of this year’s program was $288,000, he said.

Changes for next year include hiring a full-time staff, providing services for bilingual students, creating a day-care center for teenage parents and offering career counseling to help students once they graduate. Classes also would begin at noon, instead of 4 p.m., to give students a chance to participate in extracurricular activities.

Administrators suggested increasing the role of teachers so they can be more involved in the academic progress and social growth of their students.

Students enroll in the evening program because they have either behavioral or academic deficiencies, Romain said. Truancy, poor academic performance and other circumstances – such as jobs or children – prevent some students from attending classes during the day.

Administrators said they want to change the stigmas associated with the program by accepting only students who are committed to staying in school.

Under the proposal, students would go through an application process, called intake, to help administrators assess their strengths and weaknesses. The process would also determine at-risk behavior and other issues that had contributed to student’s past poor performance, or even dropping out.

Evening school enrollment fluctuates between 80 and 120 students during the year, Alson said. He said enrollment now would be limited to 100 students.

Board members criticized the intake process because it would force administrators to reject some students whose only option is to take the evening school classes. The proposal lists eligibility criteria and offers rejected students alternative options.

The board will discuss the proposal further at its next meeting.

In other business, the board voted 4-2 to reject a motion allowing live broadcasts of school board meetings and other ETHS events.

Wilkerson told The Daily she voted against the motion because she thought televising events live was unnecessary.

“I didn’t feel that many people would be watching,” she said. “I thought (the money) could be better utilized for student achievement.”