District 202 board discusses proposed tax levy, student enrollment data


Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

Evanston Township High School. During Monday’s meeting, District 202 board members discussed the proposed 2021 tax levy.

Olivia Alexander, Senior Staffer

Evanston Township High School/District 202 school board members discussed the upcoming year’s tax levy Monday night. 

During the meeting, President Pat Savage-Williams convened a public hearing on the district’s estimated tax levy for 2021. The proposed levy will provide funds to support the usual expenses of ETHS and amount to a 2.98% overall increase, Savage-Williams said. 

For an average home in Evanston, valued at around $400,000, the tax levy would cause an approximate increase of $55 in property taxes, said Mary Rodino, District 202’s chief financial officer. In this scenario, the total property tax bill estimate would be $9,700, she added. 

Reassessment of properties in Chicago may delay tax payments, Rodino said. She said there’s a possibility that the taxes that are normally due in August 2022 may not be due and paid until as late as January 2023. In this case, it will be essential to be conservative with the district’s fund balance. 

“I want to put your minds at ease,” Rodino said. “The board has been very conservative in our practices, and we’ve tried to make sure that our fund balance is adequate and this is exactly what you need it for.” 

The board is scheduled to adopt the tax levy at its Dec. 13 meeting, Rodino said. 

District 202 Director of Research, Evaluation and Assessment Carrie Levy and Assistant Superintendent Curriculum and Instruction Pete Bavis also led a presentation including ETHS enrollment statistics for the 2021-22 school year and data collected from the Illinois State Board of Education’s 5Essentials survey in the spring. 

Despite the pandemic, ETHS enrolled its second largest number of students in over 30 years for the 2021-22 school year, Levy said. 3,728 students attend ETHS as of Sept. 30, and over the last four years, Special Education enrollment has increased to 475 students for this school year, compared to 440 last year.  

While the data presented at Monday’s meeting was largely quantitative, Levy said Illinois Report Card data will fill in some missing information later in the year. 

“Adding in the cultural data helps us bring in the student voice,” Levy said. “We’re trying to round out the picture, and some form of equity view helps us think about the role and presence of whiteness and data and what perspectives are missing, and also bring more meaning to these numbers.”

Much of Levy and Bavis’ presentation focused on findings from the 2020-21 5Essentials survey, administered in mid-March. While 57% of students participated in extracurricular activities during remote learning, only 58% of students reported belonging “quite a bit” and 23% felt connected to adults. 

Several board members raised concerns with these numbers, to which Witherspoon and Bavis said the statistics reflected the nature of remote learning. 

“It’s very difficult to connect with someone via Zoom. We’ve all been on Zoom. We spent a lot of time on Zoom, (and) spending time on Zoom with the camera off is extraordinarily difficult both for the teacher and the student to build a connection,” Bavis said. “Right now, we’re not zooming, we’re talking in the classrooms, we’re connecting, and we would like to see that number increase.” 

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