District 65 dedicates moment of silence to Jacquis Irby, discusses project plans


Daily file photo by Patrick Svitek

The Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Joseph E. Hill Education Center.

Astry Rodriguez, Senior Staffer

Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Board of Education members acknowledged the victim of the Clark Street Beach shooting and discussed budget plans at their Monday evening meeting. 

District 65 Board President Sergio Hernandez called for a moment of silence toward the beginning of the meeting for Jacquis Irby, the Skokie resident killed in the Clark Street Beach shooting on April 12, which Hernandez said was a “childhood” loss for the community. 

Community members also expressed concern about the board’s lack of transparency in funding during public comment. 

Hernandez said the community and the nation need to work toward coming together in the face of violence.

“Any child, anybody that has violence in this community, it’s just unacceptable,” Hernandez said. “It speaks to the work we’ll continue to have to do as a community and as a country to stop this epidemic of violence.”

Before the committee voted on the district’s strategy for funding school renovations and other capital projects, community member Jodi Wickersheimer asked the board to consider further publicizing District 65 budgets. 

Wickersheimer said the board needs to share the results of the Master Facilities Planning report with the Evanston andSkokie community. The report includes an assessment of facilities across the district and determines if they need structural improvements and investment. 

“The expenses and priorities for that funding is absent,” Wickersheimer said. “It’s time to bridge the campaign slogans, bridge conversation and really operationalize that transparency.”

After Wickersheimer’s remarks, Superintendent Devon Horton announced the board will publicly release details for the Master Facility Planning report budgeting sometime before the summer. 

Horton said the board aims to lead construction on existing facilities in an intentional way that prioritizes a preventive safety structure. 

“We’re looking at this from the lens of health, life and safety first,” Horton said. “That’s really the top priority and we will put some federal documentation available and make sure everyone is able to see what those things are.”

Hannah Hoffmeister, the district communication specialist, shared the monthly High Five! awards afterwards, which highlight the work of one licensed staff member and one educational support staff member each month from September to May. Barbara Gill, a paraprofessional at Dewey Elementary School, received the educational support staff award for April. Rose Ibarra, a social worker at Chute Middle School, received the licensed staff award. 

District 65 family member Lara Vaive, who nominated Ibarra, spoke about how Ibarra — who has worked with her son — is caring and empathetic. 

“She was there offshoot after the pandemic to help kids process their fears and emotions,” Vaive said. “On top of that, their fears, emotions, hesitations, anxieties about being in public spaces with other kids.”

Raphael Obafemi, district chief financial and operations officer, discussed how savings from bond funds could be used to start capital projects for schools. He said the budget team is looking to use bond refunds and take advantage of the “low interest rate.”

D65 Board Member Soo La Kim said bond funds allowed the installment of new LED lights in schools during 2022. 

“I was really excited to hear in the sustainability report last week that it’s already paying off in terms of saving energy as well as electricity bills,” Kim said. 

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @Astry_tpwk

Related Stories: 

D65 to hold healing space Tuesday night following Clark Street Beach shooting

District 65 Caregivers of Color & Our Village group protest school board candidates with ties to anti-equity group

District 65 raises childcare fees, announces High Five! award winners