Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Bessie Rhodes parents demand TWI program be separated from 5th Ward school plans

Bessie+Rhodes+is+a+K-8+magnet+school+located+in+Skokie+that+houses+a+TWI+program%2C+which+centers+bilingual+education+for+its+278+students.
Oreste Visentini/The Daily Northwestern
Bessie Rhodes is a K-8 magnet school located in Skokie that houses a TWI program, which centers bilingual education for its 278 students.

In an open letter sent to members of the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Board of Education Monday, parents at the Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies demanded that plans for the future of Bessie Rhodes’ Two-Way Immersion program be separated from plans for the construction of a new 5th Ward school.

Bessie Rhodes is a K-8 magnet school located in Skokie that houses the TWI program, which centers bilingual education for its 278 students. In March 2022, District 65 decided to close the current Bessie Rhodes building in the near future. 

Initially, the district planned to relocate the TWI program for all K-8 students into the new 5th Ward school building — a planned neighborhood school in the 5th Ward that was originally slated to open in fall 2025.

However, District 65 officials recently announced that the 5th Ward school may only have space to house K-5 students in the TWI program. In an Oct. 4 open letter, Bessie Rhodes parents called for the school district to preserve the initial plan of all K-8 TWI students being relocated to the 5th Ward school.

But in Monday’s letter, parents had different demands — one of which was for plans for the K-8 TWI program to be carried out completely separately from the 5th Ward school planning process, based on parents’ analysis of the district’s “precarious financial situation.”

“If we continue to delay making decisions on TWI expansion to grades 6-8 and draw out the process of hiring a TWI-qualified principal, we create mounting harm in this community,” the letter reads. “We also run the risk of losing students and committed, talented teachers. The lack of investment and attention is palpable in the Bessie Rhodes community.”

The letter comes in light of the Board of Education’s Oct. 16 meeting, where it announced that, in an unexpected turn of events, the 5th Ward school planning process was nearly $25 million over its $40 million budget. The board debated several different design options for the school that could cut the budget while preserving student capacity — but the school is still expected to come in over budget and open the initial fall 2025 date.

Other demands in the letter include the immediate hiring of an interim principal — and a permanent Principal — for Bessie Rhodes. The school is currently without a principal, and parents said they have received little information about the hiring process.

“If Bessie Rhodes is decoupled from the 5th Ward School, it will make the path to hiring a Principal for Bessie Rhodes much clearer,” the letter said. “Applicants need to know that their position is secure in the short and long term so they’re able to build roots in the community and meaningfully partner with our children and educators.”

Parents also demanded that the district take steps to affirm the expansion of the middle school TWI program. 

The District 65 board will meet Monday night and is expected to award a bid for site demolitions and ground improvements for the 5th Ward school.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @lilylcarey

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Bessie Rhodes parents demand preservation of K-8 magnet program in letter

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