5th Ward Meeting Reminder July 20, School District 65 Board Vacancy and more

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Alderman Robin Rue Simmons


Please join me for our next 5th Ward meeting this Thursday, July 20, 7 p.m. at Gibbs-Morrison Cultural Center, 1823 Church St. 

Meeting Agenda


 Affordable Housing Update
    Guest speakers: Courtney and Sanina Johnson

Public Safety Reports

  • Fire Department 
  • Unleashed Dogs
  • Police Department

Community Announcements 

National Night Out Aug 1

National Night Out 2017

National Night Out will be held on Tuesday, August 1, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Twiggs Park, located at Dodge Ave. and Central St.  There will be house music, food and more. 

School District 65 Board Vacancy

The message below is being sent on behalf of School District 65 Board President Suni Kartha and Board Vice President Anya Tanyavutti.

Dear Community Partners,

We hope everyone is having a terrific summer! This email is to share information regarding a recently vacated seat on the District 65 school board. Omar Brown has submitted his resignation, effective July 7, 2017, citing work and family commitments. On behalf of the entire board, we are deeply grateful to Omar for his service to the students, staff, and families of District 65. We know he will continue to be an active member of this community and wish him nothing but future success.

To fill the vacancy, the Board of Education is seeking applicants from across the District 65 community. In order to be eligible to serve, a school board member must be a citizen of the United States, at least 18 years of age, a registered voter, and resident of the State of Illinois and Evanston/Skokie School District 65 for at least one year.

Detailed application information is available on the D65 website at district65.net/boardvacancy. Application documents must be submitted by July 31, 2017 at 4 p.m. in order to be considered.

All applicants will be contacted with next steps, including scheduling an interview with the Board, in early August. The selected applicant will be sworn in at the Regular Board Meeting on August 21, 2017.

The term of the appointed board member will run until the April 2019 election. All District 65 residents are invited to apply. We hope you will share this information with others who may be interested. Thank you for your continued support.

Learn More

Message Regarding Family Focus in Evanston

The message below is being sent on behalf of Family Focus President and CEO Merri Ex.

Dear Friends,

Family Focus was created 42 years ago in Evanston to nurture children and strengthen families in and with their community. That mission has not changed and it has been expanded to six other communities with the same model of providing programs customized for the community through a local center.

However, economic times have changed and in order to continue to provide services, Family Focus must adapt to changing circumstances. We continue to be committed to providing family support services in Evanston, but are no longer in a position to support the costs of maintaining the 100-year old Weissbourd-Holmes building.

We say this with a heavy heart, aware of the historical significance of the center which is still referred to by many Evanston residents as the Foster School. However, the costs associated with building ownership and maintenance are not faced by the six other Family Focus centers which are in rented facilities. The City of Evanston has generously provided Family Focus with special grants for roof repair, tuck-pointing and this year a new gym floor. However, the general maintenance of a 40-plus year old boiler, floors with asbestos backing, and non-ADA compliant bathrooms are stretching the capacity of Family Focus to continue safely maintain the building.

In an effort to address this issue, Family Focus' board of directors undertook an extensive review of the situation, including exploring several outcomes: 

  1. Maintaining the building as a rental property in its current condition
  2. Investing in a renovation that could increase the value of the space, allowing rental rates to increase and result in higher rental income to offset the building costs
  3. Selling the building and moving Family Focus programming to another location in Evanston and relieving Family Focus of the expenses of managing the building.

To assist with this, Family Focus engaged the Illinois Facility Fund (IFF) to provide a professional evaluation of the building, including an estimate on the value of the building, and cost estimates to execute each of the three options listed above. Our board representatives have joined me in meetings with Evanston's mayor, city manager, Evanston Family Focus' advisory board, and others seeking to identify solutions for us to continue offering Family Focus programming in the Weissbourd-Holmes building. We sought solutions that would reduce or eliminate our deficit resulting from ownership of the Evanston facility.

The Illinois state budget impasse added increased financial pressure to our ability to carry a deficit in Evanston related to building ownership. As of June, the state owed Family Focus $2.7 million for work authorized and completed by Family Focus in fiscal year 2017. The cash flow disruption was enough to plan layoffs of over 70% of staff. We have since received enough of the past payments to avoid the announced layoffs, but the uncertainty of Illinois' financial position results in Family Focus seeking revenue that will sustain programming into the future and decrease reliance on the state. 

At the June 21, 2017 Family Focus board of directors meeting, the board unanimously approved a motion to explore the sale of the building and a task force was created to present recommendations for the sale to the board. Our hope is that we can find a solution that enables Family Focus to offset the deficit connected with building ownership so we can direct our financial resources towards programming.

Moving forward, Family Focus is eager to identify opportunities related to the sale of the building that would offer the ability to honor the long and important history of the Weissbourd-Holmes building in the community. In the meantime, Family Focus programming will continue in the building as it has in the past. We are renewing leases with building tenants. At a point when a potential buyer is identified, Family Focus will identify alternative spaces in Evanston to continue programming in a location that is convenient for our community.

Thank you for your support of Family Focus. If you have any questions about information in this letter, please contact me at 312-421-5200 or by email at merri.ex@family-focus.org.


Merri Ex
President and CEO

Evanston Fire Department Remembrance Ceremony July 22

fire memorial

On Sat., July 22 at 10:30 a.m., the Evanston Fire Department in conjunction with the Evanston Police Department and Evanston Firefighters Association Local 742, will hold a Remembrance Ceremony at Firemen's Park, located at the southwest corner of Maple Ave. and Simpson St. Evanston.

The ceremony is to honor the lives of fallen Evanston Firefighters Marty Leoni, William Craig and George Stiles. The ceremony will also recognize so many other firefighters and police officers who have lost their lives while performing their duties nationally. Join us in honoring those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.

Robin Rue Simmons   
Alderman, 5th Ward