The Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Board voted tonight to send layoff notices to 29 teachers as the district struggles to deal with a potential budget deficit for next year estimated at up to $5.8 million.

The Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Board voted tonight to send layoff notices to 29 teachers as the district struggles to deal with a potential budget deficit for next year estimated at up to $5.8 million.

The layoffs would represent about 4.5 percent of the system’s instructional workforce of 650 people. The projected deficit — primarily the result of expected cutbacks in state funding — amounts to as much as 6 percent of the district’s current-year operating budget of $95.4 million.

Despite a six percent spending increase by the district this year, School Superintendent Hardy Murphy said the district has managed its spending well and has not raised the tax burden on the community or compromised its operations.

But the projected cutbacks in state funding left the district with no choice, Murphy said, but to give the teachers the state-mandated advance notice of their expected termination.

“There’s no solace to be found in this decision,” Murphy said, “These are people we care about who are part of the District 65 family.”

Murphy said the reductions here are much smaller than in other districts across the state, with estimates that he said range from 9 percent to as many as 22 percent of teachers being laid off in some districts.

Jean Luft, president of the teachers union, the District 65 Educators Council, said up to 17,000 teachers statewide may get pink slips because of the lack of state funding.

“The nation has bailed out banks, stockbrokers and car companies, but not schools,” Luft said, urging residents to attend the Illinois Education Association’s lobbying day in Springfield April 21 to seek restoration of school funding from the legislature.

The district’s finance director, Mary Brown, said estimates of the district deficit’s size now range from $2.7 million to $5.8 million as various plans are floated in Springfield for dealing with the state’s budget crisis.

The board is scheduled to adopt a tentative budget in June and a final budget in September.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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27 Comments

  1. They are laid off while new
    They are laid off while new principals are hired. Can we get a side by side of the old principal salaries, the new principal salaries, and the salaries of those teachers laid off?

    I bet there’s some math in there that we should be teaching…

  2. What about the Administrators?
    How many administrators will be laid off? Shouldn’t there be at least a 4.5% reduction in administrative staff as well?

    1. D65 Administrators
      Most D65 “administrators” are school principals. Do
      you think we should run schools without principals?

      Who, exactly, do you mean when you ask for administrator layoffs?

      1. D65 Administrators
        “Most D65 “administrators” are school principals”

        a quick trip to the house of horrors at 1500 McDaniel will cure you of the notion most administrators are principals.

        Lets see what we have here…

        Superintendent of Schools, Hardy R. Murphy, Ph.D.
        Assistant: Sheila Burke
        .
        Assistant Superintendent, Elementary Curriculum & Operations, Michael Robey
        Assistant: Angela McConner
        .
        Assistant Superintendent, Middle, Magnet & Special Schools Curriculum & Operations, Susan Schultz
        Assistant: Elizabeth Drewry
        .
        Buildings & Grounds Director, Don Stevenson
        Assistant: Anamarie Arndt
        .
        Chief Financial Officer, Mary Brown
        Assistant: Rosalie Ziomek
        Comptroller, Kathy Zalewski
        .
        Chief Information Officer, Paul Brinson
        Assistant: Maria Valenzuela
        Assistant Director, Lora Taira
        .
        Communications Director, Pat Markham
        Assistant: Kelly Hutchins
        .
        Early Childhood Director, Ellen Fogelberg
        Services for PrePrimary Age Children (SPPAC)
        Supervisor, Patti Seifer
        Head Start Facilitator, Amy Small

        Food Services Manager, Christine Frole
        Assistant: T/B/D
        .
        Human Resources Director (Interim) Beth Flores
        Assistant: Julie Salmons
        .
        Interim Special Services Director, Margie Lenoir-Davis
        Assistant: Yvonne Matos

        Transportation Manager, Roger Allen
        Assistant: JoDe Dietsch

        So we have a dozen administrative positions/departments here—and all directors have assistants—plus were graced with two assistant supervisors…(how did we ever get by with just one when the district used to have far more students?)

        And how man more positions are currently filled at district headquarters?—(assistant to the assistant to the assistant?)

        D-65 site states administrative directory hasn’t been updated since 9/30/09—staff is far too busy to get around to such a trivial bit of information.

        Looks to me a whole lot of trimming could be done here—We need teachers in our schools and our kid’s deserve all the attention we can provide—start at the top and then move down.

        1. Suggestions for Administrative cuts?
          Mr. Brinkmann,

          I’m wondering if you understand what and who it takes to operate a school district effectively and efficiently. I don’t work for D65, but my career does involve working with school districts throughout this state and in other states. The positions on the list that you’ve copied from the District website do not appear to me to be exorbitant, or any different from the kinds of positions that most school districts with 6,000+ students need to run well. School districts no more just “educate children” any more than hospitals just “treat patients”. There are many layers of operation that serve many important purposes in order to make sure good teaching and learning can happen.

          Has your own experience working in a school district led you to conclude that the number and nature of administrative roles in District 65 is excessive? Assuming you do have this experience and expertise, what positions on this list would you suggest cutting or combining? What exactly about the scope of the responsibilities of these roles leads you to believe that the administrative assistants for these positions are superfluous?

          1. Administrative Dead Weight in D65
            Ms. Brinkman,

            Do you have experience working with D65? Do you have kids in D65? Have you ever tried to get an email or a phone call answered from anyone who works in administration in D65. Anyone has would tell you that there is plenty of dead weight that can be cut in the administrative staff at D65. I’m not going to name names or positions, but I can assure you that there are plenty of people there who illustrate the Peter Principal: “In a Hierarchy Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence.”

          2. I am a parent
            and MOST of the time have had phone calls from administrators returned quickly. I don’t always agree with the administration but I think they work hard and quite effectively. Especially compared with other districts I hear about or have lived in.

          3. Missing the point — secretarial assignments and more D65 waste
            Ms. Foster, perhaps you do not work in private industry. But the days of a secretary for each manager/administrator were over by the early 1990s as I entered the workforce.

            To have this many administrators each with his or her own secretary is the definition of wasteful. I have worked in private industry and in government. I can assure you that the head of the companies where I worked and the head of the government offices where I worked have always SHARED secretaries. There were no (count ’em…none) individuals who had a secretary as a single assignment.

            With labor costs at District 65 at 80 percent, this is no trivial matter. It’s time for District 65 to join the rest of private industry and government and cut its excessive administrative costs. This includes assistants.

            The Superintendent can share a secretary with one other person. For every other administrator — they should be three administrators to every one secretary.

            I have personally seen what qualifies as “work” at the Hill Center as I have had meetings with administrators there. It’s a joke. I can guarantee that once they cut staff at the Hill Center, those who still have jobs will suddenly become much more focused on the quality of their work and maybe parents’ phone calls will actually get returned.

            Or we can just keep doing what we are doing — parents waiting in lines for hours on short notice just to register their kids for kindergarten, the D65 Administration cutting dozens of classroom teachers first, the Board being led by the nose into ridiculous and short-sighted decisions time and time again, Board members prattling on and on during Board meetings about taking a knife to programs when they know nothing about those programs and don’t take the time to learn.

            D65 needs a major shakeup. I can’t wait until my children are out of that disaster masquerading as a multi-million dollar school district. (On the other hand, I am very impressed with my children’s school and their teachers there. My children are getting a good education in spite of the D65 Administration.) As a life-long Democrat, I surprise myself when I say that, after dealing with the lunacy of the D65 Administration and Board for several years, I support vouchers for all children in Illinois. With vouchers, D65 should have to shape up or start holding its own bake sales to pay for Hardy Murphy’s salary, retirement benefits, car, housing allowance, etc.

          4. Many Evanstonians would join you on vouchers
            Especially those who have already voted with their feet. Evanston has one of the largest homeschool groups in the state and five highly successful (and full) private elementary schools (which seems like an awful lot for a town of this size) with a host of parents that resent the high tax bill for a school system that does not and will not serve them.

          5. We already know that many
            We already know that many families are not nearly fortunate enough to have a stay-at-home parent for homeschooling. How would we decide the distribution of these vouchers such that the public school system is still held to some sort of educational standard– or will concerned and more privileged Evanston parents turn the other cheek while those of lower socioeconomic means are stuck in a public school system whose funding and teachers are increasingly routed to private schools?

          6. Vouchers and special ed
            Would schools that accept vouchers be required to provide special services to students? To the same amount of students who receive special services in the public school district? Or would public schools be able to pick and choose who they accept – taking public money to educate the “inexpensive to teach” students?

          7. School districts are already paying private schools
            Many a parent of a special ed student finds they get more appropriate services in alternative situations, and in fact the district pays tuition for some families to send their child to private schools, because the public schools cannot meet the needs of all children. A portion of Park School’s operating dollars comes from other districts paying District 65 to educate children with profound needs that cannot be served in these other districts.

            Properly designed voucher systems would hold schools accountable with dollars, and increase choices and options for more children.

          8. Selection bias
            This is the problem I have with the voucher system, also. In addition, schools with an application process, by definition, select students whose parents are involved – a study by the University of New Hampshire suggests that parental involvement is worth about $1,000 dollars in per-pupil spending and therefore these students are also less expensive to teach.

            The question is, when all these students are selected out of the general education system, how do we educate the remainder of our students? Are proponents of the voucher system proposing we spend less money and offer fewer resources for voucher schools than for gen-ed schools? It’s the only equitable answer for this kind of a system.

        2. Your Suggestion

          Thanks to your suggestion they have tightened the belt at the district. I know several of these people that you named are now doing two if not three jobs. At this pace they will not be able to keep many of these people as they are asking too much from staff whom often make a third or a quarter of what the administrators make. Hopefully they’re married folks with a spouse whom actually has an income — because you can’t live in Evanston on that salary. So, if you have demands, and it seems you’re getting nowhere…welll. they’re all doing two or three jobs now, so..Hopefully John Brinkmann you don’t have children, and you’re not affected by the actualization of what you have suggested because ….well….the rest of us will take a number, they’ll be right with us.

  3. District 65
    Re the Superintendent’s observation that the District’s 6.5% spending increase reflects managing the District’s spending “well”- can you imagine any CEO in the private sector making that comment in today’s economic environment and retaining their job? The degree to which the District’s administration is disengaged from the reality of Evanston residents’ current economic circumstances- lay-offs, salary freezes and reductions, benefits cuts, elimination of 401(k) matching, etc. is troubling.
    Further, please tell me the decision as to which teachers will be laid-off is based on criteria other than seniority, such as performance, as it would be in the rest of the world!?

  4. D65 Administrative Layoffs
    Layoff Hardy Murphy and save an estimated $275,000+/year. His board approved contracts and benefits are absurd including; bloated salary, car allowance, housing allowance, pension contributions etc. Murphy must be a millionaire a couple times over by now. Additionally, a few of his administrative cronies should be targeted for layoffs as well with a savings of $500,000+/year. We need the teachers! What’s wrong with this D65 board are they blind?

  5. Pink slips at d65
    The State Pre K program, housed in the Joseph E Hill Early Childhood Center, has 5 classrooms yesterday reduced to only two (or eliminated!). 6 of 8 staff are out unless the state coughs up money for early education (you know, the building blocks for future learning; the “most important” years of learning, research shows…yadayadayada) It could very well be eliminated. NO PRE SCHOOL, except for Headstart which is federally funded. 210 families looking for some kind of schooling for their children to prepare them for kindergarten

    6 teachers; no staff reductions.

    This percentage is much higher than two per building as quoted in the newspaper

    The achievment gap just became the Grand Canyon. Call your legislator ASAP and advocate for Evanston youngest learners!.

  6. D65 Teacher Lay-offs
    I agree — start with Dr. Murphy! Maybe he will show some leadership and offer to take a pay-cut or give up his housing allowance. These are unusual times and require unusual leadership and sacrifices.

  7. Reward involved parents
    Michelle,

    Are we to punish kids and parents for their involvement only to satisfy the needs of students who do not have involved parents?

    Reverse your logic and what you have is an added $1,000 expense to parents who are involved, picking up the slack for the uninvolved parents.

    We should reward good behavior, not bad.

  8. Short memories
    District 65 sends out pink slips to teachers every year at this time, regardless of the state budget situation.

    Because of the teacher contract, the District is forced to notify teachers now if there’s ANY possibility they won’t need them next fall. Historically this happens to the newest hires, and most of these teachers have been hired back over the summer, as enrollments and plans for the fall are firmed up.

    The state budget situation has exacerbated the situation, but “pink slips in the springtime” are nothing new for our District.

    1. Memories are there but this year, it’s anything but routine
      Yes, virtually everyone knows that pink slips routinely get issued in the spring by District 65. But I think that we can all agree that this spring, the financial conditions are considerably different from past years.

      Unless there is a financial miracle, at least some of these teacher “pink slips” will stick this year. Given the financial situation, administrative expenses (including staff costs) should be on the chopping block as well.

  9. D 65 is better than average
    District 65’s administrative costs are lower than the average Illinois school district’s administrative costs, based on percentage of the budget.

    1. Big budget = more room for waste & inefficiency?
      Stating that costs are lower based on percentages is false logic. If my budget is 100K and the neighbor’s is only 50K, am I going to pay twice as much for a gallon of milk? No!

  10. Voluntary Tax Payments
    The Daily Northwestern 4/28/10 reports on the teachers and others going to Springfield to lobby for a 2% tax increase. Forutunately even our liberal out-of-touch with reality legislators for once told them that was impossilbe.
    I hope someone has given these teachers and others the instructions where they can send their voluntary tax payments so they like Warren Buffet and John Corzine who complain about not paying enough taxes, give to their heart’s content.
    It reminds me of a cartoon years ago of a bloated Teddy Kennedy and Tip O’Neil holding a taxpayer by his heals to shake out all the money in his pockets.

  11. Layoffs at the district = New school???

    Ok, maybe it’s me, but could someone please explain the logic here? The board has said they need to lay off teachers to keep the budget … Yet, there are calls to build another school .. The way my logic works is that if another school is built, there would need to be a staff at that school … no? There would be a Principal, Asst. Principal, and so on … including teachers and staff. So if teacheers are getting laid off, how would the school be staffed? Would teachers and administrators from the other schooll have double duties? Would the other Principals be assigned to the new school one day a week? Would the teachers teach a few classes at their school and then go to the new school for other classes? I admit, I know nothing about school funding, but unless the district gets more money from the state based on the number of schools then where is the additional money needed to staff an entire new school going to come from? It seems a little confusing in one breath to say the budget is so bad that teachers are being let go, and in the next breath talk about adding a new school …. Is it just me, or is there something flawed in this arguement????

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