Budget cuts for the next school year that were proposed and discussed last week were approved unanimously by the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Board of Education Monday night in the event that voters should reject the $14.5 million operating referendum that is on the ballot for the April 4 election.
The cuts, which would result in laying off about 30 teachers and 10 support staff and would eliminate the band and orchestra program for fourth and fifth grades and would allow increases in class sizes, were proposed by the administration as a “Plan B” that would be necessary to provide necessary funds for other parts of the educational program.
As he did last week, Superintendent Paul Goren emphasized that the steps taken Monday night would be rescinded if the referendum passes.
The reductions approved last night would provide an additional $5.1 million in next year’s budget. The plan calls for an additional $3.7 million to be authorized later for the 2018-2019 year.
After the superintendent summarized the reductions, each board member offered opinions before the vote was taken.
President Candance Chow said the vote was “one of the most difficult decisions we have had to make as a board.”
Former board president Tracy Quattrocki, referring to the upcoming referendum, noted that “there is hope” that the cuts will be reversed.
Omar Brown said “we feel the pain,” but added that “we have to trust the administration. They are professionals.”
Sergio Hernandez, Jr. said “we have such a well-resourced district, and here we are.”
Claudia Garrison said that “to vote against these cuts would mean I am for deficit spending, which I am not.”
Suni Kartha expressed the desire that the board had been more involved in coming up with the proposed cuts and said “I wish we had been more inclusive.”
Anya Tanyavutti said this has been “the most difficult week in my experience.”
Details of the upcoming referendum are available on the district website.