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As he did last week, Superintendent Paul Goren emphasized that the steps taken Monday night would be rescinded if the referendum passes.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.

Related story:

D65 weighs plan for budget reductions

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. D65

    1.  $1.7 million in admin savings

    2.  $3.5 million in user fees on a sliding scale to minimize impact on low income

    3.  Shop the health insurance to Aetna,cIgna, Humana, United Healthcare with a directive to save $2 million and honor the teachers contract.  It can be done.  The benefits have been with blue cross too long and they shown a poor ability to manage costs when they are billing over $25,000 per year to insure a family.

    just saved $7.2 million per year and no teachers lose their jobs.

    1. I year of teaching reductions

      I year of teaching reductions via attrition saves another $2-2.4 million and raises the class size from 20 to 20.6.

      Now we are 9.6 million of the 14.5 million–no teachers fired, no programs ended–class size up less than 1 student per classroom.

      The sad part is that the school board just approves everything 7-0 and seems to be the lapdog of the administration instead of representing the community.  Why didn’t the school board suggest user fees?  Why hasn’t the school board demanded competitive bidding?  Why didn’t the school board say to the administration, “You’ve identified $1.7 million in administrative savings.  We will reduce the requested $14.5 million to $12.8 million”?

      As a friendly reminder….don’t forget the $90 million in D65 capital projects that will soon be requested of us to approve in the very near future and don’t forget the 33% increase in income taxes.  

      BTW, D65 spends over $14,900 per student which is 26.7% more per student than neighboring D69.  This isn’t a funding issue from Springfield.  It is a spending issue. 

  2. Just vote out all D65 incumbents

    This same school board voted a few months ago to give the Teacher’s Union a pay raise. Was that a hard decision knowing the financial straits D65 is in?

    In essence, the school board decided to give teachers and staff a pay raise and put the band and orchestra program at risk.

    And why did the board vote on this now? Couldn’t they wait until after the April 4 election? Is this another ploy to scare parents and voters? You know if the $14.9 million fails the school board can always go back and change “Plan B.”

    I say vote out all the incumbents and start fresh. Begin exploring consolidating the school districts D65 and D202 and make cuts in the administrative staff. You can start at the HIll Center. 

    Otherwise, the school board will have its hand out again sometime in the not so distant future.

    1. The board had to vote on this

      The board had to vote on this now so they comply with the law in handing out pink slips.

    2. Armchair wisdom

      All of the armchair quarterback wisdom we’ll ever need. You guys are great @ looking out from your tiny vantage & assailing the mistakes of the world. Lucky for us all that you’ve got it all solved. If only you had the courage to step up & actually run for the positions that make decisions. Alas, you sit on the sidelines & take pot shots. Here’s hoping you are also too lazy to vote. $40/month for sports, orchestra, smaller class sizes, & decent property values. Good for kids & your own pocketbook. Here’s hoping Evanston votes for our collective & future good. Without solid and excellent public education, Evanston is a smaller, meaner, & less intelligent place to live.

      1. What is wrong with suggestions?

        Hi Bitter…what is wrong with offering solutions that keep property taxes affordable for all, keep teachers employed?  I am not happy finding out we are being charged $25,000 to insure a family–are you?


        1. I’m a healthcare provider.

          I’m a healthcare provider. The Milliman Medical Index (MMI) is the tool used to look nationwide for average medical insurance costs. The 2016 average for a family of 4? $25,816. If you are paying less than that, then your premiums are subsidized in some form or fashion.

          1. According to the Kaiser

            According to the Kaiser Foundation the average family premium is $17,337 with the employee picking up roughly $3,300 of that–doing from memory.  The teachers are paying too much for their portion and the taxpayers are paying too much for their portion.

          2. Exact numbers for Illinois

            Exact numbers for Illinois from kaiser…$3,890 employee contribution, $13,337 employer contribution, total $17,227.  

      2. Armchair activists against the $14.9 million referendum!

        Armchair quarterback? No, armchair activist.

        I noticed you never addressed my main point – why did the school board give teachers and staff a pay raise if the district was millions short in the budget? Hmmm?

        And so as a working family man you say I’m the bad guy for “assailing the mistakes of the world” and apparently lack the courage to “step up” and run for the school board and make hard decisions.

        Well Bitter, here’s a bitter pill for you to swallow – it’s called the truth.

        We make hard decisions everyday, including budgetary decisions. We are not wealthy by any means and pay more than $1,100 per month in property taxes alone. We both work and have children. I am sure there are thousands of families like us in Evanston. 

        And we work in the private sector so when the budget is tight we are accustomed to pay raise and hiring freezes. But not at D65. It’s business as usual — spend money then ask property owners to pay the difference, using scare tactics.

        BTW- D65 is hardly considered excellent public education. I can assure you that there are Evanston private schools far superior to D65. Far superior and they operate on way less money than D65 does. 

        And you can bet we are going to vote NO on the outrageous $14.9 million referendum. Funny thing is we’ve convinced several others to vote the same way and we are doing it quetly thru social media.

        And we’re doing it as armchair activists and keyboard commandos!!!

        1. The teacher contract has

          The teacher contract has nothing to do with this referendum. Even though you seem to believe it is, or wish it is, it is not. That’s your red herring to derail discussion of how these cuts hurt kids directly. No sports, no orchestra, larger class sizes. I’m as in favor of looking at teacher compensation & benefits as you are. But it is NOT a part of this referendum. Look at this referendum for what it is, not what you would like it to be.

          1. Teachers’ salary and benefits

            Teachers’ salary and benefits are one of the largest if not the largest portion of the operating budget.  This referendum is about the operating budget exceeding actual funding.  The teachers’ contract is as much a part of the discussion as any other part of the operating budget, even if the referendum is not about changing the contract.  That the new contract was followed almost immediately by the referendum proposal may or may not have been unfortunate timing, but rather than ignore the issue the Board should (or the union could) have done a better job of addressing the issue.  

          2. Where can we see the current teachers’ contract?

            I have not been able to find an actual copy of the approved contract on the D65 website.  Can you help?

            What is posted there is a teachers’ contract that ended in the 2015-2016 school year.  So that is not the current contract.  If the current year (2016-2017) teachers’ contract is not posted publicly, why not?

          3. Crickets–I call shenanigans

            Honesty. That is, at a bare minimum, what you must have to run an taxpayer-funded entity.

            The most recent teachers’ contract is not available publicly. No one will provide it or direct us to it. That demonstrates a total lack of honesty by the D65 administration. For that reason, I call shenanigans. Shame on the D65 administration for not being honest with the taxpayers, the parents and, most importantly, with the students.

            I cannot support a huge request for money when the D65 administration has not been honest. And their scare tactics of trotting out only what they know will cause an uproar (closing a school, multi-grade classrooms, axing the elementary school band program) further demonstrates their lack of honesty.

    3. Some facts

      By law the School Board has a required number of days in advance of the end of the school year by which they must notify certain teachers and staff if they will be part of any planned reductions in staff.  The Board needed to vote on these reductions this month in order to comply with the law.

    4. What are your thoughts

      What are your thoughts regarding the D65 need for $90 million in capital improvements that will be coming up after this referendum (Evanston Roundtable)?  What are your thoughts regarding the 33% increase in income taxes next year?  If the 33% increase in income taxes results in more funding for schools, will we see a reduction in the requested amount–for example, D65 receives $2 million in additional funding in 2018…will the requested $14.5 million be reduced to $12.5 million?

      Do you realize that if there are 100 students (out of 7800) in D65 who falsely claim their address or, are here otherwise illegally, the savings to D65 would be $1,5 million dollars per year?

      I keep hitting these points because many people aren’t aware of what is coming around the corner in terms of income tax increases and a D65 building referendum.   No one has an excuse for claiming they didn’t know.

      If we add this addiitonal savings of $1.5 million, the needed request is $3.6 million per year (not $14.5 million per year) or over 8 years $43 million ($1.5 M/yr savings + $3.5 M/yr in user fees + $1.7 M/yr admin savings + $2 M/yr in benefit savings + $2-2.4 M/yr in savings for a one year teacher hiring freeze.  Selling a $3.6 million per year operating referendum is a lot easier than $14.5 million per year–isn’t it?  Doesn’t it show that we can be good stewards of our resources?

      No teachers laid off, a minor bump up in class size from 20 to 20.5.  We must be careful of pricing residents out of Evanston while maintaining our schools.

      1. The 8 year number is wrong.

        The 8 year number is wrong.  It isn’t $43 million over 8 years it is $28 million over 8 years ($3.5 million X 8 years)–still much better than asking for $116 million!

  3. Don’t Fall for this

    If this referendum was held during a presidential election it would never have a chance. That’s why it’s being held now when the turnout is low, and union supporters can recruit their people to the polls to get this passed. 

    1. Exactly. Make sure you all

      Exactly. Make sure you all go out and VOTE NO. NO tax hikes BEFORE pay and benefit reform.

      1. This helps the issue stand

        This helps the issue stand out more clearly vs getting lost in a presidential election. Vote YES for our kids & fully funding their day-to-day school experience. If you’d like to see teacher pay & pension reformed (& I’d join you on that issue), then take that up in the appropriate context. This referendum has NOTHING to do with teacher pay or retirement. You vote no to send a message? The messengers- our children- are sacrificed. No thanks. $40/month is reasonable.

  4. It’s Never About the Children

    School budget cuts are always directed towards education to pressure voters to approve the referendum. Oldest trick in the book, but people still fall for it. School board members are spineless weasels manipulated by unions to get more of our money. Knocking retirees off health care and raising the deductibles for everyone else would not affect education and save millions.

  5. “we feel the pain”

    “we feel the pain” Yes, that’s why the teachers union had zero pay freeze or cuts (got raises), no pension reform, no healthcare reform, etc. in the last CBA. Cut or freeze pay, reform pensions and healthcare before you raise taxes again.

  6. Comments on a few items

    After reading the article and the comments had some responses –

    Why not make the $1.2M~$1.7 in Central Admin cuts now?
    Admin is not just buying stuff that isn’t needed and people that aren’t needed.
    Central cuts have an impact in many of these areas – consulting and training, community events, increased fees, reduced/eliminated professional benefits. These might be appear easy to eliminate, but they have work to  developing staff to best meet the needs of the kids/community, interacting with the community, and keeping fees low. So there is a negative impact, some immediate, some over time to people that want to stay here.

    USER FEES – what are your proposing?
    $3.5M in user fees, what are your specific ideas? How do you know what people are able to pay?  Would your propose asking everyone for tax returns to know their ability to pay? Is this the kind of community that we want – pay to participate in the arts? How can this be done to support equity?

    Are these some areas – $3.5M is a large amount you are suggesting:
    Full day Kindergarten Fee? Band Fee? Orchestra Fees? Chorus Fees? Drama Fee, Middle School Sports Fee?
    Reading Specialist Fess (we only have 50% of a specialist at Lincolnwood, need at least one full time)?
    Fee to upgrade science curriculum? TWI Class surcharge to pay for aides?

    I’d ask that you email the D65 board with your thoughts – all their contact info is http://www.district65.net/Domain/67.  If the referendum doesn’t pass this may be a path forward to reduce cuts.

    Shopping health insurance for teachers:
    I’d suggest you contact Paula Zelinski, she is President of the District Educators Council (DEC, the teacher’s union) – with your suggestion or start to work through the district.  Sounds like a good idea – if you are knowledgable in this area perhaps you could help?

    Pension reform before anything else?
    This is a great one for readers to comment about to try to slow down further discussion. As an ultimatum tool here it doesn’t work as the problems need to be resolved in Springfield. If anyone thinks Evanston is going to solve as a stand alone city I wish you luck. Seems like they “try” with little results. http://www.sj-r.com/news/20170121/illinois-senate-to-try-again-on-pension-reform. Let’s not try to hold the refrendum hostage with other issues.

    1. Annual Resident School Charge

      Evanston has approx 75,000 residents. Have every resident pay to the School District $200 this will give them 15 million dollars a year. Everyone will  have skin in the game.

    2. User fees…assuming 30% low

      User fees…assuming 30% low income and 7800 students with $100 per low income student and $600 per student for everyone else yields $3,510,000.

      1. Structural deficit

        A lot of these comments are missing the point that this is a structual deficit that is projected to grow every year; the lines on the graph are diverging. The $5.1M deficit in fiscal year 2018 grows to $8.8M in FY19 and then continues to grow more and more with each passing year. By fiscal year 2025 the yearly deficit is projected to be $24M. User fees aren’t going to solve the problem. 

        State law has capped revenue based on the Consumer Price Index which has been unusually low for many years, while costs have grown. Its pretty simple math. School districts across the state are facing similar shortfalls. You may have heard about the chaos happening in Highland Park, for example, where a failed referendum may force their school district to close 4 or 5 schools. Property values are already reportedly falling. The future consequences of failing to pass OUR referendum are equally dire. We are not just talking about music or sports, core cuts will be going into effect from the beginning and getting progressively worse with each year. Each fiscal hurdle being higher than the last. Eventually, Evanston schools would be less than a shell of what they are today.

        Look, this is not a splashy referendum, the District is only trying to maintain what it has. For Evanstonians with a citizen mindset, the obvious vote is  “Yes”. We’re all in this together. 

        1. With a mixture of admin cuts,

          With a mixture of admin cuts, one year staff reduction via attritrion, appropriate fees and other efficiencies the ask would be $5 million per year–not $14.5 million.

          the problem is that the ask of the community is too large–where is the shared sacrifice?

          1. It’s already been happening

            Millions of dollars in cuts have already been happening for many years, including at the administrative level. Staff reduction via attrition still means higher class sizes, so that doesn’t help, either. I’ve seen people point to consoliation with D202, as well, but that would cost more than it saves due to salary structures and union rules. There’s really no easy solution. Please visit the District website for more information. 

            At this point the community is being asked to maintain their schools. If that really is too much to bear, than we will simply have a much lower quality of education in Evanston.

            Keep in mind that school quality is a prime driver of property value. You might save the $40 a month, but we’ll all lose in many ways, too. 

          2. manipulating votors

            This is manipulative and misleading : “At this point the community is being asked to maintain their schools. If that really is too much to bear, than we will simply have a much lower quality of education in Evanston.”

            The district needs to negotiate changes to benefits and pensions in order to get costs under control sustainably and long term. This tax increase does nothing to change that or solve the fundamental problem at hand, it only nudges the problem a few years into the future. We need to vote NO and then start a conversation into a sustainable plan for personell costs in the district.

          3. You say “…salary structures

            You say “…salary structures and union rules. “


            If and why is this true or required or not subject to over turning ?

            If schools are in as much trouble as stated many times—even aside from the refurendum—and expected to have more problems in the future, the teachers, administration and union, unless they have a death wise, should get rid of policies that prevent the changes.

            Probably would require state law changes [but Evanston is not the only place with problem], allowing parents and others who have a college degree [even in real subjects not like “education”] to teach or at least become assistants in say K-6 and people with at least a MA/MS to teach 7-12rh grades*—many professional and retired professional probably have better education and knowledge of their field than the current teachers.

            The strict ‘teacher education’ [courses] and license requirement should have been done away with at the time of the horse and buggy. Instead it is a ‘union’ power hold-over.  Education is too important to be held to [probably un-necessary even decades ago] requirements that keep good/exceptional people out just to protect the ‘union’ keeping people out and keeping bad teachers in.


            * Or at least for students that use to be on what was the ‘top track.’

          4. Not the issue

            D65 teachers’ compensation packages are in line with comparable districts. They are professionals, and they are in demand. You can talk about unilaterally cutting their pay or benefits, but the reality is that if we won’t match the market, they’ll just take their skills elsewhere, once again lowering the quality of education in Evanston.

            The most recent contract was actually pretty bare-bones, by the way, and was only accepted by the union after much consternation because of the demonstrated financial duress of the District (our District, your District). I’m sure most Evanstonians are aware of the struggles getting that contract through.

            From what I understand, pensions are a mostly state issue, for now. Correct me if I’m wrong.

          5. Supporting data, please

            Please provide data to support your assertion that D65 teacher compensation is in line with comparable districts. 

            My brief review yesterday of the online Illinois School Report Cards for D65 and other districts found data that does not support your assertion. But please provide here what you consider comparables so we can all assess your assertion on those comparables. 

          6. Compensation

            According to the US Census Bureau 6.03% of individuals over age 18 earn over $100,000 per year.

            There was a D65  compensation report from 2011 listing compensation of all D65 employees.  If we use $88,000 as the 2011 threshold and assume 2.1% annual pay increases it would leave D65 with approximately 29% of their full time staff earning over $100,000 per year in today’s dollars.

            This number may or may not be valid as things can change over 6 years.  It is certainly an indication of a well compensated staff.

            It has been publicly acknowledged by Dr. Goren that the teachers are compensated 3.5% more than the norm when comparing D65 to peer districts and 24% higher than the state average–with 78% of the Illinois population living in the Chicago area.

            The larger question is knowing that D65 is financially strapped, why was this contract agreed to?

          7. Numbers

            You cite Illinois Report cards. According to their data, the average D65 teacher makes $78, 679. By comparison, the average Oak Park D97 teacher makes $75, 593, Naperville CUSD = $78, 253, Wilmette D39 = $76, 425. Nearby places like Glencoe D35 average $82, 674, Winnetka = $80, 864.

            Chicago Public schools is lower, $70,366, and Skokie SD68 = $74, 293.

            Evanstonians can dig through the website themselves, if they wish, and decide whether the numbers support my assertions or not. I’m sure the statisticans among us could go into more depth as to what districts they would consider comparable, as well. However, if you think we should be more in line with Waukegan ($56,807), and less in line with Niles ($75, 293), I disagree. I doubt most Evanstonians would be satisfied with Waukegan or even Chicago Public School quality here, either.

          8. 180 Days of Work

            Please don’t forget that $78, 679 is for 180 workdays, versus a more standard work year of 240 or so days, about one-third or so more of on the job time.

            And don’t say  teachers work so hard.  I am pretty confident that everyone earning $78K per year puts in well-more than 8 hours a day.  And if you are not  teachers, they work about 2 months more per year.

          9. It is what it is

            Whether you approve of how much Chicago area teachers are paid or not doesn’t change the situation. Voting “No” won’t lower teacher’s salaries, it will just mean we have less teachers to teach Evanston’s children. Furthermore, the teachers who will lose their jobs are the ones on the low end of the scale (starting salary in D65 for a full time teacher is around $50,000), driving the average cost per teacher up, not down.

            Voting “No” means you’re voting for lower quality schools. It’s that simple.

            By the way, before you get too envious of Waukegan’s average teacher pay, take a look at how their schools perform and then take a look at their property values. Is that what we want for Evanston?

          10. Raising property taxes to

            Raising property taxes to encourage families to move to other communities is a good play? Property taxes for a similar house in Northbrook are 40% less–why?  Driving out the elderly and the poor who can’t afford to live here is a good policy?  Isn’t there a value to long term generational families?  I would think the best Evanstonian is someone who lives here for 50 years (or more), uses the schools for 17 years (or so) and pays property taxes for the other 33 years.  The more we raise the property taxes, the more transient our community becomes, the more we lose Evanston’s unique identity.  Sorry, D65 should never have agreed to the present teachers contract if the funds weren’t there.  If they wanted a pay raise and were willing to lower their benefit cost to approximate the norm, I think the community would have backed that.  If they wanted their benefits retained and were willing to take a 4 year pay freeze, the community would have backed that.  So, no concessions by the teachers, no concessions by the administration (I still can’t wrap my head around how they can come up with $1.7 million in savings if the referendum fails) and all of the concessions come from the community?  This doesn’t seem balanced to me.  

            Don’t forget the upcoming D65 $90 million capital improvement referendum and the 33% increase in property taxes!

          11. Talking past the problem

            1. Northbrook property taxes are not 40% less than Evanston’s; I don’t know where you get that. As to the cost of education there, the average Northbrook/Glenview SD30 teacher makes almost the exact same amount as an average D65 teacher ($78,038), and their operational spending is higher than Evanston’s ($18,288/ student vs $14,150 at D65). (source illinoisreportcard.com)

            2. D65 has not had a referendum for 30 years. The average school district passes them much more frequently. I mentioned Oak Park SD97 as a close comperable in a previos post. D97 has two referendums on their ballot for April 4th. The first is a very similar request to D65 and for the exact same reasons. You can read about it in the Chicago Tribune. Oak Park residents won’t see the raise in taxes though, because this referendum effectively replaces their expiring building improvement referedum. They last passed an operating referendum in 2011. In other words, they pass referendums regularly. You may have already heard about the chaos happening in Highland Park. 

            3. The teachers did make concessions. Their contract is much more bare bones than was typical previously. The administration has also already made milllions of dollars in cuts. Asking the community to pay to maintain our schools is the only option with the state imposed CPI cap on revenue.

            Property taxes will be a fact of life where ever you choose to live. I paid them before I had kids, before my kids were in school, and will continue to pay them after my kids are grown. That’s what makes public schools a community endeavor. Its a shared responsibility. If everyone only paid if and when their own kids were in school, many kids would never get an education. That’s the arrangement as I’ve always understood it. In general terms, its part of being a citizen.

            This will be my final comment on this thread, as it seems that we are talking past each other.

            With all respect, David Zerega

          12. David, please keep posting

            I am still undecided regarding the referendum, and have found all posts interesting and helpful. David, your comments are thoughtful, informed and factual and i’m interested to learn more about this issue, so please keep posting. Some comments appear to be more emotionally based and opinionated, and i’m just trying to understand the facts and then make a decision on the referendum.

            I’ve still got kids in District 65 and the one issue i haven’t heard discussed as much as I believe is deserved is the new and refreshing leadership of Dr. Goren. Dr. Goren inherited many problems from the prior administration and is moving the district in the right direction. At the 2 schools my kids attend there is renewed focus and support on the importance of the principal and the importance and impact that outstanding teachers have on the educational outcome of all children.

            More comments please.

          13. User Fees

            To your point regarding an over-reaching ask and shared sacrifice, there has been shared sacrifice.  Senior Administrative salaries have been frozen.  Teacher salary increases in the most recent contract were significantly less (about 50%) of the previous four year agreement.  User fees have increased by approximately 200% over the past three years.  And the District has made just under $11M in reductions prior to this.  This all before the community was asked to share the burden of a 22% increase in enrollment without matching revenue to cover the costs of serving students.  You cannot make public education a. fee for serve – it’s not only illegal but immoral in a society that relies on an educated public to drive our democracy.

          14. User fees

            Whart are the user fees now?  What were the user fees for?  How much were the user fees 3 years ago?  I’m aware of school districts charging $800 in user fees (GBN)–books, etc. per year that are waived for those with a financial need.   How do we stack up?

          15. enrollment = revenue

            people need to stop claiming that enrollment increases while revenue does not. Its not true.  If there are more kids they are living somewhere. If their parents bought a home they are paying property taxes, if they are renting those property taxes are folded into the rent (landlords make a profit you know)

          16. Highland Park example

            I was told by a friend who is a Highland Park, IL resident that they’ve had a lot of “residence fraud” where multiple families claimed same residence in order to attend public schools in Highland Park.

          17. Honesty about D65 revenue increases

            The idea that enrollment has increased but revenue hasn’t seems misleading at best.  The burden of a 22% increase in enrollment has been met with a 27% increase in revenue already!  

            Based on D65’s own reports, enrollment a decade ago (2008) was 6110 students with a budget (presumably balanced) of 89.3 million.  2017 enrollment was stated as 7457 (22% more) with a budget (again, presumably balanced still this year) of 114 million (27% more).   While there certainly were some cuts made over those ten years, that works out a budget increase of nearly $24 million to $14,615 per student in 2008 and $15,288 in 2017.  

            As to the teacher’s salaries, as noted by numerous people on the EvanstonNow boards and elsewhere, the new D65 contract is conspicuously absent from the public materials.  The prior contract provided roughly a 3.5% increase year-over-year.  The board’s last public offer was characterized as two years of a fixed 1.25% bonus followd by two years with both cost of living increases and years of service increases that woudl work out to a total of 1.9% to 7.3%.  From D65’s website “For example, a teacher earning the District’s average salary would receive a minimum cumulative salary increase of 7.5% (without track movement) to 15.4% (with track movement) over the four years of the contract not including the 1.25% bonuses paid out in the first two years of the contract.”

    3. I propose that we have a voluntary tax for the schools.

      I propose that we have a voluntary tax for the schools. Those of you that wish to pay more to fund the school system be allowed to donate as much money as you want. I want to see a plan to reduce spending with no new taxes. It is time to stop spending more than we have. Approving this tax increase is not going to solve the financial problems of the school system. We need to start looking for ways we can save money. Moreover, the board approves raises for the teachers. When you don’t have the money why are you increasing salaries?

      1. Undemocratic and economically short-sighted

        What you are proposing is, in fact, a private educational system. The District is clearly not asking for lavish luxuries and neither were the teachers. This is a maintenance referendum. The specifics are availible for all to see. While dismissing the idea of civic responsibility may be trendy now, you should know that the Founding Fathers disagree with you.

        John Adams once said, “The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves.”

        Thomas Jefferson; “I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”

        Not to mention that a well-educated workforce is the key to prosperity in a widely diversified economy such as our own. Looking at history confirms this.

        So I have to ask, why weaken an essential political and economic cornerstone to save a few bucks? Penny smart, pound foolish, if you ask John, Tom and the rest of us.

        1. No I support Public Schools

          My daughter went through the Evanston public school system. I don’t want to pay less but I am not interesting in paying any more. Make do with what you have school board.

          1. Costs go up

            I’m sorry, but that doesn’t make much sense. Like many other areas of life the cost of education goes up. We can’t just close our eyes and pretend that away. For future students to receive the type of education you daughter received we will need to deal with rising costs realistically.  

            You change the tires on your car when they wear out, right? Or do you complain about how much more the new ones cost than they did ten or twenty years ago and continue to drive on the old ones until you get a blowout on the highway and wreck your car?

            These are still your schools, even if your daugher is finished utilizing them, because this is still your community. Let’s not ignore the issue until we wreck them.

          2. caveat emptor

            No, but if you went to a store and the set of tires was vastly more expensive than expected, out of line with cost increases you perceived in other goods, you certainly would question why.  You also would probably not just fork over whatever they asked for to change your tires because the salesman, who is paid to sell you tires, told you that you needed new tires!

            What many voters are doing is expressing concern over why the school needs this money.  The campaign for “yes” has largely failed to provide any reason to explain the increased need (or at least the requested amount), relying instead on fear tactics or moral shaming.  Based on the comments on this board in recent months, an honest and frank discussion months ago would have gone a long way to quelling the unease felt by many Evanston voters.

        2. Vote no

          John Adams and Thomas Jefferson never envisioned schools that would eat up 70% of the property tax levy. In their day public school was supposed to teach reading, writing, arithmetics and perhaps a bit of history and geography. It was not supposed to be this overbearing monstrosity.

  7. The sky is falling, Not

    I’m a lifelong Evanston resident. I have never seen this many sniveling crybabies. Stop trying to scare us tax payers out of our hard earned money. We all have to live within our means.  These are Public Union cash grabbing tactics. Let’s all vote no and move on!    

  8. Unfortunately, the spend and

    Unfortunately, the spend and revenue gap does continue to broaden.  While retired union covered teachers are contractually allowed no less than an annual 3% increase to their guaranteed pension payments, the CPI has not risen as much over the past several years.  Additionally, the robust rate of return assumed on the Defined Benefit Plan pension assets likely understates the true future cash liability to all current and retired teachers.  

    This problem is only getting worse — and whether we want to be intellectually honest with what is driving the need for this referendum or not — the true issue is spend prioritization for the board.  It’s a zero-sum game, with pension and salary costs comprising the largest spend category, so yes, for the most part, it is about the salary and pension structure.  

    Very difficult decisions are ahead for all of us, including school boards — particularly given the impending state income tax increase.  The question is how much can the taxpayers absorb.

    1. Not Sustainable

      This never-ending necessity to increase property taxes to cover whatever the current need is not sustainable. Our household is a two generation population of 65/202 graduates. We have made 30+ years of sacrifices to be able to afford to live in Evanston and I am sure our parents made even more. We love living in Evanston and have always felt that giving up the luxuries of vacations, new cars, whatever the must have holiday gifts for the kids in any particular year, etc. was a fair trade off for what this city offered our family. It is no longer sustainable for our family and I know many others who wish to live in Evanston but do not due to the expense of living here. It might be a wiser investment for families to consider putting that extra $500 a year in a college fund – especially if they wish the next generation to be able to return to Evanston to raise their families, because no one with just a high school diploma from 202 will be able to be employed at a level to sustain the cost of living in Evanston at this rate. This city is pricing itself out of the family friendly market regardless of what excellence they are providing at the K-12 level of education. We will be voting NO and moving soon.

    2. The taxpayers will be

      The taxpayers will be absorbing a lot in the future if we continue to live by the unfunded promises made by our forefathers. I think it’s worth the $40/month to be taxed for the benefit of our kids. Other areas of spending are fair game in my book to look at reducing costs- including teacher compensation. Kids are our future. This referendum impacts their education, not pension & salary structures for teachers. If you’ve got a problem with spending money on education for our kids then stand up & own that you are harming our future. You are willing to make kids collateral damage in an attempt (which is only an attempt with no guarantee of success) to make your point. Harming our kids to make your point? No thanks.

      1. Unless individuals are simply

        Unless individuals are simply not paying their property taxes, it is not logical to believe that folks have an issue with spending money on eduction for our children.  What this referendum addresses, though, is whether the taxpayer can accept the additional burden without seeing any meaningful change in the primary spend category of unionized teacher compensation.  

        Over 90% of the private sector has transitioned their employee retirement benefit to include a form of a Defined Contribution Retirement Plan vs. the Defined Benefit Plan.  These guaranteed retirement obligations are simply suffocating school districts and municipalities across Illinois, including now Evanston, with the request to increase taxes inevitable.  

        This vote may send a message (a difficult one, to be sure) that change is necessary to sustain our system over the long term — as opposed to a quick fix increase which likely solves the issue for the next 5 years, but simply kicks the can further down the road.  The permanent, on average, $400 to $1,500 per year tax increase to the average Evanston homeowner may be too much to shoulder.

        1. Agreed. 2 points stand out.

          Agreed. 2 points stand out. 1) You correctly note that a No vote “may” send a message. Are you willing to vote no in an attempt (with no guarantee of success) to send that message knowing that, as you easily describe “difficult,” results follow? By difficult, you mean you are willing to harm my kid & all the rest of our public school students. No way. When you are willing to sacrifice kids to simply attempt to make a point you’ve crossed an ethical line. 2) If your taxes go up by $1,500 for this referendum, you are not even close to being an average Evanstonian. You are in a very elite bracket which means you are a rich person claiming to be too poor to afford helping kids. $40/month is reasonable to maintain our schools & support our kids.

          1. 2 bad points

            I think that the likelihood that most of those scare points come to pass when the refferendum fails to pass is very close to zero. They were formulated to try and coerce a yes vote. However, even if they did come to pass, no your child will not be harmed or sacrificed by failing to have band as a 9-11 year old or by having two or three additional children in their classroom.  To claim otherwise in a day and age where people have real problems is crossing an ethical line.

          2. The “scare points” have

            The “scare points” have already been voted on & approved. It happened on Monday of this week when the school board voted. The only way for cuts NOT to happen is to pass the referendum. So, no scaring involved- the cuts are going to happen if you vote no. Larger class sizes, no orchestra, no sports is harmful to kids. Lots of research shows that athletics, music education, & smaller class sizes lead to better outcomes for students in terms of their capacity to retain & consolidate learned information and their future achievement as they matriculate through secondary & higher educational contexts. Taking this away is indeed harmful, even if you don’t believe it. Reality isn’t always connected to your perceptions. How is that NOT harmful? Please explain. $40/month added over 12 months = $500/year. That’s the math. Pretty straightforward. As an Evanston homeowner, I think it’s a reasonable ask given it has been over 30 years since our last school referendum. Y’all seriously whining over $40/month? That’s what THIS referendum is asking. Please stay focused on this issue as replies often wander over to contemporary national & state issues in oddly tangential ways.

          3. Not true

            The scare cuts can still be walked back when the tax increase is defeated. Please focus a bit. Evanston keeps talking about making affordable housing because we are increasingly unaffordable. Every month there are more homes in forclosure. Seniors cannot afford to stay in their homes. families are becoming homeless. A ten year old that can’t have band class pales in comparrison, but even that WILL NOT HAPPEN.  District 65 needs to get serious about getting personnel costs under control and now is the best time to start.

          4. how does d69 Skokie educate

            how does d69 Skokie educate their kids equal to d65 for 20% less per student?

          5. Over and above

            Your $40 a month figure is pie in the sky. The board itself was floating  higher figures. The additional taxes the referendum would add is in addition to the tax increases  from the other 14 taxing districts on the property tax bil.  Plus D65 can also increase an additional amount to be within tax caps. Look at your property tax bill if you have one

          6. Not Sustainable

            I don’t believe anyone who has raised a family in Evanston has an intentional goal of hurting the current generation of children by pushing back on this never ending need to collect more tax dollars froms its citizens to use for the betterment of the education of those children.  It is more likely a plea to those who do not seem to have a realistic view of finances to stop and think of the long term consequences before you willingly launch Evanston toward the same financial crisis that Chicago Public Schools and the State of Illinois are drowning in right now.  Our family had to deal with school district short comings over the years that our children were at districts 65 and 202.  When teachers did a bad job we as parents either corrected the mistakes or found other avenues for our children to learn what they needed to learn.  When teachers were making bad decisions on behalf of our children we appeared in person to work with the school personnel on behalf of our children.  I only use examples of school district issues here since that is what the current debate is, but the point is there comes a time when you need to face reality and take care of yourself and not always depend on others to make it work for you.  It is not the responsibility of the entire community to clean up the mess that the school districts have created by being allowed to proceed in a reckless manner financially. Instead of faceing the reality of the consequences they have created or have allowed the union to create for them they assume they can just call upon the tax payers again with threats that a lower level of education will have to be endured if they don’t get what they want.  It will have to stop eventually so why not now.  I am personally glad that I am not a teacher who thinks I will retire comfortably in the future because of a pension that someone else is funding.  I would not be able to sleep at night.  Regardless if someone is rich or poor they need to be responsible for themselves before they can be responsible for others.  This incessant request for more money is not the solution, it will never be enough.  Please stop and think of other resources to keep our community and educational systems working by actually doing something besides being dependent on everyone else and then accusing those who push back of being heartless.  We are simply trying to realistically survive in the times we are living.

          7. What chutzpah!

            “You are in a very elite bracket which means you are a rich person claiming to be too poor to afford helping kids.”

            How much of the money you didn’t work for do you feel you are entitled to?

  9. What the Council could do.

    If the Council and other residents believe the schools need more money, maybe the Council can channel some of their spending to the Districts. How about no more non-market gifts to businesses, no more theaters—and close some of the existing ones–no more Council and administration “educational” trips, no more re-naming building [like City Hall], do away with franking by official, no more “official” ceremonys for new busienss and to “celebrate” what Council members do, no more payments to put bios in books [e.g. Rodney Greene]—-and I’m sure there are more items. Instead send that money to the schools. $14 million ? Maybe not but to rephrase “$40,000 here, $40,000 there and finally your talking real money”—Trader Joes deal started with real money and grew.

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