When your child heads off to a District 65 school this fall, the starting time may be different, and fewer employees may work there.

A budget cut proposal going to the Evanston/Skokie Board of Education Monday night lists a series of cuts to offset a $1.9 million shortfall in the upcoming budget year.

That represents about a 1.3% reduction from the current year’s $146 million spending level.

Many of the reductions come from purchasing fewer supplies, and fixing fewer things which break. There are also savings in consultant services and professional development and training ,and through not filling several vacant positions.

However, one of the biggest items, $415,000 is derived from moving school start times, which District Business Manager Kathy Zalewski says “will result in operational savings.”

Two servers in food services will be laid off under the plan. Library Media Specialist positions will be eliminated. The Media position cuts ($106,000) would impact three Full Time Equivalent (FTE) jobs, although the memo does not say if those three positions are divided among more than three people.

Also targeted, four FTE positions under “Reorganize Interventionist Support” ($320,000). Again, the memo does not spell out how the reorganization would be accomplished, or what would happen to those who have the positions now.

There is also $122,000 in early childhood program savings from “retirements and reorganization of support staff.”

Zalewski says the cuts were “evaluated for their impact on equity,” with rankings from none, to low, to medium, to high. Only one proposed cut, replacing Camp Timberlee with a day camp option, is listed as having a “high” impact on equity.

Zalewski says the budget cut process is “designed to be fair, and no group will be intentionally or unintentionally disadvantaged.”

The School Board is not expected to vote on the proposal Monday night, so changes are, in theory, still possible. Things also could get worse before the next school year begins. Zalewski raises a warning flag about long-term financial impact of COVID-19, as well as the possibility of pension cost shifts and a property tax freeze.

District 65 has 7,300 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 8. After nearly a year of remote learning due to the coronavirus pandemic, last month the district began a hybrid model, with about half the students attending in-person school and the rest still learning at home.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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