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D65 weighs plans for budget reductions

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While they don’t like to think about it, the administration and board of the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 are already making plans for budget reductions in the event that its $14.5 million operating referendum should be rejected by the voters next month.

Superintendent Paul Goren this week unveiled possible reductions of $5.1 million in the budget for the next school year and an additional $3.7 million for the year after.

Goren emphasized that the proposed cuts would be rescinded if the referendum is approved by the voters in the April 4 election.

The reductions for next year would involve pink slips to about 30 teachers and 10 support staff that are school-based, plus an additional nine positions in central administration and operations.

The effect would be to eliminate the band and orchestra program for fourth and fifth graders, class size increases for middle school arts classes, reductions in the industrial arts program, assistant principals, coaches, aides in the two-way immersion program for English and Spanish learners, as well as modest class size increases in academic subjects as well as increases in class sizes of middle school physical education.

Overall, the school-based budget would be cut by $3.9 million, including personnel savings of $3.2 million and non-personnel savings of $700,000, which includes $550,000 by continuing to delay purchase of new science curriculum materials.

The budget for central administration and operations would include personnel cuts of $470,000 and non-personnel reductions of $740,000 that includes cuts in consulting and staff training, offset by increased fees and fee collection. The overall reduction in this category would amount to $1.2 million.

Looking ahead to the following school year (2018-2019), reductions would amount to about $3.7 million that could include further class size increases, eliminating geometry for middle school students at Evanston Township High School, perhaps closing one or more schools, and reducing transportation services to the minimum that is legally required.

A public hearing on the proposed cuts is scheduled for Monday, March 20, before the board votes on the administration’s proposal.

Details of the budget proposals are available on the district’s website.

 

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 stations and business-oriented magazines.

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